Monthly Archives: February 2011

Barbados

Yes, I know I’ve been slack.  The internet connection in my hotel has been dreadful since I arrived back from Christmas, so I haven’t really been able to get a post done.  Plus, I’ve been working on a case study that I might need to present in Singapore later this year.  As always with such things, it took way way longer than I thought

Friendly locals

I promised you more about my adventure drive around Barbados.  Barbados is certainly one of the most developed islands in the Caribbean.  I wouldn’t call the place “rich” but its 300,000 polulation lives pretty well, and it has a fiersome tourist reputation (go on, admit it: it’s one of the places in the Caribbean you’ve heard of), so would probably be one of the islands that suffers least when there is a drop-off.

Barbados' wild east coast

When in Barbados, I stayed on the South Coast.  Skip, the IMF dude I worked with last year, lives there and he kindly booked me accommodation.  The hotel was in tourist central, which is not my usual thing.  I decided to embrace it, and discovered that it was across the road from a rather yummy place called The Pastry Box where they sell handmade cakes, owned by what is obviously a very talented French pastry chef (the cannoli are to die for).

I drove around the island, heading to Bridgetown first and then up the very exclusive west coast.  Barbados’ west coast is where the cashed-up crowd can be found.  No surprise, really – it’s lined with gorgeous beaches and calm waters.

Sugar cane fields of Barbados

The middle of the island is green and, unlike the rest of Barbados, green and hilly.  Unlike most other places in the Caribbean, sugar cane still grows here.  The east coast is another thing entirely: sheer cliffs confront angry waves on the Atlantic side of the island.  Tiny towns with names like Bathsheba dot along the otherwise abandoned coast.  There are stories of people going swimming here and washing up in Africa, but I’m not sure I buy them.

As beautiful as it is, I’d say that the two big downsides of Barbados are the traffic and the prices.  It’s a sky-high place to live.  Skip quotes some prices: try US$9 for a pineapple.  He reckons that, being careful, he spends US$200-300 on groceries each week, just for one person.  Yikes!  No wonder the locals favour rice and beans…

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Lucky me

I’d been back in St Kitts around 1 day when Tim, the Chairman of our Committee, calls me on my land line.  Since he normally calls me on my mobile, the first thing I asked was “Did you ring the land line to check that I’m back?”  He gave his usual hearty laugh and jokingly said “oh yes”  (not that I believe he was joking)

One of the main streets in Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados (early on a Sunday morning; it's usually more terrifying than this)

However, before long, he announced “We’re going to Barbados next week for a meeting on Tuesday”.  My little feet pattered under my desk and it didn’t take long before I asked if he minded if I worked from there on Monday so I could check the place out over the weekend.

Tim is rather a sweetie, and he knows sniffing around the Caribbean keeps me happy so he quickly agreed.

Along the Careenage in Bridgetown, a long narrow strip of water where the boats dock

The most seamless Liat trip I’ve experienced delivered me to Barbados 15 whole minutes early and I was off to enjoy this paradise, that song about Barbados rattling in my head (well, at least the words I could remember, which were “isle of sun” and “Barba-a-a-dos”, which really were good enough for me. 

The taxi driver was a little edgy: the official fare was BB$34 (US$17) and I didn’t have the exact fare and he didn’t have change.  After acting like it was MY job to have the exact money (coming from the airport…) I made him wait while I changed it at the hotel desk.  The IMF dude who I used to report to kindly booked me into a hotel – although it was in the middle of tourist central AND the high season.  SO not a combination I like much at all, but really I can’t complain.

Soon enough, it was off for a swim.  Barbados is truly one of the most beautiful islands in the Caribbean, with absolutely magnificent beaches: that combination of pure white sand, clear acqua water and sunny blue skies is impossible to resist.

For my next post, I’ll take you on my little tour of the island.

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