Friday, July 17, 2015

Two Days of News

This is the day before yesterday's post. Sorry about missing it. I was very tired once we got to the hotel. [He was too lazy—Ed.] Anyway here it is.

Yesterday after starting out from our old rented house we drove to a nearby farmers' market before continuing to the hotel. Personally I wasn't very sad about leaving the rented house because I knew we were going to be in a nice comfy hotel.

At the market there I saw there was lots of fresh fruit and vegetables. The nice thing about being in the tropics is that the fruit can be brought as fresh as you can get it, right off the tree. Once we had finished looking at the market (which was, by the way, a lot smaller than I expected it to be) we went to a little place nearby and had smoothies. There were also some weird decorations in there including a row of white-plastic hands and coat hangers bent into strange shapes.

Parliament Buildings of local limestone
We left for the hotel after that and found our room was not ready. So we left our luggage at the hotel and drove into Bridgetown to find some lunch. We came to a nice place that served pizza called Mamma Mia's. We looked through the menu and found a nice deal where you could get an eight-inch pizza and a glass of home-made lemonade. The pizza was nice and warm with delicious pieces of Italian sausage, pepperoni, and cheese that stretched from the pizza to your mouth when you took a bite.

Lord Nelson (erected 30 years before the one
in London's Trafalgar Sq.)
Next we went to The Barbados Museum. There we saw some interesting artifacts including a drip stone which is a device that was used to remove solid contaminants from water.

Then we went to the hotel and found the room was ready. Me and my dad went to look at the executive lounge while my mom and my sister went to the pool. The executive lounge had chandeliers.

Then we had dinner and went to bed.

Yesterday we woke up and had breakfast at the hotel's buffet which I liked it very much.  We spent most of the morning after that swimming. There were three pools at the hotel a baby pool, a regular pool, and an infinity pool which was deeper and had a waterfall that went over the edge.

Then we went to look at Bridgetown, which is the capital city of Barbados. The place was a bit ragged and in a state of disrepair. There wasn't much that was interesting either the only two things that we did see were a statue of Lord Nelson and the Parliament Building.

Then we drove to a small restaurant called Blakeleys that was on a beach. We got a table on the balcony and ate lamb chops with BBQ sauce and fries. Then we went home.




Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Answers

Sorry, something's wrong with the software and I can't reply to comments with comments at the moment. So here's a posting with replies instead. Thanks for the comments.

Wow. That blue sea looks just wonderful. I am very envious of all your turtle encounters. Have you seen the film Cool Runnings? Fish seems to be the preferred supper on this trip. Swim with them in the day, eat them at night. Keep the holiday tales coming. A. Wendy x

No I have not seen that movie but I was told a little about it by my editor. Also yes your right I do seem to have fish for dinner a lot these days, but then again this is an island so seafood is the easiest thing to get. 

> Awesome! This experience sounds amazing, but I'd LOVE to know more about how it made you feel. What made you feel surprised? Nervous? Brave? Excited? Scared? Lucky?

Mainly I felt excited and also happy because of all the great things I got to see. I also got tired because of all the swimming.

A Cave, A Rum Factory, and A Plantation House.

The Village
Today we went out to a cave. We didn't have to drive for very long compared to some of our other sightseeing expeditions.

Once we got to the cave we boarded a sort of tram and we began to descend. We saw lots of stalagmites and stalactites. There was one really big room called The Great Hall that had a huge mountain of rock in it. There was another formation called the altar that had two shimmering white pieces of rock in a little pool of water. The two rocks looked a bit like two people standing together. I also saw a lot of holes which looked like miniature caves with their own mini stalactites and stalagmites. I also learned why the water here in Barbados tastes of minerals. Its because water is brought up from the caves for use but it's been filtered by the limestone. Also only 20% of the water in the caves is actually used, the rest flows into the sea. Another thing I learned is it takes around 300 days for one drop of water to come down from the surface and drip into the cave.

I also took a lot of really good pictures of the caves but unfortunately the camera I took them on is nearly out of power so I can't put them on this blog. Luckily my editor has been kind enough to provide some images.

Once we were done with our tour in the cave we went to find lunch. After a long time of driving we came to a restaurant where I had chicken, some rice with vegetables, and a salad.

