A little warning about the Barbados set up should include a paragraph or so about the mass tourism and its impact on this tiny spec of a land in the Atlantic Ocean. The government has decided, apparently, that the tourism is going to be the next sugar cane crop and acts accordingly. The airport has been upgraded to receive the largest aircraft in service and they dutifully use it with great frequency. The crowds are efficiently processed by the immigration fellas and spewed out on the taxi stand. Taxi vehicles of the mini-bus size are the norm and they are transferring the eager sun worshipers in practically no time to their not-so-all-inclusive destinations in the Gap and further. In half an hour they are in a horizontal position watching the planes fly over with their precious cargo of more and more tourists; pretty much the cycle of life itself! Thankfully, there are many beaches and the economic crisis is definitely not gone so there is space for practically everybody under the prodigious Barbadian sun and still have room for personal distance. Is this the real Caribbean? Probably not. For the real thing one has to face LIAT and go to places similar to St. Vincent and the Grenadines and find out what exactly the Caribbean should feel like.
Looking at the accommodation sites related to Barbados, one might get the impression that the lodging is quite expensive. Yes, it is not cheap but there is hope. The best approach for people with small luggage and patience is to pick a hotel of acceptable value and then check it out without reserving in advance. Sometimes it might work right away and sometimes it might require some extra legwork. In this case the Dolphin hotel was fully booked so the next in line was probably 3 min. away on the same street. Unfortunately, this was one of the older establishments, whose staff has not noticed the gradual decline and continue demand incompatible prices. They even dare to have a two tier system designed for Eastern Caribbean nationals and everybody else and all of this incongruity for 95USD. Well, another 3 min. walk and you are into the parking lot of Sunisland Apartment Hotel. This place is new, has one and two bedroom apartments and sits on top of a Chinese restaurant. The management is Chinese, the negotiation is nonsense-free and the price is 75USD for the one bedroom apartment. Considering that this is only 5 min. walk from Dover Beach and St. Lawrence action the hotel is a super deal. Even way more unfortunate setups with common areas in larger (guest) houses cannot match the privacy and price of this establishment.
The prices for standard taxi rides all over the island have been regulated. They are written on boards at the taxi stand of the airport. Still, some taxi drivers are trying to insist on more using different excuses. It is up to you to stand your ground or give in and set bad example. For instance, airport to St. Lawrence is supposed to be 31 Barbadian dollars but they would insist on 40.
The vast majority of Barbadians (Bajans) appear to be gentle souls. Some exceptions are very vocal though finding appropriately crowded venues to express their frustrations; main bus station or traffic jammed Independence square rank very high. Common theme across the Caribbean must be the lack of institutions for the mentally challenged. So they roam free and their lectures are silently put up with by the numbed audiences. The advice of the locals is definitely to be aware and keeping physical distance is the approach to keep out of trouble best. On the side lines there are some individuals who have lost their minds in communication with the multitudes of intruders from other cultures. For those poor souls and to the benefit of future victims of culture shock the government has organized a nice visual propaganda along the highways where a polite character from a yellow bill-board reminds the populace the advantages of civility. This must be the Barbadian version of French education on the matter when apparently nasty Parisian behaviour towards visiting Anglos was spoiling the tourism aura of the City of Lights and its coffers.
An update for you all - Oistens has been refurbishing the area for Fish Fry nights, and I have now included some photographs to show you the refurbishment. It really has tidied up the area, and the vendors stalls are so colourful. All in all Oistens has been regenerated in this area.
Do go to Oistens on a Thursday, Friday or Saturday night to sample local food at its best, Friday night is noisy, with loud music, so much finger lickin' food to choose from, and colourful locals to watch reggae, or dance in their own inimitable way. Do not miss this , it is fun. Just get the bus to Oistens cooking starts when the sun goes down. Enjoy. Thursday nights are crowd free, and you can obtain your food almost immediately, there is no music, but still good food.
The photo shows the two slate roof buildings which houses the catch of the day and the locals who clean the fish ready for sale. Please be courteous and ask permission if you wish to take photographs.
The Oistens Fish Festival takes place over the Easter weekend, and it brings a carnival atmosphere to this small coast fishing village. There are contests in fish boning, and other skills, testing local prowess. There are also stalls selling crafts and home cooked foods.
Photo by joanj
Our wedding photographer, Eleanor, was just superb. She is highly in demand for weddings across the island and has links with many of the hotels so is very experienced at making the perfect record of the day (in fact, she recently took the pictures when Tiger Woods was married at the Sandy Lane Hotel!) Her package prices are extremely reasonable (from $BDS850 for 36 photos, plus album and all negatives), especially compared to the cost of photography for a UK wedding. Eleanor mounts the pictures in an album and delivers them to you before the end of the holiday. She has a wonderful way with people too, which is so important.
The only gripe i have is that she took so many great pictures, we are having trouble deciding which ones to have framed now that we're back home!
I wasn't too sure where to post this tip, so 'local customs' will have to do!
