In 1993, myself and my friend, MaryD, saw a great holiday deal in a travel agent’s window to Barbados, one of the Caribbean islands in the West Indies. Only when we arrived did we discover it was the off-season i.e. RAINY SEASON 😂. During Covid-19 lockdown, I found a little diary at the back of a photo album reminding me of those two weeks. Here it is:
Mon. 6 Sept 1993
We left Dublin at 9:30am raring to go (with MaryD driving her car to Shannon Airport). Stopped off at Portlaoise for brekkie. Arrived at Shannon airport at 1.45pm. Lots of people in queues checking in – a good few couples and middle-aged people. MaryD and I had a few drinks (minerals!) in the bar. Our flight took off at 4pm. Sat beside a Co. Down couple. Aeroflot staff with greased back hair. Meal very nice – chicken, rice, salad, minced pie, cheese and crackers. Our second meal was a ham & cheese croissant and strawberry mousse. Flight was very long (8 ½ hours). I listened on my Walkman to my Simon & Garfunkel tape.
Arrived at Bridgetown (capital of Barbados) – pitch dark – balmy and hot, hot, hot. Took a minibus to our aparthotel, the Worthing Court in Worthing (our self-catering accommodation on the Bajan south coast for the next two weeks). Had a cold shower. Found it hard to sleep with the heat. AirCon not working. We are now ready for breakfast!
Tues. 7 Sept 1993
We met up with another Mary from Mayo and her friend at breakfast. I had the Bajan breakfast with flying fish (the national dish of Barbados) which were delicious. We reported our broken down air conditioning & it was fixed after lunch. Stuffed to the gills, we headed for Worthing Beach just across the road. The beach is quite narrow but has beautiful white sand like talcum powder with the waves breaking at your feet almost. At the beach the sea is a beautiful shade of turquoise & then darkens to bright blue. Heaven.
After the beach, we headed to the bank (to cash our traveller’s cheques) which was beautifully air-conditioned. Everyone there was very laid back. The bank tellers were all female. With our new Bajan Dollars we bought groceries and then went back to Worthing beach where we bought sunhats. After our sun-bathing session, we came back to the apartment for some lunch & fed some friendly sparrows on a coconut tree. We lolled around the pool (between the two blocks of our aparthotel); drinking iced drinks. Then met our courier, Gavin, who is an RFTA (Right Fine Thing Altogether!). He gave us the rundown.
Then we went for a stroll to Sandy Beach. We rested a while there & then walked to a pizza place, Chefette – it was really balmy on the way. We met Eimear there – a Dublin girl who’s on her own in the apartment next to us. The pizza was delicious….especially the fresh pineapple. Eimear told us about her day – apparently she had been “chatted up” on the beach by two local lads who gave her their life story. One of the other women on the beach got sunburnt and a guy said he had a cure for her; he climbed up a tree & tore some leaves off, put them on her back & then looked for $30!
We came back to the pool, had a cold beer in the pool bar. Worthing is very quiet. On the way back from the beach, we noticed most of the traffic was heading for St. Lawrence Gap (a resort about 2 km to the east of us). There are loads of minibuses here. If they see anyone walking they honk their horns to allow you to flag them down if you want a lift. We couldn’t understand it this morning that everyone was hooting at us!
Wed. 8 Sept 1993
We got up late this morning – about 8 o’clock! We had breakfast by the pool. There was no one about – we’ve discovered it’s the offseason!! We changed into our swimwear & headed for Sandy Beach. It was very warm so we bought 7-Up. The beach was deserted except for our group. We hired beach loungers for $10. The sea was so warm – beautiful. We sunbathed until after 11:30 am and got talking to Tommy & Carmel from Dublin (from our aparthotel). She fell down yesterday with heat exhaustion but was better today. We headed back. MaryD went to meet the Travel Rep at reception to discuss tours. We had lunch of bread & Philli & bananas & juice & then joined the others at the pool. I’m reading Jilly Cooper’s “Rivals”. At 3pm we went to the post office to post our postcards & then went to the Big 8 supermarket. I got talking to one of the shop assistants who advised me on what ham to buy.
We sat on Worthing Beach for a while watching the crashing waves. Came back to the pool & got talking to the Northern Irish couple – she is terrified of lizards. At around 7pm we headed for food – a Chinese restaurant which was lovely. We both had pineapple chicken with rice and coconut ice-cream. I also had my first Rum Punch. When we came back we sat by the pool until 11 pm chatting to a Sligo couple, Ray & Kathleen. Ray was feeling sick after a meal he had eaten so I gave him my Enterosan. We had a good laugh listening to Ray telling us stories of his travels to Cuba. Went to bed late. There was an electric storm during the night.
