St Lawrence Gap, Barbados
25.04.2015 - 28.04.2015
Not long to go now - the home straight has been entered and the fat lady is clearing her throat.
Before my flight home, I had a few days in Barbados. Barbados is the easternmost island of the West Indies, situated roughly where the Caribbean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean, and is shaped a bit like a pork chop. It is a sovereign country, having gained independence from the British in 1966. Barbadians (or Bajans as they are known) generally have a good standard of living and the country ranks in the top five in the world for literacy rates.
According to the notes I took at the time, I had three hours' sleep the night before my flight from Rio thanks to a late night out in Shenanigans. I had to change flights in São Paulo and it was teatime when I finally arrived. A first for me on this trip was when airport customs asked me to change my shorts before they would let me into the country. Rather than being a harsh critique of my sartorial standards, the lady explained that it was forbidden to wear camouflage patterns on the island unless you were in the military.
Reserve shorts on, I took a passing minibus to the St Lawrence Gap area on the south coast, and it dropped me off near to my guesthouse - or at least near to where it appeared on Google Maps. An hour later I was still wandering around with my rucksacks looking for it, obtaining vague clues off passers-by as I homed in on it like Anneka Rice on Treasure Hunt.
After collapsing on my bed for half an hour I had to get going again as I had arranged to meet my mate Sam and his new wife Jennie who were in Barbados on honeymoon. Now I would have assumed they had better things to be doing but it was Sam's idea so I was happy to go along. After walking around the Hastings district looking for a suitable venue, we settled on a place with a great view of a car park and a drunk old man that kept interrupting us - but the food, drink & company made up for it. If you recognise Sam's face, that's probably because he was on Supermarket Sweep 15 years ago.
As I was getting up to leave the place I accidentally headbutted a light fitting, dislodging another customer's mobile phone that he'd balanced there as it charged up. The phone tumbled to the floor causing the screen to smash and the battery to fall out. As I apologised the owner's mate kept telling me it wasn't a problem, although the owner himself looked disgruntled to say the least.
St Lawrence Gap contains two adjoining beaches - Dover & Worthing - and a series of bars, restaurants and hotels. The beaches were just as you'd expect of the Caribbean - white sand, green trees and clear blue sea. A ring of washed-up seaweed lined the water's edge as the tide went out and lots of small crabs scurried around on a seawall.
Throughout the Gap there were lots of enterprising locals wondering if anyone wanted any drugs. I've been offered drugs a lot since I've been away but I think only Medellín in Colombia surpasses St Lawrence in terms of frequency. Every few minutes down the main street, someone would clock you then come over and introduce themselves. Most of them were either drunk or high or both, and some would not even bother trying to flog their wares and just ask for money. Duane wanted me to buy him a birthday beer. Dennis wanted me to give a donation to his school's trip to the UK (although this one may have been genuine). Rico took it to the next level, explaining that he was a warlock and would turn into a wizard on his 50th birthday, and by the way could I give him money for some food.
Meals out there were pretty expensive - about the same as London prices in most places. I found a grill on the side of the road that sold a hearty meal of chicken breast and leg with Bajan barbecue sauce, a couple of jacket spuds, pasta and salad for £8 so had that three nights running.
In keeping with my post-Uyuni apathy, appetite for further adventure was at a low so I didn't do much over the three days I was here. Although I'd visited a fair few beaches on my travels, I had yet to sunbathe on any of them so, as it was nearly time to go home, I reluctantly rectified that to try to get some colour on my still-pasty chest. I managed an hour on my back and 45 minutes on my front over two days, and I achieved my objective - that colour being red.
As it turned out, the 3rd cricket Test between the West Indies and England was coming up on the island so the place was starting to fill up with fat bald middle-aged English men, much to the delight of the local walking apothecaries. Sadly, three days before the game started, I had to leave for Trinidad - my final destination...