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Published: March 11th 2010
Barbados, aaaah Barbados. For now you've quenched our paradise thirst, but all suspicions point to a serious addiction brewing beneath the surface. We were drawn blindly into the Caribbean midst with stereotypical expectations. Our island delivered on some, (best beaches in the world), dismissed others, (no overpopulation of cruise-shipping Yanks), and shocked with a handful of surprises, (it's easier to buy cocaine than a litre of milk. The code phrase melting off the tongue of dreadlocked youths a dozen times a day ... "Got any baaad haaabits Maaan"). This little-publicized fact motivated a lesson in geography. Barbados is the southern-most tip of the Caribbean islands, a short illegal boat ride from Venezuela in South America. Mystery solved.
Between dipping toes in the azure ocean & reading books on the softest ivory sand, we managed to squeeze in a few adventures. A catamaran daytrip enticed me with sea turtle swimming and snorkelling over a shipwreck in a coral reef. Dave was onboard with a twinkle in his eye the moment they mentioned 'open bar'. We met a rowdy group of French Canadians, danced to Reggae on the bow, drained the bar of rum punch and left the cruise with eager but
doomed dinner-plan promises to our new best mates. 5 hours later ... dinnertime ... we were dead to the world. A week later, to our sheepish horror, coinciding flights had us bumping into our stood-up mates at the airport. Demons were faced. Understanding flowed in the context of so much rum. This story has now been christened 'The Rum Punch Debacle'.
It's not often a holiday unearths latent professional tendencies. This one, however, promoted us from budget-accommodation-dwellers to High-End Resort Crashers. The tricks of the trade: waltz confidently into exclusive resorts as though you belong there. If you can grab a beach towel from the stockpile in the specific color of that resort, there's your ticket in on any other given day. Who needs to spend $2000/night to sleep in these places when you can frolic in cascading pools, freeform lagoons and waterfalls with clifftop views over ocean horizons for free? Oh yeah!
The climax of the week was "The Sandy Lane Cup", an annual horse race drawing the entire island to one open track. We learnt quickly from the locals: dress in fluorescent colors, drink fresh coconuts, forgo the entrance fee and grab a post on the
street alongside the racetrack. Western safety lawmakers would have their jaws on the grass over the situation. No fences, kids playing on the course, people streaming across the track seconds before a thunderous string of death beasts hurtled down the straight, and a polite announcer gently persuading the crowd to, "please stop crossing the track .... I can't believe people would be putting themselves in the path of horses like this .... we're going to have to postpone the race time if you don't stop crossing the track .... and please also stay off the running track as the ambulance needs to follow the horses around there .... please, people, please, please stop crossing the track". Absolute classic. Not until the crowd began shouting and jeering did the track-crossers' death wish abate. Less than a minute later, the winning jockey was trotting his backwards victory lap.
We left NY knee-deep in a snowstorm and returned in the midst of spring. (The King and Queen of Perfect Timing take a bow). Manhattan glows with a sheen of summer possibility, complimented by our Caribbean tans and salty sun-bleached hair. Although as much as we love this city, already we're planning our
next Caribbean trip ... Puerto Rico here we come!
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