Gallivanting in Barbados: An idiot’s journal
Published by Jenna Wimshurst at Shakespir
Copyright 2017 Jenna Wimshurst
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Gallivanting in Thailand: An idiot’s journal
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The worst thing about travelling is the travelling, you know, the actual getting on a plane bit. Our trip to Barbados started on the Virgin Atlantic flight from Gatwick and it got off to a pretty bad start. No there weren’t any turbulence, scary take offs or terrorist attacks; our TV screens didn’t work and the bloke in front put his chair back as soon as we took off. Utter bullshit. We spent £60 on selecting our seats and we were given two iPads to compensate for the broken TVs. It was like we were animals.
When we arrived in Barbados we were welcomed by a large poster of Rihanna and the very cheerful and jolly immigration officers. Sorry did I say cheerful and jolly? I meant fearful and intimidating. Our luggage arrived last onto the conveyor belt and when we finally got outside it was another 45 minutes before we were picked up.
As we waited for our ride a Bajan man, (well lots of Bajan men) asked us if we wanted a taxi, we declined and said that we were waiting for Suz’s dad to pick us up. One guy who asked us about a taxi started flirting with Suz. When she told him that she was with someone he looked at her ring finger and asked where her ring was. Apparently in Barbados if you don’t have a ring on it then you’re still open to offers. Homosexuality is frowned upon in Barbados (and sodomy is illegal) so Suz told him that her boyfriend was at home.
When our ride finally turned up it took us over an hour to get to the apartment due to the crazy traffic. The crazy traffic was made worse by the ton of vehicles that had been abandoned/parked all over the place. When we turned the corner we realised what was going on; it was time for church. A sea of people dressed better than I dress for a wedding were hanging around the church ready to praise Jesus. There are many “Jesus is coming” signs around Barbados, but no actual indication as to when he’ll be coming. But do not worry I’m sure he’s on his way.
We’d just been on a nine hour flight, waited for ages at the airport and when we got to the apartment we were told that we were all going out and to be ready in ten minutes.
There were a lot of us going out leaving no room inside the groom’s truck so Suz and I jumped on the back of it. We knelt up and held on tight to the bars as the wind rushed through our hair and the beautiful Bajan scenery swept past us. 20 minutes later we were sat down with long ass faces because the fun had turned into annoyance. We were on our way to Oistins that was over an hour away and all Bajan roads are bumpy, seriously bumpy.
When we eventually got there we joined a very large queue for Oistins’ Friday Night Fish Fry. Although some of us were losing our patience with all the waiting we were entertained with soca music, (fake) big assed dancing ladies and two guys who had monkeys on their shoulders. The monkeys were on leads and the men offered them to the people queuing for selfies and hair picking. I believe that animals should not be used for tourist entertainment and so I gave them a very dirty look. They might not have seen my dirty look but you know that they knew it was there, for sure.
For dinner I had chicken and macaroni that was spicy and then we all went to the beach to watch the dancing and smell weed in the air. The Bajan men we encountered at the beach were interesting to say the least; one man pointed at Suz and shouted “I want some of that”, what a gentleman. And one guy told us that the first slaves to arrive in Barbados were Scottish, courtesy of the English. As an English person I can only apologise. The same guy asked whether we were a couple, at first he didn’t believe us but when he was convinced he told us that we would be stoned to death for that on his island. Welcome to Barbados.
It was the day of the wedding that we had travelled to Barbados for and I awoke to the beautiful blue skies, warm buttery toast and a fucking rooster. The absolute cock liked to hang about under our bedroom window making its famous cock-el-doodle-doo noise on the hour every hour from 4am.
We spent the morning swimming and sunbathing by the pool but because we weren’t going to spend much time at the pool I didn’t put any lotion on my shoulders. Well I severely burnt my shoulders and they were ridiculously painful, “I definitely won’t be making that mistake again” I thought to myself. Life is nothing but a series of lessons…
Suz’s sister found love when she went to Barbados last year and so decided to marry there. Like all weddings, they’re stressful and something somewhere won’t run smoothly; luckily for us the only thing that was wrong was that the taxi was late and the bride spent a nerve wracking 20 minutes calling and trying to direct them.
