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Glimpsing Another Side of Barbados: The Calm Before the Storm

“We need to pull-over. I have so much sand in my pants.” Lewis complained.

After being dragged around in the Caribbean sea by a huge wave, Lewis was left dishevelled and apparently with a mountain of sand in his pants. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how uncomfortable that was.

We were currently trundling along the west coast, trying to see if I recognised anything. I caught sight of the Lone Star restaurant which was just north of Holetown but other than that I was lost.

Although the current west coast of Barbados may have been a faraway world from the Barbados of my past, we still enjoyed ourselves at the Sandy Lane hotel for lunch.

Lewis managed to find a suitable pullover spot and leapt out of the car to dust himself off. I noticed a mound of sand sitting in the driver’s seat and couldn’t help but chuckle.

We decided to take a different route back to our hotel. The Little Arches Hotel was perched along the very southern coast, right in the centre of the coastline. This morning, we had driven west, hugging the coast. However, the route back was going to take us east, into the interior of the island and then on a straight course south.

We turned off the main coastal road down a narrow lane edged with tall trees whose vine-like branches leant over the road. Sunlight was cut-off, filtering through in dappled patterns whenever there was a gap in the thick canopy.

This was Gibbes road which ran on the border between the parish of St James (where we had spent the afternoon) and the northern parish of St Peter.

I smiled. Now this was more like the Barbados I remembered.

Beside the road were small wooden houses, many of which were painted in vibrant colours. They had a lot more character than the huge resorts we’d become accustomed to and were set-back nicely from the road in lush gardens.

In between houses were tall lazy palms and green shrubs. There was a combination of perfectly-manicured lawns and swathes of long grasses.

When we reached the end of the road, we joined what appeared to be a main highway. The highway was surrounded by lush vegetation. Sugar cane farms whizzed past our window along with sections of forests filled with beautiful trees including the iconic ‘bearded fig tree’ with long hanging vines.

Occasionally we’d find ourselves on bridged areas of tarmac which stood over small snaking rivers. The rivers always had a mass of trees on their banks, acting as a small oasis for wildlife.

We passed fields and houses and schools.

It felt so wonderful to be seeing more of rural Barbados, away from the main tourist strip.

To our left was an expanse of vibrant green grass and behind it stood a majestic hillock, dressed in wild forests. There were some gaps in the forest coating the rock where you could see the pale brown rock peeping through. Gaping mouths of caves were visible and I felt in awe of this beautiful piece of nature.

In fact, I felt even more excited viewing it now than I did all those years ago. This piece of rock, so isolated in an otherwise flat landscape, is one of my vivid memories from visiting Barbados. We used to pass it when journeying to and from the west coast and I remember being mesmerised by it, wondering what animals lived there.

I was so thrilled that this was the same. It looked as wild and untouched as it did in my memories.

Glimpsing this rural segment of Barbados made me feel a pang. Tomorrow we would be leaving and suddenly I didn’t feel ready to leave. I felt like there was a whole other side to Barbados just waiting to be explored, one well off the worn tourist path.

As we returned to our hotel, the sky was beginning to darken, but not with the promise of evening. No, the sky was black with looming clouds, foreshadowing rain.

We waited out a downpour, sitting in our room eating a delicious rum-cake that the staff of Little Arches had given us as a welcome gift. The cake was gone in no time!

There was still sometime before our dinner reservation at Café Luna, the restaurant perched upon our hotel’s rooftop. Yes, I know we went for dinner last night as well but when the food is that good, why venture so far when you only have one more night on the island?

To enjoy the last hours of daylight, we decided to head down to the hotel’s local beach called ‘Miami’ beach. It’s just a short walk away but on this occasion we decided to take our Suzuki Jimny. We’d be returning trusty Jimny tomorrow morning and I wanted to make the most of my limited time left with him.

Miami beach was a quaint little beach which was located at the end of the road. The expanse of creamy sand was dotted with a cluster of tall trees which surrounded the carpark. The carpark was a well-worn area of earth carpeted with sand which could be reached by travelling down a very steep slope.

Now this really was when our off-roading 4×4 came into its own. With a hill-decent function, we had a super smooth journey down the pothole-filled ramp to the beach before splashing through a huge puddle at the bottom, spraying sandy water in all directions.

The beach was relatively quiet except for a family and a couple. I was delighted to see that everyone here was local and there was even a food truck parked up, painted with colourful murals.

As we pulled up, the heavens opened up around us, pelting the beach with a persistent stream of rain. I’d left the car to take photos and in no time at all I was soaked through, my hair looking like rat’s tails. I guess we just got lucky with the weather earlier!

When the rain finally died down we decided to go for a stroll along the beach.

The sky turned an array of pink and purple hues and acted almost like a filter, turning everything a mixture of orange and pinks. It was beautiful.

The sound of the waves smashing into the shore filled my ears and I looked out to sea to view the crests of large waves rolling towards the beach before crashing gracefully.

It was so peaceful here. I can’t believe we’d spent the day journeying to the west of the island when we had a gorgeous beach right on our doorstep the entire time.

Tomorrow we would be leaving. We had a flight with Liat booked for 10am which meant we would be waking up before breakfast was even served at the hotel. It was going to be an early start.

Although I felt sad to be leaving such a beautiful hotel behind, I was filled with excitement. Our next destination was a Caribbean island I had only ever had the privilege of glimpsing from my plane window as it did a stop-off before flying onwards. From what I’d seen, it looked like a wild jungle paradise.

I couldn’t wait to finally be exploring the island of Dominica.

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