Yeah, so I’m sure you are already laughing…but it’s true. Your girl was once a “missing person.” Go figure. Barbados, my first and most fabulous adventure for more reasons then you can imagine. I could think of no better way to kick off this blog than sharing this story.
I hate surprises
One cold December in NY (if you live or have ever lived in NY, you know our Winters are BRICK), my boyfriend at the time decided to surprise me at work with this lovely tropical getaway. I know, I know what a sweetheart. He managed to get my boss, manager, and coworkers all in on it. How? Well, I came into work one day, and my boss was all, “So, you don’t need to come in next week. We’re all good.” I thought, was I being fired? My manager was even co-signing him. As they laughed boisterously, I was on the verge of tears. I had never been fired before. I thought, what cruel people to laugh at my misfortune.
All of a sudden, my boyfriend calls my cell to check on me. Mincing my words due to the serious excess of waterworks (that is, my tears), I explain to him that now is not the time for chit chat, cause I’m being fired. This was a crisis for sure. Yet little did I know, all the while my boss and manager were listening in on my conversation with him. He then says “Surprise! I’m taking you to Barbados.” My manager and boss saw my jaw drop and figured my boyfriend just broke the news to me. Everybody then got up and started wishing me well and telling me to enjoy my trip. I didn’t know if I should have been excited or pissed at that moment.
Jetsetting to Barbados
Fast forward to the next week, and we were in beautiful Barbados. We stayed at the Sugarcane Club in Speightstown, Barbados on a Groupon. That’s right- $500 for a five-night stay, for two, that included excursions. The hotel itself was located high up on a hill and a bit far from the main attractions, but it was still lovely. A true gem of a resort, we had our own little apartment with a built-in living room and kitchen. It was our little humble abode.
The hotel itself was really picturesque, with a lovely dining area and live music being played every night. There was also a little pathway that led to a monkey breeding ground. You could enter, free of charge as long as you were a guest at the hotel. I have no clue how they got the monkeys there. As a matter of fact, I didn’t hear or see a single monkey. So…I assume they probably just put up a sign somewhere that said: “MONKEYS OVER HERE,” so the guests would feel as though they were on an exotic monkey safari, for free. Cause you know “free” typically means you’re not getting anything, and as I said…there was nothing there. So you got your money’s worth.
If that wildlife didn’t impress you much, rest assured, the safari adventure wasn’t over yet. You see, we had some unexpected neighbors- roosters and toads. The roasters were a cute little addition to the overall Caribbean vibe of the hotel, but man…the toads! I cannot tell you how many times I kicked these critters and had no idea they were even there. They only came out at night, and were EVERYWHERE! Hey, I wasn’t complaining cause it was sure as hell a break from the rodents I was used to seeing in the NY train stations.
The Budgeting Baecationers
Above all, it was a great time, and the staff loved us. Together, my ex and I were a comedy. We were treated as though we were family. The staff gave us so many tips on where to go and who to speak to while we were out and about on the town. Since we were serious about budgeting, we would often go into the city center and purchase groceries from the local supermarket and just cook at the apartment. We were pretty simple people, so we didn’t mind it. It was nice too, cause we got to spend some quality boo-time in our own space.
Out and about in Barbados
Homage to the Magic School Bus
To navigate around town, we figured we would wing it with public transportation. Now, before you start thinking there was a huge mega bus, with air conditioning, and super-fast transport…slow your rolls. Your go-to method of transportation? ***Drum roll*** THE CHEESE BUS! Yes, for only $1.50 (or at least that was the price in 2012), you could take this bus to any location. There is no air conditioning (although, some buses had fans), and trust me…it will be packed. So throw your desire of comfort and space, out the window. I’m joking. It was by far one of the best ways to truly experience authentic Barbados.
Pack on those vacation calories
When we were out and wanted a quick bite, we’d try to find a Chefette– the equivalent of McDonald’s or Burger King, but Caribbean style. They had everything there, even roti. It had to be the most delectable fast food I had ever had. My friends, any food from the islands will be fantastic. The fact that you are on a beautiful island, with palm trees blowing, and the sun shining, etc., will have you feeling like your juicy hamburger, with the extra cheese and fries, is in fact a heart-healthy, gluten-free, lactose-free, organic medley of deliciousness. Thank you Chefette.
