St. Vincent, St Lucia, and Barbados

Published: July 13th 2007
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Friends and Family,

The next stage of my vacation brought me to the country of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It's been a dream of mine to one day rent a sail boat and sail the Grenadines with friends, but until then I had to settle for the next best thing. After arriving in Kingstown, I caught a taxi to the harbour to catch the ferry over to one of the Grenadines: Bequia. This island had come highly recommended and I could see why as I entered the bay of Port Elisabeth. Just a small community on the island play host to touring sail boats all year round. After all my hiking the last couple days I figured that sitting on the beaches would be a good break before the big planned hike in St Vincent. However, once I learned of a turtle sanctuary on the other side of the island, I decided to go for a walk and I’m glad I did because I found some amazing secluded beaches, views of the reefs around the island and even broke open a coconut by hand for some fresh coconut milk. The turtle sanctuary was pretty interesting with baby turtles and 8 yr old turtles. The sanctuary captures them on the beach before they enter the ocean and raises them in tanks to an age were they have a better set of natural defences and a better chance to survive. They place the turtles back on to secluded beaches, usually on tiny islands that people don’t bother too much, or are nature reserves. I found a great place to stay in Bequia so I didn’t catch the ferry back that night. I had barracuda steak on a restaurant right over the water.

The next day, I caught the ferry back to St Vincent and prepared to embark on a hike of the Soufriere Volcano. My friend Heide has family in St Vincent (who she warned to take a vacation before I came  ) but they had told me of this famous hike from the eastern side of the island. Being an adventurous lad, I decided that it would be more interesting to climb from the west side and then back down the east side, from shore to shore, to bisect the island. This would also allow me to stop at Walibou bay on the west coast to visit the Pirates of the Caribbean set that was still in place. So off I went in the taxi and followed in the footsteps of Johnny Depp, swaggering through Port Alice town, fighting on the docks and preserving the good pirate name. I pick up three bottles of water and then the taxi driver (John) drops me at the furthest point the road goes and tells me to start hiking up the coast. I pass a couple of the local kids / fishermen and they all ask me if I’m lost and where I’m going. They ask me if I know how long it will take. When I reply five hours they seem satisfied and figure I know what I’m doing. Little did I know what I was in for. I start up the path to Soufriere at a healthy pace though a washed out river chasm. I hike between some farmed lands and see some workers in the field. As I make it to the top of the first ridge I’m feeling pretty tired and my pace has dropped off. I start taking more and more breaks. I am about an hour into the hike and getting a bit worried because I know I’ve a long way to go and I’m completely tired out. But I soldier on thinking it would be a big disappointment not to see the volcano and then I stumble across the half way sign. “Half way!, half way !!!”. I’m now greatly concerned.

I only started the hike at noon because of the earlier ferry ride and I know I not only have to make it 14 kms across the trail but a vertical height of 1230 metres and then back down the other side, with another 3 kms to the nearest town. To put this in perspective, after over an hour, I’m about 4 kms along, 600 metres up and feeling a bit desperate. Anyway, enough whining, I resolved myself to complete the hike (and not to twist an ankle). Although at this point the 35 foot waterfall jump looked easy in comparison. What’s life about if not to push yourself. I felt a resurgence of energy when I made it past the tree line. Although this opened me up to brunt of the sun rays, it let a cooling wind through. I pushed my way through the brush grass trying to make out the path. I could see the rise of the lip of the volcano in front of me and finally I was there. With on water bottle left and half the trail behind me I was at the volcano. I stopped to take a couple photos at this point and I’m glad I did because the clouds started to roll over the volcano a half hour later and it was difficult to see more than 20 meters at some points. I took a brake and realised that the path back down the east side was nowhere in sight. I started around the lip of the volcano in search of my path down. Those clouds I mention and the heavy wind pushing them along was nice and cooling but they obscured the landscape in all directions and I now felt lost on top of the volcano.

I followed the only path I could around the lip until I came to a path north that went straight into the volcano. I had heard that you could go down into it but figured I’d never make it back out at this point so continued on. I reached the highest point on the horizon and my path petered out. Now what to do? It was about 4pm, I was tired and I had no path. I ended up gambling on the north path that had looked well used and fortunately it stopped going down and curled back around the lip a couple hundred metres on. I finally find the path down and careful not to trip on my hasty decent put some speed into my journey to get to town before the sun sets. I finally come across some flowing water on the way down so can refill my water bottles. I make it to the east side parking lot in about an hour and realise why it’s much easier to climb this side of the volcano. I still haven’t seen anyone since the beach on the other side and wonder if anyone else was even up on the volcano today. My slow pace through some banana plantations to the highway is interrupted by a friendly local couple in a pick up truck. They offer me a ride all the way to town and I’m saved. A reggae bus ride back to town and I crash early that night.

My last leg is some relaxation time in Barbados on the beaches before I head back to Canada. A great vacation that I'd recommend to anyone that can pack everything they need for 10 days into a knapsack. Hope I didn't bore you too much.

All the best,

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15th March 2010

I just love BARBADOS
I hope to get to BARBADOS again its a beautiful island with lovely FRIENDLY people and always so warm and tropical....the waters are so clear.....deb

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