A trip to BarbadosWe knew we would not find a lush island. British colonizers had weeded out the original vegetation as early as three centuries ago, covering the land with sugar cane. Cane fields as far as the eye could see, where people were born slaves and died as slaves. A green sea of windblown cane that still today, albeit on a smaller scale, lines both sides of the road. Few native plant species managed to survive the sugar invasion. The only large trees left in Barbados would seem to be those giant Ficus citrifolia, with long, aerial, beard-like roots, which the first Portuguese navigators who landed on the island called precisely los barbados. Yet the native and naturalized plants have not disappeared altogether, just look for them in the only places where the planters never went, at the bottom of the narrow karst depressions locally called gullies. As soon as we enter Welchman Hall Gully a muffled tranquility envelops us; the coolness of the place is a great boon to the physique strained by tropical heat and invites us to stop and observe the dense vegetation. This is what Barbados must have looked like a few centuries ago. This site, like many others, is also managed with great care and attention by the Barbados National Trust.
St. Nicholas Abbey