Experience Barbados With Cindy Kimberly

Rihanna Drive, Chefette and traditional dancing on the island’s Independence Day.

Cindy Kimberly may just be Rihanna’s biggest fan. So it was only fitting that during her 2022 Swimsuit Issue shoot in Barbados, the rookie spent the country’s Independence Day in the singer’s hometown touring Rihanna Drive, eating at legendary fast food restaurant Chefette and dancing traditional dance in traditional garb. Rihanna, if it’s not clear from the video, Cindy Kimberly would love to meet you.

Joel Manning serves as Kimberly’s expert tour guide for the day. “A typical Independence Day starts off when the sun rises. There’s a sense of excitement in the country,” he says. “And then there’s a massive parade.” Manning explains that while Barbados achieved independence in 1966, they were still a realm of the commonwealth and thus tied to England. “We are now fully out of England essentially. Even though we were independent, we were still tied to the Queen and tied to England as somewhat of a figurehead. But now Barbados officially has its first president, who is a female [Sandra Mason, the President of Barbados, took office in 2021.] We also have our first female prime minister and, funny enough, we're here on Rihanna Drive and we have a national hero in Rihanna.”

Kimberly’s demeanor shifts as she is struck with authentic excitement. Manning noticed. He said, “You seem a bit excited. Do you love Rihanna?” Kimberly replied, “Oh my god, I literally am the biggest RIhanna fan of all time.” After touring Rihanna Drive, the birthplace of the mega-star, Kimberly pulls out her sketchbook. “I want you to know how meaningful this is to me,” the model says. “This is my sketchbook that I’ve had for three years. I have a bunch, but this one actually happens to have a sketch of Rihanna that I did because I love her so much.” The realistic drawing is one that Rihanna herself could be proud of, fully representing the raw beauty of the Bajan singer.

All of the excitement works up quite an appetite so off Kimberly and Manning go to Barbados’ legendary fast food chain, Chefette. “This is where every single person that is a Barbadian comes almost any day of the week to have some amazing, amazing fast food,” Manning says. On the table lies an all-potato roti, a beef and potato roti, a roasted cChicken sandwich, a burger, a Snack Boxer with fries and chicken fingers, and a salad. Manning also ordered a Red Fruitee beverage and a malta (a seriously delicious bubbly non-alcoholic malted drink).

“Tell me about your first Chefette experience. How was it?” Manning asks. “I really liked it. I loved the Vegetable Roti and the fries were really good,” Kimberly says, genuinely seeming impressed by the cuisine. “See, you’re almost now becoming somewhat of an honorary Barbadian,” Manning says. “ I hope! I hope the day I meet Rihanna,I know exactly where to go,” she replies.

An Independence Day in Barbados would not be complete without some Calypso movement and dancing. Dance instructor Simone Gill guides Kimberly through the hip shaking and rattling movements. Accompanied by a full band, Kimberly is a natural moving to the rhythm of the beat. But the dance really comes to life when Kimberly is given traditional Calypso garb to wear. Her outfit complete, they join a group of people dancing to celebrate the occasion. Meeting back up with Manning, Kimberly says, “That was so amazing. That was the most fun I’ve ever had.”

You can view the 2022 photo shoot for Cindy Kimberly here.

Evan Nachimson


Evan Nachimson is New York based writer and artist. When he's not writing, he can be found during the day performing his own original kids music for babies all across NYC and Brooklyn or at a dog park smiling too much watching his Husky/Border Collie Mix, Panda play.