We have a birthday coming up, and what better place to spend it than Barbados!

As you may remember, we traveled here during the Great Covid-19 Panic of 2020-2021, and we wrote of our adventures dealing with all the nonsense.  Well, now it’s time to really be in Barbados.

Barbados is situated in the Atlantic Ocean, east of the other West Indies Islands, and is the easternmost island in the Lesser Antilles.  Despite being classified as an Atlantic island, Barbados is considered to be part of the Caribbean and is ranked as one of its leading tourist destinations. 

It's under that little red pointer.

It’s under that little red pointer.

So let’s go there for our birthday!

Geek Time

Okay, before we officially begin our adventure, let’s do some aircraft geeking.  馃榾 

No, not the big one.  The other one...

No, not the big one. The other one…

As best I can tell, the little plane is a Tupolev Tu-154.  If you look closely, the tail design is unlike any American or European commercial jets in service.

No, not the little one.  The other one...

No, not the little one. The other one…

Here we see through the aircraft window a rare Dreamlifter.  Officially called a Boeing 747-400 Large Cargo Freighter, there are only four of these aircraft.  They were designed to transport Boeing 787 Dreamliner parts between Italy, Japan, and the U.S.A.

The mystery plane.

The mystery plane.

A plane’s livery helps identify it; however, this Airbus A340, parked in a quiet corner of the airport, remains anonymous.  Not that interesting, I know, but still unusual.  I mean, a long-range four-engine jet has to belong to somebody, right?

Can you tell which airline flies these planes?

Can you tell which airline flies these planes?

A gratuitous photograph of American Airlines aircraft, simply because they are lined up so nicely.

This one, at least, shows a sunrise.

This one, at least, shows a sunrise.

If you look directly at the sunrise, it looks a bit scratchy.  That’s precipitation on the window.  But still, it’s a cool photograph.

Firsties!

Firsties!

We are the very first to board, so we pause to take a photograph.  Yeah, make ’em wait….

It's a Russian plane, in case you are in a hurry.  (That's a joke, son.)

It’s a Russian plane, in case you are in a hurry. (That’s a joke, son.)

Here we are in Barbados, and I see this unusual plane parked away from the other planes.  I take a quick photograph before I’m told, “No photographs!”, for reasons.

A better view.

A better view.

Once outside, I can see it is an Antonov An-124 Ruslan, the largest military transport aircraft in service.  This one is flown by Volga-Dnepr Airlines, which specializes in providing air charter services for the movement of oversize, unique, and heavy air cargo.  They are based out of Ulyanovsk, Russia, (the birthplace of Vladimir Lenin) but also have a base of operations at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston, Texas.  We have no idea why it is here.

Okay, that’s enough geeking for now.  鉁堬笍

Barbados

The first thing to note is that Barbados is a fairly crowded island; it has a population of 290,000 people living on a 166 square mile island.  Contrast that with Dominica, which has 72,000 people living on a 291 square mile island.  So there is considerably more interaction with the locals…which is a good thing!

You might remember from our article about travel during the Covid Panic that we were in a relocation camp for two days when we first arrived.  However, we are now free, and enjoying life on this beautiful island.

That's us, right above Bridgetown.

That’s us, right above Bridgetown.

We are staying in an Airbnb in Little Reef, Fitts Village, in Saint James Parish

A room with a view.

A room with a view.

This is the view from our living room.  Yes, we are as close to the water as we can get.  We hear the waves constantly (which is happy) and, when the wind blows*, the seed pods make a musical sound.

* “When the wind blows” is an odd expression.  “Wind” exists only when blowing.  Amirite?

Looking south from our balcony...

Looking south from our balcony…

We include this photograph because it’s very rare to see other tourists here.  You can tell tourists because they are not tan.  In fact, that guy is downright pasty.

...and, if you'll look to the north, you'll see more ocean.

…and, if you’ll look to the north, you’ll see more ocean.

Now you can see how many bean pods are in this tree.  Yup, it gets pretty loud sometimes, yup….

Our wee balcony for our bedroom.

Our wee balcony for our bedroom.

We can almost drive from our balcony into the ocean.  Almost.

Yeah, it really is a beautiful view from out place.

The Neighborhood

Let’s take a look at more of the neighborhood around Fitts Village, shall we?

An average street in our neighborhood.

