Barbados


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Published: July 21st 2019
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Thursday July 18 - I went to bed late last night and woke up around 6:30, but I was tired and managed to stay half-asleep until about 7:45, so that was a good change. Sleeping with a strong fan was good in lieu of aircon, but the windows don’t have screens. The mosquito count was surprisingly low, and I think the fan helped a lot, but my feet got some bites while I slept. I don’t think the fan quite covers all of me. I ate a bagel that was in the freezer for breakfast and went over to the big house to ask my host Shelly a few questions. She suggested Bridgetown for the day and the beach in the afternoon, and that’s what I went with. It looked like rain, but it was pretty good. We chatted while she worked. It turns out she produces all of the sprouts for the island, and also mung beans. She opened a fridge and handed me a packet of sprouts so I wouldn’t need to buy lettuce. I’ll need to figure out what I’ll do with the sprouts, but it’s pretty cool.

I got going a bit late, after a skype call with my mom followed by one with Jeroen when he got home early. On my way out, I met one of my roommates. He’s Indian and lives in Orlando. Last night I also met one half of the other couple staying in the house, the partner or husband of the cousin of the host. My first stop was Jenny’s Bar. It’s right at the end of the lane, and Shelly suggested her as a good lunch place, and that I could even eat a little for lunch, get a fish sandwich on the beach later, and then eat the rest for dinner. I talked to Jenny about her lunches today and ordered soup for later.

From Jenny’s, I walked into town. It’s about 15 minutes or so of a walk, and I took some pictures and sweated along the way. My first stop was the parliament museum, which was a good place to learn about the government in Barbados since the 17th century. It was a little depressing, with white colonizers and slavery and how people were treated. It got me rethinking about how ugly our history really is, and how bad colonization was, everywhere it happened. Such a loss for so many people. A bout of rain was just ending as I walked out and started to look for the synagogue museum complex. After I asked directions three times and arrived, I felt a little more depressed. Jews have fared no better throughout history. There is a tiny Jewish population still in Barbados, about 50 people or so. I visited the synagogue, the museum, the cemetery and a washing place. Some of it was lost, covered up and rediscovered in a dig, which was cool. I was also the only one there, which was quite a treat. And the only one in the parliament museum too, for almost the whole time. One family walked through in about 5 minutes. It took me 45. There were also some noisy preschoolers there for a bit, but it was blessedly short. Afterwards, I walked a bit more through town and then headed back to Jenny’s to pick up my soup. I ran into my roommate there, picking up his lunch as well.

As I was walking down the lane, Shelly drove up and told me to get in, she had something for me. It was a local fruit that they were selling on the street. She gave me some. They’re called ackee. They are small and green with an orange pulp around a large seed. You use your teeth to pop open the outer skin and then suck the fruit off of the seed. Quite nice actually, but it feels like so little fruit per fruit. The soup was good, thick like a stew, with sweet potatoes and some other root veg that was tasty. It also had beef, but like bones and other things I wasn’t actually going to eat. I talked to Jeroen again briefly and then headed out to the beach.

I’m staying very close to Browne’s Beach on Carlisle Bay. I walked there and then decided to walk a little further to an extension called Pebble Beach. To get there, I had to wade through the water under a jetty with a restaurant on it, so I put my clothes and my shoes in my backpack and had to hold that a bit higher to keep it dry. I actually wasn’t loving the beach there, but that is where Cuzz’s was, a food truck that specialized in these fish sandwiches called cutters. He closed at 5:30pm so I decided I would go back at 5pm, giving me an hour. I swam and read, which was nice. There was no shade, but at least it was later in the day. There was also a guy working the beach who told me how fine I was on three different occasions. He sees women all the time, you know, and my body is good, he said, especially for my age. Douche. I got my sandwich, added a little honey mustard. It was ok, not as amazing as I’d read about. I then walked into town to go to the supermarket. I didn’t realize it was near where I had been earlier. I got some bananas, yogurt and granola and headed back. Showered and took the evening easy. I talked to my mom and we figured out that she never knew there were more pictures on the blog than you can see on one page. So for like 13 years, she’s only seen some of my pictures. Lord have mercy.

Today my mom asked me if my stomach was all better. I said that I thought so, yes. And then at 11pm, it was a definite no. Such a bummer. I don’t know if it was the water, the lunch, the fish sandwich, the ackee fruits...But it was something. Having a delicate stomach on a trip is ridiculous.

