Barbados Island Happenings
Barbados Independence - The Right Honorable Errol Walton Barrow's statue stands, as a monument to the first Prime Minister of Barbados and Father of Independence, in the newly refurbished Independence Square where Diana Ross and the Supremes sang in celebration to Barbados on its second night of self-government.
As Barbados's first Prime Minister, the Right Honorable Errol Walton Barrow led the island to autonomy using his passion for social reform as a motivator for the people.
November 30th, 1966 was the remarkable day when the British Union Jack was lowered and the Broken Trident of Barbados was raised.
Increasing nationalistic pride is exemplified through a month of Independence celebrations which include: the Sagicor Life Lighting Ceremony and Bajan Folk Brew; the decoration of the roundabouts on the highways; sports competitions; the Spirit of Independence Tour and the Spirit of the Nation Show and the National Independence Festival of Creative Arts (NIFCA). A land of contrasts, part of Barbados' unique charm comes from the old world happily coexisting with the new. Glass and marble offices stand next to brightly painted rum shops, satellite dishes festoon traditional wooden chattel houses, high tech SUVs drive alongside donkey carts. Bordered by the calm waters of the Caribbean sea on the West, and by the tumultuous Atlantic Ocean on the East, just driving from one coast to the other is an experience in breath-taking scenery.
Barbados is divided into 11 parishes, each with their own distinct character, interconnected by a fairly decent road system of which the ABC highway is the main artery, running through the centre of the island connecting the island from one end to the other.
Affectionately known as 'Little England', a certain British-ness pervades daily life, from place names (Clapham, Dover, Hastings & Lancaster are a few) to driving on the left, roundabouts and afternoon tea. Barbados successfully hosted the World Golf Championships (the Barbados Cup) in December 2006 at the prestigious Sandy Lane Golf and Country Club. This was quickly followed by the Cricket World Cup Super Eight matches and the Final in March and April 2007. All eyes were on Barbados as international media, visitors and cricket supporters from all over the world descended on the island for the greatest event on the cricket and sporting calendar.
Apart from our sandy beaches, hotels, fine dining restaurants and exciting nightlife, guests to Barbados will always experience the charm and friendliness of the people as well as some major event on the island that appears to never sleep. This truly portrays Barbados as being the place to live, work, play and invest!
Barbados also provides a suitable environment for business and investment and is one of the most successful international real estate markets globally. With many international tax and investment protection treaties and a long history of democracy, social and economic stability and quality of life (as ranked by the United Nations), Barbados continues to strengthen its position in the global arena.
Even the Secretary General of the U.N., Kofi Annan, remarked after visiting Barbados in 2005 that Barbados punches above its weight. We invite you to take some time to discover one of the greatest, most successful small country in the World. The island's stated goal is to become the world's smallest developed nation and to be the #1 Place to Live, Work, Play and Invest.
Facts about Barbados
The following fun facts about Barbados truly depict the quaint yet charming nature of the island. We hope that you enjoy reading them, and that they help you to understand a few of the peculiarities of our island.
The National dish of Barbados is Cou-Cou and Flying Fish. Cou-cou is a dish made with cornmeal and okras, in much the same way that it has been made in Africa for centuries. It is accompanied by flying fish which have been prepared in an aromatic sauce of tomato, onion, chives, thyme, fresh pepper, garlic and other herbs. Together they make a delicious and wholesome combination.
It is good luck to have a mongoose scurry across the road in front of you. Some time during your stay you are more than likely to see a Barbados mongoose scurry across your path. The Mongoose is a slender, furry creature of about 24 inches from its head to the end of its bushy, squirrel-like tail. It has a brown coat and looks a bit like a Weasel or a Stoat. They were brought to Barbados from India in 1879 to combat the problem of the increasing rat population - and the ensuant threat to the sugar industry. Unfortunately for the planters they had made one big mistake. The rat is a nocturnal animal while the mongoose likes to go foraging during the day - so they rarely cross each others path.
