January 2024: As part of a two-week trip to visit my last 5 sovereign countries in the world, I started the trip in Barbados with my nephew, Dylan and friend, Jimmie. In total we spent about 3 days in Barbados, and we drove around the island in a rental car exploring as much of it as we could. The highlight of the trip was camping our first night at the abandoned 100-year-old lighthouse at Harrison Point on the north end of Barbados. Bad weather and rental car engine trouble restricted how much exploration we would end up able to do during our trip. This is the story of our time in Barbados.

 

About Barbados

Barbados is the easternmost island in the west Indies of the southern Caribbean islands. It was a British colony that at one time was extremely wealthy with tobacco, and sugar farming that were supported by slaves brought in from Africa. Today Barbados is a sovereign country with a democratically elected government and its population consists of mostly people that are descended from ex-African slaves. Barbados is a small island and easy to drive around. It is famous for its brand of rum, Mount Gay and every year millions of tourists visit to enjoy its beaches. The landscapes is primarily flat and its best beaches are found on the tranquil Caribbean waters of the island’s western side.

 

Location of Barbados

We started out by flying into the south of the island, picking up our rental car and driving northward through the capitol Bridgetown and up along the more populated west coat of the island stopping to eat at beachside cafes with laid back locals enjoying rum punches and barbecue along the idyllic beaches. It took some time to adjust to driving in Barbados in the narrow roads and on the left side but on the most part it wasn’t too bad and other drivers were patient and even helpful when they observed me about to break a traffic rule they would run out of their car and provide assistance like when I almost illegally crossed a road that was turn only.

Local barbecue on the beach

Colonial architecture

Home of American First President George Washington

where we stopped to visit the house where the first American President, George Washington once lied when he was 19 in 1751 with his brother Lawrence, who was afflicted with tuberculosis. The two had moved to Barbados with the hope that the warm, humid weather would help cure the TB but unfortunately his brother eventually died from his disease.

 

 

Home where President Washington Once Lived

One of the bedrooms inside

Military tunnels used as escape routes beneath the home of George Washington for soldiers to escape in the event of a seige 

Camping at an Abandoned Lighthouse-Harrison Point  

Lighthouses have always captured my imagination, especially old ones in lonely places accompanied by a house where the lighthouse keeper usually lived alone. Lighthouses once essential to provide beacons to help ships avoid treacherous shorelines or shoals are now mostly obsolete with modern technology and these lighthouses are abandoned and quickly disappearing into history. I found Harrison Point lighthouse on google maps, a 100-year-old lighthouse with a small crumbling house where the keeper once lived. There is no gift shop, caretaker or lock on the door. The lighthouse is open to anyone brave enough to scale its decaying stairs to the top. The location of the lighthouse is remote in the northern part of Barbados where few tourists visit, and resorts are nowhere to be found and it seemed a perfect place for us to camp for the night, so we ended up buying rum and pizza in a nearby town and then taking it to the lighthouse to enjoy it.  After a few locals who also came to the lighthouse to party scattered off, we had the area to ourselves. Dylan and Jimmie slept in their tents and me in the rental car.  We went to bed as the full moon rose over the ocean illuminating the old decaying brickwork of the lighthouse casting an eerie glow on to it.

 

Local Village Kids hanging Out at the Harrison Point Lighthouse

Harrison Point Lighthouse

Jimmie and my nephew, Dylan at the top of the lighthouse after climbing the rickety stairs 

Harrison Point Lighthouse

The old lighthouse keepers ruined home

The forests around the lighthouse and old abandoned buildings along with an American military base built and forgotten were fun to explore. At night I thought I had encountered a ghost in the old lighthouse keepers home when I heard all kinds of movement around me without any obvious source. Then I realized the ground was moving with land crabs that were suddenly very active and emerging from their holes.

 

 

Abandoned American military base now overgrown by jungle

Invasion of African Monkeys

We awakened to torrential rain at the lighthouse that lasted until late morning and to add to our misery our rental car wouldn’t start in the morning, and I had to call for roadside service to help jump our car, a call that took about 5 hours to finally receive a response for. While i was waiting I explored the jungles around the lighthouse, and I was balked at by a troop of wild green monkeys. These monkeys came over 400 years ago from slave ships from West Africa and now run in troops across the island in the thousands and are completely independent and adapted to life in Barbados.

 

Green monkey

Once we were able to get our vehicle restarted, the rain persisted and our plans to visit remote beaches were dampened by the rain, so we visited a monkey sanctuary instead and see the green monkeys up close. From there we drove back down to the south of the island along the wild Atlantic eastern coast with its wind and surf torn beaches. The east was far more desolate and hillier and my favorite side of the island.

 

My nephew rock climbing on a hige boulder on the wild eastern Atlantic Coast

We ended up staying the night in Bridgetown at cheap apartment overlooking the beach near the airport. The place far exceeded expectations and was close to all of the beach dining action in Bridgetown.  The owner of the apartment, Earl Maynard was a passionate man in his 80s, who shared stories of his youth with us and how he was once a body builder in the movie business who was once Mr. Universe in the 50s and 3rd place for Mr. Olympia. The next morning, we awoke to a worm invasion in our apartment and departed on an early morning flight to via Caribbean Airlines to Grenada.

 

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