Friday July 19 - I got up early and was at Shelly’s by 7:30. I wanted to ask her opinion on places to see, how to get there, etc. She gave me some advice that was like “go to the bus station. If this bus is leaving, take it. If not, do not wait. Take the other bus. When you get there, if that bus is leaving, take it. If not, go to the other place.” I wrote it all down, and took my plans with me.

My stomach was ok since last night, so I decided to have yogurt and a little bit of granola to see how it went, but skip lunch. I left around 8:20 to get to the far bus station in town to ty to grab the bus going to Harrison’s Cave. It wasn’t there, but I did wait a little. I could have taken a bus to Speightstown to change buses three times, but I decided to wait a bit. I’m glad I did. I did not get the original bus I wanted, but I did get one going all the way to Conneltown, and the bus dropped me at the entrance for Animal Flower Cave. It took about 45 minutes to get there, and then I had to walk 10 minutes. There was a guy selling trinkets who asked me to take a look. He had some nice pictures, but I did not budget for trinkets, nor do I have much room for extra stuff.

I rocked up just after a tour bus, and I did not want to get stuck in a cave with them, so I took some pictures outside, and then went for a bit of a walk along the cliff. There was a path and some others started on it, but did not go far. I decided to walk a bit and I’m glad that I did. There were a lot of openings in the rock that you could look into and see the ocean, like little caves. The water was also a more wild, and quite dramatic in places. Once I got far enough away, I changed my clothes to put my bathing suit on. My impression was that in the Animal Flower cave you could swim or splash about, so I should have my suit on. When I walked back, I saw the stairs that led down to the cave and a sign saying it was 25 Barbadian dollars (BBD) ($12.50 US). I didn't see where to pay, so I just walked down the stairs. There was nowhere to pay in there - I just ended up in the cave. It has a lot of natural “windows” cut out through which you can see the ocean. Quite pretty. I walked around, taking pictures, and eventually a guide came down with a family. I was a little worried he would address my situation, but he did not. I finished taking my photos and walked up, out and away. I never did see where you pay. There is a restaurant there, with bathrooms for customers only, which I promptly made use of. I changed my clothes back - the bathing suit was totally unnecessary - and I was in super sweat overdrive. At the bar I asked if she could give me change for a five because the buses require exact change, and they are $3.50 BBD. She had no problem giving me change, and told me that I left now (11:15), I would get the 11:30 bus to Speightstown.

The bus was a little late, but that was expected. On the bus I asked if I could get to Bathsheba from Speightstown, or more specifically, to Andromeda Gardens, a botanic garden that Shelly told me about this morning. The driver told me there was a bus at 1pm, and that was perfect. It gave me about 45 minutes to walk around Speightstown, or “Little Bristol” when I arrived. I walked into the nearby town and took some photos. I also went into the grocery store. I needed change for the bus again, so I needed to buy something this time. With my stomach, I decided to just buy some cold water, which I’ve been dreaming about. She gave me change for the bus, and I headed back over. I waited about 20 minutes for the bus to Andromeda. From the map, it looked like a shorter journey than the one from Bridgetown to the cave, but it was at least the same length. But this driver, just like the last, remembered where to let me out and told me how to get home when I asked.

Andromeda Gardens was a little pricey at $15US/30BBD, but it was worth it. I liked it much better than the one in Nevis. It was a private garden that Iris Bannochiea, a scientist, built on her private land. She won many awards for her work, and when she died, she left the gardens to the National Trust. It’s really well done and I liked walking around. I had three double-sided pages of plant descriptions of about 40 species with me as I walked. There was also a family of three who started the walk right after me, so we were often in the same place at the same time and chatted a bit. I only learned of the place today, and there are two other botanic gardens Shelly told me about, but I’m glad I made the effort to see this one. It’s on the east side of the island, where the waves crash into the shore, similar to the north where the cave was, but much different than the west side where I am staying. The woman who worked at the garden recommended walking the 10 minutes into Bathsheba and catching the bus there. I had about 45 minutes before the bus and she said it was pretty, so that sounded like a good idea.

