Monday, 22 October 2012

Barbados - swimming with the turtles

Bajan local - peace out man ;)
It was the last day of our two week holiday in Barbados. We had been staying for most of that time in the sleepy fishing village of Shermans to the north west of the island. All said, September is the quietest time of the year for tourism in Barbados – hurricane season and all - and given that we were also in one of the quieter parts of the island, we had the luxury of soft, white sand paradise beaches mostly to ourselves and the odd local. That - coupled with traffic free snorkelling with friendly coral reef fishies and occasional turtles - equals relaxation of the highest order. Nothing prepares you though for when you suddenly see a peaceful turtle resting on a reef bed surrounded by industrious blue surgeons – him just sitting there in that silent water-world taking it all in. 

How to scream when your head’s underwater and how to remain as inconspicuous as possible despite your 2ft long fins, mask, snorkel and wildly waving arms and legs? I tried. I failed ;) He spotted us, and he gave us the most non-phased glance with the deepest, darkest, widest eyes as if to say peace out man, what’s the fuss? And with an effortless, graceful gliding movement of elegant flipper, he was gone into the deeper blue where we couldn’t follow. That was just one of the highlights of our trip. We had set out from damp Ireland, after an even damper summer and our bones were in desperate need of drying out under a cloud free sky. I knew nothing of Barbados other than time there would fulfill that need, and as always - to be prepared for the rest that may come!

You can never get tired of tropical beaches, and Barbados has ample supply. We had our own private beach on our doorstep, just down from the luxurious looking Little Good Harbour resort – Google this place, it looks amazing! But there is Accra to the south, Mullins on the mid-west, The Crane – all the tourist hotspots that are well catered for by the full range of star-rated resorts. But hop in a car, and less than half an hour drive from west coast to east coast and you are in the land of the Atlantic. No swimming here – far too dangerous. But surfer’s paradise and the complete opposite of the calm waters of the eastern shore waits.

Sunrise on the east coast...pure Santosha ;)
For me the east is the best – Bathsheba being the main focal point. Here is the west of Ireland but wearing a warmer, softer cloak. No less powerful, no less addictive and no less humbling, but no harsh breeze and water kinder to toes (less chilling), topped off with warm nights better suited for dining al fresco! We spent two nights here in the Scotland District just north of Bathsheba ( Santosha is sanskrit for contentment, and Santosha - the place - is a kind of hideaway where the music is the Atlantic roar – more lioness than lion king roar ;) Great place and great therapy for those who spend (dare I say waste) hours in mindless meeting sessions in the day to day businesses of life.

Snugness - sundown view
Bajan food is great – and we mostly ate at home! We had local staples prepared for us on a regular basis by friends and family - Hyacinth’s fish cakes, flying fish and cou-cou, sweet potato and okra; Gran’s curry with sweet plantain, and peas and rice; Derek’s beer can chicken with breadfruit chips; Larry’s 10 day marinated pork; and Denis’s taste sensational saltfish bulgol – yum! The few times we eat out I had the most amazing pieces of marlin and barracuda, deep fried calamari, and red snapper. Not to mention the local Thursday and Friday night food o de pot in Braddys Bar in Shermans and the local rum shack in Moon Town (pronounced Mooon Town). De pot is generally a big one and it rests on an open flame, the food is all fresh from the sea or local fields and all meeting the highest standards of the Bajan palate.  In the shacks you’re hanging with locals – older men playing dominoes and women taking their chances with karaoke. I’ve seen some clips from Moon Town on YouTube but it ain’t nothing like the real thing baby ;) Stars on a Friday night that were cleaning houses and minding children hours before – all becoming their own Bajan version of Otis, Dolly, Patsy, Elvis…fantastic. All helped along of course by rum and coke, rum punch, rum and coconut water, rum and sprite…rum anyone? Oh yeah, and bottles of 7.5% Guinness – which they love out there – brewed in neighboring Trinidad!

The island of Barbados is surprisingly small, and surprisingly highly populated – keep your eyes open as Richard Branson’s plane drops you in. The west and south is well built up, slowly but surely spreading to the northern reaches. The east remains beautifully calm. We only met the best of people. There’s so much more to Barbados than beaches and resorts - if that’s all you need you’ll be more than satisfied. I would suggest - for a richer experience - get out of the resort and get moving with the locals, and say hello to the turtles for me :)  

We stayed in a beach house called Snugness in Shermans - available to rent. Check it out at:

No comments:

Post a Comment