Life under the cliff
by Emmanuel Joseph
We — that is, a team from Barbados TODAY — went in search this morning of what was thought to be a rain forest discretely nestled underneath Hackleton’s Cliff in St. Joseph; but what we discovered instead, was much more intriguing.
Our descent deep into the heart of this forested cavern, took us along a treacherously winding and very narrow rocky path. Cobweb at times kissed our heads and faces as we delicately negotiated the tricky downhill, slippery slope.
The farther the journey stretched, the more eerie the atmosphere became. For much of the downward expedition, the only company our team seemed to have were a few birds, whose sweet sounds filled the air.
As hope and curiosity intensified about seeing what was understood to be a well-ordered and laid out garden-like rainforest of varying species of flora, everything suddenly changed, when about a hundred yards into the belly of the cave, our eyes beheld the unexpected.
The first impression was that what appeared in front of us, was the abandoned body of a Transport Board bus and that the birds and spiders were not the only inhabitants of this “lost world”.
The latter was correct.
Then, as we drew closer to the yellow and blue structure, not only did we hear the faint sound of a human voice coming from a different direction, the clanging of pots and pans was also evident.
What was first believed to be a discarded Transport Board bus, turned out to be a make-shift home, made from the metallic outer covering of the bus, supported with various sizes of wood, a “well appointed” bedroom, a large piece of foam representing a mattress and orderly laid out plastic bottles, sandwiched between portions of wood, formed decorations.
Within that same room, clothes were neatly put away on a handmade hanger.
A galvanised roof completed what appeared to be a meticulously constructed home, created from material mostly drawn from the natural surroundings.
We shouted “Hello!” to try to make contact with the person behind the voice heard earlier.
As the team from this newspaper continued walking in the direction, from which the sound last came, a dark, middle-aged man, unshaven, unkempt head of hair and wearing a grease-stained shirt and pants, appeared in front of us. The man, whom we found out is the father of three children from legendary Barbadian singer, Wendy Alleyne, was in his “kitchen” in a separate structure.
Prince Hoyte, a former mason, also took us to his “chapel”, where he showed us his hand-made crucifix. As Hoyte moved around his forested home, he carried his crucifix with him.
He told Barbados TODAY he had been living deep beneath the cave of Hackelton’s Cliff since 2005 because his house at the top of the cliff had become of no use.
Henry Hoyte, the brother of Prince and their niece, Shirley live just yards away from the edge of the cliff itself.
Henry informed us that Prince once lived in a separate neighbouring home, but it was eaten down by termites and could not be repaired.
“He chose to live in the cave,” said brother Henry, who added that they had been living on the spot since the 1960s. Henry recalled, too, that his brother was once one of the “sharpest” dressers in Barbados, a very good dancer and singer.
“He was not always like this. He even used to win prizes,” added the now retired cane cutter.
Henry disclosed that ever since Prince returned from the United States, “he was messed up”.
“When ever he wanted anything to eat I would help him,” revealed his niece, Shirley. The brothers, according to Henry, are two of 12 children. email@example.com