As I walked, the family drove up and offered me a ride with them. We got to Bathsheba and it was really pretty. It was all beach - not much town - and there were really large rocks sticking out of the ocean, balancing on small points. Very cool. There was a little place for food, so the family settled in, and I walked around a bit to take some pictures, and then I had a seat with them. They ordered me a water, and I didn’t eat due to my stomach (and cheapness, of course). They live in Leeds, England and the father is from Iran, originally. They all have Iranian passports now, making it hard to visit the states now. They were really nice, and we talked a lot about travel. When they were ready, they offered me a ride back to Bridgetown. They’re staying at the Hilton, which is very close to where I’m staying. I told them about my place, and they wanted to see the family compound, so they drove me all the way back, which was really nice. They didn’t get out of the car, but they liked the yard and the way it looked. I also showed them Jenny’s Bar for lunch, though I couldn’t rule it out for my stomach yesterday.

Tonight is the Fish Fry in Oistins, a town a little south of here. It’s basically a big street party where you can buy fish dinners and hang out with loud music. It was never going to be my scene, but now with my stomach, I am glad to have a medical reason to miss it. Plus I seriously had to wash my stinky, sweaty clothes.

For dinner I had one of the cinnamon bagels from the freezer with banana on top. I mashed it up and made a spread. Should be easy enough on my digestive system and I can see if I can start eating more tomorrow. This is where I’m glad it’s so hot out. I’m never hungry. I also had a yogurt and some granola for dessert. To be really sure about my stomach, clearly.

Saturday July 20 - Last night I got an email invite from Shelly to join her and a mother-daughter duo she is hosting to go to the bog weekly market. At 6am today. My first thought was “Oh hell no”. But going along with the theme of this trip, meeting people, I decided it might be a good idea to go to the market and see how it all works. Plus, I highly doubted I would need to set an alarm. And of course, I woke up at 5:00 without an alarm, so it was not a problem.

I got to Shelly’s at 6:05 and they were already walking out. The other woman is staying in Shelly’s house with her daughter Madison. They’re from Canada, and her in-laws are coming in today. Her husband is a pilot and just left a couple days ago. I think he’ll be back next week and then they leave together. Shelly drove us to the big weekly market, where all the best deals for the week can be had. Everyone gets there early before it is all sold out. Shelly walked from stand to stand, saying hi to everyone she knows, buying carrots here, sweet potatoes there. She helped the Canadian pick out some things as well. We spent about an hour, starting at the outside market and then moving inside. They even had an air-conditioned place for the butcher, which is the first I’ve seen.

From the market I went straight to the bus station. It was not my initial plan, but it was right there and Shelly thought it was a good idea and that there might be a bus at 7:30. I was about 15 minutes early, and stood around with an older woman and a guy who worked at Harrison Cave, my destination. So at least I was in the right place. I am the only traveler I ever see on these buses, which I find interesting. It is low season, so it may be different during the high season, but probably not by much. The bus showed up at 7:45 but then sat in place for a long time. Eventually the woman I was standing with started a bit of a fight with the driver and conductor about their timing. They were speaking in a dialect that I could not really understand, but they really got into it. Eventually she was called a jackass several times, we left, maybe around 8:15, and then it finally ended. What a mess.

I got out at the stop for Harrison Cave along with Paul, the security guard who works there. We walked there along a nice path and then came in from the back. He took me upstairs in an elevator and to the cashier to pay and we said goodbye. The cashier was not quite open yet, so I stopped in the bathroom first, and then went to pay. It’s quite a pricey visit - $30 US/60 BBD. The visit included a tram tour of the cave, which is a little cheesy, of course. After I got my ticket I took the elevator back down and had to wait around a bit before being called in. I think they were waiting for enough people to show up. There were two other couples and later a bigger group that showed up later. After they called us in, I walked around the building, reading about caves, until it was time to get started. Next we were ushered into a small theater to watch an 8-minute video about caves and how Barbados formed. I learned something new. All of these islands in the chain from Guadaloupe to Grenada were formed by volcanic activity, except Barbados. Barbados is on the side of the chain, and was formed when the plates came together and one was lifted. You can see it all around the island - fossils of corals in the rocks that used to be submerged, and were reefs at one time. That was cool to learn. Then the caves formed later, as slightly acidic water moved through.

I had scoped out the theater earlier, and had chosen my seats in order to be the first one in the tram. I’d read that they sit four across, and I did not want to get stuck in the middle. As it was, two girls sat next to me, but I had the end, so that was good. The tram tour was lame, as you’d expect, but it was still good to see some cave formations. It was not the most spectacular cave I have visited, but still nice to see. It goes for about a mile and then returns on the same path. It would have been much better to walk it. Shame that is not an option.

