Barbados - The Crown of the Caribbean

P. S. Gifford

© Copyright 2005 by P. S. Gifford


  Imagine if you will the softest whitest coral sand beach, then imagine further a perfect blue green lucent ocean soothingly rising and falling upon that shore. Furthermore consider a stunningly clear sky and the late afternoon sun lazily caressing you as you lounge there in a state of absolute repose. Every stress long since washed away from your now refreshed body by the combination of the most lush island paradise and the incredible warmth and bigheartedness of the locals. Close your eyes for a moment and allow that image to slowly play out in your mind…Now you have an impression of Barbados .

   I had expected the beaches, I had expected the perfect climate, which only varies a few degrees whatever time of the year and whatever time of the day, I had seen pictures of the soft sandy beaches, the magnificent tropical flowers and vegetation. Yet I had not expected that the most beautiful part of Barbados would be its, the “Bajans”. (As they call themselves, Barbadians is far too much work!).

   From the moment we landed at the very impressive Grantly Adams international airport we were greeted by warm friendly people. I shall write far too much of the trips and adventures that the Gifford family shared, and I shall write much more of some of the wonderful and devilish stories aspects of the island inspired, yet here as I am still reeling from the trip of a lifetime I feel completely compelled to share my delight and amazement of the Bajan culture. The first remarkable fact is that Barbados is the most educated country on Earth, with a remarkable 99% literacy rate. Schooling has for several generations been something that the locals have taken much pride in and the results speak for themselves…  In the 1950’s and 60’s wealy Bajans sent there children to Britain or America to be educated, now this has been reversed and the British and Americans send their children to Barbados for education. The reason is quite simple; discipline and respect are instilled into all children between the ages of 5 and 16. School uniforms are mandatory. As a result when they enter college their whole outlook is completely different. This point was hammered home by one of our tour guides as we sped along enjoying the exquisite countryside, several American young teenagers were on board, with all the trendy piercing through noses, lips and ears. They were cursing and complaining as we went, and the driver had remarkable patience to stop from telling them off.

     There are only 268 thousand people living in Barbados and as a result everyone seems to know everyone else. Thanks to tourism the country is also quite wealthy and all medical is free on the island, and they have some of the most advanced medical facilities in the world. In addition every Bajan gets a full pension at retirement. There also is very little crime on the island as penalties are very harsh even for the most petty of transgressions. This makes it a very safe place to be.

   One of the most charming and infectious habits on the Island is the car horns. Virtually everyone over the age of eighteen owns a car, and this is quite fun to watch as the island is only twenty-one miles long and fourteen miles wide. The continuously beep at each other, to say hello, to warn others going round blind bends or just to let people know they are coming!

   There are also over 365 churches on the modest sized Island which means that the locals can attend a different church every single day. I was also informed that eighty per cent of the Bajans attend church on a regular basis.

   We were there for just a week, which was not long enough by at least ten years., We spent the time taking a highly entertaining bus ride around the whole island, we also took a Safari, sitting in the back of Land Rovers, unfortunately that was the day that we received tropical rain, or as our driver so eloquently phrased it, liquid sunshine. Despite plastic coverings being affixed to the back of the vehicle we got drenched. This however, to be honest, only enhanced the excitement of the trip. As we were going off road, the rain also meant a considerable amount of mud…We cannot wait to go on the excursion again.

    Another highlight was going down in a submarine. This was amazing, as I have asthma the idea of scuba diving or even snorkeling is a terrifying prospect to me, yet here I was enjoying looking at the glorious Barbados coral reefs, which colors are almost indescribable, ranging from dynamic blues to incredible greens…

    The Gifford vacation, as so often vacations seem to do, was over far too quickly. However when we sadly boarded our early morning flight back home, we left as different people. It is strange, some of the warmth of the people had had a marked impression on us, and as the plane finally took off, and I realized a tear was in my eye, I knew deep in my heart that we were going to somehow return again…

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