Difference between revisions of "Barbados"
Revision as of 01:30, 13 September 2008
The island of Barbados has eleven parishes and can be divided into roughly five parts:
Barbados has the following towns and cities:
Barbados has experienced several waves of human habitation. The first wave were of the Saladoid-Barrancoid group, farmers, fishermen, and ceramists who arrived by canoe from Venezuela's Orinoco Valley around 350 CE. The Arawak people were the second wave, arriving from South America around 800 CE. Arawak settlements on the island include Stroud Point, Chandler Bay, Saint Luke's Gully, and Mapp's Cave. According to accounts by descendants of the aboriginal Arawak tribes on other local islands, the original name for Barbados was Ichirouganaim. In the 13th century, the Caribs arrived from South America in the third wave, displacing both the Arawak and the Salodoid-Barrancoid. For the next few centuries, they lived in isolation on the island.
The name "Barbados" comes from a Portuguese explorer named Pedro Campos in 1536, who originally called the island Los Barbados ("The Bearded Ones"), after the appearance of the island's fig trees, whose long hanging aerial roots resembled beards. Between Campos' sighting in 1536 and 1550, Spanish conquistadors seized many Caribs on Barbados and used them as slave labor on plantations. The others fled the island, moving elsewhere.
Barbados was formally settled by the British in 1627. After several failed crops of cotton, sugarcane was introduced, and the colony established itself as a profitable plantation economy. Enslaved Africans were the primary source of labour on these plantations until 1834, when they won their freedom through several years of rebellion, supported by increasing pressure from anti-slavery movements in Britain.
The economy remained heavily dependent on sugar, rum, and molasses production through most of the 20th century. Though the shackles were removed, much of the repressive labour conditions of slavery remained on the island, until the 1930s, when the educated black middle class fought for universal adult suffrage and took the control of the country's local governance away from the British-descended local aristocracy. The country began a process of social and political reforms in the 1940s and 1950s which led to complete independence from the UK in 1966. In the 1980s, tourism and manufacturing surpassed the sugar industry in economic importance. Barbados has developed into a stable democracy with one of the highest rates of literacy in the Western Hemisphere.
Locals refer to themselves as Bajans and things Barbadian as Bajan.
Many cruise ships dock in Bridgetown, and in fact the Bridgetown deep water harbour has just been expanded to accommodate even more vessels. Private moorings are available around the island. Note: stiff penalties prohibit the dropping of anchors on coral reefs.
Driving is on the left. The bus system is extensive, cheap, and fast - if you're headed to somewhere on the main route - but a car (or mini-moke) is the only way to see many of the out-of-the-way sights. Many of the drivers will hold a bus for you if they see you're from out of town reflecting the typical welcoming spirit. Buses are run by the Barbados Transport Board (blue color) and are quiet. Private operators include the yellow buses, which play very loud music, and private mini-vans (white color), which are usually cramped and crowded. The two privately run means of transport are often driven very fast and recklessly. All charge the same fare (BD$1.50). Yellow buses and minivans offer change and even accept US dollars. BTB buses only accept local currency and do not give change.
There are also more than enough taxis to take you wherever you need to go on the island for reasonable prices. They do not use meters and it is best to negotiate the price before you get in. However, most taxi drivers are honest and you are unlikely to be overcharged. Be sure to ask the management of the hotel or friendly locals what the going rate is for a cab ride to your destination.
Renting a car is a little on the expensive side. If you are driving, be aware that the roads on the island are generally quite narrow, with the exception of the ABC highway. The highway also has several long sections towards the west coast that is under large scale construction to expand the road to accommodate additional lanes. It is advisable to be extra cautious as many roads on the island have sharp turns, steep inclines, and are generally quite bumpy, although most are paved. Many of these proclaimed highways do not have sidewalks, so there can be pedestrians on the street sharing the road. Many bus stops are also on the side of roads where there are no sidewalks. Additionally, beware of impromptu passing lanes as slow drivers are often passed by others behind them when on two lane roads.
At most all of the local car rental agencies, a full Collision Damage Waiver policy is automatically included with the rental, except for any damage incurred to the car tires, a testament to the poor condition of the smaller roads and tendency of foreign drivers to miscalculate driving lanes and hit curbs.
Mopeds and bikes can also be rented to explore sites that aren't easily reached by cars. This isn't highly recommended however due to the poor condition of many of the secondary and residential roads. Except for the main highway, all the other roads provide a hazardous journey to the moped or bike rider due to no sidewalks, frequent pot holes, sharp corners and speeding local buses.
Another fun way to get around is to rent a moke available from any number of local car rental agencies.
The official language in Barbados is English. Locals also speak an English dialect reminiscent of the Scottish highland dialect... Which is referred to as Bajan. There are a few African words interspersed with the dialect. Communication will not be a problem for any English speaker as Barbados has one of the highest literacy rates in the Western Hemisphere of around 99.9 percent.
The local currency is the Bajan dollar, but US dollars are accepted just about everywhere in shops and restaurants. The exchange rate is fixed at 1.98 Bajan dollars to the US Dollar but almost everyone uses US$1 = BD$2. Keep in mind that exchangers in hotels may insist on taking an additional percentage of the exchange (typically 5%).
