At the risk of causing friendship-destroying jealousy, I present you with the fourth and final post of my outstanding Barbados vacation. I almost feel sorry for you for having to endure all this gorgeousness... This is going to be epic, and I hope you find it in yourself to not hate me.
The last two days of my trip were so incredibly bright and sunny that I felt like I needed 5 pairs of sunglasses instead of 1. The blues I'd been experiencing the rest of the week got amplified at least a dozen times to their purest forms; I can't think of any other natural substance that glows, dazzles, and bewitches more than water. Combined with intense SPF and my trusty yellow KEDS, I embarked on a day trip to the southeast coast of the island; I'd been entranced by Bottom Bay and was hoping to make my way back there via some other stops along the way. I never made it that far, but I have no regrets...
Crane Beach / Ginger Bay
The only time I took a 'real bus' instead of a route taxi was my journey to Crane Beach. I first went to Oistins where the bus terminal is (terminal meaning, "a lot of benches along the sidewalk next to the fish market") and boarded the twice-hourly bus towards Sam Lord's Castle. Things worked much like on the route taxi; I got on and a designated bus-helper collected my fare once we started; Barbados top 40 blasted at max. volume while the bus careened into the island interior. I prematurely got off the bus a stop too early, because I'm smart like that, but enjoyed the walk down to Crane Beach along bougainvillaea lined streets.
Once at the blue juncture of the beach, I saw there were two options; to the left was Ginger Bay - a deserted beach with rocky overhangs and not a person to be seen; to the right was Crane Beach Resort towering above a broad, umbrella-lined beach. I decided to explore the left option first and leave the resort until later.
Walking on the edge of the water is its own kind of meditation, especially when there's no one else around. The swirling crush of water washing over my bare feet, keeping me cool enough even in the intense heat, somehow lined up with the pace of my steps as I walked down the beach. The walk back to the original juncture was just as picturesque, and I was happy to find a vendor sitting in the shade with fresh coconuts and a cooler full of ice. I totally gave in to the concept of drinking rum out of a coconut with an cherry on top; it tasted amazing and felt like the perfect fulfillment of the universe's wishes for me.
The 'public access' to Crane Beach is via a set of concrete circles semi-haphazardly set into the rocky cliffs. I picked my way down, coconut in hand, bypassed all the commoners in their mismatched beach chairs and headed straight to the Crane's 'Patron's Only' beach. Pah, says I to the lowly commoner.
Once I settled myself down in a suitable spot I re-lathered my sunscreen and, as the sun was so bright I could hardly read, went down for a much deserved 15 minute nap. After reviving myself with water and salty snacks, I went for a walk along the water's edge and up the cliff, where I saw people (crazily, to my mind) jumping off into the roiling surf below.
After making my way back down from the cliff, I noticed a beach vendor with extremely appetizing trays of food cooking in the shade of the cliff. I immediately inquired and received a heaping plateful of Bajan chicken, macaroni pie, pumpkin cakes, and fried rice. Probably, definitely, the best meal of my time in Barbados.
After availing myself of the Crane Resort's guest bathrooms, FOR GUESTS ONLY, I decided I'd had enough of the rich life and wanted to move on. I waited for the bus again and headed onwards to Sam Lord's Castle, a place my dad had built up to the level of legend in my mind from his past experience there playing tennis and hanging out with old money.
I made my way into the open gates of Sam Lord's Castle Resort, and felt eerily as if I was entering an R.L. Stein teen horror novel. While the grounds seemed perfectly cared for and pristine, there was not a person to be seen anywhere. The tennis courts, swimming pool, and guest houses were all desolately devoid of humans. A gaggle of chickens clucked across the street and I could hear a goat bleating in the distance, but other than that... nothing.
I figured if anything there was a beautiful beach to be seen somewhere, so I continued down the driveway.
Upon the discovery of a completely rusted handrail leading down a concrete staircase covered with palm debris, I concluded that if anyone was haunting Sam Lord's Castle, they certainly seemed averse to being seen. Shrugging, I kept on, in spite of feeling that at any second I could be set upon by rum runners outside the law.
At a certain point, in spite of the absolutely blindingly clear, dappled water and the soft shadows from the palms above, I felt a bit lonely (for the first time) and imagined that maybe being shipwrecked on a tropical island may not feel quite as freeing as we all imagine it to be. There's a certain ominous quality to seeing something that used to be inhabited estranged and deserted, as if everyone left after a big party and forgot to clean up.
It was nearing 4 and I'd had enough of quiet time: I headed back up to the main street; stopped in at a shop to get a ginger beer and made small talk with the owner while waiting for the bus. I rode back for a quick dip at Miami Beach, enjoying every last second of my final night on the island.
As if to taunt me for leaving, the sky set out to be the most spectacular sky possible, which of course, included turning golden and adding rainbows. And, as if to twist the knife, there was a full moon rising. GODDAMNIT BARBADOS.
A reluctant goodbye
Because I didn't have to be at the airport until about 2pm, I woke up early to revel in my final half day. It was a perfect morning; I decided to try my luck with snorkelling at Maxwell Beach.
I got to the beach and set out for a sign that said 'Spock's Snorkel Rentals'. Spock turned out to be an orange striped tabby cat sitting under the chair of an old man with a long white beard who, in a very unbusinesslike manner, offered me the snorkelling equipment for free. Not one to argue with that, I set out to the shallow waters in search of sea turtles.
I didn't find any turtles but I did manage to have my jaw drop several times, while shaking my head in disbelief at how incomprehensibly clear and fluorescent turquoise the water was.
With much regret, I left my spot under the palms around noon and went back to Silver Sands for one last, long look at the ocean.
And then, the last look.