We went to a rum factory after lunch. When I stepped inside the place where the rum was made I got a huge whiff of rum. Personally I don't think the smell of rum is very pleasant (makes even my grandmother's soup smell good) so I went quickly to look at the machinery. There were also lots of barrels that were stacked up on top of each other.

When we were done with the rum factory we went to an old plantation house. When we went into the first room we saw that there were two creepy waxwork statues. One was of a woman and the other was of a man. Both were dressed in nice clothes. The scary thing about the one of the man was that it was inside a wooden box with large glass panels, like a coffin. On the top floor there was a room filled with chipped porcelain-headed dolls. In the basement there were lots of carriages with huge wheels.


Once we got back home we all had cinnamon buns.

Monday, July 13, 2015

A Catamaran Cruise

Today we woke early to go to a hotel. We were picked up in a minivan and taken to a pier in Bridgetown where we boarded a catamaran called Cool Runnings II.

From there we went off on our cruise. There was music coming from some speakers and there was a bar that had basically every possible drink in the world. I went and sat on the safety net at the front of the boat and watched the dark ocean go by. The water was turquoise in the shallow area by the beach and dark blue further out. Most of the ride was actually sail-powered not engine-powered which gave it a different feeling than the alternative because sometimes we ended up going really slowly and other times we sped up.

While we were going to the first destination we saw some flying fish. They only stayed around for a second or two, but they looked like tiny silver dots that flew through the air and landed back in the water. 

Once we reached our first destination the crew lowered a ramp by the front of the catamaran into the water and everyone got out to look at the turtles. 

There was actually only one turtle but it was amazing. The person who was showing us around in the water fed it and it came up to us. We were allowed to pat its shell but when I did it my hand was all slimy. There were also a shoal of greedy silver-coloured fish that followed us and ate whatever food the turtle didn't get. 

Then we got back on the boat and continued.

Cool Runnings (sister vessel)
The second destination was a coral reef with a nearby wreck. At the wreck our guide told us that it was a barge used by another company who picked up people on the beach for boat trips. They used the barge to get the passengers to and from the beach. Then the barge got too old and the company decided to sink it.

At the reef we were shown some fire coral which was orange and had a white top. Because of the top it looked like it was a paper cut out. We also were shown a plant called an animal flower that had a little tube for a stem and strands sticking out of the top that looked like spaghetti. When it was touched all the strands were sucked into the stem.

Once everyone was done with the coral reef and a little bit of time had passed lunch was served. I had some very nice battered fish, a delicious potato salad, and a bread roll. 

Then we ended up staying anchored by a beach for an hour before we went back to the pier and the bus collected us.

My sister Lucy meets a pirate.





Sunday, July 12, 2015

A Great Day At The Barbados Wildlife Reserve

Before entering the reserve we went to a place called Grenade Hall that was used a long time ago as a signal tower that people could climb quickly to relay messages across the island. It had been opened so you could look out and there was a great view of the Atlantic Ocean and the surrounding forest. 

Then we went on a hike through a lush green tropical forest along moss-covered stone walkways. The trees covered up most of the sun but they also kept some of the heat in so it made me hot. There were also a lot of places where the tall trees drooped over the path. We saw a cave that was believed to be inhabited by native peoples at sometime or other. It was quite moist in the forest and there was a sign saying that frogs didn't even go to ponds to lay their eggs they simply layed them on the forest floor and there was a fish that was blind and lived there hunting insects.

Afterwards we had a snack by the place where you buy the tickets and the ticket seller threw bits of coconut so that the local green monkeys came. I was glad this happened becuse I didn't see any monkeys while we were hiking. There was one monkey that seemed to be the alpha male and a mother with two babies.

Then we went to the neighbouring Barbados Wildlife Reserve where they kept the rest of the animals including birds, fish, turtles, and tortoises. There were tortoises everywhere and there seemed to be more tortoises than anything else. They were playing follow the leader and mating (but not at the same time). 

As we walked down the path we saw a peacock and many tropical birds. In the aviary they had a grate that allowed you to see down to where there were rabbits, other birds, and guinea pigs—a group of five or six. After looking around a bit more we drove to Speightstown to eat at a nice restaurant with a view into the sea where I had a delicious burger.  There were lava lamps on the tables. 

One thing I've noticed about the burgers in Barbados is that they make they burger patties really thick. Also I had a delicious little cake with vanilla ice cream called a toffee pudding. When we were finished and stuffed to the brim with good food we drove to a huge rock which had a bench on top. While we were there a boy climbed it. I was a bit impressed because the rock was huge and jagged. 