I had a wonderful hairdresser, Valerie, for my big day. She has her own salon at the main shopping centre in Holetown, and the package we booked with her included a hair trial at the salon the day before, with Valerie coming to the villa we stayed at a few hours before the wedding itself to transform us. I was so pleased with what she did - I have very straight and very thick hair that is difficult to work with, but she transformed it into a wonderful 'up' do of curls and ringlets, with my tiara fitting perfectly. If like me you are not sure what you would like and what will suit you, Valerie will make a perfect recommendation. The picture shows my sister, who had fresh flowers from the garden worked into her hair.
I really did feel like a princess, and would recommend her very highly to anybody looking for a hairdresser for their special day in Barbados.
We had a lot of help in organising our marriage in Barbados, but one thing we did have to do ourselves was purchase the marriage licence.
Take your passport and birth certificates (and, if relevant, decree absolute or death certificate of your previous spouse) to the Ministry of Home Affairs, which is near the General Post Office in Bridgetown. You will also need a BDS$25 postage stamp, and BDS$100 for the marriage licence. Then it is just a matter of completing some forms, and swearing an oath on the Bible that all the information you have given is true and accurate (at that point we did begin to wonder if we would be leving the Ministry as a married couple with the ceremony the followng day being a mere formaility!)
The process is fairly quick, but be prepared to queue if you are getting married at a popular time of year.
These few pictures show a Chattel house on the St. Lawrence Road, Christchurch that was in desperate need of repair. The first picture shows the beginning of the wooden structure, the foundation having been left.
The next two pictures show the nearly completed outside of the property. Pictures 1 and 2 were taken about a week apart, and picture 3 only a few days later.
Chattel Houses were used by early African Plantation workers. They were built on cement blocks, and so could be dismantled easily and moved to other pantations. They were able to move them because the workers did not own the land they were built on.
As their income improved, they were able to add on to the house.
Sometimes these little houses have many family members all living together. They are small but compact.
Today, many Chattel Houses are used as craft shops, notably in Holetown, St. James on the West Coast, and St. Lawrence Gap in Christchurch.
Many Bajans today, still occupy this type of house.
You will find dotted about the island, Hurricane Shelters in the form of the local Church.
This particular photograph is of the St. Lawrence Church which was consecrated on 5th November 1839, and established a Parish on 15th January 1977.
As the Church is the centre of the Community, it makes sense to have them as the gathering place in an Emergency.
If you want to see the locals dressed up get a bus on a Sunday and just go for a ride on it, the ladies wear grand dresses,hats and shoes to match, bless um. The guys are in suits and look very posh, its a pleasure to see them and they know they look good too even if they are about 20yrs out of date!!!!!
If you are in Barbados on a Friday you must make it to Oistins, on the South shore, for the fish fry put on by the locals. The different grilled fish fillets are offered by about a dozen or more vendors, but almost all offer flying fish, the local speciality. Walk around first and check different one out; most offer free samples. Prices are good, mostly about US$ 8-10 per plate.
Don't get there too early, because once it gets dark live island music is played for all to hear.
There are also several trinket vendors offering different styles of jewelry and other handicrafts.
Bajans have a habit of taking something English and making it their own - cricket is a good example. The sport was first played here by the colonists and remains hugely popular. During the annual international home matches (usually March to June), everyone is talking cricket. You'll see old men with transistor radios, taxi drivers will have it on the radio and you'll see it in the press. One image I'll never forget is entering a supermarket in Worthing and seeing a bunch of men gathered around a TV showing the cricket while their significant others looked after the shopping.
Barbados has won the regional championship (currently called the Carib Cub) a record 18 times, although they finished last in 2005. I'm sure they'll bounce back! This is the undisputed national passtime.
In many of the older buildings in the country, you can see inscriptions on the pavers and bricks used both in the foundations or in the construction of the surrounding walkways and gardens.
These bricks were used as ballast in the old sugar freighters and then reused in construction after the freighters left with their cargo. The names refer to ships or trading companies.
This sport of Road Tennis is a sport they call their own.
The game started as far back as the 1930's in the parish of St. Michael, and has often been referred to as the "poor man's tennis".
Equipment is very basic, consisting of two pieces of wood,an old tennis ball, and the court chalked out on the ground on the road.
Once when we were on a country road in the moke we hired, we came across some young boys playing the game, and we stopped so they could finish the "set". It was facinating to watch them have so much fun with such basic tools.
The Professional Road Tennis Association (PRTA) was formed in 2000 and is based in Barbados.(Dale Clarke is the President). The Association is determed to improve the standard of play and to spread the gospel of road tennis all over the globe.
Visitors can learn more about road tennis and participate in holiday coaching clinics organized by the PRTA.
Enterprise Coast Rd, , Barbados, Caribbean
Good for: Business
Rockley Beach 1, Christ Church, Caribbean
Good for: Solo
Tent Bay, St. Joseph, Bathsheba, Barbados, Caribbean
Good for: Business