As many of you may or may not know, I had the wonderful opportunity to go outside of the United States for the first time in my life. Yes… at the age 22, I was able to venture down to the Caribbean for some much needed relaxation. Not only do I want to document and share my experience for you, but I also urge you to visit this vibrant and unique country.
I have always known that my family, more specifically, my mother’s side of the family was from the island of Barbados. However, I felt somewhat detached to the culture and not particularly connected with the Bajan way simply because I had 1) never been to the motherland and 2) my mother, her siblings and cousins adopted the American way of doing things. I had no idea that I had this long lineage of family that I had NEVER met in my life. It was so refreshing and heartwarming to meet people that I happened to be related to.
Here are a few tips for your next visit to the island of Barbados:
1. If and when you can go during ‘Crop Over’— Crop over is a traditional harvest festival celebrated in Barbados. The central theme of crop over is the conclusion of the sugar cane season. They throw a week long celebration commemorating the ending of the sugar cane season simply because the sugar cane season is a great contribution to the Barbados economy; I’ll drink to that!
In addition, crop over has a lot of live music ‘soca’ artists; this year Rihanna made an appearance. It is a really big deal and you won’t want to miss a crazy time.
2. Don’t just visit the ‘tourist’ side; visit the countryside too— I am so lucky to have family down on the island so I rarely ventured into the ‘tourist’ side of things. Besides, being a tourist down there is expensive. Sandy Lane, the more upscale portion of Barbados, is usually where all the celebs get married or vacation. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely want to vacation like a celebrity at some point, later down the road, but it was a very humbling experience seeing the countryside and how everyone helps one another when needed.
The first day that my family and I got there we ventured up to the mountains of Bethsheba. It was quite beautiful as you can see from my photos I took. After getting lost quite a bit we had lunch at The Atlantis, a hotel near the bay; which was quite a treat.
All of the following pictures were taken at Codrington College, school of theology for the Anglican church of West Indies.
4. Going to the beach is a MUST– Before stepping on foot of a Barbados beach, I have been told by many natives including my grandmother and some aunts and uncles that the water is “crystal clear” and the sand is beautiful. You know, at the time of confession, I thought it was all but an exaggeration, but after seeing it for myself, that water puts all the American beaches to shame! The water was sooooo clear and I couldn’t help but to want to get in (I have never fully submerged myself in an ocean before in my life). I guess the fact that the ocean felt like a swimming pool is what prompted me to let go of whatever fears I had of going into the ocean. Below are just a few pictures that my cousin took of me while I was on the beach the first day that I was in paradise. The place that my family and I stayed at gave us access to a private beach so no crowds, which was great!
5. Be sure to try out Chefette– Chefette is Barbados version of fast food. They have literally everything on the menu from fried chicken, pizza, orea cream pies and their native dish called ‘roti’. From what my aunt was telling me, McDonalds lasted all but 2 months down in Barbados because the food was not of “quality” to the natives because the food lacked seasoning. Man, these people LOVE their spices.
6. Get on a boat!– My cousins, my mom and I decided we wanted to get on a boat to spice up our vacation. It was litterally, so much fun! The cruise was 115 BBD ($57.50 in US dollars). The Tiami Cruise experience was 5 hours long and included lunch, unlimited drinks (alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks), and snorkeling! It was just an adventure and I would do it again in a heartbeat!
Overall, the week that I experienced in Barbados was awesome! I have a better understanding of my heritage and I met some new family members along the way. If you are ever wondering where to visit for you next vacation, make sure Barbados is a part of your plans. It’ll be a time you’ll never forget!