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What's the Chattel About?


I just returned home from five nights in Barbados, where I toured two Sandals resorts. Barry and I stayed at Sandals Barbados, but its sister property, Royal Barbados, was right next door. It was extremely easy to bounce between the two resorts and enjoy the amenities of both. I booked a few excursions for Barry and I while on the island. The first excursion was a glow in the dark nighttime kayak tour with a company called Lite-and Glo-Kayak. Our guide, Shazam, was fantastic and gave us history of some of the maritime wrecks and local nightlife. Earlier in the day, Barry and I snorkeled around two of the shipwrecks and we saw a lot of sea turtles. This company also offers daytime kayaking with clear bottomed kayaks, so it would make for a great viewing option if you are not a fan of snorkeling. If you visit, be sure to ask for Shazam!

The second excursion was an e-bike tour with Gregory and Adam from Electric Bike Bajan Sightseeing Experience. If you have read a few of my previous blogs, you know my love of history. I especially enjoy the unique and cultural aspects of a country. This tour did not disappoint and I would like to impart some of my new knowledge to all of you.

Sugarcane was the cash crop for the country and was mainly grown for the production of rum. Our tour included a visit to a few remnants of sugarcane factories, an old plantation home, and biking through some of the sugarcane fields. During our drive to and from the resort, Barry and I did pass by a few working rum distilleries, such as Foursquare and Mount Gay. Some of the distilleries offer facility tours if you are interested.

Barbados was home to a few notorious pirates, Steve Bonnet and Sam Lord. We were told Sam Lord would hang lanterns from the trees to lure the ships into land. This would cause the ships to run aground and then Sam would plunder the ships. I guess Sam and his crew would all celebrate their spoils with RUM!

The island was so colorful with the painted houses and beautiful flowers all in bloom. A funny story was relayed to us regarding the painting of the houses. The government of Barbados had a law that an unpainted house was considered “under construction” and was not taxed. Well, the word spread like wildfire and homeowners stopped painting their houses, which resulted in Barbados becoming an island of dull, grey homes. The government changed the law and said if houses were not painted by a stated due date, then the homeowners would be taxed. This caused a paint shortage because everyone had to rush to paint all those dull, grey homes before the deadline. Our guide told us that some areas on the island have homes painted multicolored! The reason behind the color box homes was because the residents had to borrow leftover paint from their neighbors.

My favorite tidbit of knowledge was regarding the Chattel houses of Barbados. These are small, wooden homes that can be easily disassembled to move to another location. According to Barbados.org, “Chattel houses were the first homes of freedom.” The first Chattel homes were owned by free men who did not necessarily own the land. If the homeowner needed to move, they would disassemble the house, load the pieces on a horse-drawn cart, and reassemble in the new location. Our guide sadly informed us that Chattel houses are a dying culture, but there are still some older locals that still own them.

If you are planning to visit Barbados, make sure you reach out to the companies I mentioned in this blog. They definitely helped make our first time visit to the island very special. I have only one regret and that is we did not have enough time to plan a Friday night visit to Oistins Fish Fry! I cannot tell you how many locals asked us if we were going. We were told the food is amazing because the seafood is caught fresh. Don’t worry if you do not like seafood because chicken is plentiful. We were informed we missed the Michael Jackson impersonator the Friday before we arrived. This event is a great way to interact with the locals of Barbados.


Happy Travels!


References: barbados.org, Adrian Richards for the use of the Chattel House picture, and our amazing tour guides with the companies mentioned in this blog.

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