Monday, April 23, 2012

Fun with Critters in Barbados

On our cruise, we stopped on 5 different islands.  One of the best days we had was on Barbados.  We lucked into a really pleasant taxi driver named Rodney, who agreed to take us to the Wildlife Reserve, then to a beach, and then to drive us through the capital city of Bridgetown—for a very reasonable price!  Rodney was great, too, because as he drove he explained the things we were passing.  We saw the hotel where Tiger Woods got married (rooms start at $1000 per night, and Tiger rented out the ENTIRE hotel for a WEEK.  Yipes!), a mansion owned by a Russian billionaire, the Mt. Gay rum distillery, and several pretty beaches. 

When we got to the wildlife reserve, Rodney helped us buy our tickets and told us he would meet us at the entrance in an hour. 

The reserve was really cool.  We walked along paths through a forest where animals roamed and lounged with no fences.  We saw tons of tortoises, deer, rabbits, and 2 peacocks!  They reportedly had monkeys, but we weren’t sure we would see them.  But after a while, the monkeys came running along the roof of one of the buildings, and suddenly monkeys were everywhere.  The cute little guys crossed the path right in front of us.  It was so neat that there were no cages.  (Well, there were a few snakes in cages, and some birds.)

These are mara--a cross between a rabbit and a deer, more or less.

Afterwards, we asked Rodney to take us to a beach where we might be able to swim with sea turtles.  His response?  “For sea turtles, gotta be the Blue Monkey.”  He took us to Payne’s Bay, right behind a hotel called the Blue Monkey.   When he dropped us off, we were met by another man, who Rodney introduced us to, and told us that this guy would be looking out for us while we were there.  Now, we didn’t see that 2nd guy until we met Rodney again when we were done at the beach, but still, the thought was really nice!

Once at the beach, Jenni and Kelsey went to sample the local beer, and Rachel and I grabbed our snorkels and hit the water.  For a few minutes we just swam around in the blue, looking for any sign of sea turtles or other sea life.  We didn’t see much besides sand. 

Off to our side, a catamaran was letting its passengers off to begin snorkeling.  Because so many catamaran tours on Barbados offer snorkeling with turtles, we drifted over closer to the boat and other snorkelers.  For another 10 minutes or so, we didn’t see anything. 

And then
A guy on the boat was suddenly yelling, “Turtle!” and all the people were crowding around the back of the boat.  Rachel and I wasted no time pretending to be part of the tour and swam right in with the group.  Sure enough, a sea turtle had come to the bait (the tour companies feed the turtles to ensure their patrons get to swim with turtles every time).  Soon there were 2 or 3.  Rachel got some good pictures on her underwater camera, and the experience was magical.  I didn’t expect the turtles to be so big—but they were probably 3-4 feet long.  They’re so majestic in the water. 

After some time relaxing on the beach again (and giving Jenni a chance to borrow a snorkel and head out to see the turtles), we met Rodney, and he drove us through the capitol of Bridgetown—which is called “Little England,” and has some cool architecture.  Then, at the end of a truly enjoyable day, we said good-bye to our friendly cab driver and headed back to our ship.    

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