Recently, my wife and I visited friends and family in Barbados. We were met at the airport by an old friend who took us for an evening meal. Then on to our hotel where we joined my son, Jeff, daughter, Wendy and their families.
The next morning, we watched four family members take surfing lessons. They first start with a surfboard on the beach in the sand, lying on the board, kneeling, then standing. All done with ease, many times, with the board on the sand. Then into the sea to ride the waves. On the south of the island, the largest wave was about three feet. High enough for learners to catch a wave, stand up and ride 50 to a 100 yards. After many tries, all the learners made at least one run standing on the boards.
In the afternoon my friend took us to the Baha'i National Centre in Bridgetown. We renewed acquaintance with some old friends who remembered the time I had lived in Barbados with my first wife Karen.
We first came to Barbados in 1967 to assist with the establishment of local and national administrative institutions. It was an interesting experience working with people who had no experience with elections and administration of religious institutions. It was very different than the typical church structure with a minister who organizes most activities.
Then we went to Mullins Bay House in the parish of St. Peter, on the west coast of Barbados. The facility is a complex of three buildings, two large houses with a connection between with enough room for my daughter, son and their families. Wanda and I were in a small dwelling near the pool. It is a two-acre compound with mango trees, flowering trees and a large bougainvillea bush with bright red flowers. Our three families were the only occupants of the facility.
It was about a five-minute walk to Mullins beach. On Saturday morning we were up early and went to the beach. The wave action was moderate, and the sea had just the right temperature to be refreshing.
A few places were a little rocky, so we moved to a different location and found a lovely beach with fine white sand. We went back to the compound for lunch and brief rest and then into the pool. In the evening we went to a nearby restaurant for a Bajan meal of flying fish with peas and rice. Before going to the beach my wife and I went to Speightstown to the bank and to a local market to pick up items for breakfast and lunch.
On Sunday Wanda and I went with a friend, Shirley, who has lived Barbados for 46 years. She took us to visit a woman who was National Treasure for the Barbados Baha’i Assembly. We visited with two of Shirley’s daughters. Then we went to her home for a lunch of roti and a drink of mauby. Roti is made with beef and potato and is wrapped in something like a tortilla. There is also roti with chicken and a vegetarian made with chickpeas and potatoes.
We sat for a while on the porch of Shirley’s home. Several years ago, Shirley met Darrell Pope and his wife Zenobia when they arrived in Barbados on a cruise ship and took them to this very same porch. Shirley took us back to our compound and we spent the rest of the day swimming with grandchildren in the pool.
On Monday morning we visited Hunte’s Garden billed as “the most enchanting place on earth.” It was originally an old plantation with pig pens and a small sugar factory.
When Mr. Hunte purchased the old plantation, there was large depression filled with trash on the property. With a staff of five men, they began to clean out the trash. In the depression, there were several very tall palm trees. After removing the trash, Mr. Hunte began to plant flowers. He told us he was interested in gardening from a very early age.
As the garden began to develop he realized that might be possible to have a garden that people would want to visit. He built some support buildings, converted an old pig pen into a dwelling and began to lay out a pathway for visitors to follow to view the flowers. The garden now contains 63 varieties of tropical flowers and an intricate weave of pathways for viewing.
When entering the garden, visitors receive a numbered list of the flowers. Near the end of the walk there is a large poster with individual pictures which are numbered according to the list. Walking through the garden was a fantastic experience. We could see such a variety of beautiful flowers and plants of every description all nestled in a bowl-like depression in the earth.
Out of the center of the depression rose palm trees almost 100 feet tall. After touring the garden, visitors are invited to visit Mr. Hunte. He is a fascinating man who loves to talk about Barbados and his experience in developing the garden.
We then went to the Harrison’s Cave, named after the man who owned the property where the cave is located. After purchasing tickets, we were shown a movie of the history of the discovery of the cave and something about the geological features which produced the cave. After viewing the movie, we were loaded on a tram which preceded down into the cave.
We went by some small exhibits of cave formations, referred to as a family because it includes features of different sizes. We then passed by a very large opening which gave us a view into a large cavern, the main chamber of the cave. There were many stalactites and stalagmites spread over the surface of a large mound. It reminded me of a large hill covered with plants. We could look down the side of the hill, nearly to the bottom. We were later told the bottom part of the cave was 160 feet underground.
As we continued the tram ride we pass several very impressive displays of flowing water, a small waterfall and a large spout of water coming out of the wall and producing a small pool. After coming to the surface, we had lunch in a nice restaurant near the cave entrance.
We then visited Morgan Lewis Mill. It has the only working windmill used to grind sugarcane. It has the original machinery used when the mill was first built. There are large casting and gears that were made in England using a Dutch design and then transported by ship to Barbados for assembly. At one time there were over 200 functioning windmills in Barbados.
The wind power is used to drive large rollers which squeeze the juice out of the sugar cane. The juice is collected, and the water is evaporated leaving the sugar. In past years there have been special events during every year when the windmill would be used to grind cane.
There is one more interesting point about Barbados I need to mention: this small country has elected its first female prime minister. The newspaper there has published a special edition with tributes to her. I will save the details for a future column.
Phil Wood, a Baha'i, originally from New England, resided for 12 years in Barbados, four years in China, has lived 30 years in Hutchinson. firstname.lastname@example.org