If you ranked the world’s regions by their wealth, the Caribbean wouldn’t rank at the top. In fact, the average income on some islands is probably near the bottom. But these islands are rich in some things that can’t be measured, things that add real joy to life: sunshine, beauty, and most of all, colour. Caribbean colours are a sight to behold; in fact, once you’ve travelled to this part of the world, everywhere else looks drab.
As I travelled around the islands on my cruise of the eastern Caribbean, I noticed one constant theme. No matter how modest the houses we passed — and some were modest indeed — their owners all seemed to have enough money for a gallon or two of paint. And for the most part, they weren’t thinking of painting them grey. Bright blue, baby blue, green, yellow, pink, red, alone or in combination — they wanted colours that beamed out like a beacon.
Why does this happen? In some places, the government has actually encouraged people to paint their buildings in rainbow hues. According to local legend, the governor of Curaçao once forbade the residents to paint anything white because it gave him migraines. So the Willemstad waterfront is lined with quaint Dutch-style buildings that look like a box of crayons.
But for the most part, the people of the Caribbean islands don’t need any encouragement. They paint things in these Caribbean colours because they like them. It could have something to do with the bright blue sea they live beside, and the brilliant colours of the flowers that bloom on tropical isles. But mostly, I think it’s about being happy.
It’s not only houses that get the technicolour treatment, either. As I strolled through downtown Bridgetown, Barbados on a Sunday afternoon, I couldn’t resist walking out of my way to see this amazing-looking wall you see at the top of this post. Just a Coke sign, and another selling candies (one of which is strangely called Bon Bon Bum) — but what colours. We’re all used to the red Coke symbol, but here it was, spread across a wall, as red as they could make it. And next to it, a big sunburst of blue, and another field of bold, minty green
You can’t see something like that and not take a picture. And when I look through my photos of this trip, it’s one of the ones that always makes me smile. So maybe my theory is right: Caribbean colours just make you happy.
Note: Photo taken with the Fuji X-T20 mirrorless camera. As usual, you can click on the picture to see it larger