January 21, 2010
Caribbean Misadventures#6: escape to Barbados
Well, I am back living with the proletariat, in St. Laurence Gap in Barbados.... ohhhhh how far, the cossetted, the indulged, over fed, and waited upon, has fallen!!!! From the mighty overstaffed, overfed Windsurf, by taxi out to the edges of the Bridgetown to a small tightly populated beach community of guesthouses and hostels!.... My room in the guesthouse is tiny, with a spartan single bed, no towels of course (I did bring my own) and a shared bathroom shower across the hall. It's bright and white, and there is a little balcony off to the side, and the beach is across the street, through the lobby of the posh hotel. I haven't even checked it out yet. It is sunday, and the city sleeps.
The small self contained 'suite' downstairs, has a little kitchen, and seems to be inhabited by a slew of kite surfer dudes, comes the rather overpowerintgly greasy smell of frying bacon. I couldnt even eat breakfast this morning before leaving the boat. I tend to be uptight and nervous on the day I have to shift from one place to another, so I just wasn't into food. I forced myself to eat a bit of fruit and bread and a touch of their rather lousy coffee. I am glad to be back using my own instant starbuckis..... mmmmmmmmmmmmmm as i sit here, with the door open, there is a lovely crossbreeze. Too bad i can't leave the door open at night. I really was tired of the a/c, and prefer fresh air and a good fan. However, I could do without the frying bacon smell.This is such a luxury to have wifi, and it is quite efficient and fast here, better than in Antigua.
Yesterday, we left Kingstown, in St. Vincent - not really a place I would choose to go back to. Interesting with its cobbled streets, open drains, hodge podge of new and old buildings, rabid traffic and strange back alleys, but not as pleasant or interesting as Rousseau... which has all that, but I definitely like much more. I returned to the boat and watched people gorge on lunch, had a small nibble, changed into my bathing suit and again hit the deck with a book. This could become habit forming. That seems to be what a lot of people do on a cruise. They lay around in various parts of the boat, snoozing, reading, or just being anti social. The boat is very uninspiring when it comes to doing any drawing. there is a bland 'sameness' of uniformed professionally polite staff and a profusion of prone pairs of varying sizes and shapes sunworshipping in regulated rows of matching blue loungers. So decided to join them for the rest of the afternoon, interspersed with a wallow or two in the miniscule pool. While there are two hot tubs, I cannot for the life of me figure out why one would want to sit in a hot tub on a hot day with other hot sweating strangers. Couples seem to love it though, and diligently set up their timer on their cameras so that they can photograph themselves smiling with their arms around each other and the caribbean glistening in the background.
The day ended with another over the top dinner... dinner is about five courses. They lay down a little spoon with a tiny bit of 'something' savory to start with, then you must choose an hors douvre, then a soup, then a salad, then a main and then a dessert. It's just too much in this hot weather. The food is uniformly north american/european fare, and nothing that even vaguely comes from the islands except perhaps the occassional mango or pineapple. They don't even carry the local island beers, which annoys the hell out of me because I like island beers. I tend to go to bed early, because I just cant get into the evening 'club' scene, with the really old fifties and sixties music, bad comedian, and contrived entertainment....
Friday we sailed into St. George's in Genada. We berthed at a very modern, fancy pier. It looks like a very attractive port city, and I signed up for a 'river tubing' experience. The drive through the city and mountains was the best part of the trip. I had a good positive feel about the place. The tubing was ok, but the river wasn't very high, so it was less exciting than it could have been, and I hated being trussed up in a life jacket and helmet. After lunch back on the boat, I went looking for the Lazy Lagoon, a guesthouse I was hoping to stay at when I returned. The town looked interesting as I walked along the harbour, but it looked like it was further away than i thought, so I grabbed a taxi.
It proved to be a true misadventure, and he took me miles out of the way, down, wrong roads, and miles and miles beyond where i knew it out to be. I showed him a map, but I don't think he knew how to read a map. Miles out of town, and heading down an obscure dirt road, I finally made him ask someone, and we had to backtrack to where i thought it was in the first place. And of course it was there. So I made arrangements to stay there when I return to Granada for a week.
Back to the ship for more sun and wallowing.... I no longer know where I fit in in this cruising world. I am definitely NOT a cruiser. I have tried that twice now, and it dosen't fit. No matter how small the boat, cruising appears to be a couple thing. Couples and cocktails and fifth rate cabaret acts. The people I have met have been cordial, friendly and some even mildly interesting. They are surprisingly well travelled, but only in a cruising context. It is interesting how the heirarchy of snobbery runs in the travel world. There are the backpackers who sneer at people who stay in fancy hotels and take tours, and in the cruise world, it is the small cruise ship people who sneer at the monster ships that carry thousands. My experience and style of travel is so far removed from them they can barely conceptualize it.
However, travelling is all pabout having new and interesting experiences, and this has been one of them. It IS nice to be cossetted and pampered at times... but it began to pall after a couple of days, and i really wanted some simple street food, a local beer, and no concerns about what to wear to dinner that night. The women appeared to have a different fancy dress for every meal, the men an unending supply of some sort of Hawaiian shirts. Our last day on the boat was spent in Charlotteville, Tobago, and I really loved this little village. I had signed up for snorkelling, so we got on a mini bus and headed to a lovely beach where we boarded a small boat.
We snorkelled of a reef, and it was ok. I have had better snorkelling experiences, but it was a pleasant outing. I then spent some time wandering in the town, and I really liked it. It is a fishing village, and there was some big cricket match going on on the green, so I sat and watched for a while with an Engish couple who made no effort to try and explain it, as they knew it would be useless. Back to the boat for our final dinner and speeches from the capitan, who was funnier than the british comedian, and then packing and bed, as we have to be up early for customs. I was hoping to connect with Tracy, a young american who was travelling with her parents, as she was interested in staying over in Barbadoes for a few more days if she could arrange the air flight home, but missed her, so after leaving the boat, I taxied off with a Brit couple, and here I am in the Rio Guesthouse in St. Laurence Gap, Barbados. It's a pleasant, clean, white building, owned a run by four cousins from England, whose families were originally from Jamaica. There is a common kitchen with a fridge and stove
A nice breeze, my computer is working and I'm beginning to get a bit hungry. I will have to go out and find my own dinner for a change. Which wasn't difficult. There was a nice restaraunt around the corner, and when I ordered a rum punch, I found that it was two for the price of one... which was nice. I had a nice, simple chicken sandwich for dinner.