Mahogany Forests and Coastal Views
“If you don’t know history, then you don’t know anything.
You are a leaf that doesn’t know it is part of a tree,”
– Michael Crichton
If you took my suggestion from my previous post about visiting the wildlife reserve in Barbados you will be pleased to find that your admission into the animal kingdom also allows you a jaunt up to the Grenade Hall signal station and the mahogany forest that surrounds it. Walking to the left of the ticket booth and, if you’re lucky, a monkey taking a rest on the bench, you’ll find yourself walking up a trail made of brick that will lead you to a tall white tower extending into the sky.
A small piece of history, you can find old artifacts from the 1800s and listen to the audio story of the history of the station and the area as you climb the wooden staircase to the top. Originally built as a watch tower, the men who worked in the station would communicate to others around the island if there were any ships approaching or outbursts of slave rebellions. Long out of use now, the building stands as a reminder of the history of this land and makes an excellent spot for a view in all directions of the surrounding island.
Once you’ve had your fill of the panoramic views you can continue your day of exploration by following the trails through the surrounding forest. Through palm trees, mahogany trees and more trees, shrubs and plants that are native to Barbados, you can make your way around the lush forest all while learning about the environment! The forest walk was started to educate locals and visitors about the importance of protecting nature and all of the great benefits a healthy environment has.
You can even take a moment to explore the small cave that is believed to have sheltered Rastafarian’s and escaped convicts at one point in time. The walk through this forest is a great moment to reconnect with nature. Too often our lives are dictated by appointments, deadlines and rushing around trying to complete our to do list of the day. Spending some time disconnected from the world and immersed in nature is invigorating for our body, mind and spirit and can lower any tension with just a few deep breaths and can leave you feeling refreshed and energized for the rest of the day.
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Just a hop, skip and a jump away is Farley Hill, one of Barbados’ national parks that is nestled just across the street from the wildlife reserve. With easily one of the best views of Barbados, Farley Hill is a popular place for tourists to come and snap a few shots of the Atlantic coast views and for locals to spend their afternoon having a picnic. If anyone in the world can picnic, the bajans can. Especially on a Sunday, you’ll find groups of locals liming around the island with an elaborate picnic spread out.
Barbados isn’t known for its environmental activism, something that I’ve noticed every day. Most things are given to you in styrofoam containers and if you go to the supermarket they will put a lot of products in individual plastic bags before placing it all into one large plastic bag. That’s not even mentioning the amount of litter. It was a breath of fresh air to see that Farley Hill has taken a step forward and was the cleanest place that I’ve seen so far in Barbados. There was an ample number of garbage bins and tons of signs promoting recycling and no littering. I didn’t see a piece of garbage anywhere!
As you stroll through the 17 acre park, you’ll get to see the ruins of Farley House, an old mansion that was first built in 1818. Passed down through the hands of many prominent local and international figures, the mansion on Farley Hill and the surrounding area was eventually left to be over-run with jungle, hiding what used to be the carriage ways and completely overtaking the house. Since then, Farley House has been cleaned up and restored to showcase the remaining walls, all that is left after a fire destroyed everything inside. What used to be the paths for the carriages were cleared and altered to allow vehicles in and out of the area. Sadly, nobody is allowed to enter the ruins anymore because the structure is unsafe. But it’s intriguing all the same to peer into the walls and imagine what used to be.
Once you reach the top of Farley Hill, you’ll find yourself 900 feet above sea level with a beautiful panoramic view of the lush greenery of the countryside to the east coast of the island and it’s crashing Atlantic waters. If you happen to come on a clear day, you’ll have an even better view of what you can see below.