Many duty free shops in Bridgetown cater to visitors, e.g., from cruise ships. The small mall at the harbor also offers decent prices and selection, though goods produced in Barbados may be more expensive there than elsewhere on the island, e.g., rum. At least one department store in Bridgetown (Cave Shephard) offers a wide range of mercantile. Bridgetown's main street also hosts numerous duty-free jewelers.
The island has a well-deserved reputation for producing excellent rum, e.g., Mount Gay. Rum distilleries are usually open for tours, and typically offer samples and product for sale at prices often equal to the best found anywhere else. (See "Drink" below)
Barbados has a great variety of street vendors. Haggle aggressively. Don't stop until you're at about a third of the original price.
(Individual listings can be found in the Barbados#Districts articles.)
Barbados has some of the purest water in the world that can be drunk straight from the tap. Cruise ship employees are often seen stocking up on their water supplies while docked at the island.
Rum and rum drinks are featured at every bar. Perhaps the most famous domestic brand offered is Mount Gay Rum, which is very delicious. Modest cost tours of the Mount Gay Rum distillery are available, and they offer samples of all their rums...also sold at attractive prices.Small establishments called rum shops can be found all over Barbados. They are where local citizens (95% men) meet to catch up on the local news. Drop in and you can easily have a conversation with a real Barbadian.
Beer and wine is easy to find as well. Banks beer is Barbados' own beer and very good.
Tours of the Banks brewery are also available. While the tour itself is very hot and only moderately interesting an unlimited amount of beer is provided to those waiting for the tour to begin. Try to show up a few hours early and take advantage of a very good deal.
Barbados offers everything from inexpensive guest houses with bed and breakfast from under $40.00 U.S daily for a single in the summer to luxury accommodations at some of the world's best hotels at $1,600 in the prime season.
Barbados apartments and apartment hotels offer the comfort of a hotel room combined with the convenience of your own cooking facilities. Most are located on/near the beach and are especially suitable for families.
There is a wide selection of luxury villas and cottages available for rent throughout Barbados. Many of these villas and cottages are located on or near the beach.
Privately owned vacation rentals are often rented at much lower costs than hotel or resort rooms. There is a wide selection of these holiday properties available throughout Barbados and many are located on or near the beach. Vacation properties range from beach houses to condos and apartments.
Included: All Bedrooms have ensuite, Dining Area, Central Cortyard, Lounge, Pool, Fully fitted Kitchen. House has also its own private Cabana located on the Sandy Lane Estate Beach , [email protected].
Although generally a safe place to travel, there has been a steep incline of crime in 2008. It is wise for tourists to avoid certain high risk activities. Such activities include walking on secluded beaches, day or night, and walking in unfamiliar residential neighborhoods or secluded areas away from main roads. Tourists, particularly women, should always stay in groups.
The most common kinds of crimes against tourists include taxi fraud, robbery, and shortchanging; however, rape and assaults are becoming more common. Most Bajans are by nature friendly, especially in the earlier part of the tourist season (November and December).
A special area of concern for visitors to Barbados is drugs. The country's strict anti-drug policy is made apparent to visitors coming through Customs. In practice, however, Europeans and Americans in Barbados can be offered marijuana or even cocaine frequently. Sellers will often roam the beaches selling aloe vera or other such innocuous goods as a pretense to begin a conversation about "ganja," "smoke" or "bad habits." As a result, many hotels and resorts now ban the use of aloe vera under the pretense that it "stains the towels." Regardless of one's inclination to using these drugs, it is not advisable to accept these offers. Marijuana is considered bad and is not accepted by Bajan police. While Bajan police are not frequently encountered, they prosecute drug crimes with great prejudice.
Homosexuality is illegal in Barbados.
Beware of the sun, Barbados is only 13 degrees off of the equator and you can get sun burnt very easily. It is very important to keep your water intake high. Drink plenty of water or bring an umbrella to shade yourself against the sun, which is commonly done in the country.
During nightfall, it is advisable to put on bug spray, as mosquitoes are often a nuisance to anyone staying outdoors for prolonged periods. This is most prevalent while eating at outdoor restaurants.
Despite, or maybe because of the tropical climate, Bajans tend to dress conservatively when not on the beach. A bikini probably won't be appreciated in town and certainly not in church.
Barbadians are particularly sensitive to manners and saying good morning to people even strangers goes a long way to earning their respect.
When meeting a Barabdian, try not to discuss politics, and racial issuses. Talk is also important beacuse Barbadians when speaking in Creole or (Bajan) as it is called, tend to speak fairly fast with their words.
The use of the "N" word is an extreme NO, but when talking to friends, words such a "B" which is short for "Bro", and "Dawg" are used to describe or refer to a friend, initaily these words should not be used unless you know the person well.
Barbadians are mostly fun loving, and love to go out and have fun, this is noted by the large number of young people found in the clubs and on the Southern Coast of the island. Try not to stare at persons without good cause. If you happen to bounce someone in a club, you should immediately apologise to the person.
Keep in mind that Barbadians are very protective of family and insults to a persons family are taken with high seriousness, this also relates into their views on issues such as homosexuality; most Barbadians do not agree with the practice and it is openly shunned.
There are several small internet cafes located around the island as well as connections offered by the larger resort hotels.