*Alternate title: How to Test 31 Years of Marriage Simply by Attempting to Navigate Around the Island of Barbados While One Spouse Drives a Car on the Left Side of the Road with the Steering Wheel on the Right-Side and the Other Spouse is Armed Only with a Useless Map that has Virtually NO Road Names and Dodging Oncoming Traffic Through at Least 20 Roundabouts Every Time You Leave the Confines of Your Hotel.
Wednesday, Oct 24, 2012
No alarm needed today – hurrah! Today is moving hotel and Island touring day. The Hut at Beachview is open for breakfast and we are happy to walk from our room to the little shack on property. When we ate there on our first morning, the owner was not in. Today we get to meet Atticus (yes, his mum was reading “To Kill a Mockingbird” when he came along). He makes a mean “Sizzler” which is eggs and bacon on a fresh roll. Today must be my lucky day because Atticus informs me that one of my eggs has a double yolk! Groovy.
It is not busy at the Hut and Atticus comes out from the kitchen to join us. We soon find out that he is a cyclist and he and Rich hit it off immediately. We sat for quite a while discussing past and potential biking trips and the status of cycling in Barbados. One word – very dangerous. Atticus tells us that he rides, but has to do so very early in the morning before there is any traffic. Drivers here do NOT like bicycles! We have a lot of ground to cover today and have to tear ourselves away.
We head deep into the island with an aim for our first stop at Hunte’s Gardens. Everything I have read about Barbados travel mentions this spot and I am determined that we need to see it. I am expecting a really nice garden with pretty plants. Well… this place is otherworldly. It is owned and run by one man – Anthony Hunte – who has been collecting plant specimens for many, many years. He purchased the land not too long ago and began planting. He invites visitors and then turns them loose. When we arrived the “guard” at the front radioed to Mr. Hunte and told him that he had visitors. We met him at the bottom of the garden and sat in one of his lovely little “spots” for a nice long chat. He is in no hurry, he is not a tour guide, he simply loves his plants and sharing them with others.
We were invited to stroll all around and ask any questions that we wanted. He encouraged us to stay all day! There were 3 others who were having a look around and then Mr. Hunte mentioned that he was expecting a special visitor/friend of his who would likely regale us with stories. He was very excited to introduce us to Dr. Karl Watson. We chatted it up with Karl for awhile and he mentioned something about the island’s history. We told him that Rich’s mom has family history in Barbados and he gave us his card. Turns out he is the President of the Barbados National Trust (“For the preservation of places of historic and architectural interest or of natural beauty and ecological importance”)! Wow. No wonder he is such an interesting fellow.
The “Gardens” fill up a huge sinkhole, much like the one we visited in Belize way back when. As you descend down the plant crusted steps it feels like you are on a movie set. There is piped in operatic music that hangs in the air everywhere adding to the ethereal mood. It literally brought tears to my eyes as we approached – it is simply that beautiful.
Warning: if you don’t like pics of flowers and such, scroll quickly – there are lots!
There are many meandering stone pathways that lead to quiet corners to rest and meditate among the plants and birds.
When we were finished wandering and our eyes couldn’t take it anymore, we were invited up to the porch of Mr. Hunte’s home. What a fantastic perch. We joined the other guests; Dan (law exchange student), his girlfriend Ashley (a nurse from Canada) and Mr. Hunte announced that he had just received the first shipment of his rum with his name on the label. He was very excited to show us and gave everyone a taste. It was delightful (and I don’t even really like rum!). We ended up purchasing a bottle to bring home.
When I remarked to Mr. Hunte that I loved his huge pink lampshades, he told me that the man is supposed to hold it over the lady’s head (for shade) all the while fanning her with a large palm frond. I agreed wholeheartedly and he proceeded to demonstrate!
Mr. Hunte clearly would allow us to remain on his porch all afternoon sipping rum and chatting (not really a bad idea), but we were getting hungry and needed to make our getaway. He recommended a restaurant that he said is very near called Celestine’s. He called Celestine to see if she was still open and was told that she was and also she had enough food left for us. He then gave us Celestine’s card showing us how to get there.
The short curved road with no turns on her card turned into a 45 minute drive with so many twists and turns that I still don’t know how we found it. But, man am I glad we did!
What a gem this turned out to be. Celestine offered us a choice of Lamb Stew (with all the accompaniments) or Fried Fish. We took one of each. That woman can cook! The lamb stew was outrageous and the fish was great as well. Both were served with rice and peas, the ubiquitous Macaroni Pie, some kind of white sweet potato and potato salad (Bajans like starch…). Served with 2 cold Banks beers and we were in serious Food Heaven.
This place is just the sort of eatery we hope to find when we travel almost anywhere and we are so happy to have taken the time to dig it up. Celestine joined us on the porch and talked about all the folks that come through this way just to eat at her little place. She told us she is saving up to re-paint her “restaurant” and we gave her a bonus tip to help with the paint purchase.
Today is not only Touring Day, it is also Moving Day. We are changing hotels today. Right or wrong, I decided to spend a few days on the West Coast and then a few days on the South Coast to get a feel for different areas of the island. Barbados is actually quite large and each area has it’s own “flavor.” We have decided to head directly to the East Coast (Atlantic Side) and then follow the coast on down South eventually ending up in Oistins where our new hotel – Little Arches – is located.
The East Side is definitely “wilder” than the West Side. The Atlantic has big waves and is somewhat of a surfer’s paradise. Some of the views are incredible.
We motored along and stopped wherever it looked good. Keep in mind that the driving/navigating is horrendous and I am clutching our piece of crap map so hard that I tear it right down the middle. Rich is doing a great job of driving on the left, but he can only look 50 ft or so in front of him because he is concentrating so hard. It made our heads hurt! (actually, we both did really well)
Eventually, we made it to the South Coast and to our Little Arches Hotel in Oistins. Little Arches is a very small boutique hotel (10 rooms) that is absolutely charming and beautiful. I think we will be very happy here.
Two frosty glasses of punch appear and we are told that there is a small bottle of rum on our table if we choose to amend our drinks. We do.
We step right out our door to the lovely pool area, catch up a bit on email and sip our cocktails while the sun sets.
There is an owner’s cocktail party tonight so we join the other guests for wine, cheese and conversation. We end up closing up the joint with the two owner’s and her Irish father-in-law. I think Dermott and Rich solved several of the world’s problems before we called it a night.