Barbados and George Washington
April 23, 2014 • 1,100 views
I boarded the Crown Princess in Port Everglades, Florida. With 3,013 land miles across the U.S.A. behind me, the rest of my trip would now be at sea. The 49 day cruise that I would be taking was divided into three segments. Princess Cruises called this segment Brazilian Adventure Cruising. We would be stopping in three Brazilian ports prior to our arrival in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The three Brazilian ports were Recife, Rio de Janeiro and Ilhabela. The Crown Princess would be making the first ever Princess stop at Ilhabela. From Port Everglades to Buenos Aires, Argentina is 5,163 nautical miles (which converts to 5,937 state miles).
Prior to our arrival in Brazil, the Crown Princess would be stopping at four islands in the Caribbean. St. Thomas (where I had been before in 2011) and the islands of Antigua, Barbados and Trinidad. They all have beautiful beaches and friendly people. In fact one of the comedians who performed on the Crown Princess joked that in reality they were all the same island and that the inhabitants merely changed signs overnight. It might seem that way on the surface, but I soon realized that each of the islands in the Caribbean is unique and has things that distinguish it from its neighbors. Barbados for example was the only place visited by George Washington during his lifetime that was outside of what later became the United States of America.
In 1751, George Washington’s half-brother Lawrence was suffering from tuberculosis. Hearing of Barbados and its reputation for treating lung diseases, Lawrence Washington began planning a trip to Barbados. His wife, Anne, had just given birth to the couple’s fourth child. As a result of this, he asked his brother George to go with him to Barbados.
On November 2, 1751, the brigantine “Success” landed in Barbados and the Washington brothers made their way to the city of Bridgetown. George and Lawrence spent nearly six disaster-filled weeks in Barbados. Not only did Lawrence’s condition not improve but on November 17, 1751, George Washington was stricken with smallpox. Fortunately for what was to become the United States, George recovered quickly and eventually sailed home to Virginia in December of 1751.
While failing to save the life of Lawrence, George Washington’s trip to Barbados was to have a profound impact on the United States of America. Thanks to his exposure to smallpox in Barbados, George Washington was immune to further bouts with the disease, while the colonial army was ravaged by smallpox. Also, it was under George Washington’s watch that his men were administered one of the earliest known inoculations against smallpox.
I’m no George Washington. I’m more like Columbus or Marco Polo. In fact my recently diseased Canadian friend, Ray Hoare, used to call me Magellan because of my traveling around the world. After leaving the Caribbean, the Crown Princess sailed for Brazil and Rio. We would be arriving just in time for Carnival. I’m trying to imagine George Washington attending Carnival in Rio but I really can’t.
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