Don’t be sketched out by those tropical budget vacation packages you see advertised everywhere. You are poor and you don’t need scurvy to make it any worse. Go on a vacation in the sun. If you have to, think of it as an international charity mission. Tourism is the primary industry in Barbados, for example--they need us! I already told you about meeting Seth there; here’s a Rest of Barbados Top Ten.
Drug Dealers: There are a lot of scammers on the streets trying to sell everything from aloe vera to heroin. On our first night a street vendor tried to get us acquainted with his good friends Bob Marley and Ronald Reagan. Another man followed me around a convenience store asking me if I was vegan and if I wanted ecstasy. Another dude yelled down the street at my boyfriend, “Try the heroin, I know you’ll like it!” No one would believe us that we didn’t want to buy weed, an offer we had to turn down multiple times daily. If you have tattoos be prepared for a lot of attention.
Beaches: What’s an island without lazing your days away at the beach? Local law dictates there are no private beaches. If you are a pasty New Yorker, make sure you reapply your sunscreen or you’ll end up like I did, with your entire backside lobster red, unable to put out for two days. Also, if you aren’t staying at a resort, be prepared for a lot of overweight elderly British and Canadian tourists on the beaches. There is very little eye candy.
Kitties: The island is full of feral cats. Sure, they terrorize the local ecosystem, but they are so darn cute! Mostly tiny with bushy squirrel tails, these kitties will love you forever if you feed them roti.
Tunes: Reggae and dancehall are predictably huge on the island. Unfortunately so is Kanye West. We found a tiny streetside shack in Speightstown that sold CDs. The shopkeep sold us a Richie Spice album and another bootleg CDR. He charged us $25 even though the sign outside said, “CDs for $10”. He told us the second disc was all underground shit popular in the vans zipping us around town, driven by complete madment. We recognized the first track of the DJ mix immediately. We'd heard it playing in the Soho American Apparel the weekend before we left...d'oh! So much for underground shit. The song turned out to be “Romping Shop” by Vybz Kartel featuring Spice. Underground or not, it’s a righteously filthy song about fucking, worth repeated listenings. The video above is censored. Click down here for it in all it's regular filthy, filthy glory.
Other tourists: If you want to feel good about yourself, look for a white person in Barbados. From terrified Floridians to England’s Barmy Army (a crew of cricket fans in pirate hats) it’s a nightmare trying to negotiate the hordes. After seeing a naked Brit on the street and a dude in a neon green poncho with an inflatable traffic cone on his head we thought we’d wandered into an arrested development Spring Break. But the twins were a cut above. We saw these dudes two days in a row, first at the cave then at the beach. I was totally fascinated. I had to talk to them. They were speaking in French so I asked them where they were from and they told me...Quebec. Yep.
Eats: Street vendors are everywhere in Barbados, especially St Lawrence Gap, and they will feed you the best food on the island. The same goes for the roadside shacks. Fish sandwiches, macaroni pie (a curried brick of noodles and cheese), lamb stew, roti, grilled chicken…full meals will run you the equivalent of $5 and their deliciousness is unparalleled. Friday nights hundreds of people flock to the fishing village of Oistins for the fish fry. Also, Barbados has the best hot sauce and they put it on everything. It's yellow, mustard based, and super delicious. I brought back four bottles.
Drinks: This island is made of rum. Here it’s not faggy to order tropical drinks--it’s a goddamn tropical paradise after all. The local beer of choice is Banks, which come in smaller bottles than you’re used to so it doesn’t taste like hot dog saliva before you’re halfway through. Another island specialty is Sting Energy, an alcoholic virility drink that tastes like vermouth and is strangely effective. Fellas, if you drink this on a hike you have a good chance of fucking your girlfriend in the forest. Just saying. There are plenty of delicious non-alcoholic options for teetotalers like myself. I gained about five pounds from virgin coladas, banana daicquiris, shandies, and Angostura lemon-lime bitters sodas. This is sugar cane country and everything is sweet. Caribbean Coca Cola is the best Coke I’ve ever had and the local ginger brew is actually spicy. Yummers!
Abandoned buildings: Wandering past countless abandoned buildings, we wondered about the squatting population in Barbados. It seemed like a lovely place to be homeless; alas, the local government and local sentiment are very anti-squatters. This makes the run-down and abandoned spots on the island highly open to exploration. The prime example is Sam Lord’s Castle, a former hotel built to look like a castle on sprawling unkempt grounds near Crane Beach. A bus will take you right there. A group of elderly Barbadian men playing dominoes directed us to a hole in the fence we slipped right through. We broke into the hotel itself (OK fine, the doors were unlocked) to a glorious old domain, the walls of which were caked with bat shit. We were driven off of the second floor by the swarm of cranky animals flying around our heads who’d made the mess downstairs.
Local Chains: The purple and yellow monstrosities known as Chefette located on almost every corner of every major town in Barbados are inescapable. Chefette, Barbecue Barn, and Pizza Man Doc are the primary restaurant chains on the island, aside from KFC, which is also everywhere. Pizza Man Doc has what is potentially the greatest restaurant chain logo known to man and as long as you pretend you are eating flatbread with sweet tomato sauce and cheese instead of actual pizza, it’s pretty decent, although we were tame and just got the cheese slice instead of going for tuna and corn. Off Rockley Beach on the road back from Bridgetown there is the ultimate Chefette. A behemoth with a drive-thru open till 3 AM, it’s the ultimate Saturday night meeting spot for local teens. We spotted no less than 300 of them munching on roti and flying fish sandwiches in the parking lot our last night in town. It was a sight to behold. Underage kids are pretty much the same in every country, hungry and horny with nowhere to go and therefore kind of scary. We didn’t take photos.
Other Wildlife: Aside from the army of kitties and the stray dogs with nipples down to their ankles, there are monkeys all over the island! I thought my BF was shitting me the first time he saw one but soon enough I caught a glimpse of one scampering up a tree. The green monkeys gather en masse at the Barbados Wildlife Preserve in the central part of the island (look up parish). We saw about 25 of the little wonders grooming one another and lazily masturbating up in trees. At the Preserve peacocks wander free, occasionally terrorizing sleeping iguanas. It was there we met an animal I had never seen or heard of before, a Mara. This magical animal looks like a cross between a rabbit and a small deer and is apparently a giant rodent. Huh, who knew?
This is the last picture I took on Barbados. It’s a dead green monkey on the side of the road. Poor li’l guy. We found it on our way to the airport, definitely a sign that it was time to leave.