Hi all... Sorry i haven't updated for a while, I have been trying to spend less time on the computer and more time out and about if you know what I mean.. Anyway, we are nearly at the end of our time here in Barbados, so this will be the last blog entry from here. On Wednesday we'll be making our way to Trinidad and Tobego, and meeting up with another friend of ours called Jackson who will be joining us for the next few months. We are still unsure of what we will be doing after Trinidad, but proably we will fly to the Galapagos Islands for some more diving, and then from there work our way through South America from west to east instead, and maybe make it to Venesuela later on in the year. Will let you know as soon as we have decided what we are going to do.
We moved into our lovely new apartment on Saturday, way out away from the tourist stretch at Surfers Point on the east coast of the island. Turned out there was a pool as well as being 10 seconds walk from the beach and a nice little surf shop where we could rent boards and have lessons. We managed to squeeze ourselves and all our stuff into the tiny local bus that runs along the main road on our stretch from Bridgetown to Surfers Point. These are amazing mini buses that seem to turn up whenever you need them, that will squeeze you in no matter how many people are in there already and complete disregard for the number of seats available, pumping out the best reggae we have ever heard, and costs only what's equivalent to about 50p per ride. Given, some of the drivers seem to have a death wish, and we have quite a few near misses, but it's all bit of excitement!
On Sunday Matt and I went to a local music festival at Surfers Bay overlooking the sea. It was a tiny festival with only one stage, and had some fantastic music: acoustic guitarist/singers and local reggae and dub artist playing. You could listen to the music while having a swim in the sea and relaxing on the beach!... Definately a must for a good festi venue! Anyway you should look out for some of the music we heard coz it was soooo good: Martin Harley; a kind of a cross between Ben Harper and The John Butler Trio, Tony Roberts a blues/gospel/reggae guitarist who is amazing!!!. and a local band called Fully Loaded who we're trying to get hold of a CD for. We also saw the Dub Pistols who were headlining, but were massivley dissappointing... why is that the smaller acts are always so much more impressive than the headlining acts?
Matt and I finally went and rented some surf boards and took them out in Surfers Point, despite being advised that the current was pretty strong and the sea was too choppy that day for beginners. Matt convinced me I didn't need a lesson and he would talk me through everything I needed to do. So we started to paddle out, full of confidence.... we lasted aout 20 minutes at the most. It took us so long to paddle a little ways out we were exhausted before we could even begin. Every wave that came crashing down on us, pushed us back to the shore, and I could barely keep up. I did have a go at catching a few waves, but only got dragged under and spun around in the water. Thankfully the man at the surf shop told us that if we came back the next day, we could have another go fo no extra charge seeing as we'd given up after 20 mins and paid for a whole days board rent!
The next day, the conditions were much better. All three of us rented a board and I left Matt and Rhys to fend for themselves, while I opted to have an actual lesson with a real surfer man. Thankfully I did, as I caught my first wave on my first attempt with some help from the teachers, and ended up going out and surfing about 7 times. Paddling was still exhausting, but the success of catching the waves gave me the energy to keep going. I was later informed that Matt had given up after surfing 4 waves, and Rhys after only 1! Rhys's paddling style was also questionable as he found himself being over taken by the same people twice over, before he had even done one lap. Despite my sort of sucess, I was pretty unsure of how well I would do without an instructor, and we all agreed at the end of the day that surfing was proably not for us, and we'd rather stick with snowboarding thanks!
We decided to go to Barbados Nature Reserve on Wednesday, and as usual do it on the cheap, by getting there somehow by bus. It ended up taking us about 4 buses and over three hours to get about 7ish miles... but it only cost us a few dollars so who can complain? We did set off a bit late, but we managed to get to the reserve an hour before closing. There we saw lots of Tortoises, some crazy Monkeys, lots of dear and the biggest Royal Python I have ever seen. We got some good wildlife footage of the Tortoises as well that I've uploaded for your enjoyment.
Matt and I couldn't resist doing one more dive after getting qualified, so we went back to the dive shop and asked if they would take us to a new dive site we hadn't been to yet. They took us to a reef called 'The Boot' aptly named for it's shape, and a hot spot for different species of Rays and Turtles. We had literally only just got to the bottom of the reef when we spotted a Sting Ray resting on the reef watching us from only a meter away! It didn't seem bothered by us at all and just lay there while we floated around it and admired it. Not long after that we spotted some more turtles swimming up to the surface from the reef to get air... still incredible to see them so close in their own environment. But the highlight of this dive was definately when we spotted a pair of spotted Eagle Rays gliding around the edge of the reef. They were about 4 metres long and 2/3 metres wide. We followed them around the edge of the reef for pretty much the whole dive, but we were carefull not ot get too close. They were incredible! Floating along playfully next to each other, so beautifula and graceful. We also saw some pretty scary looking baracuda that were a little too big for comfort, and made us question whether we're really prepared to be diving with sharks and manta rays 8 metres long!
Yesterday we went to the International Surfing Competition at the 'Soup Bowl' on the west coast of the island. It's the best place for professional surfing as the waves are created from the swell meeting from the north and south and mixing together at that point, thus it's name the Soup Bowl. We actually managed to get up at 6.30 am to get there on time. We decided after our last ordeal on the buses trying to get to the nature reserve we would actually get a taxi for the first time ever. It was such a treat getting picked up outside our room and being taken straight to our destination, and as usual our driver was very friendly. It turns out that Barbados isn't as flat as we thought as our journey took us up and down lots of very steep hills and revealed some beautiful views of the island and the coast line. The surf competition was amazing to watch, as we saw some world class surfers, but the conditions weren't perfect being too windy making the water very choppy, so it was a bit on and off, and rainy. There was a bit of drama as well, when the safety jetski overturned, and a bunch of life guards jumped into to try and rescue the driver who was deperatley trying to save his jetski. They were all in there for a long time seemingly stuck in the current, until finally some rope arrived to drag them all out, leaving the jetski to float away into the sea! Unfortunatley one of the lifeguards got hit by the jetski while in the water and needed rescuing himself... he was still movingwhen he came out, but had seriously injured his neck...I hope he's ok now. Anyway, the whole event put me off surfing even more. The idea of being sucked under the waves every time you fall over isn't something I'm up for. The surfers were amazing to watch, but even they were falling every other time, so it's a very hard core sport!
Like I said, we're off to Tobego on Weds, so our next blog will be from there. Till then, take care, much love xxx