I’m so glad I didn’t do my hair for the wedding because after a ridiculously bumpy, windy journey in the back of a minibus with all the windows open my hair looked ridiculous. Oh wait, no I did do my hair, but after that journey you’d never have known.
Like most things in Barbados the wedding was chilled, informal and lovely. The reception was held at the groom’s home and garden, which was a typical Bajan chattel constructed wooden hut with two rooms and a bathroom. The garden was large and covered in nature; mango trees, banana trees and a shit load of other trees (my knowledge of trees is limited, so shoot me).
Bajan people are lovely and friendly; they’re always dancing and are generally a nice race of people. HOWEVER, the phrases “please” and “thank you” do not appear in their vocabulary. Like at all. You could hand someone a plate of food that you’ve just cooked for them and they’ll just take the plate in silence, hold the door open, again silence. It’s strange for such friendly people to not say those words. I realise that as a Brit/southern English posh knob I say please and thank you a lot; in fact Suz’s dad told me to stop saying thank you so much. But he’s from Scotland so you expect that sort of rudeness from them…
During the wedding reception Suz felt really ill, mainly due to the suck-me-in pants she was wearing so we ordered a taxi home early. We waited at the top of the hilly dirt track in the pitch black for a taxi that took 30 minutes to arrive. It was another crazy ride home and the only time the driver slowed down was when he was texting, which I guess is some sort of blessing.
That fucking cock went off again at 4am; in other news that evening we had rooster stew. Today I woke up to find Suz’s sister having a bit of a panic about the maggots all over her bedroom floor. It was the funniest thing I’ve seen for ages. An assistant head teacher of a catholic school crying and shrieking because of tiny wiggly maggots. I hadn’t realised that’s what they were when I first saw one the day before when I was on the toilet. I just thought they were some sort of Bajan house insect. Suz’s sister thinks that they might’ve crawled up her in the night… lolz.
As on the first day we were whisked away within ten minutes of arriving and the next day we were whisked away to a wedding it wasn’t until day three that we got a chance to go food shopping. Everything is so expensive. Like ridiculously expensive. My mum’s friend from 20 odd years ago went to Barbados for her honeymoon and had to come home early because it was so expensive. I’m not quite sure how that works because surely changing your flight would cost more money than any food you could buy…
To give you an example the chocolate Cheerio’s were 18 Bajan dollars, equivalent to £7. A pack of 15 oranges were 25 Bajan dollars, equivalent to £9.50. Not only are the shops so expensive but the staff are slow and when you’ve already spent an hour searching for non-existent bargains, it can be a bit testing. To top it off the guy who “helped” pack and then decided to wheel our trolley out for us told us that we have to tip him. For what? Fucking cheek. Being the silly Brits that we are we were outraged and gave him 5 Bajan dollars so not to offend.
After another half an hour of waiting for Suz’s parents to finish shopping we made our way home, unpacked the shopping, scoffed as much chocolate in our mouths as possible and made our way to the beach.
The beach was beautiful, the sea was clear, the sky was blue and the sand was fucking boiling. We jumped in and had a well-deserved swim. We saw a school of fish swimming past us plus a large school of flying fish that flew up and down and up and down. I tried to chase them to capture it on my GoPro but alas, I was too slow.
Determined to get some good footage of some fishes I went swimming where no one else was. It wasn’t until I popped my head under the sea with my goggles on that I realised why there wasn’t anyone else there; there was a ton of sea urchins only a metre away from the surface.
When I reached Suz I told her immediately about the black pricks under the sea and she told me to stop being so racist. Ok she didn’t say that, I’m an idiot. But she did want to see them so we swam out to where I had seen them and then I saw a really cute chubby little fish hiding in between two rocks. Its eyes were that of an ashamed dog who had just been caught going through the bin.
‘Look babe, how cute is that squishy little fish?’ I said pointing it out.
‘That’s a fucking puffer fish!’ She screamed and we desperately swam away in fear of our lives.
