We’ve been “home” for four weeks now and quickly absorbed back into our scheduled lives of school, work and house obligations.  The upshot of this is that I’m finding it difficult to find the time to post about our final couple of months, but have decided it may be easiest to work backwards.

So…I take up our story in the 2nd week of September….

After 3 1/2 months of moving around Europe, we were all tired.  Not unhappy, but just worn out enough from the constant road-tripping to be at risk of having our fabulous year flame out on a cranky note.  It wasn’t difficult to convince ourselves that the Caribbean would be a convenient stopping off point and the last time Jonathan and I had made it there was in October 2001.

The first challenge was that continental Europe didn’t seem to offer many reasonably-priced flights to the Caribbean.  Fortunately, we chanced upon a Condor Air flight from Frankfurt to Barbados, which was half the price of the established British airlines flying out of Heathrow, and were very pleasantly surprised.  We chose Barbados in part due to its British heritage, its high literacy rate, its low crime figures, its beaches and its size–large enough to stave off island fever for a stay longer than one week.

We had three weeks to kill before we were due back home in SF, so in the spirit of ending our journey in style, I booked two weeks at the Tamarind Hotel on the West Coast of the island and eight days in, we extended our stay for the remainder (I really was burnt out on moving!).  With a complimentary kids club open from 9-5 every day except Sunday, free water sports such as windsurfing, waterskiing, banana boats, inner tubes and snorkeling, a lavish breakfast buffet and a location on a top-notch beach, we were won over.  Oh–and we had somehow lucked into the best room in the hotel, which didn’t hurt either.

The days languorously unfolded, storms blew onshore and off, the sun rose and set, we wore bathing suits and only dressed for dinner, Jonathan spent hours snorkeling in the calm sea, Zara spent hours seeing how far she could swim underwater, I soaked in the ambience and reflected on the last 11 months…it was ideal.

And with nearly a month elapsed since our return, these moments stand out:

  • Riding the yellow “reggae” buses to town, as the driver and his team rock out to blaring reggae tunes and race the official city buses down the streets

  • Bajan hospitality – amongst the friendliest we encountered in the 28 countries we saw this year

  • Getting scuba-certified with G, our dive master, at Westside Scuba, and suppressing the feeling of panic when my scuba gear snagged on a barnacle-encrusted metal plate on our first wreck dive

  • Bajan yellow pepper hot sauce – seriously addictive.  Impossible to break my morning habit even when facing intestinal protests.

  • The legendary “original pineapple man”, who has pounded the sands of Barbados’ West Coast for over 30 years selling pineapples (for a mint) and reggae rhymes (for free)

  • Exploring the limestone caverns of Harrison’s Caves, the source of Barbados’ sublime water

  • Seeing the thrill on Zara’s face when she finally got up (and stayed up) water-skiing

  • Swimming with turtles, all fun and games until Zara got her finger nipped while holding some bait for some ravenous schools of fish

  • The kids’ club, where Zara got so much needed privacy from her parents (ah-hem)

  • Discovering tasty Indian fare at Sitar in Holetown

  • Exploring the wild East Coast

  • Discovering a house for sale on the South Coast that had us seriously contemplating a more permanent island lifestyle
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View from our balcony

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Dancing on the balcony

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Relaxed and happy

Sunset view

A sunset I would never tire of…

Pineapple man

The “original pineapple man”

Exploring the south of the island

Exploring the south of the island

Nervous smile before scuba certification dives

Nervous smile before scuba certification dives

Barbados friends (from Spain)

Barbados friends (from Spain)

Finding coconuts on the wild and remote East Coast

Finding coconuts on the wild and remote East Coast

Beach babe

Beach babe

Beach boulders on the East Coast - this one has a bench on top but we didn't find an easy route up

Beach boulders on the East Coast – this one has a bench on top but we didn’t find an easy route up

Heading out to snorkle with turtles

Heading out to snorkle with turtles

Jonathan proved to be a tasty last meal to a mosquito

Jonathan proved to be a tasty last meal to a mosquito

Jonathan waterskiing
Jonathan waterskiing

Mermaid girl

Mermaid girl

Exploring Harrison's Caves
Exploring Harrison’s Caves

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