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Hoofing it in Barbados.

COLIN HUDSON, a British expatriate, has called Barbados home for more than 30 years. He is, among other things, an inventor, a writer, an environmentalist, and a master storyteller well schooled in island lore. Each week he leads groups of Bajans and tourists alike on a journey of discovery. Hudson is a part of Hike Barbados, one of the island's most innovative and successful conservation programs to date.

Every Sunday of the year Hudson, along with other members of the Barbados National Trust, takes participants on a voyage to uncover spectacular vistas and dramatic ruins, fertile plantations and windswept beaches. The history and significance of each site is dutifully noted, although narration is often unnecessary: their magnificence alone speaks for the merits of preservation.

The program is a cooperative effort between the Trust, the Heart Foundation of Barbados, and the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, which promotes physical education among island youth. Despite its grand success (the very first hike in 1983 attracted 11 people; now it is not unusual for 150 or more to show up) its cadre of participants is still local. Hudson estimates about one-third of the hikers each year are tourists who hail from all corners of the globe. Prince Edward made the trek. So did Sir John Hunt, years after he led the first successful expedition up Mt. Everest in 1953. The hikes can be quite strenuous, so Hudson and others arranged a point where Hunt could take a gentler route if he felt too winded. When they reached the designated point, the 82-year-old explorer was unfazed. "He stuck his head down and forged straight up the steepest slope in sight," Hudson recalls.

The itineraries change weekly. Hudson might lead his charges to Moncrieffe, St. Philip, where a military signal station was established in 1816 after a slave revolt, or he might take them to Cove Bay to examine the remains of an AmerIndian village, or meander along his favorite beach in search of odd treasures washed ashore. His aim, he says, is to act as a mouthpiece for the environment, and for those who seek to preserve it. The hikes are free (donations accepted) and usually depart at 6 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. Hikers may choose from three speed categories: Fast, Medium, and Stop and Stare. The first, also know as "Grin and Bear," is a 13-mile jaunt that is covered at a near jog. The Medium-level hikes are about eight to ten miles long and groups move at a slower pace. The Stop and Stare hikes are more leisurely and include the largest dose of island culture. When a Sunday falls near a full moon, the Trust sponsors a nighttime hike for the added adventure of exploring under the stars.
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Title Annotation:Ojo; innovative conservation programs in Barbados
Author:Harms, Mark
Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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