Every Sunday the Barbados Transportation Board runs a scenic bus tour around the island. Since we are cheap, we decided to hop on the bus for a day rather than rent a car or hire a taxi driver.
We knew we'd made the right choice when we tied the dinghy up in the Careenage and noticed the sno cone cart parked next to the bus. Any adventure that begins with a sno cone has to be good.
We bought some cones and grabbed some seats. Next thing we knew a whole Bajan family was filling in the seats around us. They had with them a picnic basket, bag of ice and a bottle in a brown paper bag. Then they leaned out the window and ordered a round of sno cones. As soon as their cones had enough room, they topped them up from their bottle of rum punch. We felt decidedly unprepared with our measly two sno cones and bottles of water.
The bus wound out through the narrow old streets of Bridgetown and up into the interior of the island. We passed lots of sugarcane fields and horse farms. Polo is a very popular sport on the island and a match was just getting underway at the field across from the farm where these guys were grazing under the palms.
We crossed the island on some back roads, which didn't seem nearly wide enough for both the bus and the cars parked along the edges, as the bridge on the main highway had been washed out. Our route took us through some lush gullies filled with tropical foliage, but most of the scenery was agrarian. And then we found ourselves on the east coast at Bathsheba, home of the island's most famous surf spot, Soup Bowl. With light swell and a strong onshore breeze, the break wasn't working, but the scenery was fabulous.
From Bathsheba we made our way south past a pair of botanical gardens and back inland to St. John's Church. The rustic coral stone church that stands at the site now is not the first to grace the property. The first, erected in 1645, was destroyed by fire. The second, rededicated in 1676, was destroyed by hurricane. During the 19th century the parish's luck seems to have changed for the better. The current structure has been standing since the 1830's.
The tombs in the burial yard overlooking the sea are shaded by flowering trees. It really would be a lovely spot to spend eternity.
From St. John's the driver took us south to Silver Sands, a beach on the Southeast corner of the island. We wandered down to the resort perched at the edge of the rocks and sidled up to the bar for some refreshments. Then we rejoined the bus for the trip back to Bridgetown. It was a long day, but a low-key way to see parts of the island that we would not otherwise.