Nicknamed “Little England”, Barbados is a former British colony that has emerged as a leading beach destination in the western hemisphere. But it’s far more than a playground for sunseekers. Barbados has lots of fascinating culture and history, as well as one very famous celebrity icon.
We Be Limin’
Barbados is one of the few coral-capped limestone islands in the Caribbean. Some 85% of the island is coral limestone, usually running about eight to 12 inches (20-30 centimetres) thick. Because of that limestone, you’ll often find great rock formations and cool caves, including Harrison’s Cave and, on the north shore, Animal Flower Cave. The limestone means that rainwater seldom collects on the surface of the land. Often the water runs off into gullies, such as Welchman Hall Gully and Jack in the Box Gully. Which brings us to . . .
Colorful Place Names
Folks in Barbados like to have fun with their place names, and you’ll find any number of inviting villages and towns scattered around the island. Some of the distinct names include Crab Hill, Apes Hill, Chalky Mount, Foul Bay, and Silver Rock Beach. I can only assume Cats Cradle got its name from a group of felines, and that the village of Mile and a Quarter is not far from something important. You’ll also find fun spots such as Six Mens and Pie Corner, which is named for the spot in England where the Great Fire of London was stopped in 1666. You’ll also find a town called Bonnets, which is not named after fashionable British hats but instead after pirate Major Stede Bonnet.
Both the first and second governors of Barbados, Captain William Deane and John Powell, were each arrested during their political terms, clapped in irons and shipped back to England. Sir William Tufton, commander-in-chief from December 21, 1629 to July 16, 1630, was found guilty of high treason and executed by firing squad in 1632. One of the judges in his case, Captain William Kitterich, later lined up in front of another firing squad and was executed for the murder of Captain William Birch. Thankfully, modern Barbados government isn’t nearly so severe.
Happy meals? Yes. Happy Meals? No.
Bajans are happy to stop at a fast-food joint for lunch or dinner. Kentucky Fried Chicken is a popular restaurant. Chefette draws a crowd for chicken sandwiches, chicken tenders, and similar dishes. You’ll also find pizza and some burgers. But Bajans aren’t nearly as big on beef burgers as Americans and Canadians. Which might help explain that, while you might see Colonel Sanders’ face on a billboard in Barbados, you won’t see Ronald McDonald. McDonald’s set up shop here in the 1990s but their only restaurant on Barbados lasted just six months.
Dance To The Music
The most famous Barbadian on the planet is undoubtedly Rihanna, whose songs have been sold (or downloaded) millions of times. She recently launched her own line of reasonably racy lingerie. Robyn Rihanna Fenty was born in Bridgetown in 1988 and was discovered by an American producer, Evan Rogers (who also worked with the likes of Christina Aguilera) in 2003. Rihanna signed a contract with legendary Def Jam Recordings at age 16 and quickly ascended to the top of the music charts. She’s also been named “Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary” by the Barbados government. How’s that for a title?
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