Thurs. 9 Sept 1993
It was a bit overcast today but very warm. We had a beautiful breakfast of eggs by the pool. Again, there was no one else there! We got a minibus into Bridgetown – we were the only white people on it. Bridgetown is a bit decrepit – at least the part that we saw - lots of peeling paint. The Duty-Free shops however are quite good. MaryD bought a Seiko watch for her Dad for about IR£40. We also visited an emerald shop. Lots of American tourists there. We met Tommy & Carmel who were looking for the submarine. On the way back we met Hugh & his wife. They had been out last night with Ray & Kathleen until 5 this morning during the electric storm.
There are lots of markets in Bridgetown selling fish & veg etc. The local people are really nice. We then met the couple from Castlebar staying in the same place as us. They are only here for a week & so are trying to fit a lot in. They went off on the buses around the island and saw quite a bit. They said most of it seems very poor but in general local people are well dressed and healthy-looking. In parts it still feels very British (e.g. afternoon teas, cricket) although achieved independence in 1966.
We came back from Bridgetown in another minibus. People just congregate at the market & you get stuffed like sardines into the minibuses which then take off at break-neck speed. We had lunch in the apartment and there was another rain shower. We then contacted our Travel Rep and booked a tour of the island for €100. We walked to the Barclays Bank which seems to have loads of staff – almost too many. Came back and read a bit.
Then went to the pool bar for “Happy Hour” – 5 to 7 pm. Met up with three of the couple there. Later we were joined by Eimear. We stayed chatting until it got dark. Then a brilliant steel band started up. We had dinner by the pool of barbequed chicken, rice with black beans & salad. I had a few Pina Coladas. The band consisted of 4 people and played reggae, calypso and a few Whitney Houston numbers. Willie, one of the local guys, joined us for a chat. He told us he was from Grenada. When the band finished a few of us went to the Reggae Club (now The Cove Club) in St. Lawrence Gap. A local guy gave me a seat and wanted to dance. We got the impression that some of them were stoned. We then went to a bar which had Karaoke which was a howl. On the walk “home” we encountered several crabs and cockroaches & assorted wildlife walking up the street. We were back by 1:30 am.
Fri. 10 Sept 1993
It was a bit overcast at breakfast so we decided to do a bit of exploring today instead if going to the beach. We got a minibus to Bridgetown, then asked an old lady for the 2nd bus terminal from where a bus would bring us to Harrison’s Cave. We sat at the back of a rickety bus. The doors opened and closed with a clatter. It was mostly old people and tourists. There was a local couple in front of us with a little boy who was so cute. We drove thru sugar plantations & saw yams & coconut trees. Just as we neared Harrison’s Cave, the heavens opened. We got off the bus with a few more tourists & a local man. We tried to shelter under a tree but we got drenched to the skin. We set off down the road to the Cave while wringing out our clothes. Like a wet t-shirt competition, mine was stuck to me. I was trying to cover myself when passing 3 guys in a hut when one of them shouted “Don’t be tryin’ to hide ‘em, girl!”
Anyway, we found the Cave easily and went to the audio-visual presentation; we then donned helmets & sat on a trailer which brought us around the caves. The caves are absolutely breath-taking – stalactites and stalagmites of different sizes, waterfalls & pools. Afterwards, we had a drink & then wandered thru a wood & onto the road where we caught a bus back to Bridgetown and then onto Worthing.
We had lunch and then we sat in the sun around the pool. Eimear & Sandra were trying to teach Peter to swim. It was hilarious. Afterwards a little boy came along and swam like a water-baby. We then had a siesta & went down for the barbeque. I had steak which was delicious. We had the same band as before – Crystal. The girls are really beautifully dusky (Photo below of me with bar manager, Trudi & band member, Romantica). When that was over we went clubbing in St. Lawrence Gap & came “home” in the early hours.
Sat. 11 Sept 1993
Today, MaryD & I did a bus tour of the island. We left Worthing at 8:20 am when the bus picked us up. There was only one other guy on the bus who looked Peruvian but turned out to be English. We drove roughly clockwise around the island, passing CBC TV station & the University of the West Indies, as we had to pick up four more Irish. We passed thru Speightstown (in the North-East) which seems in better condition than the South coast. Saw the Jolly Roger and Bajan Queen party boats. It then started to bucket rain and stayed raining for most of the tour. We drove up and down hills with water cascading down the sloped. We drove along the coast but couldn’t see much for the rain.
