June 4, 2013

Wives Weekend in Barbados

So, how many times in my life am I going to be able to say, hey, let's go to Barbados for the weekend? Well, this is one of the perks of living in Dominica, so of course I'm going to take advantage.

A few of the other wives (and soon to be wife!), and I had talked about taking a mini vacation over Memorial Day. So we sat down on the Monday before Memorial Day weekend and talked about going to Guadeloupe or Barbados.

After many comparisons, we booked our trip for Barbados for that Friday. Barbados is a short flight from Dominica, and is one of the few places that is a direct flight. 

We found a cute condo that was situated right on the ocean in St. Lawrence Gap. For my Indy friends, St. Lawrence Gap reminded me of the Broadripple neighborhood. The condo was great because it allowed us to go to the grocery store, which was stocked with food mind you, and cook some meals so we could save some money there. 

I should preface with traveling with three other women made for a plethora of photos. So, you can bet this post is riddled with photos. I couldn't take them all on my own, so thank you ladies for sharing on here as well!

The country of Barbados had such a wonderful feel to it. It is home to some of the most friendly locals I've met in the Caribbean. They had a variety of restaurants, restaurants with air conditioning, a Payless Shoe Store and even a mall! We got a taste of America while we were there. 

We also decided to rent a car which was a great choice. That way we could drive throughout the country and really explore the island on our own. Barbados is said to have a great public transit option, but renting a car gave us much more freedom.

So let's see. Where to begin! We had a bit of a delay getting out of Dominica, but Liat Airlines graciously gave us dinner. Nearly unheard of! We got into Barbados late Friday night, so by the time we got our bags and car, and found the condo, it was nearly 11 p.m. We ventured out to find something quick to eat, and stumbled upon Chefette - a fast food restaurant chain. After going months without fast food, I think it's safe to stay, I haven't been missing too much.

Saturday morning, Tabby, Ann and I were awake and went out to see our beach view. While we were out on the dock, Ann mentioned she wanted to see a sea turtle. At that moment I looked over, and I said well look at that black spot over there. And sure enough, right then, this black spot lifted it's sea turtle head out of the water and peaked up at us. Unbelievable timing. You can't make this stuff up!

Then, we were off to find some coffee and stumbled upon the Graeme Nature Sanctuary where there was a great little coffee shop. We had some delicious coffee and explored through the center a bit. 

They had a place where we could feed the fish. And had some great green grass that just begged to be walked on with bare feet.

We made our way to the grocery and stocked up on necessary items such as ice cream, nutella, coffee, and popcorn, among other things!  That's when we stumbled upon one of the greatest sights - Payless Shoes. Just kidding about one of the greatest sights. Well sort of anyway. Being in Dominica, there aren't good places to shoe shop, and sometimes a girl just need to go shoe shopping. So you can bet we did. And we only left with two pairs of shoes total. Pretty impressive I must say.

We ended the afternoon by enjoying our pool and ocean waves. And only got interrupted by the rain. That night, we ventured out for some Mexican food at one of the local restaurants. Oh Mexican food, how I've missed you. 

One thing about our trip was for certain, we met several interesting people. And that night was no exception. We had great service, even though we had a long wait, we were made comfortable and served free chips and salsa. And we also got some free entertainment from some of the other patrons. 

Sunday, we decided to explore a bit and drive up the west coast. Rumor had it that's where sea turtles were most prominent. So, we packed up our map, beach gear and snacks and made our way up the west coast. Driving through the west coast was stunning. The homes and resorts were massive and beautiful. The streets were quaint and charming. 

We stumbled upon Mullins Beach and decided it would be a great place to stop. Right when we walked in, we were offered a ride on a glass bottom boat to swim with sea turtles. He gave us a high price, and we told him we'd think about it. We walked on down to the beach and made ourselves comfortable. Unfortunately, it was rather overcast, but the beauty of the crystal clear water was still shining through.

The offer was tempting to actually swim with sea turtles, so the girls went back to counter offer. Sure enough, for $20 US a person, we could swim with sea turtles.

We hopped into a boat with our guy Dennis, not really concerned about being four women, jumping on a random boat. The excitement of seeing sea turtles was too overwhelming. 

Meet Dennis! Our captain for the day.

Dennis made sure to point out that this was where the Spice Girls stayed.

And this is where Simon Cowell, Oprah and Rhianna stayed!
It was quite the scenic experience, but we soon arrived to the turtle spot! There were a couple of other boats there, but nothing too overwhelming. And it definitely didn't stop the turtles. Dennis threw the food in and sure enough, they came right away. He told us to get right in, that they wouldn't bite and they aren't scared of us. That was very true.

Thank goodness for Chelsea's underwater camera! She was able to get some great shots of this incredible experience.

That's my foot!

It's hard to tell how many turtles we actually saw. But there was a baby turtle in the mix as well. Truly magnificent creatures. It was the experience of a lifetime! The turtles would just bump right into you, not minding you at all. 

We made our way back to shore, talking about the experience we just had while taking in the sights of the beautiful island while sharing lots of laughs.

From there, we decided to keep on driving and exploring our way through Barbados. We drove through the sugarcane fields across the middle of the country all the way to the east coast.

Barbados is rather flat compared to Dominica, so it was a great change of pace for us. The countryside was gorgeous and made for a beautiful drive!

We made it back to the condo just in time to start getting ready to celebrate Tabby's Barbados Bachelorette! She's getting married this December, and we used this excellent opportunity to start celebrating! 

And celebrate we did! We went back to our friendly Mexican restaurant and decided to appetizer hop. But after a delicious first appetizer, we were fairly full already. So we just made it to one more restaurant after that. But we can still call it appetizer hopping, right?

The night went on and we had a wonderful time celebrating the upcoming nuptials! How many people get to have a Bachelorette in Barbados? Tabby does!

Monday morning we got up 'early' and made it to the Mount Gay Rum Factory for a tour. It is the first rum to be made in 1703. Interesting fact, 80% of their product is exported!

From there, we made it to an Arts and Crafts Center where local craftsmen sold their items. It was such a cute area, with some great shopping from pottery, jewelry, trinkets and more. 

There was even a cigar shop, where the women there were so warm and welcoming. They told us each about their specific job duties. One of them had been on staff for 20 years, another for 13. And neither of them smoke cigars themselves!

From there, it was back to the condo to start packing up and eating the remainder of our food that we couldn't pack. Tough job.

We made a few stops to spend the remainder of our local money before heading back to Dominica. Barbados has their own currency that isn't accepted in Dominica, so that's a good excuse to shop, right?

All in all, it was an incredible experience. Barbados is said to have the best percentage of return visitors of any island in the Caribbean. I definitely believe the statistic as it was such a wonderful place to visit. It still held the island charm, but had the mix of the friendly locals, culture and amenities to relish, that it was a perfect vacation for us all.

We fully experienced what Barbados had to offer in the short amount of time we were there. From the gorgeous beaches, relaxation, culture, shopping, history and local crafts, we made most of the short visit.

It was even better to have this experience with three wonderful women. Being here in a foreign country, you need to make an island family to survive, and we are so lucky to call them family! Sure, it would have been great to spend that time with Matt, but a good girls weekend is just good for the soul.


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