At about 8AM or so my family arrived in Barbados after a dramatic morning that included waiting at the hotel for a taxi to show up for nearly two hours and rushing to the airport when a taxi called by a friend finally showed up and then checking-in and quickly moving through security. We found a taxi driver and then proceeded to negotiate with him until he no longer thought that we were American tourists looking to tour without paying a fair price for it, which was not overwhelmingly expensive given the price of the tour (with our luggage weighing down the back of the taxi) was about as much as what Curacao’s airport wanted to charge us just to store our luggage before seeking a taxi for some quick exploration when we were there.
Once we were off, we took a circuit around the southern half of the island that managed to avoid covering the capital. It is fascinating to see what other people view as important sites, especially when one does not see the biggest cities but instead one focuses one’s attention on small towns, villages and exurbs and the like. Given the drive we took over the course of the two hours between 8:30AM and 10:30AM, when we returned to Barbados’ international airport to check-in for our next flight, to Martinique, we toured a great deal of countryside and saw many parish churches as well as a lot of resorts that were under construction, including a resort that had been torn down after having a fire that was being rebuilt and was labeled as a castle and a group of rather small tract houses that was being built in large part for students to a university that had moved from Dominica to Barbados and was looking to move to a location near the airport.
The parish churches were interesting, I must admit. Having seen St. John’s, St. James’, Beulah, and a few others, it is interesting to see the way that that parish churches work in Barbados, and presumably other islands as well. Most of them are in rural locations, and they feature gorgeous architecture, a lot of family plots of tombs, occasionally gorgeous views, sometimes a donation box in front of them, an old parish school near them that has gotten too small and has been replaced by larger primary schools for the parish in most cases, and a home for the curate very close to the church. I suppose that Barbadians, like many people in the Caribbean, are particularly interested in showing others their churches and pointing out how devoted they are to Christianity and also how important agriculture was to their economy when one looks at ruined plantations and derelict sugar refineries with their telltale chimneys.
But that is not all that we saw. We managed to stop at a botanical gardens, for one. Indeed, one of the sights, which I mentioned on a lark because it was called Gun Hill, ended up providing quite a bit of worthwhile mystery that may require some further historical investigation. Gun Hill contains old signals and cannons pointing out towards the ocean and a lion carved on its seaward slopes. However, what was most interesting to me about the place was a sign that says that a Scots regiment of fusiliers was stationed there from 1862-1863, during the middle of the Civil War. Why would Barbados need to be reinforced by the British army? Were the British concerned that the United States would invade the island or were they more concerned about the rapacious Spanish  or what? It is something worth investigating, and a reminder of the way that odd historical insights can be found from even the most casual of journeys.