Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Barbados All-Island Tour. Can I have back my 2 hours?!

So it was my first day in Barbados. The plane landed 17-13 minutes to midnight and I got home after 12am. I was happy that I had people I knew and was comfortable with in my roommates . What I was not happy about was the fact that I had an all-island trip to get up and prepare for in less than 8 hours after arriving. But the point is to make the most of this experience and, before I know it, it will be over. It’s really sucky to have regrets about things you did not do and wish you had. But , geez, I was TIRED.
All the same, I got up and got ready. We were told the trip was to begin at 10am. We reached school about 10:10. It’s a good thing we didn’t rush because that would have surely made us more upset when we discovered…..

ISSUE NUMBER 1-  the late start to the trip.

My roommates and I went to greet the familiar faces that we knew from Jamaica and the few new friends that they had made in the previous week. It was smiles all around from my Jamaican colleagues as we all reunited. Skip to 50 minutes later when one female from the board of the Guild saw it fit to inform us that the buses would be coming “soon- at about 11”. Oh, because telling us this from before would have been so unnecessary, yea?
Anyway, the buses eventually came and we waited while the drivers sorted out themselves with the guild board or whoever. After 10 minutes, they let us on the buses and we discovered

ISSUE NUMBER 2- Public buses in Barbados do NOT have Air-conditioning

To say the heat was hot would be an understatement. The fact that Barbados was 3000 miles from Africa was not lost on me. While waiting on the bus, we became very annoyed at the fact that no one came to us to explain the reasons for these delays and then a guild board member eventually came and said that the buses were late because the Barbados Transport Board would only give them the buses at 11. Seriously, this is something that they didn’t know before?! ALSO, we were told that we were waiting on ONE female student who was late. Wow. 90 minutes after we were told to be there, she is still late? And we’re still waiting? *hums hymnal about Sweet Jamaica to calm my spirit*

Skip to the buses actually leaving. The tour was sped up and I attributed that to the very late start. We didn’t really get a tour guide on our bus either. A fellow student who has spent time in Barbados became our makeshift guide. We were told that we would be heading to a beach in Barbados after the tour where food would be provided. Alas, things just could not go according to THAT plan since they were not working in coordination with any of the others. At some point during the trip, after an hour or so, the buses stopped along the road in a residential area for us to have drinks. WHY?! We were finally beginning to cool down and the buses stopping just totally erased that. It took forever for the drinks to be distributed and not enough was sent around. It was all too clear now what was.

ISSUE NUMBER 3- sheer disorganization

After being entertained by a standoff or should I say a park off where two vehicles were facing each other on the other side of the road and neither wanted to reverse and give the other way, we went about our journey again. We stopped at St. John’s Church to look at the remarkable view- a camera can’t fully capture that- and then we went to a Great House and viewed…..a former plantation. Students were amazed and some were offended and upset by the history of the place and the artifacts that were saved. One bed had the picture of the former slave owner and his wife above it and it left some quite dumbfounded. There were some interesting things that I saw there and I, of course, took many pictures, but overall, I wasn’t too amazed because the place just reeked of slavery. But, hey, what else did I expect?

So FINALLY we head to the beach to get food. There was another function taking place across the road from where we were to chill and they played quite a few Jamaican oldies gospel which was cool. We later found out that it was a party for former Bajan Prime Minister and current leader of the opposition party in Barbados, Owen Arthur. He’s the longest-serving prime minister of the country and I got a picture with him. Talk bout dat!

But that was about the only highlight of the day. Oh, his party offered some of my classmates food to make up for the crappy treatment we endured courtesy of our guild trip which I’ll elaborate on in a few sentences. The lasagna from the Owen Arthur party was phenomenal! I had to walk back from where the buses were parked (waiting on the drivers) to get to the kitchen of that party to ask for some myself. Yuummmmeee!
Now on to the crapfest that was the rest of the all-island tour. We get off the buses and hear that the 200+ of us have to stand in a line and wait to get our food. The food had not even started being shared. How can they expect that that many people would be fine standing in line and waiting while they shared the food at a snail’s pace?! Some of us decided to try and take some pictures on the beach and lay on the sand or grass while the line eased off. Bad plan. We got a few pictures that were great (especially of The ROCK- not the wrestler-turned actor) and then rain paid us a visit. That would have been bad and not too bad if there was shelter for us. There was none. A quarter of us had to run to some building next door n stifle while trying to avoid catching pneumonia. The rest stood outside in the rain with adjoining umbrellas. The guild? They ate their food and did not even think to call the buses so we could seek refuge. Even worse, they did not have any sheltered place to move the food to so they stopped sharing and covered the containers and did not think to tell the people in line. *slowest blink ever accomplished by man* Now, not all members of the board were at fault because apparently certain people were entrusted with certain tasks and only those people were in-the-know about the mishaps of the day. This, however, brings me to

ISSUE NUMBER 4- utter lack of communication


ISSUE NUMBER 5- pure inconsideration of people

I was beyond upset. My sentiments were shared by many others. The only guild members who came and tried to explain the situation did so for purely selfish reasons. I recall one question being ‘Is this the feeling of all the students here?” I replied “I will only speak for myself”, after which, she left.
The drivers eventually came back and we headed back to campus. We had a debate of which Caribbean country is greater and, of course, Bob Marley and Rihanna’s names somehow got into the mix. I will say this though: Yes, people love Bob but the love of Kartel in Barbados is borderline ridiculous. At the beginning of the trip, they asked us to introduce ourselves and I said “Gaza Slim”. That followed me for the rest of the day. They fell in love. If Kartel ever has issues staying in JA, I’m sure he’ll find a home here.

Peak: Meeting Owen Arthur, taking some awesome pictures, the lasagna and seeing the fascination with Kartel

Pit: The rain, stifling and feeling disrespected

The day sucked more than it thrived but the pictures show the positive moments so we shall dwell on those
Anyway, picture time!


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