Sandwiched between Four Roads in St. John and Todd’s in St. George is a small and peaceful community called Macaroni Village.
With a little more than 50 people living in this closely knit village it can be said that this is one of the few remaining “real” communities in Barbados. It’s a district where neighbours live as a family and without hesitation are willing to give their last to their fellow neighbour.
This morning a Barbados TODAY team paid a visit to the area.
It is often said that Barbados is a very small place so everybody knows everybody, and this proved true when we arrived. Turning into the village, there were no people in sight.
Peering through a gap I saw a man tending to his vegetables so I asked my driver, Maria Bascombe, to kindly reverse into it. She looked at me, turned her head with squinted eyes, but obliged. As we came closer to the gentleman he began to look at the vehicle, almost as if he had x-ray vision, and shouted: “Beverley [Brewster], somebody out here to you!”
She came out and Maria got out of the vehicle. To my surprise, with smiles planted on their faces they held each other in a tight embrace. I looked at Maria and my first question was: “How do you know her?”
“Her mother and my grandmother are sisters,” she replied. “When last I see you Maria?” Beverley queried as they continued hugging like I was not present.
Trying to get a few words in I asked Beverley about the village she calls home. The 65 -year-old has lived in the area all her life and described it as peaceful and very friendly.
However she noted some changes over the years, specifically, the new development in Todd’s brought a sometimes unfriendly behaviour to the neighbourhood. She explained that they sometimes found when they passed there and spoke the people did not answer.
“A morning I was walking to catch the van and there was a lady sweeping and I pass and say good morning and the woman ain’t stop sweep, she ain’t look up, she ain’t answer. I stop and something tell me to ask she what really went wrong that she can’t say good morning, but I just keep walking.
“A few of them that live on the front would respond when you say good morning but the way how I see it, for them we live in the little village — you know just a road divide them.”
Apart from a few of those instances she would still consider the area one of the friendliest in the country. Knowing I would not get anything more from her, I decided to leave to give them the much desired time to reconnect and I proceeded to a nearby house.
“Good morning,” I said, standing at the door.
“Come inside,” I was instructed.
When I stepped into the house I was greeted by Caroline Clarke; who stood over her daughter, Stephanie, braiding her hair.
“What I could help you with?” she asked.
“I’m here to learn about life here in Macaroni Village and how it got its name,” I replied.
“I was living here for 62 years — all of my life — and I never find out how it get it name. I tried to ask my mother before she dead and she say she come along hearing it call so,” she said before continuing to tell me about some of its changes.
“In the years, it change a lot… people upgrade themselves a lot with houses. Finally we get a good road so that we ain’t got to buy 19 pairs of shoes. Everybody does try to make life on their own. Out in here we don’t got no lot of noise barring the little children when they can’t get their own they fight wid them one another or when them playing cricket. But big people at war? Uh uh, (shaking her head) not this side of the fence,” she stated.
Caroline said she loved her community so much she would never trade it for anything.
She said even if she won a house and land she would give it to her children because many of the new developments did not take her first love, agriculture, into consideration.
“Anything to do with the garden, chickens, dogs… I love my dirt,” she said, inviting me into her backyard to view a few square feet of land she planted crops on.
“I love the dirt, I ain’t telling no lies, that is why I tell my children when I dead put me in a grave that got on rocks because if they put me in dirt I gine come up and find something up top to plant.
“Take a picture of my garden, my dog, my chicken. My garden in a bad state — it ain’t 100 per cent, not too pretty pretty but this is what I do every day to keep myself employed. I got my soursop tree. If them did ripe you would get two, if the chicken did big enough you would get two too. If I ain’t got no okras I could go there by my neighbour and tell he ‘I want two okras’. I ain’t got to pay he.”
As we were talking her neighbour Ashton (Beverley’s husband) brought some freshly picked bora beans for her.
“You see how we does live,” the mother of four said.
“Sometimes I don’t got no money, but what? I got food. Just as I done here I gine inside and cook some cou-cou. The Government always telling you to plant your own food, but they don’t have to tell me, my father and mother was in this and they like they drop this on me cause the only body that like this bad is me.
“I got another sister in St. John that does do it but for me this is my livelihood. Even when I was working on the weekend I would still look after my plants. I just love to plant.
“I don’t want nothing else, just some money to finish my house and I good to go. I would be happy if I could get rid of my children cause sometimes they does get me so angry…,” she said jokingly. I would say I am happy and contented with what I have, and Macaroni Village.
Further up the gap and around the corner, we stopped at the home of Ernesta Deane. She was busy in her yard washing clothes but stopped to direct me to Rose’s Bar, formerly Sobers’, the place for most social gatherings in the community and where she said I could get information.
Rose’s Bar is the main shop in the community. It is situated on the boarder of Todd’s and Macaroni Village. There I found some men loudly engaging in conversation.
“I know you,” a man told me.
“You sure you know me?” I asked.
“I work at JB’s for 20 somebody years and my time only up ’bout four years now, I name Grantley Deane,” he said.
While I did not know him, I learnt that Ernesta was his sister and he was more than willing to tell me about his home.
“This shop has been here for donkey years — from the time I was a little boy and I is now 69. I left here in ’60 when I was 17 to live pun town. When I left all there was canes (pointing to Todd’s development of the opposite side of the road) it used to be called Todd’s Estate or Plantation.
“I like horses so that is why I left the country to go and work with them, but I come back in ’92 and here every since. All the older folk gone but even with the new people it is still the same. No disturbances or nothing, just a very cool place to live, maybe that is why people come from other places like St. Philip to live. If you really want to know ’bout here ask me mother,” he said.
His mother is Pearl Prescod. She is believed to be the oldest person in the area — born January 19, 1923 but date of birth is registered as February 23. At the time we went to her house she sat in her usual spot next to the front window watching the daily happening of the community she has known for close to 90 years.
Now in the evening of her days she was somewhat incoherent when she spoke, but she was lucid enough to give us the first clarification as to where the village got its name. She said she was not too sure as her head was not all there, but believed the name came from that fact that the village was small — like macaroni.
Like every other village in Barbados the area had developed, however one thing which remained constant was the closeness of the residents of this intimate community.
“I like it so much and I won’t want to leave but I can’t stay because I melting away. I ready to go,” said Prescod.