Back to Life
Barbados greets you with a welcoming change of pace. The frenetic buzz of daily life on the East Coast does not exist there. The temperature is hot, but not oppressive. The heat of the day is distilled by the constant ocean breeze, and it seems only natural to make rum a part of your diet.
Barbados is not a natural paradise devoid of human influence. It is not pristine beaches, shore to shore. The island is populous around the coasts, and much less so inland and on the east coast, where the ocean buffets the coastline and the natural sediments that built up the east side make it impossible to build. The East side is the natural, undeveloped side, and provides some of the best surfing in the world. As for the rest of the coast, the northwest side is the playground for the rich and famous. There are million dollar beach houses and some of the finest and most expensive hotels and golf courses in the world.
|Thumbs up for the Bajan food!|
The infusion of Rastafari was apparent throughout the island. We saw a lot of reggae colors and met some Rastas. We met one old Rasta in Bridgetown, on a bridge consequently, who told us the story of a time he met Bob Marley. His name was Ray, and he was a musician. He claimed he played some of the best hotels in the world in his younger days and even pulled out a wallet-sized photo of himself from thirty years ago to prove his point. It was an old weathered photo of him as a young man, dressed up in a suit and bowtie, shot for one of the prestigious hotels in Barbados. His face now was weathered, wrinkled, and old, with a scraggly beard. His eyes still shone, through, as he preached to us about relaxing and loving.
All the Bajans we met were friendly people, even the self proclaimed “weed and coke man”. The weed and coke man assured me of his safety by telling me that he was “safer than a condom, baby!” “My condom’s made of concrete!” he told me. I could only respond with a pound and a hearty “respect!” He responded in kind and after he realized that I didn’t want any drugs he proceeded to help us get a taxi.
|Hiking through the Gully|
Hike Barbados was a great adventure and getting kicked off the farm was, in my opinion, only one of the highlights of the trip. We were actually walking through what used to be part of a coral reef. Huge cliff faces on either side of us dwarfed our presence. Bats flew around the recesses of the coral cliffs as we made our way up and down the twisting path.
We ended up climbing down about 70 feet or so into a huge cave. Barbados is a coral island, and much of its water is underground. All this water moving under the island has created a series of underground caves, one of the most famous being Harrison’s Cave. At the bottom, Victor assembled a small group of people who each read a part from an old account of a cave exploration from the mid 1700s. He went onto recount a story of three people who tried to explore the caves from this entrance. They heard the sound of the cave change while they were underground. Two of the men took off running and managed to escape the rushing water that came shooting their way. The other man scrambled to the highest point he could find and managed to find a breathing space until the water subsided.
We climbed up out of the cave and walked a short ways back to our starting point. Unfortunately we had not arranged a ride home and no taxis came this far inland. We asked the taxi driver beforehand if we could take a bus, and he went onto explain how he wouldn’t even drive in this area alone and just brought us here because we were tourists. Luckily, Victor came to our rescue and gave us a ride home.
|Hiking along the coral path|
We finished up our time in Barbados with some great food, a few more rum punches and one last longing glance at the beach. I could breathe so easily in the warm air of Barbados, and of course as soon as I got off the plane in Philadelphia, my nose immediately stuffed back up. So here I am now, Wednesday morning, back at work, nose stuffed up, not really feeling too well. Is it the lack of sun or the lack of rum? I’m wishing I could keep my Barbados pace for just a little bit longer. I guess I’ll go back to keeping my dreams of travel alive by reading the Bootsnall travel stories. I hope this one will do the same for you.