I told Suz that puffer fish can’t kill us, they’ll just give us a bit of a stab with their pricks. But after some Googling we discovered that a puffer fish has enough poison to kill 30 adult human beings… Ok, so I can’t be right about everything. It was very squishy though.
After our escape from death we went back to the apartment and ordered a Chinese. Unlike the Chinese take aways in Britain the Bajan take aways don’t have an “English” section so I couldn’t have my usual prawn omelette and chips. Sad times. The takeaway took over two hours to arrive (bloody Island time) and while we waited the security guard for the complex knocked on our door to tell us off. We had done the trashiest scummy-like thing; we’d hung all our wet towels over the balcony and that was in direct violation of the apartment rules. How bloody common of us.
Finally the day that we’d all been looking forward to; the private catamaran trip. After an early pick up and a bumpy ride to Bridgetown we arrived at the boat; 11 family and friends and three crew members all ready for an unlimited drinks fuelled trip around Barbados.
Our first stop was snorkelling with the turtles. I got an amazing shot of the turtle taking a breath above water via my GoPro. The best thing about the shot is that you can’t see the 30 odd people behind me all desperate to see the one turtle that was in the area. The ratio of turtles to people was 1:30.
After swimming with the turtle we got back on the boat and headed to our next snorkelling stop near two shipwrecks. The 2 ships were: French boat Berwyn that was sunk by its own crew in 1919 and the Bajan Queen that was sunk in 2002 after being donated to the Coastal Zone Management Unit after living out its time as a party boat.
Everyone was able to get down to the ships to see inside but when I tried my ears screamed in agony due to the air pressure. Suz’s dad went under an archway on the boat and a piece of coral scratched his back, I have some wonderful footage of it ().
Although we hired a private catamaran for the day we could’ve gone on the Jolly Roger ship that takes you to the same places but has a plank you can walk off and a rope you can swing off into the sea with. The downside to the Jolly Roger is that you have to share it with other annoying tourists and why would anyone choose to do that?
After lunch (none of which was spicy #win), we all jumped off the boat and went swimming near the beach. It pissed it down and it was amazing. There were a large number of guys on jet skis circling us like a sea of sharks around a family of seals; they spoke English but they didn’t understand when we all said we didn’t want to ride a jet ski.
When it was our time to sail back to Bridgetown the crewmembers asked us to dance and show everyone else at the docks what a great time we were having. We were having a great time but I believe they wanted to use us as some sort of free marketing tool, cheeky. Everyone started dancing which was fun but watching close female family members grinding on their guy’s private bits to some Shaggy was a bit too much. It was like everyone was in a Rihanna video. Although to be fair she is the queen of Barbados as her music is everywhere you go. It’s like she’s their national anthem “call me rude boy boy can you get it up”.
That evening it was our turn to cook dinner; I was stressed but not because there was seven of us to cook for but because one of the seven was a top chef from New York. “Would you like cheese on your pasta bake?” We might not have impressed her with our cooking skills but at least our leader isn’t Donald Trump. She apologised and told us how delicious the pasta bake was. At least two Michelin stars worth she said.
Off Suz and I popped to the nearest beach for a bit of alone time. It was a small bit of beach just five minutes away with no one else in sight and gorgeous soft sand. But once we’d sat down we noticed that the gorgeous soft sand was home to what seemed to be Barbados’ entire crab population (this might not be factually correct but there were a shit load of crabs).
I got some great footage of two of them fighting/partaking in foreplay, but Suz saw them as beach spiders and being a huge scaredy cat she refused to stay at the beach. As we got up and started to leave a young guy called Sonny came up to us and asked us if we were interested in doing an water sports or perhaps a bit of pot. We declined both and made our way to the nearest reggae bus to take us to the next beach along where Suz’s sisters were.
Just two Bajan dollars on the bus and you can go anywhere, the next stop or the end of the route that’s a good hour’s bumpy ride away. Luckily our stop was only two stops away and when we gave the driver our money he added it to the wad of notes he was already carrying in one hand while driving with the other.