An average street in our neighborhood.

There are few housing developments here.  Almost every house is unique: some have foundations, some are balanced on rocks and boards, some have tile roofs, some have old fashioned TV antenna, etc.

Upscale living.

Upscale living.

This is one of the nicer houses in our neighborhood.  Notice the other house, which is inhabited, but missing the outer stucco and other finishing touches.

Downscale living.

Downscale living.

Yup, people live here.  And it’s not like there is a rich section and a poor section of the neighborhood.  These houses are more-or-less intermingled with each other.

We’ve included a collection of scenes from our neighborhood.  You can see that it’s a diverse experience, and some of the residences do not look OSHA compliant to my eye….

There is something fishy here.

There is something fishy here.

This is pretty cool. An entrepreneur is raising Siamese fighting fish in his garage.  Everyone has to have a hobby, right?

Maybe they have different rules here...?

Maybe they have different rules here…?

If your hobby is basketball, you have a unique opportunity to play it island-style, where one side always has an advantage.

"Perseverance Seldom Fails."

“Perseverance Seldom Fails.”

Here we see the Good Shepherd Primary School.  It has 250 students divided into two departments (Infants and Juniors), five sports, and seven activities.  They require uniforms for the Infant females, Junior females, and Junior males.

Boundary marker, island-style.

Boundary marker, island-style.

The field in front of the school is delineated with a very, very long piece of blue rope. You can’t see it here, but the rope surrounds the entire field (except for right in front of the school).  It doesn’t seem like it would be necessary, since there is private land just beyond the rope so the boundary is unambiguous.  However, I could be misunderstanding.  Perhaps someone just had a very, very long piece of blue rope and, one day, left it lying on the field; perhaps, by now, it’s been rolled up and disposed of. <shrug>

Now I'm nervous.

Now I’m nervous.

First, consider that this is not a hand-written sign. As in, this must be a common issue here on Barbados.  Second, there must have been some incident where a person walked and assumed that the risk would be someone else’s.  Third, it seems that the riskiest part is hitting your head on the sign.

Rules are meant to be followed.

Rules are meant to be followed.

We are about to enter this establishment, when we realize my wife is wearing a halter top.  We don’t know why that would be an issue, but rules are rules, right?  On the other hand….in US male homosexual culture, barebacking refers to anal intercourse without a condom; and, homosexual acts are illegal here in Barbados.  So, maybe there is a point we are missing; however, we do not enquire.

Be Beach Smart.

Be Beach Smart.

“Operating hours for the lifeguards: April 01 – September 30: 9:00am – 6:00pm; Oct 1st – March 31st: 8:30 am – 5:30 pm.”  Yes, I typed it exactly as written.  But the cool part is that, when you live near the equator, there is only a half-hour difference between winter and summer.

Blue Barbados.

Blue Barbados.

And this is the lifeguard stand referred to in the sign above.  I took the photograph at dusk, and this is the unaltered color the camera captured.  Just another reason to visit Barbados, eh?

North Point

North Point is the northern-most point in Barbados; hence, the name.  There is an official looking entrance and it looks like there is an entrance fee, but there isn’t.  However, there are a couple of charming fellows at the entrance who sell competitively-priced carvings and drawings.  Bring plenty of cash.  

You're kidding, right?

You’re kidding, right?

The first thing we notice are goats. Lots of them.  Do they milk them for cheese, chop them up for meat, use them to control weeds, or…?  We don’t know.  We drive to the parking lot, and there are no other cars.  As usual, we have the place to ourselves.

Which way to everywhere.

Which way to everywhere.

We can’t vouch for the accuracy of any of these signs, except the blue and yellow one in the middle pointing down that reads, “Barbados”.

The cold Atlantic Ocean.

The cold Atlantic Ocean.

The lines that divide most geologic formations are conceptual, but let’s pretend they are not.  Here we see the water to the east of the northern-most point of Barbados.

The warm Caribbean.

The warm Caribbean.

To the west of the northern-most point of Barbados is the Caribbean Sea, its warm waters caressing the island.

A panorama showing both the ocean and the sea.

A panorama showing both the ocean and the sea.

In this panorama, you can distinctly see the difference between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, right?

Somebody's back yard.

Somebody’s back yard.

