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Out and About - Island Tour
Later on in the week we decided to get out and about.. We enquired after a taxi to the zoo, and were told that it would be a generally bad idea, and instead we should book ourselves on a tour that included the zoo. We'd later find out why that was probably for the best, and decided we'd go for it..

We got picked up from our hotel by a taxi / minibus type thing, and went off to collect the others who'd be going on the tour. Since we were the first on, we got seats by the front, so I was able to take a couple of videos of the journey itself:

Driving in Barbados: Part 1, Part 2

We went on quite a drive really, around the south coast to a couple of other hotels, and then up through Bridgetown to pick up a couple who were on a cruise. It was probably a good sign that, with only one day in Barbados, the tour we were on had been deemed worthy of taking up that whole time. Gives you a certain amount of confidence that it's going to be worth it..

The drive itself is worth talking about.. Overall, we drove up the south-west coast, then drove into the interior of the island, then across to the east coast, up the east coast, back to the interior again, then back to the west coast, which we then drove down. There's a complicated zig-zag pattern I could draw on a map if anyone is especially interested, but I'm not sure that that's actually helpful. Point is, we saw a lot of the island on this tour, pretty churches, stark rocky landscapes, banana and sugar plantations, cricket grounds, rolling hills, harsh seas, perfectly-still seas, everything.. It was one of the most representative glimpses of the island that we got, and was definitely something that I wouldn't want to have missed.

Our first stop was Harrison's Cave, a natural cave formation with plenty of stalagmites and stalactites adding to the ambience. After a quick video about it all, we were taken to a sort of buggy-train thing (like a quad bike with a trailer attached, only more high tech), and were taken down into the caves. While the caves themselves were natural, a huge hole had been bored down through them to accomodate the "car", which took us spiralling down past some enormous "rooms" of figure-like "statues". Ugh, over-use of quotation marks :o\

Anyway, there were places where we could stop, alight, and take pictures of the caves at regular intervals, which I'm sure was good both for the tourism aspect, and in the prevention of claustrophobia. Unfortunately my camera was low on batteries, and I wasn't sure if I could find any spares anywhere, so I didn't take too many pictures.. Naomi has the better ones, like this shot of the streams and this one of ripples in the water. I did get to play around a bit with some long exposure silliness with a waterfall type thing, which was good fun.

I know that a large part of how good it all looked was down to the lighting that they'd installed, but it still gave me a real desire to go exploring some slightly more natural caves sometime. So long as it doesn't turn out like the movie The Descent, all is well :o)

Outside the caves, we saw the prettiest feral cat, and a lizard. I only mention this because it's detail that I might otherwise forget if I don't.. Anyway, so upon leaving, we headed over to the east coast of the island, which is where it faces out onto the Atlantic. The contrast against our own beach couldn't have been more stark - the place we went to is called Bathsheba, because the force of the waves turns the sea white with foam, as if it's milk.

That effect is probably best demonstrated by three pictures (#1, #2, #3) or alternatively this slightly shaky panoramic video of the view from where we were parked. There's a reason why the east coast doesn't see all that much tourism, and indeed is tricky to build on due to the harsh elements (as well as plenty of planning laws designed to protect it from being spoiled)..

While it represented an excellent view, there's not all that much that one can say about Bathsheba, so moving on.. Our next stop was Barbados Zoo, if "zoo" is really the right word for it. It's basically a path through a wooded area where a bunch of animals just wander around seemingly at random. They have monkeys there, but they're free to come and go as they please, and so since it wasn't feeding time, we didn't see them. Bit of a shame, but there were plenty of other animals to keep us going..

The first animals we really saw were the tortoises, which didn't seem at all shy - I'm guessing that the familiarity of visitors, coupled with the fact that they can hardly escape from humans helps the whole tame thing.. They also had these tiny deer, which were ever so endearing (please excuse the pun, it wasn't intentional, but I'll stick with it anyway). We also saw Cayman (should those by Caymen?) lounging around by a pool of water, but thought they were made of stone, entirely for decorative purposes, so didn't get any pictures of them. It was only afterwards when reading the guide for the zoo that we saw that it mentions the Cayman, and asks that if we see them wandering around the paths, could we please tell somebody..

Further around we saw some birds, but they didn't seem like they were having the greatest time in their cages.. Consequently, there are no inspirational pictures or anything.. To be honest, bird-wise, there were more cool specimens at Bristol zoo, with their multi-coloured giant pigeons... Still, there was one impressive bird there, which rather startled us.. I'll be honest with you, I had never considered the idea that a peacock could even remotely fly, and haven't really thought about them flapping their wings. So you can see how that might come as a bit of a shock ;o)

We saw a ton of cool snakes and other reptiles, again Naomi has the good photos of those. I think at this point I was more interested in taking videos that pictures. So with that in mind, after we got out of the reptile house, we saw followed some Mara to a little pool where they were drinking, along with some tortoises. They're rodents, kind of like large rabbits, if they were crossed with capybara or something.. This video might give you a better idea.

And then it was a case of going back home, retracing our steps in order to drop off the Canucks for the next leg of their cruise, then taking the others back to their respective hotels before finally getting home ourselves. I think we were both pretty glad that we didn't make a whole day out of the zoo alone - it wasn't the largest of zoos, and I think that we were pretty much the only people there when we went, so it was hardly buzzing with activity or anything. As it stood, we got to explore a lot of the island, see plenty of other sights, and it was all very very good :o)