One Day in Barbados

It’s about as hot as the Caribbean out there this week, if not hotter, so I thought I’d dip back into the pool of photos I took on the first real day of our month long journey through the Caribbean this past December. I still remember the giddiness we felt knowing that we had over 30 days without hardcore work or serious responsibility ahead of us. FREEDOM.

We began the trip in Barbados, staying in Christ Church for 4 days before heading to Dominica, our primary destination. There are no International flights to Dominica, so traveling there means flying to another island and transferring via a local airline such as Liat. Since we had to go somewhere else anyways, I suggested flying into Barbados and staying there a few days since it is where my mother is from and where my maternal relatives (aunts, uncle, grandmother, cousins) emigrated from to Canada. We didn’t stay long because it is a very high-traffic touristy place that would easily eat into our budget. I also had personal reasons against staying there long and was most eager to get to Dominica. Now that I’ve been, I regret that we didn’t stay longer and I would like to go back. Barbados and Dominica are very different places in more ways than just population and traffic. Barbados is a coral island, while Dominica is volcanic.The landscape is very flat and the heat incredibly dry compared to Dominica, which is entirely mountainous and predominantly covered in rain forest.

Davin waiting for the bus somewhere in Christ Church.

We started the first day of our trip hoping to walk from our hotel in Christ Church, through the countryside, and into Oistens, a fishing town that was listed at about 2 miles away. Of course, we got started just before noon, the hottest part of the day. The hotel receptionist looked appalled when we asked for a map or directions. Surely these winter-white Canadians do not think they can make it all that way through the heat! And we didn’t, but we put in a good effort and did continue walking past Oistens later in the day after we gave up and hitched a ride with a local van-bus.

Oh how I LOVED the public bus system in Barbados. The rides were often too fast and furious, the wait for buses unbearably slow, and at times we were packed in like sardines (Was it 20 people in a van one night, Davin?). And yet it turned out to be the very best way to see the island and connect with people. I had as much fun riding the buses as I did swimming in the ocean and discovering tropical plants. Dominica has a similar bus system but with a much, much smaller ridership, which made for an incredibly frustrating and impossible system to navigate. I am not exaggerating when I say that it took several hair-pulling attempts and the entire three weeks of our stay before we finally cracked the secret code that dictates where to catch buses and when. And that was with a lot of help from locals!! No one wants to give bad news, so time and time again we’d be told “Soon come” or “You’re alright, man!” as a reply to when the bus was coming and if we were waiting in the right spot… only to discover later on that there were no more buses that day and we were NOT waiting in the right spot for any bus!

This was before I REALLY started to worry about the no-show bus.

In Barbados there were bus signs everywhere, buses constantly honked to ask if you wanted on, and it always cost exactly $1.50. On only one occasion did I truly worry about catching a bus when we sat on the side of the road WAYYYY on the other side of the island for almost 2 hours at dusk hoping to god that a bus would come before dark so we wouldn’t be stuck in the middle of nowhere without cash, maps, bank machines, food, or a sense of direction.

But I digress. Tangent, tangent, tangent. What I really set out to do today was show a few pictures of plants and gardens we saw one day in Barbados…


It took an entire month, until the end of our trip in St. Lucia, but we finally discovered that this is the nut from a Mahogany tree.

And here it is, opened. They are very large and heavy nuts. Apparently, if you get hit by one on the head, well….

Bajan yardwaste.

We took a break to share a water coconut purchased from a guy selling them from the back of a pickup truck. As a coconut water connoisseur, I can tell you they were too green and the worst I’ve ever had save the old, molding ones you get in Chinatown here in Toronto. It turns out, the best way to get coconut water in Barbados is at the grocery store. You can buy the water fresh, but packed into water bottles and jars.

People generally don’t grow house plants indoors in the Caribbean. I mean, why bring them inside when they’ll survive outdoors year-round. And potting soil? Well, I didn’t see that for sale anywhere. Potted plants were always planted into ground soil that looked as hard as cement.

I asked him, “Are you a gardener?.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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2 thoughts on “One Day in Barbados

  1. I like your tangents, keep ‘em coming! It was interesting to read about bus systems that actually work…and ones that don’t which I know too well. Barbados sounds wonderful!

    I remember seeing the same potted-plants-in-ground-soil all over Puerto Rico when I visited for a family reunion two years ago; even though thoroughly Americanized Puerto Rico has potting soil readily available in most cities.

  2. Thanks Van!

    To be fair, I’m sure Bajans who have to use the bus system daily don’t love it. Getting across the island was a long haul. And Dominica just doesn’t have the population to sustain an organized system.

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