Chattel houses are wooden dwellings peculiar to the island of Barbados. These wooden dwellings are peculiar to Barbados. A chattel is a man's moveable possession, hence these are 'moveable houses'. Barbadian chattel houses were traditionally constructed on top of blocks, so that if the owner had to move to another area, then he would literally take his house with him. In time a very distinct and increasingly ornate design evolved, making these houses uniquely attractive.
Flying fish jump out of the water and can glide for 30 to 50 metres! Barbados is hailed as "The land of the flying fish". This interesting fish abounds in our waters and has become something of a national emblem as well as a staple part of our diet. Other popular local fish are dolphin, kingfish, sailfish, barracuda, tuna, red snapper and chub. Incidentally, whenever you see "dolphin" on a menu, please don't think that you are about to eat "flipper" and his friends. Dolphin in Barbados is an ugly but delicious fish, not a porpoise.
November 2006 marks the 40th year of Barbadian independence from Britain. Barbados became independent from the UK on 30th November 1966. Today we remain a commonwealth with Queen Elizabeth II as our titular head of state. Independence celebrations are important here on the island and begin at the end of August! It has become a tradition that all the roundabouts on the island are decorated in a foray of blue and yellow colours. At night, these roundabouts light up the streets and are a wonderful symbol of Independence. The official lighting ceremony takes place on the 1st of November. On the actual Independence Day, there is a parade through the streets. The venue, however, changes from year to year depending on the weather.
There were originally 400 stand pipes installed across the island of Barbados. Until recent times the stand pipe was very much a focal point in Barbadian village life. In every populated area the Government installed a stand pipe where people could go to collect free water for their household needs. Thus the stand pipe became a busy centre of activity and the venue for a great deal of social interaction - from gossip, to courtship, to political discussion, to confrontation! With the introduction of running water to virtually every Barbadian home, many of the stand pipes are no longer in use. However, happily, there are enough of them still in operation for you to stop off for a drink while out driving.
Barbados was originally named Los Barbados, meaning 'the bearded ones'. The many fig trees on the island had long hanging, aerial roots. To Pedro Campos, the Portuguese explorer who sighted the island in 1536, these roots made the trees look like they had beards, hence the name 'Los Barbados.'
The Barbados National flower is the Pride of Barbados. The official name is Caesalpinia pulcherrima. These flowers are generally red, yellow or orange and can be found year around across the island. You will find that they add a wonderful splash of colour wherever they grow.
Mount Gay Barbados Rum is over 300 years old! Mount Gay Rum was first produced in 1703. This makes it one of the oldest rum brands in the world. Mount Gay Barbados Rum is sold in over 66 countries, the US being the number one market and some consider it to be the most famous brand of fine rum in the world! Mount Gay Rum Distilleries sponsors over 110 regattas worldwide. The famous red Mount Gay regatta hats are considered prize possessions and many people will offer hundreds of dollars to obtain one! You can see many of these hats on display at the Mount Gay Rum Refinery here in Barbados, but the staff will tell you that these are not for sale, no matter how much you are willing to offer!
Barbados - Land Of The Flying Fish
Barbados has long been known as 'The Land Of The Flying Fish.' The island's warm waters, which are rich in miniscule plant and animal organisms, provide an excellent food source for the flying fish, which in turn have provided Barbadians with a high-protein dietary staple for centuries.
To see a teeming shoal of these silver and blue creatures - their biological name being ETINURDICHTHYS AFFINIS - leap from the seas and take to the air is simply a breathtaking experience. Cruise line passengers and local Barbadian fishermen alike have reported seeing schools as large as 1,000 fish-strong leap into the air and glide for distances of 70 feet and more.
It is further estimated that they can travel at speeds approaching 55 kilometres per hour and stay airborne for over 10 seconds at a time. It is their 2 pectoral fins and their 2 ventral fins that fan out to act as wings, while the flying fish's tail fin is what serves to propel them in flight. Leaping mainly to avoid large predatory fish, they will ultimately return to the water once their fins become dry.
