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Slavery was part of life in Barbados for centuries. But its history can be hard to find




A slender bronze sculpture representing an African couple and their child dominates a modest concrete plaza above a colourful jumble of houses in Rock Hall Freedom Village, Barbados, about a half-hour’s drive north of the island’s capital, Bridgetown.

A few feet away, a granite plaque records the names of 38 people who became residents of Rock Hall, the island’s first village for freed slaves after emancipation in 1834.

And an adjacent tablet commemorates the suffering of millions of Africans in slave ships and sugar plantations while celebrating the resilience of the human spirit in the face of an overwhelming evil.

“From the belly of the slave ship to a freeholder, the spirits of the African ancestors beckon the enslaved souls guiding them to the first free village,” the inscription reads.

Nearby, a series of colourful murals celebrates the progression of the African community from the captivity of the cane fields to a free life in their new village, where they are shown working peacefully, cultivating their own crops and nurturing familiar features of Barbadian culture such as kite-flying and dominoes.

Rock Hall is a moving memorial to the system that dominated Barbados’ economic and social life for almost 200 years and forced an estimated half-million Africans to the island to work in the sugar cane fields there, and others in the Caribbean, until emancipation.

Like some other important remnants of the island’s slave history, the Rock Hall monument is neither easy to find nor well interpreted for visitors, yet it provides an insight into that past and the efforts to preserve it.

“It’s a difficult history but it’s one that underpins not only the history of this island but underpins the development of global capitalism for the past 500 years,” said Kevin Farmer, deputy director of the Barbados Museum and Historical Society.

He said the wealth accumulated from sugar, rice and cotton in the New World over several hundred years until the late 19th century was the result of the “blood, tears and death” of millions of enslaved Africans.

Traces of that history can be found in the museum, which celebrates the emancipation of slaves through an act of Parliament in Britain — the colonial power for more than 300 years until 1966 — but also contains chilling artifacts such as a brand used to burn an owner’s initials into the skin of a slave, and an iron ball and chain that would be attached to a slave’s leg to prevent escape.

Farmer rejected a reporter’s suggestion that the island has been reluctant to tell the story of slavery in ways that are accessible to visitors, and said its efforts will soon be bolstered by a signage project in Bridgetown — parts of which are designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site — that will include important slavery-related locations.

“Thirty years ago there might have been some reluctance, but with the growth in scholarship and the willingness of people to engage in that past, I would have to answer no,” he said.

For now, one sign of Bridgetown’s slave history can be seen in a plaque marking the Cage, where runaway slaves were kept until their owners came to reclaim them.

The enclosure, established by an act of Parliament in 1688, was originally in the centre of Bridgetown but was moved to the pier head in 1818 so that the town’s image would not be hurt by the “noise and stench” of the slaves kept there, the plaque says.

Perhaps the most vivid celebration of emancipation can be seen in a statue of Bussa, a slave who led a failed revolt in 1816. He was killed by British officers in the uprising, along with many co-conspirators, but the statue shows a black man with his face tilted triumphantly to the sky and holding broken chains from his outstretched arms.

Built on a busy traffic circle on the outskirts of Bridgetown, the statue is not easy to reach. But visitors who dash across the intersection will find the base inscribed with a portion of the Abolition of Slavery Act in 1833, and a plaque unveiled by the island’s former prime minister Owen Arthur in 1997, saying that the monument should serve as a reminder that Barbadians must never again allow themselves to become slaves “physically or mentally.”

The “Bussa Rebellion” prompted British authorities to build six signal stations on the island’s high points where officers could detect slave revolts and warn other lookouts. One of the stations, Gun Hill in St. George Parish, has been restored by the Barbados National Trust, and offers visitors panoramic views to the south and east, plus an exhibition on the semaphore system used for signalling any threat from land or sea.

Another obscure historical site is the Newton Slave Burial Ground, on the edge of an industrial estate in the Christ Church Parish in the south of the island. The site, which is not marked from the nearest road, is reached via a grassy track along the side of a sugar cane field. It is marked simply by a metal sign saying that some 570 slaves from the adjacent Newton Plantation were buried there, and that some of their belongings, such as eating utensils and jewelry, are on display in the island’s museum.

Excavation at the site found human bones with very high concentrations of lead, according to Sir Henry Fraser, a Barbados senator and a leading advocate for the preservation of the island’s heritage. The slaves were sometimes given rations of the island’s plentiful rum to keep them docile, but the spirit was distilled in lead pipes, which poisoned them, he said.

