Discovering Bridgetown

Trip Start Jul 13, 2006
Trip End Jul 20, 2006

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

 Now that we know the intricacies of catching the bus in Barbados, we decided to head back down to Barbados for some more sight seeing and shopping on this, our last full day here. So after breakfast, we began walking down the narrow road from our hotel, admiring the sandy beach that traces one side of the road, and the chattel houses that dot the other side. Along the way we passed a small fishing area, where the men stood waste-deep in the water while cleaning their catch of the day. A little further up the wooden roadside kiosks offered the fish for sale, either raw or they will fry it up for you.

As we walked along the road, single file (for safety sake), like four children on a discovery journey, we spotted the blue bus zooming past us on the other side of the road. So we flagged down the driver and ran over to hop aboard. The ride into Bridgetown takes about 45 minutes. Keep in mind - we had no idea what stop to get off at. Arlette wanted to do some shopping, and Anita wanted to visit the Barbados History Museum. As we rode into town some of the roads and stores began to look familiar as we had taken this same route into town a few days ago. Finally, we all got off the bus near an area we remembered walking through on Sunday. Walking towards the center of town, we stopped several locals and asked directions to the museum. Without a doubt, everyone we have met up with has been especially helpful and willing to go out of their way to assist us.

We walked past several shops and malls, stopping intermittently to pick up items that would help remind us of this trip, and a few gifts to share with family and friends in the States. With several small bags in hand, we headed towards the van stand to catch the number 9 van to the museum. And what a ride that was. We crammed our four bodies into an already packed van - a 9-passenger minivan that somehow seated 16. These Bajan's really know how to make a small space work for them. Through tight curves and narrow city streets, the minivan sped through town and, thanks to several other passengers, who indicated to the driver that we needed to get off at the museum, we arrived safely in front of an old building with a canon in front.

As we toured the place, we learned the history of Barbados, the original settlers, how the country has transitioned and developed, and the people who make this land so wonderful. Unfortunately, the viewing galleries were not air conditioned, as we "spoiled" Americans could barely stand the stuffiness of the building, so we sped through the exhibits, but were still able to glean a fair amount of information. We even passed a group of school children, who had come to the museum on a field trip.

After an hour or so there, we once again piled into another already crowded minivan and sped through town, making several stops to pick up other passengers, much to our surprise. Arlette remarked that it seemed like we were playing a game of mobile musical chairs because each time someone in the van needed to get out, half the other passengers had to get out to let the departing passenger out, then we would all pile back in, never taking our original seats. It's amazing how they do this. And no one seems to mind at all. The more the merrier is probably their theme.

We again walked through town, picking up a few other souvenirs, and then walked to the bus terminal to catch our bus back into Speightstown. By then it was about 5 p.m. and the place was crowded with folks just getting off work. So getting onto the bus was an effort and an experience in patience. As soon as the driver opened the doors, folks from the back started pushing and shoving so that we were all forced through the door. Lots of grumbling and complaining ensued, which is typical of the "crabs in a barrel" condition. Michael and Arlette remarked that the scene reminded them or Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Just a bunch of sweaty bodies squeezing into a too-small space, all focused on gaining the limited seating aboard. But as it was, we all made it on no worse for the wear.

Rush hour traffic in downtown Bridgetown is unlike anything I've ever seen. On a two-lane street (one lane in each direction), the traffic was stalled for miles for reasons we would never know. Interestingly, though, we saw a cow and her calf strutting down the side of the street, looking completely out of place, but seemingly knowing exactly where they were headed. As the traffic cleared, our bus sped up, then stopped several times to allow more tired, sweaty bodies to board. By then, Michael and David had given up their seats to a few ladies, and they had to stand for the remainder of the ride.

Upon arrival at the bus terminal in Speightstown, we realized that we had to catch a different bus to our hotel, and as soon as we walked into the terminal building, a torrential downpour drenched the streets and sidewalks outside. During our 20-minute wait, we bought a few snacks from the vending machine, a package of bread for dinner and then boarded the bus for our home away from home, thankful that the rain had subsided.

Dinner tonight was baked, barbecued chicken, and leftover side dishes from previous nights. We haven't let anything go to waste. Our grocery shopping experience several days ago yielded exactly what we needed, plus allowed us to leave just a few small non-perishables behind for the next visitors.

And now we sit and reflect on all that we have experienced over this past week; all of the people we have met; those who have served and helped us; and all that God has prepared for our enjoyment. What a blessing it has all been. Now we retire on our final night in Barbados and anticipate our departure tomorrow afternoon.
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