Seeing the island in the back of a 4×4 is fun. And that has nothing to do with the constant supply of rum punch! But sometimes you have to be more individual than that. So today I teamed up with a local driver and set off again around the island, but this time not on a pre-arranged caravan of 4x4x4s travelling in convoy.
Tyrone, a part time security guard from the University of the West Indies, part time builder, and now part time personal driver picked me up in his clean saloon car with air con. The air con is partially irrelevant regardless of how pleasant it was; the real point was it was a saloon car. Tyrone saw this a no reason to stay on the tarmac.
We headed up to Hillaby, the highest point on the island and looks over the east coast. Surprisingly, there were houses right at the top of the hill. There was no obvious employment in the area but people had always lived here, and despite a walk to the main road to catch a bus, they still remained.
From here, we meandered along the roads that criss-cross the centre of the island, through small village of timber clad stone buildings that, on occasion, burst into a spectrum of colours…yellow, oranges, blues, greens, and, of course red – the branding colour of the local Banks beer. Tyrone was not the first to say it was the best. I have tried Banks, but further research is required before I can confirm or deny it’s status as best beer.
We drove to Farley Hill were Tyrone was aghast that we had to pay B$3.5 (£1.13) to enter. He had played here as a child before emigrating to New York; and since returning to the island two years ago, had not visited. The fee was worthwhile. The old plantation house, long burned down and in ruins was surrounded by a wonderful park with stunning views.
We wandered down to the coast to Bathsheba, a place I had visited on the 4x4s, but today the weather was better. On entering the village, I asked Tyrone to stop at my most favourite bus stop in the world (this is a new competition I’ve devised for 2014).
The lunch in Bathsheba was average; from a stall but the vendor didn’t have fish pre-cooked due to the irregularity of passing trade. So a hot dog sufficed. But every day the vendor has a view that many a desk jockey in a low rise office would kill for.
We drove over to the west, travelling down the more populated, more touristy coast where the sea is calmer and better suited for swimming and diving. Even in the smaller towns of Speightstown and Holetown, there is a busy-ness about the place that doesn’t exist on the east. As we approached Bridgetown, which we had to traverse to get back to the hotel, the traffic grew.
The relaxed atmosphere and the Bajan laid back attitude to life cannot be denied, but true tranquility belongs to the centre and east.