I wanted to take time out of a hectic schedule, so I decided to visit St. James Parish Church. Why? What was special about this church? Well aside from being located on one of the oldest pieces of consecrated land, it's pristine white limestone walls and shady grounds were quite relaxing. Evoking a sense of calm.
As I walked around met one knowledgeable gentleman who was intrigued by my passion for 360 photography. Still it was the calm of the grounds that was so soothing. It is of note that the church grounds do contain the tombs of dearly departed members of the new colony that was Barbados. All that history in one place. Who were the occupants of those tombs? A mother lost, a child lost, a husband lost but not forgotten; rather immortalized by stone slabs or bricked sepulchers.
It is amongst the trees of this solemn place that I contemplated on those whose bodies literally and metaphorically are part of the foundation of Barbados. There is too much history connected to this building to write in this blog. So if you are in Barbados, visit St. James' Parish Church and after your tour or attended service, the beach is right in view and it is beautiful.
I recall a Trinidadian friend of mind commenting on how boring Barbados nightlife was. Their only reference was a single club in Bridgetown. So as returning national I wanted to see if my defense of my country was based on nostalgia or was I actually right in saying that Barbadian nightlife was not boring.
The atmosphere was that of a street party, sidewalk café and heritage fair combined. The smell of frying fish and fried chicken livers was intoxicating. Though the international franchises were present most of the people were jumbled together en-masse in the local amphitheater and eating areas. The entire town was a buzz of DJ’s music, karaoke, dancing and eating all amalgamated into a single experience. The food and drink were inexpensive and the social scene was quite diverse. There was even a couple enjoying themselves with a baby in carrier. There was police security but you would hardly observe them unless you went looking.
St. Lawrence Gap:
The gap has a more sophisticated social scene to it but it was just as exciting. As you walk the bricked road, the smells of the variety of cuisine hit your nose like a musical symphony; each a different section or movement of the music, Mexican, Brazilian, Italian, French and Fusion. There were less people on the street but I do remember getting a high five from one excited visitor. The action was more in the restaurants and clubs. It was a bit more structure than Oistins and differently priced as well but just as entertaining. At one location I had the best piña colada ever! Usually I find the taste of the pineapple overpowers the coconut but this piña colada was perfectly balanced in flavor and texture and for once I got my favorite dink in a manly glass! Definitely going back for the coladas and I loved the layout and lighting. The manager was very cool and the staff genuinely hospitable.
Both locations, while very different in offerings, were by no means boring given the social scene, the variety of cuisine and the entertainment both live and recorded. I must confess that there are even more places for nightlife in Barbados this is not exhaustive. I just visited these two that night and had a great evening without alcohol.
Yes the colada was virgin and it was still that good!
Sometimes the adventures of life take you down lonely trails. Trails where you are bruised, cut and in pain. It is in these times you have to dig deep. That was the lesson on the Great Train Hike. Digging deep!
Our ancestors dug deep to lay wooden sleeper in this rustic terrain. They dug deep to cast and lay steel which helped to build a nation.
Did I want to quit? Yes.
Did I want to just catch the Bathsheba bus that was coming? Yes.
Was I in excruciating pain? Yes.
However, like my ancestors, I had to lay sleepers, albeit digital GPS tags. Like my ancestors I had to cast and lay steel, albeit digital platform and like my ancestors, I finished the trail, with green shirts to greet and place the medal of accomplishment around my neck.
Forty three kilometres completed not including terrain and from the mouth of Jose River where fresh water meets salted, I found my totem.
A small black stone.
As the shuttle took us to Bridgetown, I squeezed that stone and the reminder of who we truly are was apparent.
To be Bajan is to be unbreakable!
As I marveled at this place unknown to me, this row of steel driven into beach head like a palisade defence to ward of some over zealous buccaneer, I noticed that my hiking partner had developed a slight limp. The repel down and terrain had taken its toll on a prior injury. Still she pressed on through Conset Bay having to surrender finally at Martins Bay after a courageous fight.
Bajan women are tough!
It was with a sad heart that I had to leave my hiking partner as she waited in a safe place for her extraction home. She has no honour lost. This was her third tour and her testimony of the resilience of Bajan women is most noteworthy. It was that resilience that built this land, that made man, woman and child come out here, behind God's back, to lay wooden sleepers and steel tracks over this terrain, so generations after them would be inspired that nothing was impossible once you could endure.
It was with this thought that I pressed on into what was now truly unknown. Up to now, my aching feet and shoulders were screaming to quit but it was because of my hike partner that I pressed on. Now, the journey was up to me, testing my mettle and my resolve. I repeated my mantra "One more step", but I realised that I had found myself alone on the trail, in pain, fallen behind, clueless as to what lie ahead. I was lost, my focus was on one thing, the next orange marker.
I staggered along the trail, through unocupied grassy hills and large crab holes on my right; cliff face and rough sea on my left; and me pondering what I will do, as the rays of an evening sun now beam, unstoppable, under the broad rim of my hat.
To be continued...
There are no photographs of this segment. I was more concerned with getting to Bathsheba before sunset. I know what lives in those holes and when they start to come out and given the size of those holes, I may just have to conquer another fear.
It was the vertical brown tendril of a bearded fig tree, (Ficus citrifolia) growing from the rocks of what was once known as the Conset Bay Cut-Out. This channel in the limestone bedrock was cut to facilitate easier passage of the train. Now generations later the cut out is over grown by the plant from which Barbados derived it's name. The bearded, Los Barbados.
It was easy to see how a Portuguese explorer would have come to that name. The brown tendrils were almost everywhere, giving it a jungle like feel. I was reminded of an adventure movie I saw, long ago, with trees like these growing over the hand carved stone temples of men, in another more ancient part of the world. Unfortunately I had no fedora or whip and my satchel was black polyester instead of brown leather but the feeling of that adventure was there. The eerie silence, the sound of crunching leaves, the sound of boughs rubbing each other in the wind and as we climbed our way through their interlocking obstacles.
There was a small clearing on the trail before we re-entered our tree branch obstacle course. Though grateful for the clearing , I couldn't help but notice three points of grave concern to me:
1. the clearing was on a cliff edge and I hate heights.
2. The cliff edge showed signs of crumbling and I was absolute terrified of the rocks below.
3. The alternative path was to navigate the biggest crab holes I have every seen and I for certain was not doing that!
So I overcame a fear of heights and with eyes focused on the next orange marker, I made it across the cliff edge to the second obstacle course of trees. Fatigue began to set in but this was only about the half way point. My feet were in pain; the stone in my left shoe did not help; and though the scenery was photograph worthy, my mind had abandoned looking for the existential and was focused on the practical. Where is the next orange marker? Scouting through the menagerie of leave and branches I spotted the next marker attached to the start of a rope that was tied to a tree. My hiking partner descended first and disappeared around the corner of a patch or sea grape trees.
" Okay, a rope! I can do this!" I thought to myself. I grabbed the rope, tried to find some footing on the white powdery " trail" and as I started my descent, I asked, " All clear?"
There was no reply!
To be continued...