St Vincent


Sunday July 21 – I set my alarm for 5:00, so of course I was awake before 4:00. I had to be up early to catch a bus to the airport, and with that in mind, I was never going to fall back asleep. I got out of bed at 4:15 and started the final pack, did some internetting, ate a bagel with banana for breakfast, the usual. Shelly told me yesterday that the airport bus leaves the station at 6:00 and will be to our bus stop a few minutes later, so I should be out at the bus stop a little before 6:00 to catch it. As soon as I arrived, the bus came. My intention was to arrive at the airport at 7:00, a little more than two hours before my flight, even though I knew that would be early. Instead, I arrived before 6:30. Better to be early, but still annoying. There are fewer buses on Sundays, so I wasn’t sure how it would work out. Now you know for the future. It will be fine.

There was no line to check in, and then I was off to find a place to use the wifi. There are two sets of gates, one tiny and the other really large. I started there and tried to get online but with no luck. I moved to a different area with the same result. I found another place that did work and had an outlet so I could plug in. Important with this laptop and the time I had. I chatted with Jeroen until the connection stopped, and then watched an episode of Outlander. How can every episode be both wonderful and stressful?

The flight to St Vincent and the Grenadines took less than an hour, and we arrived early. I started the flight next to a large lady, but ended next to a large man, when they traded seats for her to sit with her someone. I spent the flight reading. Two of my e-library books came available one day apart, so I am now reading Educated and will move onto The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, which sounds like a great read before school starts up again.

I made it through immigration, baggage claim and customs and was outside waiting for my lift by the time my plane was supposed to be landing. I’m renting an airbnb from my host Brenton, and one of the reasons I chose this place was because he would pick me up for free, and also take me to the ferry both days. It was important to me today especially, because the bus service on Sundays is quite reduced. Another reason I chose this place was that it is in town, and it seemed easy to get around. It turns out it is not in town at all, but a 25-minute drive away. And the house is not particularly well placed for public transport. But my time here is short, and Brenton will take me where I need to go.

He picked me up with his daughter and her 5-month-old daughter. His daughter looks to be a teen, but I could be wrong. They stopped at a small supermarket for me to pick up something for dinner tonight, and then we came back to the apartment. I’m in a small one-bedroom downstairs from his house. It’s a similar set-up to the place I stayed in St Kitts, but this place is far more basic. He also has a two-bedroom that connects to this, but he rents that out as a longer-term rental. He’s decided to make this one a short term rental and just put it on airbnb, so I am his first guest. I’ve had to ask for his help with several things – a light bulb that didn’t work, circuit breakers that were tripped twice, a question about plugs, etc. What nearly killed me is the wifi access. It’s terrible. It doesn’t work in the (air-conditioned!) bedroom, and mostly doesn’t work in the kitchen. Pretty crappy when you’re alone and it’s your window to people and information.

Brenton said he would drive me to town, so I unpacked a little, got my daypack ready to go, and went upstairs to tell him about the wifi and that I was ready. He let me use the wifi upstairs, where it worked perfectly, to send a message to my mom and Jeroen, and then we headed out. Since it took about 25 minutes to get there, I wasn’t sure how we were going to do this. We agreed that he would drop me off at Fort Charlotte, a fort above Kingstown, the capital, and then come get me in 30 minutes. He would visit a friend in the meantime. I would have preferred to walk around and be picked up later, but he was just doing this to be kind, not as a tour, so I went with his suggestions. We chatted a bit in the car on the ride. He’s a police officer, for 25 years this year. He pointed out a lot of places on the drive and gave me some background. At Fort Charlotte, which is free to visit, he got out to orient me and then we agreed he’d be back in half an hour. It’s not large, but I wandered around, taking pictures. It has gorgeous views of the city and the coastline and some nearby islands. Unfortunately in the bathroom, I found all the mosquitos. I never see them outside, but the ones inside always find fine me in less than 10 seconds. I walked out a bit and saw a little path that led up behind it, which was also nice. The thirty minutes ended up as a little more than an hour, which is kind of annoying since I was waiting the whole time.

I thought we were heading home, but he took me next to the botanic gardens. Day three in a row for botanic gardens, but this one is the oldest in the western hemisphere, which is pretty cool. It should cost $5EC, but he knew the guy and didn’t have any money, so the guy just let us in for a “security walk”, since he’s a cop. It reminded me more of a large park, but it was pretty. There was also a part where they raise the island’s native parrot, and they were loud, as parrots tend to be.

After the garden, we drove around the city and he pointed out a lot of different buildings. He also drove me to a big stadium where they play cricket and soccer and where they have a netball area. Cricket is huge in the Caribbean. Now, he did all this tour guiding to a Christian radio channel, which had crazy Christian music and ladies preaching the gospel. Oh my. It was intense. It’s a cross of something that makes you want to turn the channel immediately, but also something that you just keep wanting to listen to out of sheer curiosity.

This island is the largest in the country, which is composed of several small islands (the Grenadines), and most people leave here immediately to get to the others, which have great beaches, from what I understand. But from what I’ve seen so far today, this might be my favorite island so far. And if the others are better, this will be my favorite country.

We got back to the apartment around 2:30pm, and I had a little luck with the wifi at times. I could use messenger with Jeroen, but no calls. And then it would stop working for large stretches of time. I decided I would go for a walk at 5pm, when it was a little cooler, or at least when the sun was a little less intense, and watched another episode of Outlander while I waited. I almost skipped the walk but I’m so glad I went. I saw a turtle in a bush in the yard on my way out, which was funny. I decided to turn right and walk, since left was the way out of the neighborhood and a way I’d already been. The first thing I noticed was that I could see the ocean – unexpected. Then I realized it must be close, since I could hear it. Then the road stopped just after our place, but it looked like there must be a way to get there. I saw a guy working in the yard and asked him. He pointed out a small path that I didn’t quite see, so he came around and showed me. Then he walked it a little, ripping out who bushes out of the ground that were in the way and/or spikey. Really nice. That led me to a dirt road that took me to the water in a short time.

It was really quite beautiful. It was a black sand beach, not suitable for swimming due to the crashing waves and probably a riptide, but it was really dramatic and pretty. There were also a lot of cows around, each one tied to a certain place where it could graze. The houses all looked new, and they were all large. It was quite a nice and pretty neighborhood. And the lighting was good. This place may be out of the way, but it’s lovely and fulfills my “people” theme.

Back at the apartment, I saw the turtle again, heading around the back of the house. I followed it, scared it enough to hide fully in its shell, and then waited for it to come out again, recording it when it did. Fun. Inside, a fuse blew when a lightbulb stopped working and my hosts helped me get everything in order. I was quite hungry since I hadn’t eaten in over 12 hours, so I cooked – you guessed it – tuna and noodles. And it’s still good. I also had a cup of tea, which they had here. I watched a third episode of Outlander, got my stuff ready for tomorrow, and tried my hand at the wifi again. It sucks. Worse? Some fuze popped and my aircon stopped working. It’s like what happened in Antigua except it didn’t get fixed. What a disappointment.

Tomorrow I’m taking a day trip to Bequia (pronounced Beckway), which is supposed to be the loveliest of all the Grenadines. We leave at 6:45 (!) for me to get the 8:00 boat and him to go to work. Oh, and I’m happy to report that the food I ate yesterday left no ills effects, thus far.

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