“Lead poisoning produced tiredness and lethargy, which would have led to this popular view that the slaves were lazy and you had to whip them to make them work,” Fraser said.

Other than the sign, visitors to the burial ground will see only an open field, appropriately bordered by sugar cane, inviting them to imagine the lives of people that ended at that site.

Fraser, who is president emeritus of the Barbados National Trust, has pushed for the restoration of a slave hospital on the grounds of the Grantley Adams School, a high school in St. Joseph Parish. The building was gutted by fire about a decade ago and is now partly occupied by a school workshop, but it is the only site of its kind to survive on the island and so should be preserved, he said.

A very different view on the history of slavery can be seen at St. Nicholas Abbey, a meticulously restored sugar plantation in the northeast of the island. The estate, which began to grow sugar in the 17th century, offers visitors a gracious vision of plantation life with manicured gardens, grand dining rooms where the “plantocracy” — plantation owners and their families — entertained guests, and a restored sugar mill that is still processing cane.

In a hallway leading to the rum-tasting room and the gift shop, the slaves are acknowledged with a reproduction of ledgers showing the prices paid for individual men and women and, along with other assets, as stated by the document, their total monetary value.

One page listing female slaves includes Susanna, who was bought for 50 pounds, and Daphne, who is recorded as being worth only 15 pounds.

While the plantation’s slave history gets short shrift at St. Nicholas Abbey, it is marked in a nearby village where a slave house is being restored.

This year, the single-storey stone building had a new roof of corrugated iron and some new cement on its walls, but its doors and windows were empty spaces. It was open for any enterprising visitors who wanted to stand in the one-room building and imagine the hard lives of its occupants.

With its auditorium showing archival film from the 1930s and a new miniature railway under construction to take tourists around the estate, St. Nicholas Abbey is a highlight of heritage tourism in Barbados. But critics say the island’s authorities have not done enough to highlight an essential part of that heritage: its history of slavery.

“Don’t shy away from the truth,” said Mighty Gabby, a prolific calypso singer and one of the island’s cultural ambassadors. “Barbados was the first slave centre in the Western world. Geographically, we are closer to Africa than any other place in the Caribbean. People are anxious to find out these truths.”


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Travel & Escape

Why your hotel mattress feels like heaven (and how to bring that feeling home)




(NC) Choosing the right mattress is a long-term investment in your health and well-being. To make a good choice for your home, take a cue from luxury hotel-room beds, which are designed to support the sound sleep of tens of thousands of guests, 365 nights a year.

“When we’re shopping for a mattress, we do lab testing, identify the best materials, bring in multiple mattress samples and have our associates test them,” explains David Rizzo, who works for Marriott International. “We ask for ratings on comfort level, firmness, body support and movement disruption. It takes 12 to 18 months just to research and select materials.”

Here, he shares his tips to pick the perfect mattress for your best sleep:

Understand your needs. People have different food and exercise preferences, as well as different sleep cycles. So, it’s no surprise that everyone has unique mattress preferences. Not sure whether a firm or a soft mattress is better? Rizzo says the best gauge is to ask yourself, “Do I wake up with aches and pains?” If the answer is no, you’re golden.

Foam versus spring. All mattresses have a core that is made up foam or innersprings or a combination of the two. Today’s foam-core mattresses contain memory foam — a material engineered by NASA to keep astronauts comfortable in their seats. It’s special because it retains or “remembers” its shape, yielding to pressure from the sleeper’s body, then bouncing back once the pressure is removed.

An innerspring mattress has an encased array of springs with individual coils that are connected by a single helical wire. This wire creates continuous movement across the coil that minimizes disruption if the mattress is disturbed, such as by a restless sleeper. According to Rizzo, the innerspring is “bouncier.”

Temperature preference. Consider how warm or cool you like to sleep, and factor in the construction of the mattress to find one with a temperature that suits you. The air space engineered into an innerspring mattress promotes ventilation, which some people find keeps them pleasantly cool. To accomplish the same purpose with a foam mattress (or the foam layer of an innerspring) it may be infused with metal, usually silver or copper, to help dissipate heat and humidity.

Need to test out the right mattress for your needs? Find the right fit during your next trip by booking your stay at

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Travel & Escape

How to make the most of summer travel




(NC) One of the best parts of our short Canadian summers is the opportunity to enjoy them a little bit extra on long weekends. If you need ideas, check out these creative things to do whether you decide to stay in town or go away.

