Interior shot of Sunbury
Living the Dream
Having committed oneself and one’s precious wife to living the dream and now having succeeded in reaching one’s nirvana in the form of Barbados, by crossing one of the world’s oceans in what to us was an act of derring-do, what does one now do to continue the dream. After all, when we dream at night or during the day, there is no limit to the range and diversity of reverie, which one can encounter during just one period of sleep.
As a matter of fact during our sailing trips and ocean voyages, my dreams have been more vivid, peopled, colourful and extravagant than normal. Siobhán’s are more complex when she returns to land. Adam likewise, as he has described, has found that his dreams are so vivid that he does not want to wake up. On occasions, we found that we could not wake him, but then he has always been a very heavy sleeper.
There will be readers, who will want to know of our dreams, but sadly they were confined to oblivion on waking as we were so busy sailing and living for the moment. But what of our further dreams, will they come to fruition? What are they? Are dreams and fantasies best left to the REM stage of sleeping and not proclaimed abroad to all and sundry for analysis. Do dreams have less chance of success, the more one discusses them with others? My ultimate dream has been fulfilled, so can I now continue the rest of my life, in a state of contentment?
Having reached this zenith of contentment, will the rest of this year or Siobhán and my lives together be a sad anti-climax. No! no! no! of course not. Siobhán and I are at present enjoying the fruits of our labours and counting our blessings. We have now time to reflect on just how much we have achieved in the past eight years since we met. Oh, yes! and enjoy the warm sunshine, the diverse topography, flora and fauna, local people and customs.
It might be easier for us to acclimatise to the different cultures as we have lived for so long in that multicultural society that is London and worked within organisations, which reflected the full diversity of our society. We found that working within cultures so rich in diversity enabled us to be more tolerant and understanding of persons different to us on account of race, colour, creed, disability and other differences. We are enjoying sharing with the locals their stories and ours. We have now started to relax into the way of life we have chosen, no matter how temporary or permanent it might be. We are no longer on holiday or retired, as we have adopted the travellers’ way of life and are beginning to adapt to our mobile and ever-changing surroundings.
Doing the tourist bit
Well that’s not strictly true, as we have been doing the odd bit of holiday type tourist activity since we arrived in Barbados. Our explorations have not been along the lines of Columbus, however, since so many of the islands in the Caribbean have been set up to attract and catch the visitors (and their cash) arriving on the gigantic cruise ships that wherever one travels, there is an abundance of humanity talking in American or English accents. Because the locals cannot differentiate between a European from a cruise ship and a European from a cruising boat, one has to run the gauntlet of taxi touts, tour touts, dive touts and even sailing catamaran touts.
We were fortunate that Siobhán had visited Barbados before, so she knew the system of buses and ‘ZRs’ ( Hiace mini-buses, which are cheap and cheerful, but which are crammed with too many people and would fail a traffic officer’s examination for safety aspects. Their tyres are as slick as a Formula 1 racing cars, they travel at unbelievable speeds over the worst roads and when cornering, subject the passengers to astronautical G forces.) We do a lot of walking between locations, because you see more, it saves money, it is good exercise and we’re not in a hurry anyway. We find that it also helps us to interact with the locals to expand our knowledge in the locations we’re visiting. There is not much point in travelling half way around the globe if you only stay on your boat and socialise with European types, as pleasant as many of them are.
Among the interesting sites we visited in Barbados was Prime minister Grantley Adam’s beautiful former home, which appeared as in a time warp, suspended in a bygone age, when life was slower, more genteel and of a better quality. We picked up some excellent ideas for introduction into our home when we return to Europe.
In the grounds of the house were reproductions of slave quarters, which demonstrated visually what pitifully basic accommodation the plantation owners provided for their slaves while living in sumptuous splendour in their mansions. There were also examples of chattel houses, wooden shacks, which could be dismantled and carried to the next plantation, when the slaves were transferred. When slavery was ended, the former slaves would have to be able to move from plantation to plantation when they were no longer required and these chattel houses were designed and built for this purpose.
We also visited Sunbury Plantation Estate House, which has a wonderful collection of antique carts and carriages and a very simply designed house filled with locally donated artefacts, which also gave us some ideas for our future home. The plantation has been separated by sale from the house, so we were unable to view how a modern plantation works. We were surprised to be told that sugar cane is still to a great extent cut by hand.
Mount Gay Rum ahoy!
A visit to Barbados would not be complete without a visit to the Mount Gay Rum Factory, which was fascinating for both of us, although Siobhán doesn’t partake of alcoholic drinks much. The tour was very well thought out, terminating inevitably in a visit to the bar for tastings of some local beverages and then a visit to the very inexpensive factory shop, where we bought a 1.75 litre of Eclipse Rum for about £7 for the ship’s liquor locker. Unfortunately, they do not sell their very attractive bright red sailing caps, and the only location you can get them is at a regatta, where we were led to believe one has to queue for 2 hours for one. What’s in a hat is what I say?
Right in the centre of Barbados are two parallel and adjacent streets, which could not be more poles apart in character and travellers than if they were in different countries.
One is almost completely filled with glittery jewellery stores, designer boutiques and souvenir shops catering for the tourists from the cruise liners, virtually identical to that in Sint Maarten, which I visited with work last year. One gets the idea that all the cruise liner passengers do when ashore is window-shop and buy jewellery.
The other street is teeming with local people, strolling along happily, chatting to their acquaintances in groups, shouting to passers-by, pouring in and out of the local shops, which sell the clothes, household goods, curtains and other materials used by the Barbadians. One’s emotions are mixed when one walks down these two streets. On the one hand it is wonderful to experience how the locals live naturally and go about their daily lives, but it contrasts strongly with the so called duty-free glitter in the tourist street. One wonders if the takings from the jewellery shops help the local economy. The taxi drivers target every person leaving the glitter street, in the hope of a lucrative fare back to the cruise liner terminal or a tour of the island. The locals struggle with their shopping to the bus terminal to catch their nationally run bus home. A 5-mile journey on a government bus is 1.5 Barbados dollars (50p). A one mile taxi fare is 30 dollars (£10). We catch the bus every time.
Having travelled the island via Hiace or national bus and seen as much as we wanted to see of Barbados within our timetable, on 10 January 2007, we lifted the anchor and turned the bow towards Grenada and the Caribbean proper, since Barbados is an island on its own in the Atlantic some 100 miles from the nearest Caribbean island of the Windward Islands. We were soon back in Atlantic cruiser mode with the wind varying from ESE 5 to E 3 for the trip. We remarked that it had not been that long ago that an offshore passage of 100+ miles had been a nail-biting experience, as we crossed the English Channel to France and then from the Scillies to Ireland. We’ve come a long way since then.
We also noted that apart from the temporary (20minutes) grounding in Drakes Pool, Crosshaven (unavoidable due to a poor chart) and the subsequent rope around the propeller in Crosshaven marina (avoidable) the demise of the inner forestay, (unavoidable as the rigging had been checked) and not forgetting the initial problems with the water-maker, (unavoidable as the pump had been replaced), the failure of the autohelm (avoidable), we had arrived in Barbados safely, accurately and timely with hardly any damage to the boat or us.
I will now end this update, so I can send it off to my brother Geoffrey, who is waiting patiently like a newspaper editor for some copy so that he can send you all our news. My apologies for the tardiness of this report, but after the Atlantic crossing, Siobhán and I have been enjoying the land life.
Love from Siobhán and Lawry
Prickly Bay, Grenada, 8 February 2007
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