March 3rd: Barbados
The day did not start well. Our ‘Swimming with Turtles’ tour had been scheduled to meet outside the terminal building at 8.30am. Unfortunately, poor logistical planning by those responsible for getting passengers off the ship meant we didn’t reach our meeting point until 9.30, to discover our trip had long departed without us. While we’d waited through the hold up to get ashore, we’d been promised by staff that our tours would wait for us. Grrrrrr. Lots of humble apologies were offered by the erring crew, and would we like to be rescheduled for the afternoon trip?
What can you say? We accepted and then turned our attention to how to spend the intervening hours. We’d been expecting to go swimming, so both of us were wearing swimming togs under our clothes, carrying towels and very little else. Neither of us had much cash with us although I’d fortuitously added a credit card to my purse. We were hot and grumpy, on top of which, a brisk wind was blowing, rendering my fly-away straw hat useless. To top it off, there were passing showers. We took the shuttle into Bridgetown.
Can anyone stay cross for long in Barbados? The people are utterly charming: sassy, funny, with plenty of good humoured attitude. Even those touting for sales, or offering tours or taxi rides were polite and courteous. When we declined their offerings, they cheerfully wished us the best for a happy day on their beautiful island.
Our spirits lifted. The water was blue, the air warm and Bridgetown is a cute, quaint little town. We explored the main street, made purchases we hadn’t intended (thank you Mastercard), and sat on the veranda of a waterfront hotel to drink rum punches until another shower of rain drove us inside.
Eventually we made our way back to the terminal and joined the afternoon tour.
What a fun-filled afternoon! We were on an open speed boat that hurtled us out of the harbour and round to see the turtles. There we were issued with masks and snorkels, but no flippers, because we’d be swimming in such close proximity as we watched the turtles that we’d do each other a mischief. We were also issued with a life-vest – a first for me while snorkelling, but mandatory.
The water was lovely, clear and warm. I took a second or two to remember how to snorkel, adjust to the life-vest and to having no flippers. Then I went turtle watching. It was magic. We saw and swam with the turtles who seemed completely unfazed by us around them. Even taking care, there were inevitable small collisions with other swimmers so it was lucky we weren’t wearing flippers. The turtles had no problem manoeuvring around us though.
We also saw a couple of sting rays (I thought of Steve Irwin and kept a respectful distance,) and numerous little fish. It was lovely.
Next stop at the site of a couple of shipwrecks. The clarity of the water made it hard to judge how far beneath us the hulls were, but they were clearly visible, and the shallower wreck, in fourteen feet of water was easy to access. The other one was at 40 feet. There were many more fish around the wrecks. I suppose they provided shelter and a source of food.
After all that swimming we climbed back on board to refuel with rum punch. I have no idea how many I, or any other passenger, had to drink, but by the end of the cruise we were a very happy group of people as we returned to our ship.
I think I may be in love with Barbados. It’s a happy place. You can forget Copacabana and Ipanema. Barbados is the place for me. So much happiness everywhere, such beautiful surroundings, such warmth and crystal clear water. I want to return there next week.