Diving, and the Real Barbados, Part I
Trip Start Aug 03, 2009
12Trip End Aug 16, 2009
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Today began with diving. Well, for me it began with dreams that I was waking up late for diving. The Dive Shop (which is actually the name of the joint with which we dived. Dove. Whatever.) sent a van to pick us up on the stoop of our apartment at 8:45a, for a two tank dive beginning at 10. The Dive Shop is a shack set up on Pebbles Beach overlooking Carlisle Bay filled to the brim with tanks and fins and not much else because there's no room for anything else. We went out with a fairly large group of divers, but there were three divemasters, so we ended up, on the first dive with just me and Travis and an annoying Brit who insisted on smoking on the boat.
Luckily the boat ride was short out to our first dive site, Friar's Craig and Asta Reef -- a sunken ship and a coral reef. We tooled around the bottom, viewing spectacular corals, sponges, and sea fans, and spotting two turtles, two eels, and many fish.
After a surface interval and trip back to shore, we headed out on an even shorter boat ride to the other side of the bay to view the Carlisle Bay Marine Park, a collection of 5 sunken ships all covered with sea life and fairly open for exploring. This time, Smoker wasn't with us diving (he snorkeled - insufficient lung capacity, perhaps?), so it was nice - just me, Travis and Divemaster Dave. We saw and touched some ridiculously awesome stuff. The first thing we did after descending? Dave *picked up* what looked like a large sea slug... and then handed it to me to pet. It was soft! ...and did not sting me as I had suspected. Generally I don't like touching the sea life - I believe that it certainly can't be good for them and probably not for me either - but I have to admit it was cool. Shortly after this, Dave picked up a daddy-long-legs looking spindly crab or shrimp of some kind, which I had fun playing with for a while. We also saw an octopus hiding, many seahorses, lots of schools of fish in and around the wrecks, some more fluorescent colored shrimp hiding inside of sponges, and many many many feather duster worms, which look like underwater flower gardens, except when you pass by them, they go "THP" and disappear into their tube "stems." Oh, Travis's favorite were these "snakes" that hid out in the sand
Anyway, the dive was awesome, especially considering there were no 8 mm wetsuits involved, but i cannot help thinking that diving isn't my favorite activity in the world. Don't get me wrong, the manta dive in Hawaii was one of the coolest things i've ever seen in my life, but I don't know -- it's a lot of overhead, and there's quite a lot of discomfort (seasickness, headaches, tummy aches, wet and sticky salty skin) for fairly little payoff. And sometimes i think I'd rather go swimming. So we'll see how prominently diving figures into future travels. I can definitely seeing it taking a back seat to other adventures.
After lunch and a nap, we set out on an adventure of a different kind. We jumped on a bus to Speightstown. We did not realize it, but due to the lateness of the return from diving and the length of the aformentioned nap, we didn't head out until 4:30 pm or so -- in the prime of rush hour. "Wait," you are saying, "They don't have rush hour in the islands do they?" Oh but they do
The view from this road was what we like to call "The Real Barbados." Not sure if you're aware, but Barbados is a "developing country." (One of the travel books said it's the worlds "number one developing country." I'm not exactly sure what that means.) Some people come to these tropical countries with luxurious resorts, like Barbados (or Indonesia or Malaysia or Thailand), and I'm convinced they drive from the airport to their hotel with their eyes closed (or in the dark), sip Pina Coladas for a week and never give a second thought to where the people who work there really live or how they really live. If you've read this blog before, you know we have a love for discovering the "real" side of the places we visit. And this bus ride, was the first part of that discovery here on Barbados. It was houses all crammed together and shacks that were clearly inhabited but just about ready to fall over. It was the rum bars where the locals hang out after work and into the night
Our bus took us up to Speightstown, a fishing town up on the north side of the west coast. It seems to be a sleepy, non-big-beach-resorty little village, although maybe it was that was because we arrived just at dusk. We walked the streets for a bit before the sunlight totally disappeared, before heading to our dinner destination: Mango's by the Sea.
Mango's is an incongruously fancy shmancy place for the blue collar (and non-resorty!) area it's in, and it seems like it should only be findable by those who already know that it's there. It's got a lovely spot with a great patio overlooking the water so that you can dine while listening to the peaceful sound of waves breaking on shore
We then bussed back here to Rockley via Bridgetown, feeling like total pros. We had to make a "connection" at the bus terminal in Bridgetown, which was an adventure -- figuring out where to go and which bus to get on. Our driver from Speightstown wouldn't leave until he was sure that we were at least pointed in the right direction. Everyone left on that bus was trying to help us out -- "No, go *around* the corner!" It was awesome.
Tomorrow: surfing and the Oistins Fish Fry. MMMMMmmmm, flying fish.