Of course, when we weren’t eating, we were sightseeing. One of our first stops was the beach. We went with the most famous one in town, Rockley Accra beach. It was pure perfection.
Honestly, I’m sure every Bajan will agree that it is arguably the best beach in Barbados. Shallow but calm waters, it was the first beach I went to where I wasn’t afraid to drown. Yes, I can’t swim. I’ve tried to in several beach destinations, and well…I’ve failed to float above water. I’m also convinced attempting to swim only makes me drown faster. However, that didn’t stop my enjoyment of water activities. While there, we took the opportunity to rent some jet skis. It was my first time on one. I should never have been on the jet ski, but I like to live a little on the edge…. Yes, that’s considered living on the edge for me.
Fish, museums, and a whole lot fishy reptiles
Our week-long trip was comprised of many adventures including, visiting Oistins – the famous fish town of Barbados, visiting the Jewish museum, and swimming with turtles in a glass-bottom boat ( this was actually part of our travel package). We made great use of our time in Barbados.
If you are looking for the best seafood on the island, Oistins is the place to go to. You can ask any local person in the area for a good restaurant to eat and it’s guaranteed to be stellar. What I think I loved most about this area though, was the view at sunset. It was truly a sight to see and very romantic if I might add.
My boyfriend at the time was Jewish, and it was really important to him that we visit Nidhe, a Jewish museum, and synagogue. To be honest, I had no idea this even existed there. So how this man was able to find a synagogue in Barbados of all places, blew my mind. We arrived pretty late in the evening, so we didn’t really get to go inside. However, the grounds were quiet and peaceful. The time we spent there was heartwarming for both him and me.
On another day, we actually went on the glass-bottom boat ride to swimming with turtles. Now, we’ve already established I don’t swim, but our tour guide really insisted I try…with a life jacket on of course. Well, I was going to, and then I saw the turtles. I don’t just mean one, more like 30. Nope! I stayed on the boat and took pictures.
The day I became a Missing Person
A man with a plan…for disaster
Now, to the good part. So one Sunday morning, my ex decided it was a good idea for us to bike to this abbey situated on top of a hill- known as St. Nicholas Abbey. I’m not a huge fanatic of alcohol, but I figured, what the heck. According to his calculations, it would take us roughly 30 minutes if we rode the bikes there. So 11 am, we borrowed the hotel’s bikes and got on our way.
Here is where it gets interesting. A trip that was supposed to be 30 minutes, somehow turned into 5 hours. That’s right 5 hours! My ex knew I was fuming. We biked through several towns, through the forest, and through the highway. All the while, he kept telling me “We are almost there.” **insert eye roll**
At one point in the forest, he even told me to follow him down a path that was supposed to be a shortcut. This alleged shortcut was filled with mud, and poison ivy. Oh, I forgot to mention that it also leads you to the edge of a cliff. Thank goodness, we didn’t fall right off. We were filthy, covered in mud, and itching from being bitten by mosquitoes. Yet, we continued on this fantastic journey to the abbey. One local man on the highway even got out of his car and started yelling at us calling us crazy tourists for biking on the highway. He wasn’t wrong.
After 5 hours of biking, we finally reached the top of the hill where the abbey was located, only to find…that it was closed. There was literally a sign that said “Closed. Come back another day.” I mean, really? After all, I have been through, I’ve got to come back another day??? We stood there aggravated, dirty, and stinky on the top of this hill. Since he was already on a roll with great ideas, my boyfriend suggested we at least try to make good use of our time, and bike down the other side of this hill to sightsee. We would literally be biking from the West side of Barbados, all the way to the East side.
The discovery of Bathsheba Beach
When we got down, we discovered a beach that had a particularly large rock near the shoreline. We stopped, took some pictures, and then decided to climb up the rock. Correction, my boyfriend decided to climb up the rock. I stayed on the ground…you know, just in case I had to call the ambulance for this man. Little did we know, we were at Bathsheba beach.
