Bus rides and turtles

Fri 22 Feb 2013 21:52
You know what one thinks of when someone mentions the Caribbean? Warm turquoise waters, white sand, palm trees, exotic fish swimming all around, turtles? Well, we found it.  As the water deepens, the shades of blue deepen, and when a wave runs in it's darker shade stands out against the lighter shallows. Beautiful to watch. 

There's a turtle seems to live near the anchorage, we see him a few times each day, popping his head up and looking around. We took the dinghy over to the other side of the bay where there's an area with three wrecks, plus cannons and anchors on the sea bed. Whilst we were tying our dinghy to a buoy a big turtle popped up, just 10 feet away. I slid over the side with my snorkel on and just hung under the surface, not swimming at all in order not to worry him, and watching him pulling himself along with his big yellow dappled flippers, seeing his colouring and markings so much clearer than when you see them on the surface, all just a few feet away from me. Magical. When we got to the wrecks the colour and variety was outstanding, also just the density of fish. I looked across at Phil a few yards from me and he was in an absolute cloud of fish, yellow, striped, silver, blue edged... We had been admiring the ballyhoos whenever we came back from town in the dinghy after dark. These long thin fishes, also called half beaks, love the torch light and come jumping out the water, darting right alongside the dinghy, when you shine the torch on the water. Snorkelling you could see them in detail and from below, swimming above all the other fish.

Two days after we arrived was Valentine's night so we went into town for a meal. The restaurant wasn't quite ready so we wondered along the Careenage to see the sights, being wished good evening by everyone we passed, looking for a bar to get a rum punch before our supper. We found one called The Jolly Roger, rather touristy we thought, but pretty happening. There were people dressed up as pirates and a bit of a vibe. So we went in to get rum punches and found out, after they'd given them to us, that it was a private cruise party, getting warmed up before they went on board to sail along the coast to the accompaniment of music from massive speaker stacks. They said we were cool, and could stay so we ended up gate crashing this splendid entertainment with dancing stilt walkers, fire eaters, limbo dancers and staged pirate attacks! It was great fun, not the sort of thing we would have sought out or paid for, but brilliant to stumble upon. In contrast the meal, at The Waterfront Cafe,  was accompanied by a very talented jazz band so we ate, drank and danced the night away with Dixieland in our ears, swing in our bodies,  rhythm in our feet and soppy feelings in our hearts.

We went out of Bridgetown a couple of times to explore the nearby towns, each time by bus. The first was with Natalie and Tim on Limbo to Oistins to enjoy the famous fish suppers from the stalls along the water front. The journey there was relatively sedate, spent taking in the sights and sounds and wonderful variety of faces on the bus. They speak English, of course, but the patois was impossible to follow as the passengers called out to each other or chattered on the seats. We asked a lady where it was we'd need to get off, knowing we wouldn't recognise it, and even though she was going to get off before us she stayed on for two stops just to show us where. Just a small example of the generosity to strangers the Bajans showed us. The return trip was even more memorable. We asked where the bus stop was and were told 'Anywhere along heres de bus stops' and indeed they did, if you looked like you might want a ride these little people carriers would pull over and take you on board. They were equipped with very energetic sound systems, belting out music , so conversation was impossible. When we got in it was about half full and it kept on stopping and picking up more people, the conductor squatting in next to the side sliding door between each stop, slapping the roof to let the driver know he could move on. The seats were all gone and yet we still stopped for more people, every one budging up, Natalie ended up having to sit on Tim to fit another one in - everyone had to be very friendly! Then, a bit out of town, they suddenly stopped and turfed everyone off so we all trooped into town, the locals watching over us to make sure we didn't take a back road or go the wrong way.

The second time was with Emma and Stuart on Amorosa, we went to Speightstown to meet up with the Limbos. We had a Formula 1 bus driver. I am not joking, it was like combining public transport with a roller coaster ride, we had to cling on tight on every bend, the bus stood on it's nose when we stopped at lights and rose up in the air when we accelerated away again. He overtook everything he could and if he couldn't he'd try: swerving out to the right hand side of the lane, seeing a car heading straight for us and swerving back in again.  He clipped curbs with the back wheel when going around corners, flicking the rear of the bus out. The lady next to me explained that he was trying to get a head start on the bus behind. He had to go up the hill then back to the coast road in a bit, whereas the bus behind went straight on, if the bus behind overtook him he'd lose the customers on the second part of the journey. She was lovely, and took it upon herself to point out the sights for us as we went: the hallowed cricket ground, the university - there's superb standards of education in Barbados, the good bars to go to and the animals, 'No, dose not goats, dems sheep'.

One day, when we'd taken the dinghy to the beach, it started raining a little so we swam for a while but then took shelter in a beach bar. The folks there were having some soup so we asked for some (pigs knuckles! Interesting bony bits but very tasty, with thumb shaped dumplings and vegetables) and got chatting with a Bajan called Randall who had a party cruise boat called the Buccaneer, moored in the Careenage. He offered to help out if we needed anything and said we could come alongside anytime to use his wifi, a very kind and generous man. He had a lovely green parrot who owned a cage but didn't seem to spend much time in it, so we took Spike to meet him but Spike frightened him! 

We're sad to leave Barbados, a true paradise, it's richest asset it's welcoming, cheerful, friendly people.