What can you say about a place with such natural beauty as Barbados? Well I read the “Travel & Leisure” Magazine every month and this month they have about 10 pages about this wonderful little country. So it made me want to do a post about it for those of you that may want to go there some time.
One thing I caution you about is what side of the road they drive on, to say nothing about where they happened to place the steering wheels in their rentals cars, but that only takes a few mistakes to make you think carefully while driving around the island.
Barbados is the most eastern island in the Caribbean and is a tiny dot on most world maps with an area of 166 sq miles. Barbados has a population of about 260,000 which is quite high considering its size. With 60 miles of coastline, Barbados has much to offer its visitors in terms of water sports and beach activities. I hope you will be spending much of your day relaxing there! We did, but we did a lot of travel around the island as well.
In researching for our trip we found out that the island was uninhabited when first settled by the British in 1627. Slaves worked the sugar plantations established on the island until 1834 when slavery was abolished. The economy remained heavily dependent on sugar, rum and molasses production through most of the 20th century. The gradual introduction of social and political reforms in the 1940s and 1950s led to complete independence from the UK in 1966. In the 1990s, tourism and manufacturing surpassed the sugar industry in economic importance.
The country is close to Martinique, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and just Northeast and right off of the coast of Venezuela. Their primary Industries include: Tourism, sugar, financial services, information services, light manufacturing, component assembly for export. And of course the world famous Barbados Rum production.
In our travels around the country, we saw not only lots of this famous sugar cane, but we also saw sugar beets crops being grow. They were carted around in horse driven carts (just like this guy that I have added a picture of) at the bottom of my post here. The one thing that we were cautioned about was trying to take pictures of the Bajans themselves. They have a fear that it captures part of their soul to be photographed. But for a few bucks… this guy was more than happy to give up a little of his soul.
There were several things that we did that we really enjoyed. One of those adventures was called "Harrison’s Cave", which was like a smaller version of the Carlsbad Caverns. I’ll post a couple of shots from inside the caves too. The caves are geographically located in the center of Barbados, Harrison's Cave is a natural phenomenon, unique to the tropical world. The really cool part about it was that you get to ride through them. This specially designed transport takes you down through the underground tunnels to a sight so beautiful, that few can compare. In the specially lighted caverns, you can view the majestic stalactites and stalagmites which have been growing from the floors and ceilings for many centuries.
Cascading through the caves, the crystal blue waters form magnificent pools and waterfalls, filling the senses with sights and sounds of such pure wonder, that it is guaranteed to be the experience of a lifetime. It was one of the highlights of our trip and not something you would ever expect to find in Barbados.
Another very enjoyable side trip away from the beautiful white sand beaches of this lovely island country was a trip to what they call the “Flower Forest of Barbados”.
It was located in the heart of St. Joseph and is called the Flower Forest. This 50 acre attraction offers an explosion of greenery and commanding vistas of the island's stunning Scotland District.
You can see from my pictures here that the owners aptly consider this attraction "a cross between a botanical garden and a nature trail", since you can take an hour or a day to leisurely stroll the Forest’s winding paths while eyeing a virtual wonderland of tropical flora (as you can see Mrs. LZ doing here). The paths are all amusingly named, and while you will never get lost, you might get really confused as there are several short and long cuts coming off the main paths. "Don't worry, be happy" as there is no time limit and no fixed way to travel through this forestland. The Flower Forest has a main lobby with gift shop and snackette (as they called it).
Another thing we did there was to check out the capital of the country. It is the historic Bridgetown and is one of the oldest cities in the Caribbean with many historic landmarks and a variety of restaurants and Duty-Free shopping. Of course Mrs. LZ wanted to spend more time here than I did, but it was a bustling little city. It also had many old historic buildings, most of which looked like they would have fit right in anywhere in the U.K. in the 19th century.
Another place that we really enjoyed was the Old Codrington College
in the St. Johns part of the country. You may actually remember this post from several months ago? So I won't add shots of it again. But if you want to see the post, (again or for perhaps the first time) you can see it by clicking on its name in this paragraph.
More than 70 per cent of the island's 260,000 people are direct descendents from the forced mass Africa migration of the late 1600s and 1700s-the slave trade. The island also has a peaceful blend of European (primarily British) settler blood with the Afro descendents, as well as small but vibrant Hindu (India), Arab (Lebanese and Syrian) and Jewish communities.
African influence is readily seen in the art, craft and literary works produced on the island, as well as many of the foods and figures of speech. Bajans are a quick-witted, fun-loving people and their gift for the double entendre or turn of phrase is most visible through calypso and literature. Local festivals, particularly the island's biggest national festival, Crop Over, (think Mardi Gras) reflect specific elements of Bajan life.
The primary driving force of the economy and lifestyle is the sugar crop. It was the island's largest income-earner from the late 1600s until the late 1980s, and remains a powerful influence in both the lifestyle and the economy. "Crop Over" is a celebration of this agricultural mainstay. The other prime economic influence is, of course, the fishing industry and festivals hailing this trade are also held.
We also noticed a lot of farm animals (like goats and cows) wandering around many of the areas that looked like they could have been family farms without fences. If you happened to be in the center part of the island, it was not very easy to figure out where you were, but after all it is an island, so how lost can you get? (Don’t ask!) But in spite of that, this still gets the LZ stamp of approval."We must not promise what we ought not, lest we be called on to perform what we cannot".
~ ABRAHAM LINCOLN, in a speech delivered before the first Republican state convention of Illinois, Bloomington, Illinois, May 29, 1856