Sunday, 24 November 2013

At the Risk of Resentment - Barbados' Hidden Gems

Our Guide
As I left to vacation in Barbados this month, people have learned to tell me "have a great time, you deserve it".  I think this is so funny as I, in no way, feel I deserve this perk in my life. With Derek working a good part of each month in Barbados, I have the opportunity to leave our empty nest and spend some time there.  I feel blessed, however I do not feel guilty.  Guilt is a useless emotion.There is no good reason why I would  not embrace the opportunity to visit this island whenever possible.  I laughed with my friend, who has spent much time in Barbados in his life and is familiar with all the hidden gems which I have found over the past year.  I don't often share my plans for trips, as I feel the irrational need  to apologize, however, with Michael, I just decided to be honest.   "I am going to Barbados tomorrow".   I guess honesty breeds honesty.  He was blunt.  "I hate you".  I understood.

One of the hurdles of getting to Barbados is making my way through an airport without drawing undue attention to myself.  I have missed a flight in the past, so I relinquish all responsibility when I travel.  When I fly with Derek, with his Air Canada status as being in some way "special", I just follow along and try to keep up. He complains that there is nothing worse than travelling with an amateur.  I fake it.  I always have my passport turned to the picture page.  I stay out of the Nexus line.  I let him carry my boarding pass.  It is smooth.

A couple of weeks ago when my sister Terry and I set out on our journey back to Barbados, I tried to stay organized and keep up with the more "seasoned" travellers, like myself.

After many years travelling en masse, with the sticky little kids, I have come up with a fool proof system.  The beauty lies in the fact that it is not only efficient, it is also terribly fashionable. All seasoned air travellers, I feel, must wear a Fanny Pack.  Sorry, kids, but you know it is true.  I am not sure how anyone manages without this best kept secret.  All things in one spot with easy access and less chance of leaving something behind.  Passport is always but a zip away, not buried in my overflowing purse.  I thought I was the only person who had grasped the functionality of the Fanny Pack, but Terry is a convert.  We are now mistaken for twins or identical life partners with our matching Fanny Packs, functional AND fashionable!!

Almost Here
Terry and I didn't check in on line  the night before, as seasoned travelers might, so we could request 2 seats together.  Togetherness is very important in our family.  On checking in, we smiled sweetly and as Canadianly (now an adverb) as we always do.   We were offered 2 seats together, no problem, OR 2 separate "premium" seats.  We both promptly dropped each other like hot potatoes. I mean I love Terry, but was there really any decision to be made. Terry offered me the bulkhead due to my rather large ankles and I sat all comfy and cozy sipping complementary wine at 9am. Who is special now, Derek??

When the 3 sticky kidlets were little, we traveled to visit my parents in Florida, on my parents' dime, several
Kevin's BackPack
times. The flights were taxing with babies and toddlers.  We invested in a backpack for Kevin when he was 18 months old.  I explained to Terry how much easier this made our travels.  She was so confused.  "But really Jan, just how much can he really carry".  There were car seats and booster seats, bottles and sippy cups, travel games of Guess Who, lambie, Dimetapp, granola bars,decks of cards, rolling Franklin Turtle suitcases, Gravol and as they got older, the God-given gift of Game Boy. It took me an entire day just to pack.   The airline supplied crayons and the kids were totally WOWED and they jumped for joy.  Who knew? We flew with the kids early enough that they experienced trips to meet the pilots and to see the cockpit.  So much has changed.  Now they charge $5 for crayons (true).  I am not sure all the new inflight entertainment systems and state of the art baby paraphernalia is really that effective. Kids still cry and fuss.  The best improvement in air travel is actually noise-cancelling headphones.  When that kid starts to scream, there is no other way.  We sit pretty now, smile and nod as parents do the good old-fashioned walking and bouncing in the aisle, just like in 1992.

