I already knew that Barbados had a reputation for hospitality. But this was going a bit over the top. Particularly since, as the BBC's Vaughan Roderick asked "Didn't you use to be someone?". Perhaps if I'd still been an Assembly Member, on CPA business, it would have been more understandable. But there he was, outside the entrance to our hotel when we arrived, up on a specially prepared podium, committing himself to offering ever greater hospitality to visitors - The Rt. Hon. Owen Arthur, Prime Minister of Barbados.
OK, so there were about 200 local Barbadians and a few other onlookers there as well. But allow me my moment of self-importance. It turns out that there is a General Election on Tuesday and St Peter, where we are staying is in Mr Arthur's constituency. My limited polling (2 taxi drivers) tell me that the Prime Minister may lose his job next Tuesday. All 2 of them tell me that the PM has lent too much towards the wealthy and business, at the expense of the poorer people - especially taxi drivers perhaps! Anyway, democracy is well established in Barbados, the Island boasting the 3rd oldest Parliamentary bureaucracy in the world.
We wanted to see something of the Island, beyond the beach and the 'Rum Punch' culture. So we took in an Island Tour yesterday. First up was the Barbados Wildlife Park (more like a modern British Zoo ) where the stars were the Iguanas and hundreds of local tortoises that were strolling around everywhere - and opened by Mr Owen Arthur. Then on to The Andromeda Botanical Gardens, which had been created by Iris Banochie and left to the Barbados National Park in 1998 - and opened by Mr Owen Arthur. Then it was Orchid World - opened by 'Guess Who', Yes, Mr Owen Arthur. But its just driving about the 166 square mile Island that tells you most. Still lots of sugar cane, which is just coming into flower - but the industry is in terminal decline, at least for sugar production.There are only two rather decrepit sugar cane processing factories left.
We saw humming birds just 'humming around' and a mongoose (which looks like a cross between the horrid grey squirrel and a rat). Apparently it was imported onto the Island to rid the place of poisonous snakes and to control rodents - which it has done successfully. But predictably, there are now too many mongooses/mongeese (?). Its nice and warm here.