When you’ve lived on a Caribbean island for a while, you discover that your clothes just don’t last. Items that have been put away in a drawer develop strange discolorations which I think must be from the humidity, but white and pastel items show it the worst. Remember your mother telling you to always wear clean underwear in case you get into an accident; well, your underwear will be clean, but have strange yellow/beige blotches. The only way I’ve found to prevent this is to pack completely clean and dry items into a zip lock bag with the air squeezed out; however, while that might be fine when you are ‘coming and going’ and are only here for holidays, when you are here all the time that just isn’t practical.
Clothes hanging in the closet fare a little better due to air circulation, but they get gecko droppings on them, and moth holes, which might not be from moths, but little holes all the same. Clothes also develop little bleach like markings which I can’t figure out, especially if they are items that you’d never think of using bleach on. Elastics rot, and spandex threads breaks apart, so your bathing suit will lose it’s shape, as well as anything else that has stretch to it.
Clothes left on the line to dry in the sun soon rot, so you have to have a line in the shade for hanging your laundry. It’s not uncommon to walk into a friends home on laundry day to find a line stretched across their deck, or through their living room. One of our neighbors has a room solely dedicated to laundry with lovely drying racks and lines, but for most of us that just isn’t practical.
White sheets and towels also suffer from the same strange discolorations, which is probably why laundry bluing is so popular here.
Dressed up here is a clean pair of shorts and a clean top, they may have mysterious stains, bleach marks, holes, or frayed hems but they are clean. With the reality of keeping your clothes nice here being nearly impossible you quickly give up on keeping stylish. The only stylish people you see on Bequia are almost always tourists.
We were once tourists here ourselves and I clearly remember a lovely pair of Italian sandals that had their thin soles ripped to shreds on the rough concrete roads after walking to the beach one day, and white linen slacks that got mud spatters up the back of the legs that never washed out.
Leather gets hard, and flakes, and purses, belts and shoes have a short lifespan. It’s not uncommon to be wearing a fairly new pair of shoes to have the sole fall off while walking along; or for a fairly new purse to leave little flaky bits all over your hands or blouse where the strap rides as the leather flakes off, and to be looking at these flaky bits wondering where it’s come from and then you see that your purse strap has developed bald patches
You learn to be practical rather than stylish, a small backpack or a local flour sack made into a shopping tote becomes your purse, flip flops are the footwear of choice, you no longer care what the latest trends in summer clothes are, and you realize that you wear the same 2 or 3 pair of shorts, the same 3 or 4 shirts, all the time, and they tend to be the most comfortable, breeziest items that you own. Just as you don’t care what your friends are wearing, they don’t care of notice if the shirt you have on today is the same shirt you had on a few days ago.
Photo: Spring beach, Bequia