After the cave, I walked a little on the path that I had walked to the cave this morning, taking some photos, and then tried to walk on a path on the grounds, but it was closed off after a very short time. I took the elevator back to the entrance, and asked someone how to get to Welchman Gully, a botanic garden/forest walk type of place. As soon as I asked, my tour guide, who just happened to be behind me, offered me a ride there, as she was on her way out for food. She was about to drop me and noticed that it was closed and you have to go the other entrance. She was about to give me walking directions but just took me there, which was really nice. Once there, I realized this is always the right entrance. Maybe she’s never been inside.

I arrived at Welchman Gully around 10:40, and was kind of excited to see some monkeys. They feed them between 10:30 and 12:00, so I thought it was perfect timing. Not so much. They feed them when they arrive, and they usually arrive between those times. They weren’t there yet, but it seemed silly to just sit and wait. I walked up to a viewpoint, had a look and came back down but no monkeys. The whole walk is along one trail, so there was no seeing them without coming all the way back. It was a self-guided tour, with a pamphlet that gave information on about 50 different species. At first I thought I missed a bunch or they were not labeled, but it was just that they were so far apart. At 11:10 I walked back to the platform, but still nothing, so I decided to just do my walk. It was quite nice actually. It was quiet, with no one else around. It was mostly cloudy, making the pictures a bit duller but the air a bit cooler. I’m having some trouble with the protective lens on my camera. It’s dirty, and I had to keep removing it for crisper pictures. I have to remember to clean it. Same with my sunglasses too. I think it’s from salt spray at various times.

As I walked back, I saw a mango on the ground, and wondered if it was my lucky day. It was not. I turned it over and saw a monkey-sized bite mark taken out of it. Only one bite! Then I noticed more half-eaten mangos, pieces of mango skin, etc. The walkway was littered with them. It was clear the monkeys had come and gone and I’d missed them. Oh well. This is the last of the islands with monkeys, and I had seen them on the other two. I asked for directions to the bus stop and was happy it was nearby.

I didn’t have to wait more than 20 minutes for a bus, which felt really lucky. There are fewer buses on the weekend, and I was not overly impressed with how often they came during the week. This was my first minivan bus ride on this island. The others were bigger buses or even bigger governmental buses. But they all charge the same and this one was going to Bridgetown. Score. I read most of the way back to town and then had to figure out where we stopped, as it was not at a bus station. But I figured it out quickly and started to walk home.

I had $20 BBD left and I am leaving tomorrow, so decided to spend it. I stopped at Chevette, a fast food place that people seem to like there, and decided to try something there, but the line was not moving so I left. I went to the grocery store and bought some water, an ice cream and a few ramen, just in case I need them later. The bill was more than I expected - $11 BBD (damn water), so I decided to walk home and try Jenny’s for a roti, if I could afford it. She charges $12 BBD, but I only had 10, and she accepted it. Very nice. I wasn’t sure an Indian roti with curry was the right choice for my stomach, but nothing had happened in more than 24 hours, so I decided to test it. It was chicken and potato and tasted good, so we’ll see. My roommate from Florida also showed up at Jenny’s at the same time for his roti. I’ve been there twice and he’s been there both times. But it’s been about 2pm both times, so that must just be when he eats. He leaves this evening, and was coming back from the beach.

I ate my roti on the porch and talked to Jeroen while petting the cat that lives here, then realized I was getting bitten by mosquitos and moved inside. On my way in, I noticed a monkey on the trees next to the house. Oddly, there was only one, but I got a few pictures. Now I’ve seen monkeys on all the islands that have them. I saw the Canadians getting ready to go to the beach, and tried to show them the monkey, but it moved away just when they came back. Then the in-laws arrived, and that was that. Shelly showed up to take my roommate to the airport, but he was late getting ready. I talked to Shelly for a bit, got bitten by mosquitos and then changed into my bathing suit to go to the beach. I quite like going in the late afternoon. I didn’t even need sunscreen. I swam and then read. It sprinkled a little, and I opened my umbrella to protect my bag. I stayed until I finished my book at 6pm, and then walked home. It was “cool” by then and it just felt like the right time of day to be at the beach. I’m glad I went for a dip.

Back at the house I showered, washed my clothes, and moved some of the roommates leftover food that he donated to me to my shelf in the fridge. Now I had options for dinner. I decided to make a fried egg sandwich. It was an open sandwich, and I used some of the sprouts Shelly gave me and some garlic salt. One side even had cheese. Then of course, yogurt and granola. Today has been a lot of food. I hope my stomach does not punish me for it.


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