Caribbean - please don't stop the Music

Barbados Travel Blog

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Antigua

It seems Lord Nelson and I have more in common than our (in Nelson’s case) more than occasional bouts of sea sickness: We both took liking to Antigua and Barbados.  Accepted, Nelson interests were more along the lines of hiding the British Royal Navy Fleet and mine were, erm, different. 

Nonetheless let me bid you a warm “Welcome to the Caribbean, mohn!”. 

Antigua and Barbados were part of a 2 day itinerary en route towards the Panama Canal. It was not difficult to slip into the Caribbean mood. These islands are all about chillaxing. Ease your way down the gangway (not too fast though), soak up the warm island breeze and meander over to the town centre where a friendly group of locals will offer you whatever you need  to get you into the holiday vibe: Drugs or a ride to the beach.

Antigua - Marcus
Or both. We all opted for the ride (as far as I know), although Marcus was singing along in the taxi to the tune of an unknown, but strangely familiar Reggae beat. Then again, this is normal behaviour for him and we shall put it down to that.

The taxi charged us 3 US dollar each for a ride that was so short, we could see our ship from the beach. I was not going to complain about 3$, but seeing we had 10 people in the taxi, this local had more business savvy than Richard Branson in his heyday. He even renegotiated a pick up time!

The beach was simply superlative. Endless powdery white sand and a perfectly blue sky with welcomingly refreshing water could not be ruined by the bar run by local extortionists with a posse of persistent youths that kept badgering us to rent jet-skis.

Antigua - Emma and JC
  Relax on the beach or drink a cocktail? The choices were intricate and thorny. Some managed to solve this conundrum by sipping cocktails on the beach. I was still wondering how I would set up a business there and how precisely the prices for the tourists are calculated. Do they have random number generators?

 A small sandwich was $10. I made sure to ask for some beer-can on my sandwich, which in English is bacon. (I’d been waiting for weeks to finally say that...) The day was long was hard, but we pushed through and eventually made it back to the ship. We had to, as Barbados was next on the menu.

Now Barbados holds more promises than a B.P. representative on a live CNN broadcast.  Just the name conjures up images of everyone’s favourite fantasy.

Barbados
Someone told me to visit the Boatyard (a local bar), as all the woman there (or anywhere else on the island) look like Rihanna – Charlie, are you paying attention or booking a flight right now?

I however had slightly different plans. Beata (another fellow South-African) and myself had been chosen as escorts for one of the tours. Tour operators usually provide a limited number of free tickets for crew, provided a certain number of regular tickets are purchased. We were fortunate to be escorts for the “5-star catamaran and turtle snorkeling tour". Now by the sounds of this tour, you might be led to believe that it is luxurious, entertaining and relaxing and you would be completely right. It was marvelous and I cannot begin to describe how much we enjoyed this day; but I will try…

We were welcomed onto the catamaran by a small group of locals with a Carribean accent.

Barbados - JC and Beata
There is just something about that accent that says “I am relaxed, you are relaxed”. I wonder how these guys deal with emergencies? There probably is no such thing.

Pineapple and orange juice, warm banana bread and coconut cookies were spread around the guests. We sailed out of the harbour and I found myself taking pictures of the Dawn Princess. Why do I do this?

Our very first stop was a turtle viewing point. We were told not to put them into a headlock, which had me wondering what these poor creatures have had to endure by previous visitors. Our barman launched himself into the water with a packet of what appeared to be chicken. No sooner had the contents left the bag, 3 turtles were circling the bait and were not shy about collecting their treats.

Barbados
This made for some great photo opportunities and aside from being kicked in the face once or twice (not by the turtles), I think I captured some great moments.

A snorkeling spot was next on the cards. We explored the natural reef, spotted some interesting fish and even saw a wreck. The wreck was however a little too deep to be explored with snorkel gear only. Lunch was ready and waiting and the pineapple and orange juices now received bottomless infusions of Caribbean rum. Our last stop is where it started raining, which after 2 consecutive hot days in this area came as a relief. We enjoyed the cool shower and shared stories about South-Africa with some of the passengers.

We were back on the ship by late afternoon. Although I didn’t get to meet Rihanna or anyone that looked like her, I have now received my dose of Caribbean magic and frankly, it’s addictive.

 

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Antigua
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Antigua - Marcus
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