We’ve learned that first impressions when travelling are not to be taken too seriously, and this was re-confirmed this morning after our arrival into Barbados was a little sketchy last evening.
After a long day of getting up early, going through security checkpoints & customs, sitting on tight non-reclining seats with narrow arm rests, eating overpriced mediocre airport food, and crossing a few time zones, we arrived at about 9:30 Bridgetown time. Starving, crampy and public-seat greasy, we collected our oversized luggage (including my fat roller suitcase loaded with snacks and too many clothes, and our surfboard bag) and headed out to the taxi line up where we had arranged a ride to the guesthouse.
We waited for a while, because since this was an island, time could be slower. When no one showed up, we hailed a taxi van. We explained where we were going, and she zipped off into the night, down the narrow potholed roads this way, and that way, urching around corners and halting at stop signs. I watched through the windows in awe, taking in the new sights. In the darkness, my mind through my tired eyes created the possibility of ghetto style shacks with missing windows, tattered curtains and unkempt yards though in the low light it was hard to tell their condition. Poorly paved or gravel streets lined the with deep gutters and unkept bushes at the side of the road, with the occasional Barbadish pedestrian hugging the path tight so as not to get hit by the passing vehicles. Others loitering outside their houses or congregating in tarped huts in plastic chairs laughing, listening to loud music, or just passing time with their arms crossed, none of which answered my questions of friendliness.
I think we lurched in the taxi for about 30 minutes before we started a new trend of asking a series of helpful locals after every few turns. We finally found the right place despite the dimly lit streets and bad signage.
We pulled up to the gate almost by accident and looked around. It was almost completely dark, with just two small street lights, a jeep full of surfboards and no indication that anyone was either home or staying there. Josh circled the property twice and we tried to ring the cell phone number on his email which we were lucky to locate. No answer. No one around, and we were lucky we held onto our ride as we felt we were in the middle of nowhere at 11pm near “the Bronx”. It was now 11pm at night and without wifi to search hotel availability (sad we rely on this I know) and without much choice we asked the taxi to take us to find a hotel for the night. Disappointed, starving and very tired, we stopped at 4 hotels before finding one with a vacancy, but only for one night.
It was pricey, but for that price probably clean and safe. We didn’t know our location or what was nearby. Once again the darkness played tricks on the quality of the place. With most stores clothed we went to bed post-powerbar hungry while listening to the blaring karaoke coming from the bar right outside our window.
This morning we woke up to a beautiful hot sun shining down on the inviting hotel pool, guests lapping in the water or relaxing in the shade. It’s a good thing the waffle breakfast and some cold drinking water at the hotel karaoke bar was just what we needed, and so was the wifi. We’d located our guesthouse main-man and he sent for someone to pick us up. I was still somewhat of a sceptic as last nights impression still had me disappointed and I didn’t want to get my hopes up. At this point, we could bail on this holiday that wasn’t panning out in my mind to be very promising.
As we drove along in our taxi my view of the island sure changed; Cute and tidy little carribean plantation style houses lined the streets. Green grass, palm trees and the bluest water I’ve seen in a long time with gentle waves washing up on shore. A busy little town we passed through hosted lots of neat markets, cafe’s and smiling laid back people. As we drove along in the taxi, the island as I’d seen it the night before had changed and one look at the ocean view from the guesthouse sure knocked my scepticism and disappointment down a few notches to pretty much zero.
The people on site were very appologetic that we had to find another hotel the night before and they made it up to us with their kindness. Anyway, I’m glad to know that we weren’t stranded on a small “dilapitated” (I mean gorgeous) island with no hotel (or overpriced-poor-location-no -surf hotel) for more than two weeks, and that my first impression was wrong. This guesthouse is really a sleepy little surfer hideaway just as I had pictured it to be, and the island is a typical Caribbean laidback relaxing destination. Let’s hope the surf is good too.