Now I won’t lie to you, if you were looking for a spot to surf, Bathsheba, is your best bet. It’s was a surfer’s paradise. For me though, it was like watching the apocalypse. I mean, any non-swimmer would be going into cardiac arrest if they were to set their eyes on that water. I wanted nothing to do with those waves. All in all, Bathsheba is quite a beautiful spot. Lots of great places to eat, and a really chill vibe. It was a hipster’s haven.
Surfshack of endless laughs
As we continued to bike through the town, my boyfriend noticed an old man sitting in front of a shack with some surfboards. He walked up to the house and asked him if we could rent a surfboard. The old man tells us that the waters are too rough since it’s close to sundown, and then proceeded to make us a very nice gesture.
He offered for us to just hang out with him for the rest of the day. This old man (who was an ex- American doctor by the way), called all his neighbors and had them cook us food, make us drinks, and play music for us on pots, pans, and buckets. Like…I can’t make this stuff up. We laughed up a storm until it was dark.
It was about 11 pm at this point, and we knew it was time to say our goodbyes. After doing just that, we made our way to the main road. There we were, looking like a pair of saps, standing in the dark road with our bikes. There was no way we were going to bike back the same route we came. We were hoping a bus would pass by, but some of the locals informed us that the last bus had already passed. We thought we were going to have to sleep on the damn beach in the darkness.
When the monks come marching in
An hour passed, and we were still waiting. All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a group of monks approached us and asked where on the beach they could sleep, and find clean water to drink. The waves were crashing really hard, and it really didn’t look like the best place to sleep, as the area at night seemed a bit sketchy. If ever there was an odd situation, this was definitely it. We suggested that they find a hotel, but they insisted on sleeping on the beach and drinking water from the sea. I told them I thought it was a bad idea, but nobody listens to me. ***shrugs***
Bribing bus drivers
They wandered off, and shortly after a bus appeared. We thanked our lucky stars, but then found that the driver almost didn’t let us on with the bikes. We actually had to pay him extra just for the bikes. He let us on and took us to the main transportation hub of Barbados, which is Bridgetown.
From there, we had no choice but to go through the highway with the bikes…again. That was the only way for us to reach Speightstown at that point. Oh and the kicker- the bikes had no lights! I’m telling you, it was brilliant.
At this point, it was about 2 am, and we decided to go to a rest stop to get some water. We had been so dehydrated. December in Barbados is HOT no matter the time of day. As my boyfriend went into a store to get us water, I stood outside guarding the bikes. All of sudden, a man comes up to me and says “Excuse me miss, are you staying at the Sugarcane Club?” Looking at him perplexed, I asked why, and he said he was a cook there, and that there was an APB out for us.
We were on the missing people’s list. Apparently, when the staff at our hotel noticed we had not returned with the bikes since checking out at 11 am, they proceeded to contact everybody including, the police, fire department, ambulance, the press, etc. They even went through their surveillance videos, and our rooms, before contacting my parents in the US (to inform them we were missing) and then, involved the local news. Several people had somehow spotted us traveling that day, and sent tips to either other people or the local police to track us down. The cook, who was so happy to have found us, told us to stay put and that the owner of the hotel would be coming to get us. So there we were, again, looking like a pair of fools, 3 am, at the rest stop on the highway.
The terrible tourists
When we got to the hotel, we found the staff crying and lighting vigils. We asked what was going on, and apparently it was for us. They all thought we were dead. It was funny as heck. Though, their fear was not baseless. You see, the Natalee Holloway situation, in Aruba, had just been declared a homicide in 2012- the same time we were in Barbados. Thus, many of the staff thought what happened in Aruba was happening in Barbados too.
We felt so bad in end. As typical New Yorkers, we are used to being out late hours. However, in the Caribbean, it is sometimes a no, no. It was our first lesson in respecting other cultures. You would think I’d know this, as a Caribbean myself, but nope! I gotta learn the hard way.
As crazy as this experience was, I honestly have no regrets. I’d relive every single moment. My memory of Barbados is one that I will forever cherish.