Adventure #3: Even the Waves Have Rhythm

* This is adventure #3 of my Top 10 Adventures Countdown*

Mike and I were lucky to spend our Spring Break in Barbados in 2012. His cousin, Suzanne, and her husband, Steve, chose the Caribbean island as their vacation wedding destination. Mike was (awesomely) recruited as their wedding photographer, and I tagged along because it was Barbados (duh!). Although the wedding was on the Monday after my Spring Break, we went a week early, and I missed the first couple of days back.

Mike and I arrived in Barbados on Tuesday, March 13th after dark. This meant that we had a few days before the rest of the family and wedding guests were to arrive. As budget travelers, we sought out inexpensive accommodations via hostels.com. Instead of a hostel, however, we stayed in the private home of Helga. We lucked out with that decision, because her home was a 15-minute walk from the beach and the hotel where many of the other wedding guests ended up staying. Plus it only cost us $23/night instead of the much pricier ($100s/night) beach hotel rates. Sure there was a small hill to climb to get to the house, and sure the room wasn’t quite as polished, but it was comfortable and convenient and homey.

With our free days, we set about exploring the island. We hit beaches on the south, west, and east coasts of the island. In case you were wondering, the west coast beaches were the nicest, and that’s where all the richy-rich people go when they vacation in Barbados (hotels in the $10,000s/night). We toured the Mount Gay Rum bottling factory and tasted the product. We visited Bridgetown (the capital) and a few other villages. We took buses and combis without really knowing where they were going, just to explore whatever we came across.

Mount Gay rum tasting

Mount Gay rum tasting

Bridgetown

Bridgetown

Man making repairs

Man making repairs

Eponymous mural

Eponymous mural

Old theatre

Old theatre

Issues???

Issues???

For some reason I love this photo

For some reason I love this photo

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

On Friday, Mike’s parents and G-ma were set to arrive in the evening, so we squeezed in a self-guided, impromptu tour of the island in the morning and afternoon. We got a little turned around and didn’t really arrive at any particular location, but we saw more of the center of the island (sugar cane fields) and east coast (rocky shoreline) than we would have otherwise. Before leaving, we had scheduled some SCUBA dives for Saturday and Sunday. We also called Mike’s parents’ hotel to leave a message for them:

“Hi Sharon & Bernie & G-ma Jackie, we know you arrive this afternoon, but we’re not quite sure when. We’ll plan on swinging by your hotel between 5:00 and 6:00, and then we can all go to Oistins for the fish fry together. See you soon!”

When we got back from our tour de Barbados, we stopped by their lovely Ocean 2 hotel and asked for them at the front desk. We were promptly informed that they were at the hospital! With no further information and no way of contacting them, Mike and I stared at each other wondering what to do. We decided to wait around the hotel for a bit. After a while, his dad called and informed us that they were, indeed, at the hospital. They hadn’t even made it out of the airport before disaster struck. Some man, recklessly steering his companion in a wheelchair, rammed into G-ma Jackie, knocking her to the floor. Tragically, she suffered a broken hip and went straight from the airport to the hospital! Of course, everyone was horrified, and the lack of easy communication made everything trickier. Not wanting a crowd at the hospital while decisions about medical care were being made, Sharon and Bernie told us to go on to the fish fry and swing by the hospital in the morning. We did that, but the crazy turn of events wasn’t far from our minds as we wandered the weekly festival.

Oistins is a town not far from the capital that hosts a fish fry every Friday. It is a chance for vendors to sell souvenirs, old men to play dominoes, and everyone to eat the catches of the day. We stood in a ridiculously long line (An hour? No, two, I think…) to get our food from the hot spot of the night (Uncle George’s Fish Net Grill). As we waited, Mike and I took turns scoping out the area. Eventually we ordered. I’m not a huge seafood fan, but it was quite good. Once we finished, we wandered around a bit more and headed back to our house on the hill.

Dominoes

Dominoes

The menu. I had swordfish; Mike had "dolphin."

The menu. I had swordfish; Mike had “dolphin.”

