We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Yes, George Washington did go to Barbados, to visit with his brother for a while.
Barbados is a coral island situated a bit east and south of the other West Indies. Caribbean on its west side, Atlantic on the east. A popular winter getaway for Europeans and Americans. People tend to have their favorite islands, but I am not a big Caribbean fan. Its east coast gets a consistent pounding from the Atlantic, and a constant and welcome strong ocean breeze which makes the 75-82 degree temps feel cool.
- The island is an approximate triangle. The southern coast has the "city" of Bridgetown and is lined with mass market resorts and hotels like Sandals, etc.. The west coast has elegant old elite resorts like Sandy Lane where you dress for dinner. The north coasts are rugged. The interior is a combination of wild and agricultural. Except for the sugar cane, the agriculture (vegetables, cattle, goats, banana, plantain) is small-scale and not mechanized.
- The east coast, around 20 miles north to south, faces the raw Atlantic and is rocky (actually, coral rocks, boulders, and cliffs), rugged, with massive surf and is not safely swimmable due to crossing surf, sharp coral, and strong currents. Surfers drown there sometimes. There are only 3 little, simple places to stay on the entire east coast - no resorts, etc. We stayed in a nice little place on the east coast - 8 small suites - no pool, tennis courts, TV, or golf course and a little honesty bar in the dining shed which always had a gallon jar of rum punch.
- Photo is our porch, ocean surf behind the trees. During our visit there, the guests were French, Canadian, and Brits. One American, besides us. From Boston. I was reading Faulkner on this trip.
Our trip was not the conventional Caribbean getaway with "relaxing" and water sports. Photo travelogue below the fold -
- As a Brit colony (now a nation with their own money) the official language is English but the locals tend to speak Bajan to each other. A sort of pidgin English which is largely incomprehensible. You drive on the left, which I find easy to adjust to. 90% of the 270,000 population is Afro-Caribbean.
- Away from the resort areas, the roads are rough with bumps and potholes, minimally-maintained, and narrow. Slow-going. You also have to dodge Green Monkeys and Mongoose crossing the roads. Also have to watch for people on the narrow roads - in Barbados, the natives walk a lot. However, drivers are very polite. I liked driving around there and kept it slow so as not to damage the rental.
- Away from the resort areas, some little hamlets look like third world places made of corrugated steel. Even so, all the kids wear their school uniforms with neckties, and look great.
These are some nice houses:
We did one four-hour hike from Bathsheba along the coast up to Barclay Park, then up into the high hills above the shore. We had a guide for that mountain hike.
Abandoned development along that coast
Rasta man in this nice house wondered if my friend wanted some weed. Declined.
There's another around 2-hr good scenic hike from the Animal Flower Cave place (decent food at the cafe there). Dramatic cliffs.
The beach at Bath is the only safe swimmable beach on the east coast because the reef is far enough offshore to protect it. This was Saturday. Not crowded, to say the least.
Best hike was from the beach at Bath up along the old railroad line, all the way north to Bathsheba. A narrow footpath, and nobody else was on it. 2-3 hour walk, with a mix of jungle, dramatic coast, and meadows.
Along the roads, lots of abandoned and messed up places like this. It ain't Palm Springs. I think most visitors just go to resorts and stay there.
We took a drive to the St. Nicholas Abbey, with its 1630 plantation house. They are making very high-end rum there now. I do not believe in high-end rum. Mount Gay is just fine.
A nice ocean-view cattle farm
The Atlantis, in Bathsheba. Lovely restaurant on the ocean, terrible food and worse service.
We greatly enjoyed lunch at Chill 'n Breeze, though. Mrs. had the marlin and I had the flying fish sammich.
We also tried a local bar/restaurant up a back road. Chicken necks on the menu. De Garage. I'd go back there, even though the rum punch was too small.
They rent these cute cars. We don;t recommend it, though. When you have to go onto the shoulder for a passing car, the cane and sawgrass can slice up your passenger.
I couldn't read Faulkner while on vacation. For me, his writing requires my full attention for a prolonged period. He takes so long to build a setting and a plot that I'm afraid to put the book down for fear the whole structure will crumble and I'll be forced, with only a tinge of regret, to start from the beginning. For what it's worth, my favorite American author.
Although I have some in-law distant family there, I find Barbados too flat, too dull, and too dependent upon the tourist dollar. Others in the Caribbean look at Barbados as a first world country, which technically (I am told) the UN says it is.
The best time I have had in the Caribbean was on a 53-foot cat that we chartered with another couple, diplomats. You filled out the provision list in advance (meals and booze) and it came with a captain and mate. Our was a Yorkshirewoman and her Brazilian boyfriend, respectively. We had a ball and mostly hung around Mustique and The Grenadines, stopping wherever we felt like it.
A lot of the Caribbean is a dichotomy of intensely impoverished areas (rural ghettos with jungle and good weather) with pockets of high investment (the tourist resorts) that tend to export their income after covering the graft requirements of the local aristocracy. If you get off the beaten path you find some rich culture and terrific people. But their history is a lot more fragile than ours. They can't get a break.