Jan 8 2012
1/8/12 - 1/8/12
- 4 x 4's and rum punch before noon
- Gully hike
- Barbados is one of my favorites.
- Not ready to go home!
This morning I was on deck having breakfast when the Explorer arrived at Barbados. I’ve read that Barbados is a well-developed island. It looks like it from outside the island. A huge blue and yellow tug met us and a large rope was transferred from our ship to the tug. Somehow we got positioned at some bulkheads with two other large cruise ships. Other than Nassau Bahamas, this is the first time we have encountered large cruise ships in a port.
The water here is the green-turquoise I remember from a trip I took to the Caribbean in the early 90’s on a cruise ship. The sky is blue, there is a light breeze, the water is turquoise, the coffee and oatmeal is good and I’m surrounded by voices of lots of new ship-friends. I sat there this morning thinking I have to figure out how to get one of the Explorer’s round-the-world-trips into my budget. I woke this morning about 5 a.m. and tried to stay awake to enjoy the rocking of the ship. It is such a pleasant way to sleep – the sound of the engines and the gentle rocking (even if the beds are pancake thin and the pillows not to my specifications).
Today we are taking a ride in 4 x 4’s that hold 10 people, have roll bars and seat-belts and they have told people not to come if they have back or heart problems. It is called a Naturalist Field excursion. We will do some hiking, visit Welchman Hall Gully and see a wildlife reserve Will report back later….. I'm back. What a full day. The 4 x 4's hold six in the back with a canopy on the vehicle. Our Road Scholar guide rode with the driver in front. Our first visit was to Welchman Gully. A gully is a cave where the top has caved in. It was so cool. Very deep into the earth and seemed like a rain forest with tall tall trees. Barbados has many many caves and the woman who manages the gully and lead our group said there was another cave under the gully we were walking through. It was a beautiful walk and we saw new trees and plants and birds. Our guide was happy to be back in Barbados and managing the Gully which she leases from the government. She charges people to walk through it and has four stuff who with her keep the Gully in good environmental condition. Right now the African snail which arrived five years ago is eating lots of the vegetation and that is a huge project for her and her staff.
The Gully land is leased from the government and managed by a woman named Debby who had degrees in botany and ecology from the England and Canada. She has a parent from Canada and one from Barbados. We were lucky enough to have her lead our group. Learned much about the plants, the five-year old invasion of African snails that are causing huge problems in Barbados and eating plants. The vegetation was bigger than stuff we saw in the rain forest. We walked about a mile in the Gully. After that the guides offered us “medicinal rum” and before you know it we had a big jug of medicinal rum in our jeep. We had fun and laughs as we all loosened up a little with the rum.
When we got back in the 4 x 4's the driver offered us drinks of rum punch. It was so good. And we had a second round. The next thing you know six quietly traveling tourists were talking and laughing and getting to know each other. Odd how rum punch works. Our next stop was at a plantation where we had a buffet lunch outdoors. Very nice place which was decorated like there was a big party! We then toured the island in our 4 x 4's. The roads are narrow and windy and the driver honks the horn at curves so people know he is coming. We had beautiful views of the Atlantic, saw the homes and neighborhoods of the island and
We drove over most of the island today. Barbados is the most beautiful island we have been to. It is tidy and the vegetation is lush. It is the farthest eastern island; the next stop is Africa. Also it is surrounded by the Atlantic. Once side has rougher seas and one side calmer. It has hills and is really quite beautiful. Banana groves, cane fields, etc.
After the Gully we had lunch at a plantation. Outdoors, decorated and festive. Buffet. Good food. And more rum.
We drove about 45 minutes, stopping for pictures at many spots on the island.
Tonight was the staff talent show. Not too exciting but some musicians in the group. Also the costume show. What a wild event -- you'd be surprised at the costumes people pack so they can take part in the costume show.
Re the beds: I was helping Joan look for something she’d lost in her room. We were looking under the beds…oh my gosh….think mattresses. Kind of hard. But many people here say they find them comfortable. I had a stiff neck at first –not sure if that was from working to keep myself upright on the ship or from the pillows. But I’ve adapted.
My room steward is Achiles and he is from the Philippines. He has been around the world an incredible four times. We talked to one young bartender who is from Bombay. He has the absolute best smile and the cutest personality. He is 25 and has been around the world four times.
The ship has seven floors. We can access two through seven. Joan and I have rooms on floor three. We are about mid-ship – almost directly opposite each other in different halls. There are three sets of stairs and two sets of elevators that serve the upper floors. Joan and I only use the stairs. She says there are 50 stairs to get to Deck 6 which is where we eat, use computer, listen to lectures, go to classes, etc. She estimates we make the trip 7 times a day. And she has decided that is worth a BILLION calories. So we keep eating dessert two or three times a day. Haven’t seen a scale on the ship!
I feel regrets about coming home. I have never been on a trip where I didn’t know what day of the week it is. I know the date because it is on the ship schedule but often the day of the week is not printed. What is odd is that it doesn’t seem to matter. I am usually ready to head home towards the end of a trip. I don’t feel ready to go home yet. Wonder if that will change in the next few day.
• Last hurricane in Barbados was in 1955
• Gully we visited was 15 acres. Collapsed cave is due to crack in earth. Gullies are a water source as there is often acquifier underneath
• Barbados was deforested for sugar cane.
• Animals are watered at the gully
• They have had rainy season for two years now.
• Island is surrounded by Atlantic ocean.
• Guide pointed to Oprah’s house on the hill there.
• Top five (?) in literacy
• No such thing as DUI; 2nd in drinking.
• House on windy cheap side of island $70K; other side 500K
• All beaches are public.
• Government pays people to collect snails but no one wants to do it