Sun | Jul 21, 2019

Bajan adventures now closer than ever

Published:Sunday | May 12, 2019 | 12:05 AM
Tour Guide from Mount Gay Rum Tour delves into the history of rum making in Barbados.
Tour guide Ruel Stanford and Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc island guide Keisha Springer.
Keisha Springer from the Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc takes a quick selfie at Little Bay Barbados.
Rum distilleries used in the 1700s.
Crew members on the Cool Runnings catamaran.
A snorkel stop along the coast of Barbados, where persons were able to see turtles and a shipwreck.
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Most will agree that for the past 10 years, the journey from Jamaica to Barbados has been a treacherous one, filled with stops resembling ‘one-stop driver’ minibuses, as the planes hopped from island to island before finally arriving at its destination. This has been a significant hindrance which has not only made trade between the two countries difficult, but has halted tourism and cultural exchange programmes between the islands.

With the new direct flight from Jamaica to Barbados on Caribbean Airlines, going to Barbados takes approximately two hours, which is the equivalent of driving from Kingston to Negril. This exciting new venture will allow Jamaicans to unwrap the unique yet incredibly similar history of Barbados, which will not only capture their hearts but their bellies as well. With a sweet coconut-flavoured breeze and savoury macaroni pies, Barbados beckons Jamaicans to come and explore its island’s treasures.

Barbados’ history is deeply rooted in sugar production and slavery. As one of the first islands to become colonised and used as a sugar plantation hub, the way of life of many Bajans, to this day, is governed by the rules and regulations placed on their ancestors. Its rich traditions were unveiled as Outlook was able to get a first-hand look at the island in the back of a 4x4 pickup Jeep owned by Island Safari Barbados. With a tape recorder in hand and purple point-and-shoot Nikon, we were ready to see what Barbados had in store.

Our eccentric tour guide, Ruel Stanford, also known as ‘Bugs Bunny’, kept the conversation flowing with the gentle coaxing of his ‘friendly’ machete. What we thought would be an easy Sunday drive to Barbados’ peak and back, turned into a crazy off-road experience, which we will never recommend for anyone who is expecting or plans to expect a child in the near future.

The dips and bumps along the countryside of Barbados led the way to significantly breathtaking views of the island and the use of its land. Stanford mixed no words as he delved into the island’s history, its politics and his hopes for the island. “I keep it real,” was his mantra during the tour as the dedicated Rastaman manoeuvred the Jeep through acres of cane fields and pastures. The tour took us from viewing the boulders along Edgehill Cliff to the chalky limestone wonder of Little Bay. As the Jeep jostled through Joe River’s Forest, we were able to see curious white Bajan monkey’s peeking from behind the barks of wild native flora. In the same forest, we encountered a bridge that, Stanford explained, was built by slaves from egg white and molasses. From ancient windmills to timeless vistas, Stanford gave us a taste of Bajan culture and its remarkable people.

MOUNT GAY RUM TOUR

Another treat to indulge in while visiting Barbados is the Mount Gay Rum Tour. As a Caribbean native, rum is as important as water itself, therefore, visiting the location where the first rum was ever created is mind-blowing. Barbados has been producing Mount Gay rum since 1703. Its heritage portrayed several trial and errors as its creators worked ardently to get the right formula for rum. With centuries-old artefacts, Outlook was guided through rum’s history and discovered the different characteristics of rum at various ages. Unfortunately, this was only a history and taste tour without viewing the grounds of its distillery. If one is not careful, you will have to focus on counting your steps on the way out.

If you enjoy a good party and want to set sail along Barbados’ coastline, then we highly recommend the Cool Runnings Catamaran Cruise. The crew members were not only warm, hospitable, and friendly, they were also generous, thoughtful and have a great synergy among them. They worked seamlessly as they transported an eager crowd on to the boat. The crew worked ardently as they pulled the ropes which harnessed powerful sails brought to life by ancient trade winds from the Atlantic Ocean. With the latest calypso, reggae, and soca hits blaring, and a continuous flow of rum punch, everyone on board was able to truly appreciate what it meant to be Caribbean. Lunch on the cruise included numerous Bajan delicacies such as their famous macaroni pie, hearty fish, and homestyle chicken made with a lot of love (aka Caribbean spices). The cruise also includes snorkelling with the turtles and viewing ancient ship wreckage. This is not just a party cruise. Be prepared to get wet, so do not opt to leave your bathing suit. You will truly miss out on the adventure.

Outlook was only able to get a small bite of Barbadian culture. However, in just two hours with Caribbean Airlines, experiencing Barbados is now closer than ever.

latara.boodie@gleanerjm.com