Our first stop was at St. John’s Church in the parish of St. John’s. It’s a beautiful old Anglican church. Some children were taking bible classes in a building opposite. We dashed thru the rain. Then we stopped at a pottery works but no one bought anything. (It’s very hard to protect pottery from breaking when travelling.) We walked through Andromeda Gardens in the rain & I bought some souvenirs. We stopped off for lunch near Bathsheba on the East coast where we could see the Atlantic. Due to the rain we had trouble getting up some of the hills.
We drove back through sugar plantations and down the west coast. It brightened a little when we got back to Worthing so we sat in the sun. At night, we went to the Kentucky Fried Chicken place to hear a steel band. We walked back in the rain. We then went on to St. Lawrence Gap where we drank at The Watering Hole and then went to the Reggae Club. We danced until about 4 am.
Sun 12 Sept 1993
It rained like it never rained before! Everyone is suffering from cabin fever. MaryD and I went down to breakfast in the sheltered pool bar. All of the Irish were huddling there. We stayed playing cards until after 4 pm under the shelter. I then rang home from the apartment as the payphone wasn’t working. After a rest we went down to the restaurant. We had a singsong there until the early hours.
Mon 13 Sept 1993
As it was raining again today we decided to go shopping in Bridgetown. Hugh & Brenda gave us a lift in as they had hired a car for the day. We got yelled at for jaywalking in Bridgetown. Met Sandra & Peter in Woolworths were they bought a brolly! There were lots of school kids on lunchbreak wearing colourful uniforms. There were loads of guys just hanging out on street corners or under trees – chilllin’. We went to “Cave Shepherd” & bought souvenirs - perfume for Mam, rum for Daddy & a T-shirt for Martin. I bought a Seiko watch for myself & felt guilty as I bought everyone else very little. It rained again on the way back. We caught a minibus & were squashed along with 16 others into a 12-seater bus. There were a few English & Americans on board. Came back to the aparthotel bar. Saw this week’s new arrivals from Ireland. They looked totally depressed on seeing the rain.
Tues 14 Sept 1993
Woke up to blazing sun today. Everyone’s spirits lifted. We headed for the beach after breakfast. We stayed all morning on the beach & then headed to the bank and supermarket. The supermarkets are much the same as at home and stock lots of familiar brand names. Prices are also much the same and in some cases dearer. We then started feeling the effects of sunburn and went in search of lotion. We spent most of the rest of the day trying to cool down. I sat in a cold bath! Went to the pizza place – Chefette – for supper. The pizzas are gorgeous. Walked back and as there was no one around we went to bed quite early.
Wed 15 Sept 1993
Because of our sunburn, we spent the day in the shade drinking soft drinks. It was another lovely day. Ray & Kathleen are talking about taking a short trip to Venezuela. The new staff in the bar are very slow and forgetful. One of the guys is extremely thin. The roadworks nearby are continuing non-stop. They are now re-digging the part they finished last week. It’s very hot work.
We went to the Chinese place at the poolside. I had sweet & sour chicken and coconut ice-cream which was gorgeous. We had a relatively early night.
Thurs 16 Sept 1993
Most people have been bitten by mosquitoes at this stage. I have escaped relatively unscathed so far. However, we spray the room every night & also use repellent. The cockroaches are a problem. Sandra had to call security to kill a massive one!
Went to Sandy Beach to buy some trinkets from a stall vendor that we’ve befriended called, Alma. Afterwards, went to Chefette tonight. It is interesting just to sit and watch the locals. They move so gracefully and the babies are so adorable.
Fri 17 Sept 1993
We got up early this morning as we had to get to Bridgetown for our trip on the 28-passenger Atlantis II submarine. The office is along the waterway. We arrived early. There was a power cut so the air-conditioning wasn’t working. They opened the windows instead. The other passengers were mainly German & English. At 10 am we got a motor-launch from the quayside. Our guide was a guy called Michael who was chatty and funny. The journey out to sea was breath-taking. We passed the Jolly Roger (pleasure cruise) on the way. The sea looks as if it has been dyed with Bloo Loo!
