Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Home From the Cold - A Caribbean Cruise Pt. 3

Hi, all. I was pretty busy yesterday so I couldn't keep my promise of a new chapter of Kal-F's Caribbean cruise. So, to make up for that, I'm going to give you two chapters today. Enjoy.

by Kal-F

In the last four months of the year in Barbados the sun sets around 5:30. By 5:45, the twilight falls for another fifteen minutes until 6 o'clock when the law states that vehicles must have their headlights on when driving.

From deck twelve of the Carnival Destiny one can see the lights on the west coast of the island popping on. Closest to us are the warehouses of the harbour surrounded by wide, cemented open spaces where mostly red quadrangular containers temporarily await their next journey. Behind them to the left are the lights of the Spring Garden Highway (aptly named for the lack of either a spring or a garden) where the remnant of the rush-hour traffic out of Bridgetown inches its way northward.

Further away in the distance are the suburban hills: Free Hill, Hinds Hill, Cave Hill where the Barbadian campus of the University of the West Indies commands a magnificent view of the harbour and the curved contour where the west coast bends into the south coast. There are some areas where lights shine more brightly than the areas surrounding them. We surmise that one is the National Stadium where a football (as in soccer) game may be going on and the others may be cricket fields accommodating the increasingly popular night cricket games.

Our eyes shift to the right of the ship: Carlisle Bay (the concave costline south of Bridgetown named after the Earl of Carlisle to whom an English King, Charles 1, with a simple stroke of a pen gave ownership of the island in 1628) reflects the shimmering lights of The Boatyard and The Harbour Lights nightclubs, two of the most popular tourist night spots on the island.

Not very often does one get this offshore view of the island from twelve stories up. For a small island 21 miles long and 14 miles wide, Barbados almost seems vigorous: a lot of lights and an awful number of cars (100,000 at the last count). But I remember that this is Bridgetown, one of the oldest port towns in the Caribbean (it celebrated its 375th anniversary in 2003) and it is the heart of St. Michael, the most populated of the 11 parishes in the island and as Bridgetown is still the chief commercial centre of the island, it draws a great percentage of the island population into itself during the day. At night it is almost a ghost town as its dayfarers wend their way home at the supper hour.

It's close to my supper hour as well and I remember that my sister has pre-booked a set time for the ten of us in the Universe Dining Room, one of the two dining rooms where Ship's protocol stipulates that dress be formal. I say goodbye to the lights of the city and head to the elevators which, except for the doors, are all glass so that one can see the midship decks as one rises or falls to one's destination. I head to the cabin wondering whether the jacket that I have worn only three times in the last three years will still fit me.

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