Flying fish are mainly found 8 to 40 km offshore and, as they swim in shoals, they are easily caught in gill nets. Local fisherman, however, have also been able to use their special knowledge of this species to implement other methods of fishing them. For instance, it is known that flying fish are attracted to floating objects on to which they attach their orange eggs, which otherwise will sink. Fisherman, therefore, sometimes will place "cane trash" (the discarded leaves from the sugar cane stalks) on top of the water in order to attract the fish. In May, therefore, when the fish are spawning, hundreds can be scooped up from the sea surface using dip or landing nets.
Over the years, the women of the southern fishing town of Oistins have perfected the art of filleting the flying fish. It is then traditionally served in a rich tomato gravy over rice or cou-cou (a corn-meal pudding of sorts), or seasoned, battered and fried. Either way, our Barbadian flying fish is delicious
Folk Beliefs and Proverbs
Although the language of Barbados is English, we refer to the way the locals speak it as Bajan. Essentially, Bajan is a combination of English and West African idioms and expressions. This quaint mixture produces a unique vocabulary and speech pattern. Most Bajan beliefs, folklore and proverbs were born from this strange jumble and use of the language. A variety of common Bajan sayings and beliefs can be found below.
"Fisherman neva say dat 'e fish stink." People never give bad reports about themselves.
"As yuh land yuh come ashore." When you wear something as soon as you buy it.
"An eyeful 'en a bellyful." Having a good look at something does not provide the kind of satisfaction derived from eating it.
"Me back telling me belly that me throat cut." Refers to being extremely hungry.
"Yoh can't stan'in de road an'sih de leak in sombody else house." It is impossible to know the full extent of another man's domestic problems unless you get close to him.
"De higher de monkey climb, de more 'e show e tail!" The more one shows off, the more ones faults are brought into the open.
"Cockroach en got no right at Hen Party." Don't get into situations with which you cannot cope.
"Donkey got long ear, but 'e don' like to hear 'e own story." People ore reluctant to hear or acknowledge their faults
"Evah turkey does breck fuh 'e own craw." Everybody sees after his own welfare.
"Wha' en' pass yuh, en miss yuh." Having escaped a particular misfortune does not mean that you are immune from it.
- A spider found inside the house should not be killed because it may result in the breakage of at least some of the crockery in the house.
- When that noisy cricket enters the house it indicates that money is coming to the house, therefore you must not kill, or evict the insect, no matter how much the high pitch sound it emits annoys you. One of the ways to protect a house from evil spirits is to keep honey and corn over a door. One can only conjecture that the spirit will be too occupied with the sweet treat that it will have no time to enter the home.
- A generous amount of green pigeon peas in a child's diet is a good way of ensuring that the child learns to talk early in life.
- When a child loses a tooth he must throw it on the roof and say "Rat, rat gih me another teet!"
- When a group of people assemble to "fire one" (have a drink), a small quantity of rum is thrown into the corner for the spirits of departed friends, to show them that though they are dead, they are not forgotten.
- "Pisstoratically" (Slang) - Needing no definition, and applied to a certain stage of drunkenness.
- It is good luck to have a mongoose scurry across the road in front of you.
- A green lizard in the house is a sign that someone in that house, or a relative, is
pregnant, or that a male in the house
Animals of Barbados
Animals of Barbados range from Black Belly Sheep to Bajan Green Monkeys, Mongoose and Swimming Turtles.
Th e Barbados Black Belly sheep is exactly that; sheep, with black bellies. This breed of sheep originally developed in Barbados from hair sheep brought in by African slave traders in the 1600's and can still be found all over the island to this day.
These sheep are very easy to distinguish as they are brown with distinctive black hair on the inside of their legs and bellies and two black lines, called bars, which run down the front of the face inside the eyebrows all the way down to the muzzle. The ram grows coarse hair on the neck and a long heavy mane underneath.