There are a couple of touristy things to do here, such as visit a path in the sea wall and dine at a restaurant.  We spent all our cash buying stuff from the guys at the front gate, and the restaurant is closed.  So we just walk around.  There is one house here, on the Atlantic side, with this backyard designed for children.  These kids will grow up thinking that everyone has an unobstructed view of the ocean out to infinity.

The famous Miss Lucy.

The famous Miss Lucy.

North Point is deserted except for the lovey Miss Lucy, whose size and proportions probably cost the sculptor more money than planned.  Miss Lucy has a plaque telling us her name but, beyond that, we know nothing about this lovely island woman.

Monkeys

About 350 years ago, folks traveling from Africa brought green monkeys from Senegal and The Gambia with them to Barbados, for some reason.

Treetop living.

Treetop living.

They have adapted to island living, and it’s not uncommon for us to see them in our neighborhood.

You can see more of these monkeys frolicking about in our neighborhood.

Batts Rock Beach

In fact, Batts Rock Beach, about five kilometers south of us, is famous for its green monkeys.  Let’s see if we can find some.

Batts Rock Beach panorama.

Batts Rock Beach panorama.

At one end of Batts Rock Beach is a small caf茅, but most of the beach is just beach.

Orange leaves, for some reason.

Orange leaves, for some reason.

It is summer here (which doesn’t narrow it down much when you are on the equator) and everything is green.  The trees in this area shed a small number of orange leaves that fly through the air and litter the beach.

The mysterious stacked stones of Batts Rock.

The mysterious stacked stones of Batts Rock.

We come upon a garden of stones, carefully stacked by some wondrous sculptor.  How many years did this person study to perfect such subtle technique?  From what sacred place were the stones gathered?

I wanna try!

I wanna try!

On the other hand, it can’t be *that* difficult, right?  It’s just a bunch of beach stones.

Careful...

Careful…

Taking into account the earth’s rotation, the effect of the tides, and the moon’s azimuth, I place the stone gingerly on the topmost rock.

Taa daa!

Taa daa!

When distant generations marvel at the pyramids of Egypt, the moai of Easter Island, and the stacked stones of Batts Rock Beach, my actions on this day will be sung by the multitudes.  ?

Who the hell thought this was a good idea?

Who the hell thought this was a good idea?

We had heard that there was a tree on some Caribbean islands that you weren’t supposed to touch or even stand under, and it’s true.  The manchineel tree is a real bastard.  “A present-day Spanish name is manzanilla de la muerte, ‘little apple of death’. This refers to the fact that manchineel is one of the most toxic trees in the world: the tree has milky-white sap which contains numerous toxins and can cause blistering. The sap is present in every part of the tree: the bark, the leaves, and the fruit.”

At Batts Rock Beach, these trees have been thoughtfully marked with red.

Have clippers, will travel.

Have clippers, will travel.

If you are at Batts Rock Beach and are in need of a haircut, perhaps the Traveling Barber of Batts Rock Beach will accommodate your needs.  Notice, too, on the right: a trash can for your children!  How thoughtful!

You don't even need a straw!

You don’t even need a straw!

As I said earlier, there is a caf茅 at the end of the beach called, apparently, La Cobore, where you can bypass using a straw for some reason.  The shirt is covered with a hat made of straw, so I guess there is a joke here that I don’t get… 馃槓 

That fish looks bored.

That fish looks bored.

Oh, wait.  It’s “La Cabane”, which is French for “the cabin”.  And that fish looks like it wants to drink from a straw.

Another Batts Rock Beach mystery.

Another Batts Rock Beach mystery.

Would you like to sit in that swinging chair at the entrance to La Cabane?  Psych!  It is attached to a deadly manchineel tree, and apparently made out of its branches!  Those Bajans are a sly folk, full of whimsy.

Cheers!

Cheers!

Yes, they really do have a caf茅 at La Cabane.  Notice the fellow wearing the blue shirt: he is drinking with a straw.  So the meaning of “Skip the Straw” shall forever remain a mystery on Barbados.

Into the forest we go!

Into the forest we go!

Okay, I got sidetracked.  We came here looking for monkeys, so let’s see some monkeys!

More fun than a barrel of them!

Turtles

A few centuries ago, there were so many turtles living in the waters of the Caribbean that they were considered a navigation hazard. These days, there are not so many.  Still, it’s pretty easy to hire a boat and captain and get up close and personal with sea turtles.