Do a dinner crawl. Pub crawls are fun for couples, friends and also families with older kids. For an exciting twist that stretches your dollars and lets you taste food from several spots before you get too full, try a dinner crawl. Eat apps at one restaurant, mains at another and dessert at another.

Go on a mini getaway. You don’t need to go very far to enjoy a vacation – exploring a Canadian city over a summer weekend is great way to treat yourself to a holiday. Whether it’s checking out the museums in Toronto or the parks in Vancouver, there’s something for everyone. For upgraded benefits, special experiences and the best rates guaranteed, join Marriott Bonvoy and book direct on

Host a potluck. Perfect whether you’re staying at home or going to your cottage, gather friends and family together for some food and fun. A potluck is an easy and affordable way to host a big get-together and lets everyone try something new and swap recipes. Make the festivities extra special with a fireworks potluck, too – ask everyone to bring some fireworks or sparklers and put on a light show. Just be sure to follow local regulations for consumer fireworks.

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Travel & Escape

Lottoland: Here’s why Canadians love it!




Lotteries have been in existence for many centuries now and it’s an open secret that most people enjoy playing a good lottery.

Asides from gauging your own luck, the thrill of playing, the anticipation of the results and the big wins every now and then is something most people look forward to. Since 1982, the lottery has been in Canada, but now there is a way to play both the Lotto and other international lotteries from Canada, all from the comfort of your home.

With Lottoland, all you need to do is register and get access to numerous international lotteries right from their website. The easy-to-use interface has all the information you need, and great amount of care has been taken to ensure that the online experience is similar—and even better—than if players were to visit each location personally.

The Powerball and Mega Millions lotteries are hitting record highs with their prize money, in what the organizers claim to be the largest jackpot in the history of the world. However, the U.S. has gambling laws that are state controlled and buying your ticket through an online broker can be considered gambling.

“No one except the lottery or their licensed retailers can sell a lottery ticket. No one. Not even us. No one. No, not even that website. Or that one,” Powerball’s website says.

Therefore, to stand a chance to win the $1.5 billion-dollar lottery jackpot it means you have to purchase your lottery tickets directly from a licensed retailer such as Lottoland.

Since 2013, Lottoland has been operating in Canada, rapidly growing in popularity amongst Canadians. Due to its easy of use and instant access to lotteries that were previously considered inaccessible—as Canadians had to travel all the way to the U.S. to purchase tickets in the past—Lottoland has attracted lots of visitors.

Currently, there about 8-million players on Lottoland, a figure that points to the reliability of the website.

One of the core values of Lottoland is transparency and that’s why a quick search on the website would show you a list of all of their winners. Recently, a Lottoland customer was awarded a world-record fee of $137 million CND.

Also, due to the incredibly slim chances of winning the grand prize not everyone would take home mega-dollar winnings, but there are substantial winnings every day.

Securing your information online is usually one important factor when registering on any platform and as the site explains, “Lottoland works very hard to verify your information.”

The site has a multi-verification process that will ensure that you confirm your identity and age before giving you a pay-out. However, in the rare case that a player has immediate luck and wins a lottery before completing the verification process, Lottoland will hold on to the winnings until they complete your verification.

While this might seem like a tedious process, it is very important as these safety features would ensure that your information wasn’t stolen and ultimately your winning routed to another account.

Lottoland is licensed with the National Supervisory Bodies For Lotteries in several countries such as the United Kingdom, Italy, Sweden, Ireland and Australia—where it is called a wagering license. Typically, most gaming companies don’t establish insurance companies as it entails that their activities have to be transparent and the must be highly reputable in the industry.

Nonetheless, Lottoland has no issues meeting up to these standards as they have established themselves as the only gaming sector company who has its own insurance company—an added advantage for new and existing users.

Lotteries aren’t the only games Canadians enjoy playing and Lottoland recognizes this by providing players with other types of gaming. As an industry leader, video designers of online games often make them their first choice when it comes to publishing their works.

Online games such as slots, blackjack, video poker, baccarat, keno, scratchoffs, roulette and many others are always on offer at the Lottoland Casino. There’s also the option of playing with a live dealer and a total of over 100 games.

Lottoland has received numerous rave reviews from its growing list of satisfied customer and their responsive customer service agents are always available to answer any questions users may have, along with solving challenges they may have encountered.

More and more Canadians are trooping to Lottoland in droves due to the unique experience of going to a casino without having to leave the comfort of their homes.

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