We finally made it to Barbados, the outer most island in the Atlantic Ocean. Oddly enough, the island is situated outside of the principal Atlantic hurricane belt. That doesn’t mean it hasn’t been hit by a hurricane (the last was Hurricane Janet in 1955 and again by Tomas in 2010), but has only received minor damage as a result. I guess of all the islands to choose from to have to sit through a hurricane, Barbados would be your choice.
While mom and I were there, barely a breeze was noticeable, which we found odd being it was an island, but we were told that this was typical. I was thankful because this meant my hair would look normal instead of looking like I had been stuck in a wind tunnel for 3 days.
As usual, we found another driver who introduced himself as, “Ron.” He had the biggest smile, the warmest handshake, and the most welcoming personality I had experienced on this vacation. Just being around this guy, I knew I would thoroughly enjoy Barbados, and he alone made it stand out among the rest of the Caribbean.
As we started out, I grew thirsty and asked Ron if we could stop at a little store so I could purchase something to drink. He was more than happy to do so. After my purchase, I walked back out to the car, where Ron was leaning and he pointed to the surrounding buildings, showing me the light green and pink hues. The mint green buildings were government offices:
The pink building was the only library on the island, built by the locals to encourage the younger generation to read, keeping the literacy rate at an impressive 99%:
I would begin to see these pastel color’s spread throughout the island, giving it a clean, happy, peaceful feel.
Ron then pointed across the streets and said, “Most people who come here are not interested in what I want to show you, but I’d be most blessed if you allowed me to escort you to my family church, the St. James Parish.” This parish is part of the Anglican religion.Of course, I told him we would be honored. He drove us across the street and as we approached the sandstone Parish, he told me that this is one of the four oldest surviving churches on the island with a bell that pre-dates the famous American Liberty Bell by 54 years.
Nothing prepared me when I entered. Immediately, I felt a sense of overwhelming peace and tranquility. I’ve been in churches before (shut up, I have too!), but never felt anything like this. It felt as if every ounce of stress, heartache, and conflict I harbored in my body had suddenly ceased to exist. I couldn’t help but notice it right away and I really didn’t want to leave.
Ron told me that the pipes to the organ, suspended on the platform in the back of the church were brought by boat all the way from England in 1696 and were still used to this day.
Ron said he was excited to show us the rest of his homeland, so we began our journey on the beachside road that encompassed the entire island. Throughout our drive, this was my view:
Meanwhile, my mom burst into song, singing, “Da-Doo-Ron-Ron,” and thus our driver was renamed. He seemed to like it too and got to giggling every time he heard it.
Sooo…Da-Doo-Ron-Ron began to tell us that there was a guy named, Mick, who would walk the beaches, gathering coconuts, giving them three chops with a machete and handing them to tourists so they could drink the refreshing coconut milk. He carried straws in a baggie, stuffed in his back pocket. Mick never asked for any money, but tourists gave him donations anyway, which he donated to his family church. How awesome is that? If there were only more people like that in the world.
Further down the road, we approached another church, St. John Parish, that Ron says his brother attends. I don’t think his intention was to stop, but I asked if we could. Apparently, that was just fine by him, because it was almost as if he turned the car on two wheels so he didn’t miss the entrance. He told me that his brother didn’t own a car (never wanted to, preferring to walk everywhere on foot), and attended this church because it was close to his home.
Outside the church is a burial ground, where the body of Ferdinand Paleologus, a descendant of Constantine, is entombed in an above-ground site. The Paleologus Dynasty had ruled to Roman Empire (along with Constantine) since 1259, until the Dynasty expired with his death in 1453.
We continued on our journey, stopping off at Farley Hill, where the famous mansion, also called Farley Hill once stood. This location was where Harry Belafonte and Dorothy Dandridge filmed the controversial drama, Island in the Sun, in 1957. Shortly after filming had stopped, the mansion was destroyed by a fire. Today, only the ruins exist among the vast mahogany trees.
It also has a great view of the Atlantic Ocean.
As we wound our way down from Farley Hill and continued around the island, the Atlantic Ocean churned within view:
Which then brought us to what Ron said the locals referred to as, “Mushroom Rocks.”
After that, we stopped near the famous Gun Hill Signal Station, also known as Briggs Hill, where guns (canons) were positioned at four posts and used to signal an invasion. The stations were also used to house evacuees during the yellow fever epidemic and cholera.
On the hillside below the station is the well-known sculpture of a lion. This lion was carved out of a single piece of coral stone rock in 1868, by British soldier, Henry Wilkinson. It is the representation of the British imperial lion, signifying the success of the British Empire throughout the world at the time.
As we neared the town, it was obviously time for us to leave the wonderful island of Barbados and our charismatic tour guide, Ron. Before we bid adieu, Ron asked if we’d like to have dinner with his family, picnic-style at their home, overlooking the views of the beach. Had he asked us earlier, we would have, but as it was, we were crunched for time and had to head back to the ship.
As we walked back down the pier, Ron waved and yelled, “Come back and see me soon!”
Barbados was gorgeous and its’ people were absolutely wonderful. If I could (and I will) go back to any island in the Caribbean, it would be this one.