Saturday, June 16, 2018

A wild ride in Barbados

Our guide called the ride a great back massage.  I called it Darth Vader in a race car.

We are ready to roll!
At least that’s what my husband Larry and I looked like as we donned racing helmets and reflective sunglasses, seated ourselves 10 inches off the ground in a two-person mini-buggy, and lurched down dirt paths along the North Point of Barbados.  It was the perfect location for a hotrod experience.  Waves crashed on reefs where the North Coast meets the Atlantic Ocean, perfect spot for a thrilling ride in the Caribbean. 
Outstanding scenery on the hilly north coast
Starting from Bridgetown, our guide Tammy took the wheel of a tiny van, speeding down each narrow street as she pointed out that in Barbados “Stop signs are just a suggestion.” 

Oblivious to other vehicles, Tammy zoomed through village streets, past sugar cane fields, workers repairing roads, and outdoor vendors selling chintzy goods—obviously practicing for her duty as dune buggy guide. 
Dune buggy brigade ready for an adventure.
Her narrative entertained the eight people in our party as she pointed out the proliferation of churches on the island.  Churches are everywhere, and where there’s a church, there’s a bar.  The people take care of two kinds of spirits on Sunday, she said.  It was Sunday.

We learned that settlers first landed on the West Coast of Barbados, a coral island pushed out of the sea ages ago by volcanic activity.  Beautiful white sand beaches stretch for miles along a turquoise sea on the flatter West and South Coasts.  Coral reefs provide excellent snorkeling and scuba diving, with soft formations resembling abstract sculptures jutting out from the shore. 
Beaches are found mainly on the south and west coasts of Barbados.

As we headed north the topography changed, and rolling hills appeared. We learned about one of the unique geological feature of Barbados:  It is really two land masses merged together.

Soon we came to a privately owned plot of land where we were introduced to fully roll-caged eight-foot long all-terrain mini-buggies.  Not exactly what we had imagined, these steel-encased lowriders were the vehicles for our off-road adventure.
I try out the driver's seat.
After receiving a short safety briefing with operating instructions, Larry and I were outfitted with head socks, red and orange space-age helmets and mirrored sunglasses.  Larry shimmied into our buggy, adjusted foot pedals, and fingered the start key.   I followed, keeping camera handy to record whatever ensued, while we strapped ourselves in and prepared for another wild ride. 

Tammy led the convoy of buggies, weaving down dirt paths, hitting puddles in the middle, and spraying mud sideways from the wheels.  Larry gassed our buggy, and we followed—also spraying mud on both sides of the buggy. 

Beautiful coastal scenery of Barbados
For almost an hour we zipped back and forth along rugged trails--massaging our backs, skidding on gravel, and occasionally catching air after hitting large rocks.  Turns were tight.  Thrills were constant. 

Twice we stopped for refreshing drinks and to visually drink in the beauty of the North Coast. Here, sandstone cliffs rise hundreds of feet straight out of the sea.  Perched on such a cliff high above the rushing Atlantic, we admired the surrounding landscape. Turquoise water decorated by splashing waves formed a lovely background against blue sky and green grass.
With grassy hills and sandy beaches, Barbados is a unique Caribbean island.
A brief stint at lovely Paradise Beach followed the road safari, a welcome respite after so much excitement.  This small protected bay proved the perfect spot for building sand castles, despite waves that rolled heavily onshore, quickly washing away my ingenious creations. The shore’s rocky bottom and quick drop-off made beach combing more attractive than swimming.  We strolled along the sand, capturing the beauty of the beach with a camera and enjoying the tranquil surroundings.  It was an excellent way to wind down from our exciting Barbados adventure.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier






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