BARBADOS CARNIVAL: Where I went, what I ate, what I did!
In the past, I viewed all-inclusive resorts as a means to an end: easy, thoughtless, and getting the job done. Their structures were utilitarian. Their food, little more than gruel meant to pad your stomach before a lot of drinking. But Sandals Barbados blew all of my assumptions and prejudices out of the water. The hotel was stunningly designed, and I mean that. One restaurant drew inspiration from the Italian coast. One café hearkened to my summer days yonder in Paris. The pool closest to me reminded me of The Beverly Hills Hotel. And the food was divine!
We went on a boat tour to swim with fish and sea turtles. If you know how I travel, you know that no summer holiday is complete without a boat day. I can’t tell you the number of times I have said my mantra, “Boat days are the best days!”. Add some animals into the mix…even better.
Before heading to the boat, we took a small unplanned detour down Rihanna Drive to see the famed house that Rihanna grew up in. I’m unsure what it’s used for now, but the outside looked very nicely kept, complete with a commemorative plaque.
Be forewarned, Rihanna is going to come up a LOT in this post. She’s basically the queen of this country lol.
We also went on a train ride through the country, along with a cave adventure. I don’t have any photos from the caves because it was so dark, but here’s this terrible selfie.
During the cave adventure, I learned that Barbados has incredibly pure water, something like 90% naturally pure, due to the complex natural filtration system from volcanic rock. So the tap water here is perfectly safe to drink and is actually almost a bit sweet!
OMG. This was possibly my favorite day ever. after a long, long day, we headed to a party that goes from 12 AM to 7 AM. Seriously, this was almost a 24-hour day and I thought I wouldn’t be able to last but I was pretty alright.
This all-night paint party is for those who cannot make the actual daytime parade due to work, sensitivity to heat, or whatever else. The temperature at night was perfect and the paint being splashed on us was actually pretty cooling.
The first photo in this series is of Gregory and me in the beginning of the night. We voluntarily put some paint on ourselves to decorate. By the end of the night, we were soaked. We left the paint party around 3:45 AM, getting home at 4:30 AM and cleaned up and into bed by 6:00 AM. That paint took some scrubbing.
And, finally, the big day was here: Carnival/Crop Over. Carnival in Barbados is called Crop Over locally. The history of Crop Over came from a time when Barbados’ biggest export was the sugar cane. Sugar cane season ended in August, so people would throw a huge party to celebrate a great season well-worked.
(While it was such a fun time, I do have to warn you that it. Is. HOT. It’s very hot and humid and you’re in direct sunlight. There is a booze truck that’s at the end of each section (same with the paint party), but they didn’t have water, even though they did at the paint party. I tried to locate water and failed. I was very lucky that halfway through the walk (still a 3-hour walk, though), BTMI had a tent with food and all beverages. I tapped out at that point so I could give my body a break. If I had to do anything differently, it would be to pack a few bottles of water just in case!)
Rihanna is known for going back home to celebrate at Crop Over with her friends in the flyest outfits. She did not disappoint this year (see Rihanna spotting #3 and her pink ostrich feather ensemble). I wish I had a better photo for you than just this screenshot from a video, but I’m surprised I got to see her this many times at all!
Major thanks to the Barbados tourism board for bringing Gregory and me out there to experience your incredible country along with our Bajan friends!
Have you ever done Carnival? Would you want to?
Make sure to check out my Barbados IG Story highlight to see BTS of this crazy week!
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