My sister and I decided for this trip, that it would be done on a shoe-string.  What does Barbados have to offer that is
Terry and Derek - Stop and Stare at River Bay
free, or pretty darn close?  We were greeted by Derek with home-made rum punch, with rum that is cheaper than water.  It was not a pretty first night.  After recovering from the Mullins Beach flu, we decided to experience the National Trust Walk that takes place each Sunday at a different spot on the island.  It is a 3 hour walk starting at 6 am.  Our hesitance quickly showed as we all refered to it as "A 3 Hour Tour" with Gilligan singing in the background. Well off we went at 5:30am (4:30 Canada time).  With a few wrong turns we unfortunately missed our group called "Stop and Stare" and ended up out of our comfort zone in the "Grin and Bear it" group who set off marching up the hills.  We hung in for a good bit, but then decided to Stop and Stare on our own.  Off we trotted to River Bay, to show Terry one of the true hidden gems.  We then headed back to our place for bacon and eggs and an early morning nap.

Beach Chair Extraordinaire plus Fanny Pack
After Sunday we had very lovely beach days both near our home and across the island.  Terry and I established our routine quickly.  We have 2 very new-fangled beach chairs that go everywhere. These chairs can be worn as back packs, with a built in cooler, towel rack, pillow and it reclines with a drink holder and a spot for my Iphone.  It even has its own storage compartment, slightly bigger and even more useful than my fanny pack.  Of course I still wear my fanny pack.  Terry has many friends at our local beach who remember her from her last trip.  Ronny would still like her to move into his 2 bedroom house across the island so he can cook and clean for her.  Gussie wants to paint her a picture and Shakra is very interested in giving her a massage.  It is like sunning with a celebrity.  We discovered that in addition to the beauty of the sunsets on the west coast. swimming in the moonlight at dusk is very cool.
Sunset Swim

Derek and I continued to explore after Terry had sadly made her way back to Canada.  Derek has seemingly lost his appreciation for this island, as his role here is primarily work-related.  What would seem like a dream location to most, Barbados often means to Derek, that he is missing his gang at home. I understand this, as his seat has been empty at many a birthday and anniversary.  Our nest is really really empty now. His travel has always been a part of our lives so  I work to break him of the complacency he has developed.  We grabbed a map and set out to find the best kept secrets.  We started at the Hilton for breakfast.  It is rated #1 in Barbados.  It didn't really fit into our theme as I didn't feel it was a best kept secret.  I imagine the same lovely breakfast is served at every Hilton around the world.  So when we finished, off we went beach-hunting.  When you see a movie with a deserted, untouched beach and you wonder if it actually exists, well it does.

 We parked our car at Foul Bay, walked the beach and set up our  nifty chairs.  We were alone on
Snoozing with the Monkeys
the beach, so much so that I could make a clothing adjustment without fear of showing off my tan lines.  We were surrounded by roosters and monkeys.  I frolicked up to my knees while Derek napped.  As we were both lifeguards, we take teh "never swim alone" rule very seriously.  However, I thought that frolicking up to my knees was safe.  I sat as the waves lapped up. I left the beach with bathing suit bottoms full of sand.  I am still finding sand. When the rooster crowed we were on our way after a quick shower.

The rest of our road trip that day included a deserted lighthouse and a Fish and Chip stop where Swordfish was the fish of choice.  We headed to Bathsheba on the east side of the Island where there was an International Surfing competition.  There were so many young, fit, tanned bodies there that neither Derek nor I could even fathom getting out of the car.  We watched the surfers from afar  We reminisced about our surfing days.  Ok, there were no such days.

This is neither Derek nor me surfing.  I did. however, take the photo and it is awesome.

On the Sunday we made our way to a Farmers' Market on Holder's Hill. I love Farmers' markets so I was very excited about  going for our first time.
  There was music, fresh produce and various vendors selling original wares, including pottery, linen and jewellery.  Derek found an outdoor pub of sorts and made himself at home. I picked up trinkets and souvenirs.  I could have spent the day.  I was particularly impressed with a young entrepreneur, the same age as my own children, designing clothing and cards in a very unique style and with an altruistic message.  I expect Jessica Reynolds will be going somewhere fast.
A brave monkey near our house.  Kind of like Squirrels in Canada

I headed home toute seule a few days later.  It was time to go, as 1 beach buddy had left and the other had to get back to the work that he does which affords me the luxury of such visits. I suited up, with my fanny pack full and the passport picture page earmarked for easy access.  It was a full plane. So many young families.  So cute.  So sweet, but all I could think was "Forget Snakes!  It's Babies on a Plane".

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