Visitors to Barbados are cautioned not to wear any clothing with a camouflage pattern. I remembered this from last year but never received a good explanation for it other than that it is just not allowed there.
Our tour took us on a small bus from the rather industrial looking dock area out into the countryside. Navigating Bridgetown proper was a traffic-clogged process, and the very narrow lanes added to the slow pace. Our tour guide/driver kept up a running dialogue throughout, offering interesting information about Barbados and its history.
He also pointed out that Barbados was the only place where a McDonalds fast food store had opened and not prospered, lasting only a year before closing. There is now a used car lot on the site. KFC, however, is thriving, along with a local chain competitor called Chefette.
For example, we learned that Barbados, discovered by shipwrecked Portuguese sailors, was a British colony for three hundred thirty-nine years, and received its independence in 1966. English is the official language, but the locals – some ninety percent of African descent – speak a dialect called ‘Bajan’ which is a contraction of ‘Barbadian’. Bajan is how they will refer to themselves, much like those folks in Louisiana who call themselves ‘Cajun’ for ‘Acadian’.
Our first stop was the Foursquare Distillery which was rebuilt and reopened in 1996 on the site of an old abandoned distillery. Our driver just happened to park next to a breadfruit tree. Naturally, we jumped out of the bus and took several pictures of it. Tourists to the core…
When we walked into the distillery, there was a definite, and not unpleasant, fermented fruity smell in the air. Our cheerful guide, Dawn, led us through the facility, pointing out the large copper stills where the molasses is distilled into rum. The tour finished up in an old stone two-story building where the bartender explained – and poured – three rums for us to taste. Naturally, there were bottles for sale.
Next, it was back on the bus for a visit to the Mount Gay Rum bottling plant in Bridgetown. Here we watched a twelve minute commercial, I mean video, about Mount Gay (pronounced Mont Gay by the locals), followed by three generous rum samples.
Naturally, this was followed by a visit to their gift shop where rum and other souvenirs were available for sale. We opted to buy some hot sauce. We figured we’d get more use out of that because we’re not big rum drinkers at home, just in the Caribbean.
We returned to the ship with a little buzz on, and warm memories of Caribbean rum. Tomorrow is the island of Dominica and – you’ll never guess – another alcoholic tour. Oh yeah, no worries mon…
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