There are lots of little lizards here and a few nasty centipedes. Also its very hot here at noon. The local diet seems to have a lot of starch. One tasty thing they have here is called macaroni pie. It's a bit like macaroni and cheese but its all stuck together in one big blob. The island is quite small. Some people say that everything is half an hour away. Even so we still manage to get lost a lot. Things are pretty good here its a enjoyable little place.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

A Day Where Not Much Happens

Today we went out to the beach and we had to wake up early in the morning. I didn't feel like going in the water so I just sat on the beach. After that we went to a small restaurant by the beach and had fried chicken and macaroni and cheese. Then we went to a little restaurant and had ice cream. After walking around a bit we went home.

[Ed's version of the day: We've been sleeping on Pacific Time which means, especially in André's case, only rising at 10am here. We decided that this morning everyone should rise at 8am so we could actually get to a beach and into the water before the sun was too high in the sky, but as it was overcast André was allowed to sleep in until 9am anyway. 

Neither Google Maps on the phone, nor the Garmin GPS that came with the car seem to have the faintest idea which roads are actually navigable, and following their advice tends to lead to routes only navigable by tractor, and from which it can take some time to escape if you're only in a tinny little Kia. So we compare those two with a paper map and while doing so inevitably miss an ill-signposted turning. Getting to a beach on the west coast takes at least 30 minutes and sometimes 45 minutes. Getting to historic sights in the north should take 45 minutes and is more likely to take an hour and a quarter.

Today we returned to the small Payne's Beach we'd already visited, and once again had it almost entirely to ourselves. A flat layer of rock just offshore teems with fish at its edge (the drop-off, for lovers of Finding Nemo, perfect for André's younger sister, Lucy. Lucy and I spent an hour snorkelling hand-in-hand admiring a large variety of slivers of tropical brilliance. Lucy could swim well out of her depth, but see the shallow flat rock close at hand, and get there quickly to drain her mask, or take a rest. André moped on the shore.

We ate local Bajan food for lunch at a restaurant that was little more than a shack, with food served school dinners-style. There's a lot of Indian influence on what is basically a diet of starches, at least two on the plate at a time. Curried goat was on the menu. André had some fried chicken with macaroni pie and a small salad, which, very surprisingly, he tucked into without being prompted, and without complaining. (I had a spicy version of the chicken that reminded me in flavour, although not texture, of Jamaica's jerk chicken, along with a mixture of beans and potatoes and some lightly curried spinach. It was excellent.) This was declared a success, but icecream (a rare treat, and then usually home-made) was vociferously requested as a follow-up. A neighbouring icecream shack was closed, so we drove slowly north up the west coast, looking at other beaches, and past numerous rather pompous resorts, to the iceland's second-biggest town, still little more than a village, and found locally made icecream in a pleasant café. We strolled around the centre of Speightstown, all wooden buildings of some antiquity with sagging verandahs, which was cordoned off for the current Crop Over festival, a month-long celebration of the end of the sugar cane harvest (although sugar plays only a small role in the Bajan economy these days). Stalls selling rum, beer, and snacks lined the streets. On a large stage a children's choir was just getting stuck into a song called 'Reject the Devil', which the audience was also being encouraged to shout. Advertisements for another event promised 'Christian calypso'. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

The return journey was the first we'd ever accomplished in Barbados without a single wrong turning.

Tomorrow I will require the boy to describe Barbados in more general terms, and how he thinks it compares so far to other beach destinations he's visited, particularly nearby ones in Venezuela, Curaçao, Aruba, Colombia, and Panama. If he's not willing to put a bit more life into this then we'll abandon it.]

Friday, July 10, 2015

Worst Day Ever (No Joke)

Today was probably the worst day of the whole holiday. First I woke up tired and then we had to go on a drive that took forever to go to a boring old house that was a rum factory which didn't have anything interesting in it except for a chair called a gentlemen's chair. I guess they had ok sandwiches there which I had for lunch and some tropical birds but that was it for interesting and remarkable things. Later after driving back to the house we went out to a place that had lots of restaurants selling fresh fish. We went into one and got kind of ripped off because there was almost no fish and a ton of rather tasteless french fries with a tiny bit of salt. I also had a disgusting plantain and some awful salad.