Day 1 
Barbados

3/3/06 This is in the living room/kitchen of our apartment two blocks from the west coast of Barbados, a few miles south of Holetown.   Room #8 of the Angler Apartments.   Libby is talking to Sophie, having not reached her the previous night after our 12+ hours of flying from Seattle..  (By the way, Sophie has called Libby using a phone card, but the rates are still 9 times higher than calling to Switzerland, for example.)   We loved this place run by Chandra, a Brahmin transplanted from India, who had three dogs who barked just enough to make things seem very homey.   Clean, with very comfortable beds, and the apartments had a private beach 2-3 minutes away.  Barbados map (also accessible by clicking 1 on Barbados on homepage).

Below are a few plants in the thriving gardens of the Angler (or on the way to the beach).  Because there was a steady breeze blowing most of the time while we were there, the plants and flowers were usually  in motion, which made for an animated, lush, colorful, and mostly fragrant environment.   The temperature day and night varied only a few degrees centered around the high 70's.

 

On the left is a view to the south from the Angler's beach, and on the right is the view north up the coast.   It was an overcast morning around 7:30 am (3:30 am Seattle time), so the blue of Caribbean isn't its normal characteristic self at this point.   

 

Above the beach was a small cliff about twelve feet high.   The entire island of Barbados is made up of coral, so this cliff was pretty interesting to look over closely, or at least the section I looked at was.   

 

After renting a car (brought to the apartments with the paperwork filled out on our porch), I drove off to get gas (the rental car gas tank was left "empty" in Barbados, not full like in the US, which is an advantage when dropping the car at the airport).  I quickly adjusted to the excitement of driving on a Caribbean island on the left side of narrow, shoulder-less roads with rapid drivers, though I found myself turning on the windshield wipers every time I automatically hit the turn signal.

I wanted to pick up some good breakfast food for us so I went to The Roti Den, where I bought some local breakfast food including not only rotis but sweet potato, cheese, and meat pastries.   We came back to the Roti Den three more times over the next two days, addicted to their shrimp rotis.

We then headed into Bridgetown, the island's bustling metropolis.   The population of the island of Barbados is roughly 280,000, and 80,000 of them live in Bridgetown.

We found a parking place across the Constitution River near the water, and walked a couple of minutes into the city.   Barbados is in general a clean country without a lot of litter.  The people are still very friendly, despite having to deal with bumbling tourists, and it's easy to see why everyone seems to rate it as one of their favorite Caribbean destinations.

Libby experiments with her new camera behind the parking lot.   (No one would bother to swim at an urban beach like this.)

The population of Barbados is over 90% of African descent.   I've read different figures, but 93% black, 3% white, and 4% Asian is close to the mix.  Apparently, quite a few of the white population are also of slave descent, as England sent a lot of its citizens to Barbados as indentured servants.   When slavery was abolished in 1834, they stayed on.   The literacy rate on Barbados is 99.7%, ranking it 23rd in the world ahead of Italy, Spain, Israel, and Russia.

Another photo which Libby took as we were leaving town, returning to the West Coast.   Bajans are generally well-dressed, and very photogenic.

After dropping by the apartment for a while for lunch, we spent the afternoon driving up the west coast, and around the north end until the sun set.   We did a lot of driving and didn't stop for enough photos, (but that wasn't a problem after this first day!)

 Below is a picture Libby took through the windshield which gives an idea of the width of the roads in many places.

It was Friday night, and everyone told us that we needed to go to the Oistins Fish Market for a fish dinner.   Oistins is east of Bridgetown, but we didn't know how far, and stopped to ask for directions quite a few times.   This is probably when we first realized how friendly Bajans are, as everyone happily gave us directions; one person regretted that he was going elsewhere, and couldn't hop in, and direct us there.  

When we finally reached the market, we saw hundreds of white people milling around many booths.  Every tourist on the island seemed to be there.  

Many of these tourists were lined up in one extremely long line waiting to get a plate from the official Fish Market fryers.   We didn't want to wait 30-40 minutes to eat, so we bought from these very friendly guys, and were very happy with the sampler plate we got with all kinds of Barbados specialties which easily fed both of us.  As for fish, we had a choice of flying fish, "dolphin"(mahi mahi) or marlin, and we had marlin--on the right below.  (We later noticed that all the Bajans of African descent were patiently buying from one particular stand near the road which we will check out next time we go there.)

Libby took this photograph.   (She quickly lost any shyness in asking people if she could take their pictures.)

 

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