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Sunday Times


l(eeping it sweet They party hard in Barbados, but that doesn't hurt the cricl<et, writes John Young t is possible to find accommodation for less than R250 a night in Barbados. You just wouldn't wmt to stay there once you've foud it. The Intemet led me to Angle House about 2km from the centre of


Bridgetown. With the high-walled enclave of the Bubados Sailing ald Cruising Club directly over the road, and the Barbados Musem a block away, I congraiulated rnyself on filding such a cheap bed in such a posh area. Until my charm-free hostess took me through a warreil of dingy corridorsfilled with elderly, t}tinlegged men fuessed like extras from lhe set of Bueno Vista Social Club, and across a concrete courtyild to a rickety


Tte prison-issue mattress (off-cream and blue stripes with lumpy buttons) filled the room. There was a sink but to get to it, the bed had to tre moved. I eould only spot one sheet so I made a timid enquAy. "You wmt two sheets?" was Mrs Hinds'aggrieved response. I knew I would be looking for alternatives in the morning. If this is what I could get for R250, ivhat would it cost me to get a decenl. bed for the rest of my two-week stay? To get my mind off such depressing ihoughts I took the adyice ofan English jounalist I'd met in Trinidad md headed to the nearby Boatyard for half a dozâ&#x201A;Źn drinks. The place was

jmping with hau the

college population of the American mid-west celebrating the stmt of their

"Spring Break". I was starting to wonder about my luck. When the lhrieking female students started licking m off the swafthy torso of the barman I decided that that ugly bed was the lesser of two evils.

In the clear light of a


Caribbean morning my luck turned once I had fled Angle House. I wandered towards the beach hoping to Iind a public telephone at the Grand Bar-

! ! i ! ! WALK IN: Just Home in Aquatic Gap where the author found a Barbados rarity bados Resort Hotel. Instead, I lound a

chaming self-catering place called Just Home with its om garden and wide verandah, right there on the same little road called Aquatic Gap. With its ceiling of tree branches and soft sea sand seepingup the road's edges ithad a real holiday feel about it: it reminded me of the Busbman's River. I had to pay a little more than R250 for my room but Veronica was kindness itself, the room was clean and the bed was normal. I celebrated my chmge of fortune with coffee on the promenade of the Grand Barbados.

When I explained to the waitresses why the exchange rate made it impossitle for me to book in to their hotel, [hey took piiy and upgraded my sixBarbados-dollar cup of coffee to a pot of


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accommodation that was both cheap and good

Shrie king fematre

the same. I unwittingiy caused quite a

students licking rum off tlre

West Indies cricket

swartliy t*rsa of the harman

stir tly refusing sugar in my

coffee. me came

Some of ihe sympathy for from the locals' conviction that the


give massive "licks"

was going to

to the


African team I was following. No nation on earth is as conlident about cricket as the Bajms. Although there are only about 265 000 of them at any one time, they have good reason for

their confldence. When Barbados celebrated its independence in 1967, the team they selected to challenge a world team included

eight players who had played for the West lndies. Sir Frank Worrell, Sir Gary Sobers, and Malcolm Ma$hall are just a few of the gimts of the game to come from this coral island 33km

long and 22km wide. The dedicated fans who pack the Kensington Oval will tell you (even if you don't ask) that the reason the West lndies team are no longer a foree in world cricket is because the regional selectors are not picking enough Barbados cricketers. Although some of the posh resorts frequented by Britain's richest celebri iies try to make it difficult for commoners to get to the beach, there are no pdvate beaches on Bilbados, so I was able to join the locals in what they called their daily "sea bath" - and to enjoy the sight of mothers improving their sons' cricket-catching skills by skimming tennis balls at them off the surface of the calm Caribbean Sea. When I rose early enough to have a


Sunday Times



WET BEHIND THE EARS: Cricket fever prevails as South Afr.ican journaiists have an impromptu game on the beach

I was astounded to come across staif of the Grand Barbados raking the sand. Talk about attention to detail. A late evening swim had a very dlfferent outcome. I emerged from the water to discoyer that I was quite alone, apart irom the young man who wanted to sell me some weed. I

pre-dawn dip

declined. Contrtry lo popular foreign opinion, dagga is not legal anywhere in the West Indies. Having said ihat, only a few hours after de-

clining to iniale on the beach, at Oistin's Fish Market it was difficult not to inhale some of the gor?ga that floated over the impromptu disco that evolved in the space between the stalls selling snapper md king. fish with a kind ofpap called coz-cou. At one of the few sit-down outlets, our waiter told us that his best flsh was a lreshly caught dolphin. Seeing our startled looks he hastily added, "No worry, mohn, it's not tr'lipper!" What Bajans call dolphin is known elsewhere as dorado, a tangy game fish. Oistin's is the only place to be on a Friday night and it is the site of the annual Easter tr'estival that stretches an already long weekend into a very long party. Getting home from the market party was a cheap but hair-raising experience. Our mini-bus taxi driver was determined to overtake all the time, at 140km/h, at night, on ihe single, lane coastal road. But, as I had Ieilned with my lirst exposure to Barbados accomodation, this was not the nom. It was the local passengers who led the revolt. "Stop the bus, right now!" yelled the man on my right. bringing his rightfist quite forcibly down on the back of the front seat. And we all de-camped, locals and fbreigners, united in terror and anger,