Looking for turtles on the blue, blue ocean.

Looking for turtles on the blue, blue ocean.

A Bajan who lived about a block from us said he would help us find whatever we need, and so here we are on a boat looking for turtles.  Actually, the boat’s pilot takes us a few hundred meters off-shore, drops anchor, and throws chunks of fish into the water.  In a very short time, we have turtles!

Finding turtles on the green, green ocean.

Finding turtles on the green, green ocean.

I find it difficult to assess turtles’ moods.  Their facial expression does not change, they can’t stretch or curl their bodies, they don’t wag their tail, and they are flipper babies.

Okay, let's go swimming.

Okay, let’s go swimming.

The turtles that visit us today are not big enough that we can ride them cowboy-style.  Sad.

Two turtles, no waiting.

Two turtles, no waiting.

It turns out these two turtles are accustomed to people, and that sometimes people bring food into the water with them. Thus, the turtles come near us in a vain attempt to be fed.  Very near.

Well, hello there!

Well, hello there!

They always have that same expression.

Up close and personal.

Up close and personal.

A few times, the turtles get so close we have to push them away.  They don’t seem to mind….

Hey!  The water is blue again!

Hey! The water is blue again!

The water is very clear, and it looks blue or green depending on the angle.  Weird, eh?

Island Eating

According to the Internet, Bajan cuisine is “a mixture of African, Portuguese, Indian, Irish, Creole and British background. A typical meal consists of a main dish of meat or fish, normally marinated with a mixture of herbs and spices, hot side dishes, and one or more salads. The meal is usually served with one or more sauces.”  Well, that contains absolutely no information.

Livin' off the land, Barbados style.

Livin’ off the land, Barbados style.

We frequently see islanders bringing animal corpses from the ocean and preparing them for consumption.  Let’s take a closer look, shall we?

A bountiful harvest from the sea.

A bountiful harvest from the sea.

The fellow on the right is carefully slicing the limbs from a fish.  The fellow in the center displays a Caribbean reef octopus and a pretty blue fish.  Yum!

Smile for the camera!

Smile for the camera!

The hunter displays his catch.  The bulbous light-colored region contains the animal’s brain; it is large because octopuses are one of the most intelligent of all invertebrates.  The long tentacles are sometimes called “calamari”. 

American-style eatin'.

American-style eatin’.

We indulge in a couple of lamb steaks, purchased frozen from Jordans Supermarket in Fitts Village.  One of the secrets of cooking lamb is to grill it outdoors; lamb has A LOT of fat, and grilling allows the fat to drizzle out.  Fact.

No animals were harmed in creating this breakfast.

No animals were harmed in creating this breakfast.

Of course, you can live in Barbados and not slaughter animals.

You can't spell Barbados without "rum".

You can’t spell Barbados without “rum”.

Of course, there is more to eating than eating; there is drinking.  Drinking rum.  Don’t worry: We will have more about rum in a future article.  馃槑 

Barbados birthday dinner.

Barbados birthday dinner.

We said we have a birthday to celebrate, and we do!  In fact, the entire trip to Barbados is to celebrate my birthday.  And today we are having a fabulous meal at Il Tempio, “the best Italian food in Barbados”.  And, of course, we have a private beach to watch the sunset.  Happy birthday!!

讗侄转志拽址砖职讈转执旨謺讬 谞指转址謻转执旨讬 讘侄旨纸注指谞指謶谉 讜职讛指纸讬职转指讛謾 诇职讗郑讜止转 讘职旨专执謹讬转 讘值旨讬谞执謻讬 讜旨讘值芝讬谉 讛指讗指纸专侄抓變

讗侄转志拽址砖职讈转执旨謺讬 谞指转址謻转执旨讬 讘侄旨纸注指谞指謶谉 讜职讛指纸讬职转指讛謾 诇职讗郑讜止转 讘职旨专执謹讬转 讘值旨讬谞执謻讬 讜旨讘值芝讬谉 讛指讗指纸专侄抓變

One evening as we sit on our balcony enjoying paradise, we decide to listen to Israel Kamakawiwo驶ole.  Turn up the volume and enjoy!  And HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

awa Travels Tip: A birthday doesn’t have to be a day. It can be an adventure and a memory.