W1702 – Photo Adventure

In my last post, W1702 – Funchal Fun, I described a lovely day in Funchal, Madeira – the first port of call on my epic Around the World cruise.

Since then we have sailed for six days across the Atlantic Ocean towards our second port of call, Barbados. We were scheduled to arrive on Saturday lunchtime, but due to a medical emergency the Captain put his foot down, and we arrived significantly earlier – on Friday evening. After our dinner, some of my table companions and I went up on deck to watch us sail into port. The combination of the bright full moon and the twinkling lights ashore made for a scenic approach:

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Already docked was the P&O ship Britannia in the berth across the harbour from our ship, and she seem to tower over us:

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A while later we were up in the Observatory Bar, which is high up at the front of the ship, ready to compete in the nightly pub quiz, when we noticed a large fire through the bar windows. To start with we wondered if it was on Britannia, but on closer inspection the fire was ashore to the stern of her:

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Our medical emergency meant that we were now in port for a very full day on the Saturday, as we were not due to sail until 10:30 that night. It was a hot and sunny day, and even first thing I did not want to linger long in the sunshine up on deck.

Here I must confess I was rather lazy, which I now regret. My shore tour was not due to leave until 1pm, so I could have gone into Bridgetown to explore and photograph it. However it was either a mile or so walk each way or a taxi ride, and feeling tired I elected to remain on board ship in the air conditioned and therefore cool lounges.

Following a very early lunch I checked in for the afternoon shore tour. This was called ‘Barbados Photo Adventure’, an award winning tour run by an top local photographer called Ronnie Carrington. It was to take us to hand picked locations with historic and/or pictorially pleasing qualities, and on the way he would impart hints and tips on improving the pictures we took there.

Leaving the port, our four hour tour took us out of Bridgetown, passing the famous Kensington Oval cricket ground on the way. As we drove out into the countryside Ronnie explained about the way of life and economy of the island, and in particular about the sugar industry. Since Barbados became independent from the U.K. this industry has been in significant decline, and the number of sugar plantations has therefore dropped considerably. Our first photo stop was outside one, Strong Hope, that had ceased production, and which was being converted into an up-market detox centre. The sugar plantations have an avenue of palm trees leading up to the main house, and these were the subject for our first photographs:

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As we drove towards our next stop, Ronnie explained about Chattel houses – small moveable wooden houses for plantation workers. They were set on blocks rather than being anchored into the ground, and were built entirely out of wood and assembled without nails. This allowed them to be disassembled (along with the blocks) and moved from place to place. This system was necessary because the plantation workers typically did not own the land that their house was set on – it would be owned by their employer instead. If there was a dispute between a worker and the employer, the house could be quickly be packed up moved to another location.

To protect against hurricanes, the houses have steeply pitched roofs without any overhang. We stopped in a small village to photograph a good example of a Chattel house, and I took the opportunity to capture other shots of the village and it’s furry residents:

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Our tour then took us out to the highest and most scenic part of Barbados, the Scotland district – it’s highest peak rising to some 340 metres. This part of the island was formed from the interaction of two tectonic plates, and is subject to much folding, faulting, and surface erosion, giving ride to frequent landslides. Here we made a couple of short stops to admire and photograph the scenery, and the island sheep, cows (with their attendant Cattle Egrets) grazing there:

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Ronnie explained how the extremely fresh and clean air blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean (the nearest land in that direction is in Africa, thousands of miles away), combined with a healthy diet of locally grown produce and plenty of exercise walking up and down the steep hillsides combine to give local residents the second highest life expectancy in the world, after Japan. He showed us a picture of his 90 year old Mother, who looked around half her age.

Driving down to the coast we made two further short stops to see and photograph the attractive coastline and beaches:

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Our final stop was at a hotel, where we were offered either a local rum punch or a fruit punch. The hotel was formally a railway station, and there were interesting pictures in the walls showing how it used to look as a station:

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We then drove back across the island to Bridgetown and our waiting ship.

Ronnie proved to be a very knowledgeable and entertaining guide and expert, and I greatly admired the examples of his photographic work that he showed us at various times during the tour. While I am sure others on the tour will have learned more than I did about improving their photographs, I still very much enjoyed the tour and the chance to see and photograph some of the best locations on the island.

Later that evening we set sail for our next island destination, Bonaire, which will be the subject of my next post.

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