Uncle George's was the night's hot spot

Uncle George’s was the night’s hot spot

Poor Judy

Poor Judy

This man's dreads went way past his butt

This man’s dreads went way past his butt

The next morning we went to see G-ma Jackie in the hospital pre-hip surgery. Naturally she was unhappy about the circumstances, but she seemed to be taking it in stride. We stayed for a little while and then went for our scheduled dive as she went into the operating room.

I loved diving in Barbados. We went on four dives over the course of two days. The visibility was amazing, and the underwater scenery was gorgeous. We did a couple of wreck dives, swimming through the hulls of coral-encrusted ships. Carlisle Bay Marine Park has six sunken ships dating from 1919 to more recent times. It boasts a tug boat, a drug boat, a party barge, and a WWII freighter sunk by U-boat. Exploring some of these wrecks was surreal. They’re relatively close to the surface, so even snorkelers can enjoy them from above, but I liked swimming through their hatches and peering around corners. In addition to the wrecks, we saw lots of sea life on our dives. Sea turtles are always a favorite, of course.

After our care-free dives, we surfaced and headed back to the tense waiting room of the hospital. After a seemingly very long while, G-ma Jackie was returned to her room for post-op recovery. She hadn’t appreciated the surgeon’s rough manner as he “kept banging” on her during surgery. Nonetheless, things seemed to have gone well. By this point (Saturday afternoon) most of the wedding guests had arrived, so G-ma Jackie had a few visitors.

On Sunday Mike and I completed our other dives, and then the wedding rehearsal and rehearsal dinner were that night. It was nice to meet the other wedding guests, and the bride and groom especially! Although I had met many of Mike’s relatives, his cousin Suzanne (the bride) was one I hadn’t met before. Needless to say, her fantastic choice of wedding destination immediately boosted her to a top spot on my favorites list. The food was amazing, as was the conversation. Suzanne and Steve also went out of their way to bring a suitcase full of favors with them as well. They supplied all their guests with buckets for the upcoming sandcastle contest, filled to the brim with island survival items like sunscreen, gum, and their very own love songs mix CD. I actually really love the CD, and it’s the one most commonly found in my car’s player.

Rehearsal dinner

Rehearsal dinner

Wedding favors

Wedding favors

On the wedding day, everyone was a-bustle getting ready for the event. Mike scouted photo locations while hotel staff set up chairs directly on the beach. The setting was beautiful with the water in the background. G-ma Jackie was still recovering from her surgery in the hospital, but she got a special ambulance ride to the hotel for the wedding ceremony. The ceremony itself was pretty and beachy and everything an island wedding should be. By that I mean it had a steel drum musician playing Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” in the background.

Suzanne & Steve

Suzanne & Steve

The reception was held on the hotel’s roof, overlooking the Caribbean. The area was absolutely stunning. We ate and drank and danced and enjoyed the celebration. Suzanne and Steve performed a rehearsed wedding dance, which was very nice. Later in the evening, the hotel staff taught everyone how to shake their asses like Bajans.

Because there are so many beautiful photos from the wedding and I couldn’t choose just a few to include here, I’m including the entire slideshow Mike created:

Sadly, I had to leave the next morning to head back to school since I had already extended my vacation by a few days. Mike stayed a few days longer. As the official photographer, he was needed on the Catamaran cruise and at the sandcastle-building contest.

G-ma Jackie had more of an adventure than she bargained for on the trip. Unfortunately she did not see much of Barbados, but she survived a foreign emergency hip surgery. It might not be the story she wanted, but it makes a gripping tale, nonetheless. Mike and I will get to see her and Sharon and Bernie, and Suzanne and Steve, and many others in New York just before we leave for Iceland. After more than seven years of being with Mike, I finally get to see where he grew up! You’ll have to wait for that story though — another adventure, another day.

I’m running low on time for my last few posts before we leave, but they’ll be here soon!

Comments
One Response to “Adventure #3: Even the Waves Have Rhythm”
  1. Troy says:

    Hi I am Troy from Barbados, I am a visual artist, I came to your blog by chance, I was looking for paintings of sugar canes and I saw the photo of the boat yard in a Google search so I click on it, your story is lovely and your photos, I hope your Granny is doing ok and I am happy that you had a fantastic day on my home island, you did more than me living here have ever done, well I hope when that times comes you guys be back here for the anniversary, well do enjoy Iceland and I cant wait to see the photos, Take care

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