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Published: February 12th 2018
It was on a Sunday that our cruise ship chose to visit Barbados, along with 4 larger cruise liners. I have no idea why they brought so many passengers into Bridgetown on a Sunday, when everything was closed and the place was dead.
I also wasn't prepared for just how poor the island's infrastructure was, I really expected more from such a major tourist destination. It soon became clear that our plans to bus it around the island weren't going to happen, the driver who picked us up showed us the empty bus station to prove it. I negotiated a price to be taken to the St Joseph's Flower Forest, Barbados Wildlife Reserve, then back to the port, which took about 4.5 hours all in.
I really enjoyed the drive around the island, seeing lots of colourful houses in rural communities backed onto rainforest, and I even spotted a few wild monkeys.
St Joseph's Flower Forest is located in the Scotland district of Barbados, they even have a St Andrew's. Our driver was also called Andrew, and he tried to talk us into visiting different gardens, I soon found out why. The road down to the Flower Forest
Lunchtime at Barbados Wildlife Reserve
The cheeky monkeys used the tortoises as stepping stones!
was horrendous. Unpaved but also so narrow and winding that our car could barely manoeuvre round the corners, never mind when we came face to face with another vehicle.
Unsurprisingly there were hardly any other visitors at the Flower Forest. Buses couldn't get down there even if they'd wanted to. It has been open since 1983 so you'd think the government would have done something about the road by now.
Anyway, we made it, and it was right in the heart of the magnificent rainforest. The actual Flower Forest itself was pretty compact, and since it is genuine forest the flowers were sparser than I'd have thought. They were beautiful though, and the centre provides you with an information sheet on plants to look for, and a huge rainbow golf umbrella each since it does drizzle at random there. For that reason I didn't take my camera out much to take pictures.
I didn't spot any more monkeys in here, but I finally saw a hummingbird. It was spectacular, far too fast to photograph though. I loved the amazing viewpoint where you could look out over miles and miles of virgin rainforest.
Our visit was
short and sweet, then we were off to the Barbados Wildlife Reserve. The reserve is home to many green vervet monkeys, but they are free to come and go as they please. Apparently they usually do in the morning, so it was ideal to get there in the afternoon as feeding time is at 2pm, and they definitely make an appearance for that.
The reserve also had loads of tortoises and brown deer, a caiman pond, reptile house and aviary. It's pretty small and we got round it all in less than an hour, emerging from the reptile house to find the monkeys clawing at the windows, looking for their food.
Oh the excitement from them when their keeper appeared with a barrow full of sweet potato! They all followed him, even the tortoises came running, it was hilarious.
Even the shy deer suddenly appeared, and the monkeys actually seemed quite nervous of them. The monkeys stood on the tortoises for protection, made quick snatches at the food, then scarpered as soon as the deer looked at them.
My favourite animal was the elusive mara, a cross between a rabbit and deer (maybe with some kangaroo
thrown in??) We only saw one quiet wee one who was too shy to join the frenzied feast right away, he edged closer in stages. He was so, so cute.
A flock of pigeons also appeared and joined in, two peacocks pranced around and one poor demented rooster who hopped around on one leg.
On our way back to port Andrew drove us down Rihanna Street, featuring the house where the singer grew up. She really is the local hero. All of the houses on the street looked smart and freshly painted, Andrew said the government had paid for them all to be done up. It kinda seemed like that's about all they've gotten around to doing!
We still had a couple of hours left in port but decided it's be too much hassle to get to a beach and back before our ship left, especially as we were the last passengers back on board the day before. I imagine the nearest one would have been pretty crowded anyway, as it seemed that that was where the majority of disembarking passengers had been going.
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