Reggae music started bursting through the speakers with some random DJ shouting over the top of it like an annoying puppy “big up to the Bajan experience etc etc”.
The day might have got off to a poop start what with all the crabs but it got a lot better. Soon we were sat with the other two ladies enjoying a burger from the BBQ, and reading a book. Burger + book + beach + Barbados = A bucking brilliant day.
The beach was a lot busier than the other one but I still saw a few crabs crabbing about the place; I decided to keep my mouth shut though because I wasn’t going to pack our stuff up again just because Suz thinks they’re little beach spiders. Sorry babe.
In the middle of the water was a Tarzan boat with trampolines, slides and a pirate rope where a number of kids and adults were somersaulting and jumping into the water. So much fun. I grabbed Suz and we went to join them (only £6 each for half an hour) and as we got to the first trampoline we realised that we weren’t ten years old anymore and that heights of any kind are actually fucking terrifying.
The Tarzan man said jump after 3 small bounces on the trampoline and after 20 small bounces I was still trying to get the courage to jump. It was pathetically embarrassing so we left and returned to the beach where we drank rum punch and sunbathed in the water listening to the Guardians of the Galaxy 2 soundtrack playing from the bar nearby. Now that’s how an adult has fun.
Our time at the beach was coming to an end so I spent the last two hours in the sun getting wrinkly in the water enjoying the rain splash down on my face. Suz spent her time sleeping, at least she was until a man selling apple juice woke her up by saying “lady want apple juice” “no lady sleeping” Suz replied.
On our way back to the apartment we walked past a kid’s birthday party where there was a clown on the microphone entertaining the kids. “Yo, yo wag wan to the two ladies!” He didn’t say wag wan but he said the Bajan equivalent, whatever that is.
Spending time with the family is great, unless it’s for a period longer than four hours. We all went out for an Italian meal in Holetown that evening and as we waited for the bus a bus on the opposite side of the road told us to get on because he was also going to Holetown. We all piled into the bus and then realised that yes the bus was going to Holetown but not before the bus finished its route seven miles in the opposite direction turned around and went passed the stop where we had just been standing.
When we finally got to Holetown we left it up to the two guys of the family to lead us in the right direction of the restaurant. Alas we ended up walking in the opposite direction for at least 15 minutes. With their pride and egos a little bit damaged we eventually Googled where the restaurant was and ended up enjoying a lovely Italian meal.
Like everywhere in Barbados the meal was expensive, the chocolate cake was 32 Bajan dollars which is about £13. For £13 I want a huge fuck off birthday cake with a pug’s face and a minion’s bum on it thank you very much.
After dinner we met the bride and groom at a bar by the beach where we enjoyed more rum punch and watched the lightning that was followed 30 minutes later by thunder and then an hour later by hard rain. It was the most confusing of weathers.
As we waited for the bus ride back to our apartment a heated debate broke out about who was the best footballer George Best or someone Gascoigne. And just as one of the guys said the ridiculous sexist remark of “what would you know about football, you’re a woman” the bus came round the corner and I screamed “BUS!”
Please note: men, if you’re losing an argument/debate with a woman make sure you mention the fact that they’re a woman and you’ll automatically win said argument/debate. Works every time…
Day six started with a lovely family feud over cheese and was quickly followed by a dip in the pool until the heavens opened and we all had to go in. After getting royally fucked off with the rain we decided to go out anyway and ended up at John Moore’s bar nearby. We bumped into the local water sports and pot guru Sonny and enjoyed a drink in the beach area of the bar that was swarming with flies.
Sonny offered us more pot and gave us his number in case we changed our mind. He said that he knew we were a couple and it’s all one love, he doesn’t discriminate. We told him we were off to Mullins for some food and he told us that Mullins was a very posh and snotty establishment and I told him that we were from the South of England and how dare he think that anything less than posh and snotty would be any good for us. We bid him farewell and went to Mullins.
As it turned out Mullins wasn’t posh or snotty, I’d hate to think what he thought a bad establishment would be. It was bloody expensive and my £20 burger and chips only came with five chips.
