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.
So let’s go there for our birthday!
Okay, before we officially begin our adventure, let’s do some aircraft geeking. 😀
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.
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.
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?
A gratuitous photograph of American Airlines aircraft, simply because they are lined up so nicely.
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.
We are the very first to board, so we pause to take a photograph. Yeah, make ’em wait….
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.
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. ✈️
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.
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?
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.
Now you can see how many bean pods are in this tree. Yup, it gets pretty loud sometimes, yup….
We can almost drive from our balcony into the ocean. Almost.
Yeah, it really is a beautiful view from out place.
Let’s take a look at more of the neighborhood around Fitts Village, shall we?
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.
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.
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….
This is pretty cool. An entrepreneur is raising Siamese fighting fish in his garage. Everyone has to have a hobby, right?
If your hobby is basketball, you have a unique opportunity to play it island-style, where one side always has an advantage.
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.
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>
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.
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.
“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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
To the west of the northern-most point of Barbados is the Caribbean Sea, its warm waters caressing the island.
In this panorama, you can distinctly see the difference between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, right?
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.
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.
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.
At one end of Batts Rock Beach is a small café, but most of the beach is just beach.
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.
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?
On the other hand, it can’t be *that* difficult, right? It’s just a bunch of beach stones.
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.
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. ?
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.
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!
As I said earlier, there is a café 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… 😐
Oh, wait. It’s “La Cabane”, which is French for “the cabin”. And that fish looks like it wants to drink from a straw.
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.
Yes, they really do have a café 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.
Okay, I got sidetracked. We came here looking for monkeys, so let’s see some monkeys!
More fun than a barrel of them!
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.
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!
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.
The turtles that visit us today are not big enough that we can ride them cowboy-style. Sad.
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.
They always have that same expression.
A few times, the turtles get so close we have to push them away. They don’t seem to mind….
The water is very clear, and it looks blue or green depending on the angle. Weird, eh?
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.
We frequently see islanders bringing animal corpses from the ocean and preparing them for consumption. Let’s take a closer look, shall we?
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!
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”.
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.
Of course, you can live in Barbados and not slaughter animals.
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. 😎
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!!
One evening as we sit on our balcony enjoying paradise, we decide to listen to Israel Kamakawiwoʻole. Turn up the volume and enjoy! And HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!