That wild taxi ride aside. I cme to see Barbados as a very orderly society that functions very well. I had a sense that the tourist boom has actually benefited the citizens of the country, unlike in some of the other parts of the Caribbean. I did havc a lrustradng three hours in a

Wr 1"pr

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rs one


the easiest Caribbean destinations to get to Fly to Brdgetown, Barbados, from R12 350 per person (including approximate arrline taxes and levies) dunng low season (fi/lay 4 to June 25) on British Atrways. A high-season tare will cost R15 990 (rncluding taxes) fronr June 26 to September 6. Contact Fliqht Centre on 0860 400 777 or V[SA$r South Africans need a valid pa(sport, bJr rro vrsa for:tays o{ up to six months.

soeiologists. At the cricket field I was made to feei very

l'irst, Wayne Daniel, aka The Black Diamond and one of the fastest bowlers ever, wanted me to send his best welcome.

greetings to Vintcent van der Biji, his forCLEAN CUTS: An ardent West Indies fan at Kensington Oval

Bridgetown bank but at least ihe place was air conditioned and the staff were helpful. They have a good public school system and the cheap and e[ficienl bus service is something to behold. lbr R6 you can get right around the island. The buses are moderr and clem too, s.ith a large sign at the door outlawing swearing. I had lead that Barbados is sometimes called "-LittleEngland" so I was prepared for the high Anglicanism of Si Nlichacl's Cathedral (consecrated U89) and the ilowcrs in the straw hats ofthe ladies in town, but what I had not anticipated was traffic like central London's! A statue of Horatio Nelson stood triumphmtly inTralalgar Square for nealy 200 years but he's been moved and local

BASIGS HoW fO CET TtlEREi Barbados

heroes now take pride of place in National Heroes' Square, the plaza that links downtown Bridgetown with the waterfront. There are still many reminders of the colonial past, however: Cheapside, Queen's Park, Wellington Street and Nelson Street. It was at the intersection ofthe last two that I was exposed to a bit of social interaction I delinitely could never have predicted. Having saved up for a couple of days, I splashed out on a private sedan taxi to take me to the Kensington Oval. My driver was a bit gmmpy to start with but when a young delivery guy on a blcycle cut in front of his taxi as we turned out of Weuington Sireet, he bellowed, "You bloody black!" When the cyclist came back at him with the same phrase but with a stronger adjective, this white South African was puzled to say the least. A.s far as I could tell, they were both black. A nice puzzle for the

WHSRE I0 STAY: There rs a ranqe of accommodati0n with the smart resorts and golf estates on the sheltered west coast among the r-ost lu(Lr rous rn the world A qood website is The website for luxury acconrmodation in the Aquatic Gap is Contact Veronica or Carqline on (001246) 42b-8857 to enq"[e JiroJL Jusl r]ome a Other: It rs an offence to dress in camouflage clothing T0pless bathing is frowned upon and nudism is illeqal!

mer team-mate at Middelsex. Andrew

Mason immediately invited me to be a guest on his cricket talk show, the Mason and Best Show. Best turned out to be former West Indian batsman Carlisle Best, who had a spell playing lbr Wcstern Provin{'e. Best took me to his own cricket club, Empire. The bumpy and tiny ground, so small

that boundaries count lbr three and four, not four and six, was surrounded by rusty coryugated-ton sheeting. Could this really be where cricketing legends like Sir Frank Worrell had perfected their game? As the first black man to captain the regional team, Worrell occupies a special place in Wesi Indies history. Begional cricket board oflicials claim to be keen on celebrating the history of the game but the sight of Worrell's dilapidated house on the edge of the Empire ground told a differeni

story. Cricket historian David Hilris told me lhai various authorilies were arguing about who was responsible for upkeep. In February this year, the house was finally demolished and the Barbados Ministry of Public Works has promised that a muscum will be built in its place. On my last night in Barbados I visited another tou'ist landmark in the Aquatic Cap, the famous Brown Sugar restaurant, dght next to my humble Just Itrome lodgings. Under a canopy of lush tropical plants I enjoyed a spicy serving of brandied livers md curry that lvas worth the R300 outlay. When the coffee came this time, i decided to go with the sweet Bajan llow and addcd sugar. Sonlewhere I had read thai the


Barbados consumes average citizen 49kg ol the stuff pel year, the most in the world. Keeping it sweet in the Caribbean. Why not?




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Profile for Young and Enterprising

Keeping it sweet  

They party hard in Barbados, but that doesn't hurt the cricket, writes John Young

Keeping it sweet  

They party hard in Barbados, but that doesn't hurt the cricket, writes John Young