After a rather disappointing meal we made our way back, got soaked and then took a three hour nap before playing cards on the balcony and going for a midnight swim. If it wasn’t for all the balconies overlooking the swimming pool I definitely would’ve got my foof and bahoobaloobers out but unfortunately I couldn’t. Instead I’ll just give you that lovely image. You’re welcome.
Our last full day in Barbados started with a bus journey to Speightstown for a group breakfast. My sausage baguette and Suz’s pancakes were yummy (Suz hates me saying that word because it reminds her of how southern English I am) and our breakfast was watched by the local mute chickens and a chubby black caterpillar.
After breakfast we got the reggae bus to Bridgetown. With the bumps, loud music and frequent car horns Suz slept soundly the entire journey.
Bridgetown is a mixture of clothes shops, toot shop and men shouting at tourists asking if they want a taxi. We also spotted a Woolworths in the town but unlike the good old stationary shop we once knew it was just full of Tupperware boxes.
Once we had enjoyed Bridgetown and a very messy ice cream by the marina we made our way back to the bus stop and through the crowds of men shouting louder about their taxis.
Our last evening was spent in Holetown at the beach bar getting sloshed on rum punches and Banks beer. We decided to eat at the bar and we both had the biggest worst burger ever. The burger was actually heavily seasoned minced beef that had been moulded into a patty and put between two buns. I hate spice so I like my food to be as bland as possible, no salt or pepper for me thank you. Luckily the rum punch took the taste away.
As we chatted and drank we saw the threat of the dark clouds on the horizon and as expected they soon burst open along with a rush of wind that swept our table umbrella up into the air like something out of Mary Poppins.
We rushed into the bar where they were boarding up the windows getting ready for the storm. By this point I was so drunk and excited by the storm that I started vaping inside like it was 2006 or something. I was told to stop so I went to the toilet to vape instead.
When we got back to the apartment we saw some huge fuck off snails just under our balcony and the lady on the next balcony along told us that they were African snails and they breed like flies. Fat, sticky, slimy flies.
We ended the evening by playing dominos on the balcony. Dominos is probably the most boring game ever. Snap however is full of adrenaline, fun, noise, slapping and a lot of false calls, a lot like sex.
Home day! We got up early and spent two hours in the pool playing like children then ordered two cheeseburger and chips from the takeaway place. I enjoyed the remainder of the sun by reading my book with my legs in the pool. Do you remember earlier on when I said that I burnt my shoulders because I didn’t put any sun tan lotion on and how life is a series of lessons? Well sometimes you need to be taught things twice. I went home with severely burnt shoulders.
When the heavens opened again we waited for our taxi inside and watched some American TV. “Hey do you get out of breath when walking up mountains? Maybe you need to have a lung transplant” the ridiculous American surgery and medical adverts chimed between reports of what Donald Trump had been up to.
The taxi arrived and we shared it with six other guys, mostly from London, who had just picked up their outfits for the Crop Over Carnival that was happening the next day. We were gutted that we couldn’t stay for the carnival but society says we need to work for a living and my work says that they don’t care if Rihanna’s going to be there I must return to work or risk being the one who organises the Christmas party. So we had to go home.
To summarize Barbados was good. The weather was mostly nice, the rum punch was delicious, the people were really friendly (if you overlook the whole non-existent please and thank yous) and we enjoyed our trip to the Caribbean. Would I go again? No, probably not. There wasn’t enough to do and it wasn’t catered to tourists enough. I’m not saying that I want to have touristy shit shoved in my face but when we went to Thailand there was a lot more to do and the prices were totes cheap instead of “holy shit” totes expensive.
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A humorous journal of my trip to Barbados where I went to a wedding, swam with turtles, snorkelled over shipwrecks, partied on the beach, came close to death by puffer fish and realised that jumping off a trampoline in the sea is no longer my idea of fun. This comedic and realistic piece of travel writing takes you on a journey through the Caribbean island of Barbados with Jenna, a lesbian writer from London and her Scottish girlfriend, Suz.