After clearing in, things accelerated faster than a whippet out the trap and we managed to get into the Careenage just before the lifting bridge was lowered. Inside the Careenage inner basin, help was at hand thanks to some of our fellow Odyssey sailors who had arrived earlier. Josh from Rogue and Chris from Akouavi were in dinghies to offer instruction and take people’s lines as they arrived. This was more than appreciated – parking here isn’t easy without help. It’s Mediterranean mooring without room to manoeuvre.
As you may be able to tell from the photographs, the Careenage is smack in the heart of Bridgetown. At the back of Lady Jane, surrounded by the Christmas trees, is Independence Square – now celebrating the 51st anniversary of independence from Britain; to our right is the bus station, and in front of us are the Parliament Building, Museums and shopping areas. And somewhere amongst this lot is a nightclub banging out music until 4 am. But we didn’t come to the centre for the peace and quiet, this is to be amongst the thick of things. If we wanted quiet, there’s the anchorage at Carlisle bay for that.
It has taken a while for our achievement to sink in. Crossing the Atlantic was something we had planned for many years and has been something of a nautical Everest. Now that we have done it and are here in the Caribbean, each day has moved us a little closer to the realisation that we have actually done what seemed to be such a distant dream even a few months ago.
It’s been great spending time doing little other than walking around Bridgetown, chatting with people,
and having the occasional trip out to somewhere on the island.
The first of our mini-excursions was to the Mount Gay rum factory, which is near to the cruise ship terminal, about one and a half miles from the Careenage. Given that it was a very hot day we decided to get a taxi, so we walked to the taxi rank and entered into negotiation with a driver on the fare, finally getting him down to a wallet-busting $25 Barbados dollars there and $15 back. Like most things here, with the exception of the buses, taxis are ridiculously expensive.
Despite the admission fee, however, the Mount Gay tour was superb. You don’t get to see actual manufacturing plant, but you do learn about the history of the place in a fun way – and you get to drink lots of rum in cool comfort. The only problem, at least for our sobriety, was that we expected lunch to be available when we got there, but it wasn’t. So what else to do other than toast the Mount Gay master blender with an Allen Smith cocktail each to put us in the right frame of mind for our 2.30pm tour, which included more rum followed by a discounted cocktail back at the bar. Needless to say, we were sozzled before I fell into the shop and ordered a bottle of XO and a bottle of Mauby rum, which is infused with tree bark and exclusive to Barbados. It is also one of two ingredients that constitute a Bicycle cocktail, the other one being beer. According to the cashier in the shop, when mixed in a 1-1 ratio, it’s her favourite cocktail. But I don’t know so much about bicycle, it’s more like tipple off your bicycle. That can’t be for the soft of liver.
Our second trip was to Harrison Caves. This time we went native and took the number four bus from Princess Alice bus terminal for a mere $2 each. And I can tell you that the caves might be OK, but the buses were fabulous. Not only do you get to where you want to go cheaply, you also get to see the local sights on the way and get a roller coaster ride included in the fair. The bus drivers are fearless and throw their buses around like they are driving stock cars. The return bus even more so – it was the Reggae bus complete with banging music and a headbanger of a driver.
Before getting on the second bus to Bridgetown, we stopped at Celestine’s restaurant, located near to Harrison Caves. Celestine herself was there making the food, and I can honestly say that she would knock expensive restaurants back home out of the culinary ring. Her food is fabulous. All home cooked and local, it is fresh and tasty beyond description. And her freshly made green apple, and passion fruit drinks are unbelievably good. I didn’t know if I had enough to buy lunch with only $70 in my wallet. “You’ll have enough”, she said. And so I did – it was only $50 Barbados dollars and she sent us away with a little parcel of homemade coconut cake. What a star.
Oistins and Other Stuff
That evening, together with a few of our sailor buddies, we went to a Oistins fish fry. We hadn’t a clue what this was (our best guess was a restaurant) but it wasn’t that at all. After Maria had negotiated the best price for a taxi (she is very good), in we piled and arrived at Oistins to find a large open area with lots of stalls selling fresh fish landed that day, drinks at a bargain price, and music rattling your bones. Excellent. After tracking down some other sailor folks, we plonked ourselves down and ordered some drinks and food and stuffed our faces Mr Creosote style. It was marvellous simple food. And later, our driver was waiting for us to squeeze us back in the cab and deliver us back to the Careenage.
In-between getting here and the Oistins night out, we have also attended the arrival party and leaving party, both at the Barbados Yacht Club beach, have enjoyed several drinks on several boats, and dined at a couple of local restaurants. It’s been fun, but now it’s time to leave for a bit of quiet time in the Carlisle Bay anchorage.