Environment Field Note: Hiking in Barbados

Living on an island in the Caribbean is very different in some ways from living in the United States or other parts of the world. Barbados is located within the North Atlantic Ocean. Barbados is close to Trinidad and Tobago, St. Lucia, Grenada and Dominica. Although many of these places share similar cultures, languages and customs, there are differences that make them one-of-a-kind!

Another view

What makes this environment special or different?

How can the topography of Barbados be described? This island has a lot of low land. The island is especially flat compared to many of other islands of the Caribbean and places of the Unites States as whole. As you know, I went on an island safari tour to get a view of the island. Mount Hillaby is known to be the highest point above sea level – and it is only 340 meters above sea level! That is very small! What is the highest elevation you have climbed to?

Four weeks ago, I got the opportunity with other students living in the dorms to go on a hiking trip. I gladly went. The trip was great for getting to understand another side of Barbados that I would not have seen, otherwise. I wondered what would be out there to explore, given that Barbados is an island with few slopes. That day was a learning experience to never forget.

On the hike, the land was pretty flat. However, I noticed streams here and there, in addition to a very small waterfall. Although I do not have measurements to provide, the tour guide mentioned that this particular waterfall was the biggest of Barbados.

As I continued on this three-hour hike, I began to notice many other things. For example, in every direction you could see the beautiful, clear ocean water. This feature is especially unique to many Caribbean islands such as Barbados.

What parts of this environment help people to live here?

Barbados was once a British colony and a slave society. The flat land and tropical climate helped valuable and important plans like sugarcane to grow. Big farms used to operate here. The 1800s was a time when the first railroad was constructed for getting sugar cane from one region to the next. Now, the railroad is out of service. On the hiking trip, I noticed remains of the railroad.

On the hike, I was able to see how many of the locals live their everyday lives using nature’s resources. Many of the residents in this area have access to a lot of the natural resources of Barbados. This includes fish and clean water. When I ran out of water during this trip, I simply filled my water bottle with water from the pipe. Most people do bathe inside, but some take the opportunity to bathe or wash their hair outside in the streams. In one of my photos, a Bajan Rastafarian was having fun washing his dreadlocks outside.

What challenges do people face living in this environment?

Based on what I noticed on the hike, there are very few paved roads in many parts of Barbados. Many of the locals overcome this issue by simply walking on foot, or if they drive, they generally drive at a slow pace or avoid areas where it is most rocky. Why do you think there are only a few paved roads here?

I had a great time learning more about Barbados on my hike. Now, I would be more open to hiking places in Jamaica, California and other parts of the world that I visit. It’s interesting to see that all around the world, there are specific features in a particular area that may seem different from the rest. It is totally worth grabbing a pair of comfortable tennis shoes, shorts and a bottle of water to check this out!

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