In the sun I will come to see Barbados


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Published: June 6th 2014
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The people of the West Indies seem endlessly intrigued by my wilder tendencies, which tend to surface every time I visit the Caribbean. "You're sporting bare feet man!" a woman in Barbados exclaimed in amazement the other day. The locals will stare at my feet likes it's an amazing sight to behold, but ever since I was a kid I've always loved to get around sans footwear. Sandals and other footwear can pinch and grate after a while, so it's great to feel wild and free here in the sun, that is between swims in the glorious blue waters of the Caribbean! So here I am in Barbados, a legendary resort island on the Caribbean circuit, and the island considered the most British in the region. The ties between the locals and the British are strong and enduring, including a genuine love of cricket. I really can't go wrong in this part of the world, due to a lifetime passion for cricket. I grew up poring over statistics of famous test cricketers from around the world through the generations, and it's all bought in to focus visiting the home islands of my boyhood idols. The legendary Windies cricketers, oh yeah, this really is as good as it gets for me!

The journal left off in Antigua at the end of a short visit, and I boarded another Liat flight for the short island hop across to Barbados. From the outset the island struck me as organised and efficient, and it was a breeze getting my stuff organised so I could take a taxi ride to Saint Lawrence Gap, a famous resort town on the south of the island. I checked into a room at the Rio Guesthouse, which is a minute's walk from the main strip and the beach. Dennis had me sorted in no time, and I'm excited to have a full week here in the guesthouse without having to worry about packing and unpacking. Stuff gets strewn randomly around the room, and I've made myself at home. There are two other guys with rooms that I've been chilling with, a Brazilian guy and an Israeli guy who I hardly ever see as he is mad on surfing. There are excellent dining options by the beach, and the beach itself is great for going on walks and just lazing around in the warm Caribbean waters.

During the first few days on the island, I basically did a whole lot of nothing. Well, there was lots of walking along the beach and swimming and chatting to the other guests and drinking the local Banks beer and going out to restaurants in the evening. Come to think of it, I've been absolutely flat out! On the third day I organised a tour of the island with a local taxi driver, and we had an excellent day. The Caribbean islands are so small you can really pack in the sights during the course of a day, and that's even with a driver who spent most of the time doing 40 kilometres an hour. For the first hour or so I was so going to say something, but I bit my tongue and just settled in for the ride. My lovely friend is pushing 70, and is the kind of driver who stops when he sees a pedestrian by the side of the road to wave them across, and that's in the city and the country. I think during the course of the day we were probably overtaken by every driver in Barbados, but it's all good fun!



Our first major stop on the tour was at the beautiful St John's Parish church, perched high up on a hilltop overlooking the Atlantic ocean. It is a beautiful building, lovingly recreated after having been destroyed in a fire. Then it was time to get down and explore the wild Atlantic side of the island. Bathsheba beach is a famous attraction for the magnificent, jagged rock formations that line the coast of this wild and inhospitable stretch of the island. My driver warned under no circumstances should you go swimming on the Atlantic side, as the treacherous undercurrents drag the unwary out to sea, and they never even recover the bodies. I'm fascinated by the stark difference between the Caribbean and the Atlantic side of Barbados, it is like being in a different country.

We putted along to some other beaches on the Atlantic side for a few photos, before my driver took me across the northern tip of the island so that we could drive back down on the coastal road by the Caribbean sea. There are sections by the coast on the Atlantic side that only have some farmers, and it's pretty much deserted otherwise. But once you get on the Caribbean side it's a very different story, and the coastal road is dotted with glorious resort towns, superb beaches, fine dining establishments and uber expensive resorts. My driver traded stories about some of the rich and famous people who choose to stay at the glamorous resorts, and the obscene amounts of money they are prepared to fork out for the privilege. It really is another world they inhabit, but you can still get so much out of travelling the Caribbean on a budget. There may not be private beaches and absolutely everything you could desire catered to, but it is still a wonderful experience in this part of the world. We finished our tour having a drive around the capital Bridgetown, and we stopped off at Kensington Oval so I could take some photos of the famous cricket ground. I was also fortunate to witness the elite local cricketers having a net session.

Barbados is a compact island in the Caribbean tradition, and a day tour is plenty of time to get around and see most of the famous tourist attractions it is famous for. And that's even when your driver is getting around town at 40 kilometres per hour! I thanked my man as he dropped me back at the Rio Guesthouse, and continued for a few more days relaxing, chatting to the other guests, doing heaps of walking along the beach and swimming, and downing a few Banks beers in the evening over a good meal. As I mentioned earlier Barbados is considered the most English of the islands in the West Indies, and it does have a very familiar feel to it. There are some local crazies who tend to walk around all day and night, either talking to themselves or sometimes to someone else, but I've found them to be pretty harmless.

There are strange people in every city in the world though and aside from these few odd individuals, Barbadians are uniformly polite, friendly and helpful. I can see how the island has so much appeal as a getaway destination for sun worshippers from around the world, as it really is the full package. Barbados is clean, organised, efficient, and caters to tourists in a professional manner. In fact I became so comfortable at Saint Lawrence Gap I felt a genuine pang of regret when it was time to leave for more island hopping adventures. As a matter of fact, basically all of you should be here now!


"Dancing was always part of my culture growing up in Barbados." Rihanna



As I continue my travels, until next time it's signing off for now

Tom

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6th June 2014

No Shoes
I love that you like to go bare foot! I love it too, I always feel more connected to the Earth and it feels great to have airflow down there... I also enjoyed your comment on your title page "I encourage you to take a walk in my shoes". Great Caribbean blogs.
8th June 2014

Great Caribbean Blogs
So glad you are enjoying the deep blue seas! Love reading your adventure and island hopping in the Caribbean.
9th June 2014

Id love to be there!
Always thought about Barbados because of that song...after reading your blog think i might just have to see Barbados :)

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