The black belly sheep also provides very popular meat here on the island, often featured in stews and curries as well as roasts and racks of lamb.
Barbados Green Monkey
When you come to Barbados, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for our most famous resident, the Barbados Green Monkey.
These monkeys were originally brought over during the slave trade some 350 years ago from Gambia and other regions of West Africa as pets.
So much time has passed and our environment is different enough that evolution has occurred, making these monkeys truly our own. We can legitimately call them the Barbados Green Monkey because you will not find them naturally existing anywhere else in the world and they are actually, funnily enough, green.
The monkeys have a thick coat of fur, which is generally a brownish grey colour, but, as though they've spent hours in the salon, the monkeys have highlights of yellow and green that makes their overall appearance green in colour.
The babies, however, tend to appear blue because it takes quite a while for the thick fur to grow and cover their flesh.
The females are quite maternal, carrying their young on their bellies or chest, constantly covered by one protecting arm.
As they age, the babies will go off on their own, away from their mothers until it is time to relocate or in the case of danger.
The best place to see the monkeys in their natural habitat would be while sightseeing at the Barbados Wildlife Reserve, however, the monkeys are quite rampant throughout the island and more so the further you go from the towns and busy areas.
The Barbados Green Monkey is undeniably cute and naturally inquisitive, but they do pose a serious threat to the agriculture of our island. They are famous for picking at crop, especially fruit, and they will steal a piece of fruit, take one bite and discard it for a new piece, quickly making their way through the entire crop.
Farmers have to take precautions from the monkeys as they do prove to be incredible pests and can sometimes get quite aggressive. They are famous for antagonizing dogs and breaking license plates, but, like most animals, if you don't trouble them, they won't trouble you.
It has been said that there are anywhere between five and seven thousand Green Monkeys currently on the island. We are pleased to share our island home with them and are looking forward to many generations of happy cohabitation.
Originally brought over as pets from Africa during the days of slave trade, mongooses (not mongeese) now run rampant in Barbados
The Mongoose is a type of rodent with a body about the size of a rat with a very pointy nose and a long bushy tail, much like a squirrel. Mongooses are very quick animals and are often wary of human beings. If a mongoose is ever caught or feels he is in imminent danger, he makes a horrifying screeching noise.
Due to its thick protective hide, easily camouflaged colouring and quick, sudden movements, mongooses are excellent at catching and killing snakes quickly and efficiently. This is the reason that you will not find any snakes in Barbados, we are so overrun with mongooses that the snakes do not stand a chance; the mongooses took care of those years ago.
It’s very unlikely that you will ever stumble across a mongoose during your stay in Barbados, but just take a drive through the country, particularly St. Lucy or St. Philip and you are bound to see at least one scamper across the road in front of your car.
Mongooses are forbidden in Canada and the U.S. amongst other countries because of their aggressive and destructive nature and also because, like most rodents, they are prone to carrying many infectious diseases.
If you do happen to see a Mongoose while in Barbados do not try to approach it or to pet it.
Swimming with the Turtles in Barbados
These turtles have always been locals on the island, but over the years have become an endangered species and were becoming very difficult to see.
In an effort to slow down, and possibly stop, the extinction process, a group of English university students came to Barbados to study the turtles. They were able to mark a few of the turtles to be able to monitor their movements and habits, and were also able to contain them somewhat by regularly providing food in a specific area along the west coast. As their programme progressed, more turtles came to the area and soon started breeding and so the population multiplied. It's hard to say at this point how many turtles there are along our coast, but thanks to those students, there are a lot more than there used to be.
Not at all surprisingly, the turtles quickly became an extremely popular tourist "must-do" and even excited a great deal of locals. The fact that there is hardly anywhere else in the world where you can see these turtles and interact with them in their natural environment is just another thing that makes Barbados very special. Between swimming with, feeding the turtles and exploring underwater wrecks where you can swim and interact with countless other types of fish, makes for our own unique kind of petting zoo. Children love it, teenagers love it, adults love it and it's just a great thing to do.