Monday, January 18, 2010

Letterboxing in Barbados, December 2009

We took our family holiday to Barbados this year. We were excited to see there were 12 boxes listed as active on the island, some singles and most planted by people from Canada who moved to the island. I tried to map them out beforehand, since we would be in an area we had never been before, and having a hard enough time with the driving on the left side of the road. Unfortunately, we were unable to find any of the boxes! I am not sure what the planters were using for a box, but nothing was left. Some boxes were 5 years old, some a bit more than one year old. We were able to find the locations, and they seemed like obvious hiding spots to a letterboxer. It is too bad we could not find any boxes!

We carved and planted 9 boxes to leave on the island. Robert and I wanted to continue our theme of foraging wild edibles, and the tropical climate provided us with many new plants and foods that we obviously can't find in Connecticut.

Our series of 6 boxes, Welchman Hall Gully Series, is planted at Welchman Hall Gully, in St Thomas Parish, in the interior of the island. I corresponded with the owner, Debra Branker, before we came to Barbados. I explained letterboxing and asked for permission to plant in the Gully. She was incredibly enthusiastic, and even helped us with ideas for the edible plants and fruits we would carve. The 6 boxes were planted along the .75 mile paved path in the tropical forest. We carved the icon for the Gully, mangoes, cacao, hog plum, breadfruit, and avocado. There is one logbook for the series. There is a charge to enter the Gully, but it is worth it even if you are not boxing.

The other three boxes are planted along the east coast of Barbados. Foraging Coconuts is located in Bathsheba in the Soup Bowl. We loved this area for it's unusual rock formations, rugged beach covered in lovely beach glass, and tide pools for dipping into. The surf is much too rough here to swim, but there are several tide pools from ankle deep to chest deep, each filled with fish, crabs, and pretty sea creatures like urchins and anemones. Gillian enjoyed searching the rocky beach for seed pods, rocks and glass.

Foraging Barbados Cherry is located at the East Point Lighthouse. It seems the Bajans have not figured out that lighthouses make great tourist attractions, since the original lighthouse and master's quarters are in ruins and unsafe to enter. There is a modern contraption here to warn ships of the rocky waters. I was unable to identify and acerola trees in the wild since they were neither flowering nor fruiting in December. This seemed like a good landmark, so I found a rock wall to hide the box in instead. There is no beach here, and no access to the water due to the extreme rock formations.

The final box is located at what I think is Ginger Beach. It is labelled on some maps, but not others. There is no public access sign, just an unpaved, rough parking area and concrete steps down to this gem of a beach. On the cliffs above are several private residences, no hotels or resorts. This beach has rough surf, but wonderful sand, a deeply shaded area with trees, a swing hidden among the trees, some private stairwells, a monolithic stone at the water's edge, and a mysterious cave and tunnel to the next beach over. In the shaded area, we found a fig tree and some green monkeys stopped by to check us out as Gillian went swinging. Foraging Bearded Fig is hidden here, although we later came to find that the edibility of this fig is questionable. This beach was completely deserted, and so peaceful, easily my favorite on the island.

We are really hoping someone tries to find the boxes. We tried to hide them well, and used watertight boxes, hoping they last awhile. I did manage to make some LTCs of the stamps before we left, so at least I remember what our carves look like. We did get to eat some breadfruit, drank some Barbados cherry juice, and had enough coconuts and coconut water to last until next December.