My daughter was looking over my shoulder while I wrote the topic of this post and gasped, “What? But, Mum, I had fun in Barbados!”
I smiled and said, “Didn’t you learn things at the Barbados Museum?”
Her eyes widened and she nodded.
“What about at the Barbados Concorde Experience?” I continued.
“Yes,” she barely managed to squeak out.
“… and what about Harrison’s Cave?” I said with a grin.
Her response? “Mummy, I was having so much fun I did not realize I was learning!”
That, dear readers, is the entire point. My family and I only had 2 weeks of vacation, but we wanted it to be rich in fun and experiences.
My children spent most or all of their lives in the United States and we felt it was important for them to get some tangible education about their heritage. At the same time, they were also taught integrative lessons of art and science. The media used were museums and other places of interest that would grab their attention, while imparting knowledge.
Where We Visited
Barbados Museum – It is so unfortunate that photos are not allowed here, but it is a good place to start a lesson of Barbadian history. There are permanent displays and other temporary exhibitions, such as the Crop Over exhibition (a history of Barbados’ biggest annual festival), to be viewed.
Barbados Concorde Experience – Barbados is one of the few places where one can view the legendary supersonic aircraft. For a fee, one receives a very educational tour about the craft and its history in Barbados, which is strongly rooted in the close ties Barbados has with Great Britain. The staff is quite knowledgeable and visitors are allowed to board the craft to view a short film and take photos of inside the aircraft, even a replica of the Cockspur Gold Cup which had been transported via the Concorde. There is also another documentary on the outside of the craft, projected onto the airplane, complete with surround sound effects of the plane’s iconic sonic boom.
Afterwards, you can feel free to go to the observatory to get a different view of the international airport, or the children can play with the X-box and Wii games which have now replaced the simulation programs that were damaged from overuse.
Front End of British Airways Concorde G-BOAE (Alpha Echo) – Photo by Essay Kay
Harrison’s Cave – A wonderful geological and historical tour that includes a film on the formation of Barbados and the Cave itself; interactive touch screens to educate about the Cave, and tram and walk-in tours of Harrison’s Cave. View photos here.
Harrison’s Cave (Photo by Essay Kay)
Mama’s Little Things – A little museum of miniature dolls and furniture depicting different epochs of Barbadian history. I found out about this gem by word-of-mouth. It seems to be one of Barbados’ best kept secrets in the parish of St. John. The owner has made almost everything and she walks one through her displays while presenting the history of Barbados with some personal anecdotes. My daughter, in particular, was mesmerized.
Entrance to “Mama’s Little Things” – Photo by ESM (Essay Kay’s Mom)
Our To-Do List
It is a pity our time was so short, because we had other education-rich locations on our itinerary which were put aside to spending time with family (another education-rich experience, when you think about it). These places included George Washington House, where the First President of the United States resided for 2 months as a young man in 1751; St. Nicholas Abbey, a beautifully-maintained plantation house that is rich in history; a return to the Barbados Wildlife Reserve, which captivated our children 3 years ago with its fascinating flora and fauna; botanical marvels such as the Flower Forest, Jack-in-the-Box Gully, Welchman Hall Gully and Orchid World; and a visit to Chalky Mount, the Mecca of pottery in Barbados. There are many other options, of course, and there are always new developments, but we believed that those mentioned would be a good start; unfortunately, our itinerary was overambitious for the time allotted.
Entrance to Orchid World (Photo by Essay Kay)
As mentioned in a previous post, it is good to research your vacation spot based on your priorities; if that priority is education, again, the Internet and locals are valuable tools to guide you on what is appropriate for your family and you.