After a 15 minute journey we reached the sub. It surfaced near us after sending up a signal. It was very exciting to see it come up. We had to climb down the hatch one by one and sit back to back. I was near the helm at the front. The cockpit looked very complex. We dived shortly after that. It was absolutely fascinating. I was gobsmacked. We followed a few shoals of fish & journeyed straight the middle of the shoal. We saw two turtles. The coral was bright orange. We also saw a sunken wreck. We stayed below for about an hour & went down to 150 feet. I was wearing a pink t-shirt but underwater it looked purple. Apparently, the red portion of the colour spectrum is filtered out. In the Atlantis shop we bought souvenirs & then came back to Worthing in one of the minibuses.
We stayed for the barbeque at our aparthotel which was delicious. There was a steel band playing which was quite good. We then went with Ann and Eimear to the Reggae Club and The Ship Inn.
Sat 18 Sept 1993
Got up late this morning – after 10 am. After breakfast we sat by the pool. Lazed around for most of the day in the sun. It rained a bit later in the evening. We got talking to the four Irish lads that arrived this week. They seem sound. Went with MaryD, Johnny and Carmel to the other Chinese place nearby. Hugo & Brenda joined us later. It was a good laugh. I find it very hard to understand Johnny & Carmel. They have very strong Northern Irish accents and some very different sayings e.g. cubs and cuddies (young boys and girls).
We headed into St Lawrence Gap to the After Dark disco. They should name it The Pitch Dark! It was absolutely pitch in there. You could hardly make out the bar. The music was quite good. We met up with an English couple, Liam & Julia. They were good company. On the way in to the disco, they stamp your hand “Approved”. MaryD and I left around half one after lots of bopping and got a taxi back to Worthing. Getting a taxi is funny as the drivers try to poach customers from each other!
Sunday 19 Sept 1993
Had breakfast by the pool after 10 am. MaryD rang home to find that her Dad has shingles in his head. I then rang home and spoke to Mam. She was in good form. We had lunch with Sandra & Peter. I bought the Sunday paper. In the evening we headed into Bridgetown for Mass in St. Patrick’s. Everyone was dressed in their Sunday best. Mass started at 6pm and finished at 7:20 pm. The singing was great with bongo drums and tambourines. The Mass itself is identical to at home with some wording differences in the Creed. We sat beside an open window for air. Most of the older local women carried hand held fans. There were a good few white locals. Most looked middle-class and were well dressed. The only hymn I recognised was “Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God”. Most of the congregation sing along with the choir who sit inside the altar rails.
After Mass we came back to Worthing Court in another “sardine tin” of a minibus. We decided to treat ourselves on our last night here so headed to a Caribbean Seafood restaurant, Pisces (now Primo). I had Coconut Shrimp (Starter), followed by Baked Atlantic Salmon with stir fry veg and noodles (Main) and finished with Lemon Tart (Dessert). The meal was so tasty.
When we waddled back to Worthing Court, Ray & Kathleen had come back from Tobago (they went there instead of Venezuela). They said it was also off-season there and it was even quieter than here in Barbados.
Monday 20 Sept 1993
Today was our last day here in Barbados, so we visited the beaches for the last time for most of the morning. All packed up we checked out of the Worthing Court and settled our bills. We had a leisurely lunch by the pool saying our “good byes” to the bar staff and the people we had met whilst catching the last few rays of Bajan sun. A bus brought us to Bridgetown airport for our 9pm Aeroflot overnight flight back to Shannon.
Safely through Irish immigration and customs by 10:45am the next morning after our long 8 hour flight, I was so glad that MaryD was the one driving as we set off back across Ireland to Dublin. Tired but happy with our trip to Barbados……even if "girls just wanna have sun"…and we got more than our fair share of rain!!
Bucket List Items Ticked Off in the above Blog post
Number 34 - Food & Drink - Eat/ Drink Regional Foods/ DrinksNumber 38 - Eat in 8 Memorable Restaurants - Pisces, St. Lawrence Gap, Barbados
Number 57 - Travel - 7 Continents - North America
Number 58 - Travel - 80 Countries - Barbados
Number 59 - Travel - 80 Hotels - Worthing Court Aparthotel, Barbados
Number 60 - Travel - 80 Cities/Towns
Other Blog Posts
Blog 11 - Sydney, Australia
Blog 12 - Hong Kong, China
Blog 17 - Beijing, Xi'an & Shanghai, China
Blog 19 - California, USA
Blog 27 - Scotland
Have you been on holidays out of season? Tell me about your experience in the comments section below.
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My name is Mary and this is my bucket list blog ...having survived a near-death experience. I hope it encourages you to "live your best life". See how I'm completing my own bucket list items. And let me know how you're getting on with yours!