Monday, December 31, 2007

Villa Beach (again)

Originally uploaded by Karlek
Photo taken from Villa Point. The left end of the beach is at the Beachcomber Hotel. The dock sticking out is at the Aquatic Club and beyond it is the Mariner's Hotel

Cobblestone Hotel

Originally uploaded by Karlek
Interior view at the Cobblestone Hotel on Bay Street in Kingstown. It is the only hotel in downtown Kingstown and is a restored colonial building.


Originally uploaded by Karlek
Kingstown as seen from the top of Dorchester Hill near the television station and the Chatoyer monument.


Originally uploaded by Karlek
The beach at Brighton.


Originally uploaded by Karlek
One of the remaining old-style buses that have open seats on a flat-bed truck body. I believe this goes to Fancy on the northern tip of St. Vincent

Carnegie Library

Originally uploaded by Karlek
The building was donated by Andrew Carnagie for use as a library. It was restored some years ago by the Alliance Francais who uses the second story. The ground floor is used by the National Trust as a museum and office. I intend to post interior pictures in the near future.

Orange Hill

Originally uploaded by Karlek
The "Great House" of the Orange Hill Estate just north of the Rabaca Dry River. It is one of the few large planter residences left, and Orange Hill is one of the few undivided colonial estates. It is used by the Agricultural Mission of the Republic Of China (Taiwan) for tissue culture research and experimental horticulture.


Originally uploaded by Karlek
Villa Beach, which runs from Villa Point to the Mariner's Inn. The Young Island Ferry dock is here as are The Paradise Inn, Sunset Shores and the Beachcomber. The beach is quite suitable for children and Villa Point has some attractive snorkeling. This degree of occupancy is not unusual for a weekday; it can be crowded on Saturday afternoon and Sunday.

The hotels have beach bars and restaurants, and there are other restaurants near the Young Island Dock.

Catholic Cathedral, Kingstown

Originally uploaded by Karlek
The Catholic Cathedral in Kingstown. The eclectic architectural style was characteristic of the designer, whose biography I'll have to look up. This picture was uploaded to Flickr by "Leobard" who shows more photos on Flickr.


Originally uploaded by Karlek
View of Barroaille (pronounced to ryhme with merrily), a fishing town on the leeward shore. This picture was originally uploaded to Flickr by "Andrewtravel" and you can see more of his pictures there.

Petit St. Vincent

Uploaded to Flickr by Karlek
A view of the beach in Petit St. Vincent, and island in the Grenadines. It was uploaded to Flickr by "Lyng883" and you can see similar pictures on her page in Flickr.


Originally uploaded by Karlek
According to local legend, Queen Victoria commissioned this stained glass window for one of her children. When she saw it she was "not amused" by the thought of an angel dressed in red, and it was relegated to the royal storerooms. At some later date the colonial office had some reason to reward St. Vincent with a gift, and someone found this window. It remains in the Anglican Cathedral to this day. I think it is quite attractive for Victorian stained glass.


Originally uploaded by Karlek
A small potted poinsettia plant: picture taken on Christmas Day 2007. While known as a plant in North America it grows into a tree in the tropics and is quite common in St. Vincent.

Vincentian carvings

Originally uploaded by Karlek
Examples of local carvings available in the market or from street vendors.

administration building

Originally uploaded by Karlek
This is the administration building taken from the windward highway with a telephoto lens. This building, on Bay Street in the center of town, has the Prime Minister's office as well as other departments.


Originally uploaded by Karlek
The Queen Elizabeth 2 in Kingstown harbor. Normally cruise ships dock at the cruise ship pier where there are special customs and immigration facilities that facilitate making day-trips onto the mainland of St. Vincent. The QE2, however, is so large that it can't use the pier and has to send visitors in on lighters.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Oil As A Way Of Helping The Poor

Environmental Graffiti says of Hugo Chavez' offer through petrocaribe to allow less developed nations to buy oil with the resources they have, "Lets see what mischief he gets up to before then (i.e. his forced retirement in 2012)". This is a nice display of the motives of developed nations, even of their "green" citizens, who want to keep the undeveloped nations from using their own resources rather than letting the developed world exploit them. It is the "green" activists who are naive enough to buy into that activity openly.


A Barrel of Oil for a Banana Please
Posted: 23 Dec 2007 10:14 AM CST in Environmental Graffiti
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said Central American and Caribbean states could pay for oil with services or products like bananas and sugar.

Speaking at the Petrocaribe summit of oil consumers and exporters, Mr Chavez said that he wanted to extend the arrangement Venezuela currently has with Cuba, to all 17 states they supply oil to.
Venezuela and Cuba currently run a scheme where Cuba gets 100,000 barrels of subsidised oil, and in return, Venezuela receives the services of thousands of Cuban doctors and teachers for free. Thereby getting a free highly skilled workforce, without having to pay for it, whilst also receiving (a reduced) payment for the oil it exports.

Mr Chavez seems to be cashing in on the rising oil prices, which many fragile Central American economies are struggling with. Surprisingly, Venezuela has the largest oil reserves outside the Middle East, and is moving itself into a position of great political power. This is especially poignant for the US as Venezuela is its main oil supplier. What is more worrying is the apparent ‘friendship’ between Mr Chavez and the ageing Cuban President, Fidel Castro.

Mr Chavez led a colourful past before his appointment as President. After two fail coup attempts in 1992, Mr Chavez moved from paratrooper to politician, and gained the presidency in 1998. He has been followed by a wave of controversy ever since, after making high-profile visits to Cuba and Iraq, and repeatedly showing his alliance with Fidel Castro. There have also been reports of the US government instigating a coup of their own to over throw him, due to its vast oil reserves. Currently Mr Chavez will remain in power until 2012, when Venezuelan law dictates that he must stand down. Lets see what mischief he gets up to before then.

Caribbean Christmas Traditions

This is an interesting Blog posted Sunday, December 23rd, 2007, by Karel McIntosh on:

All over the world, people get together with friends and family to celebrate Christmas. They exchange gifts, and invite one another to their homes for parties, lunches or dinners, signifying the trademark Christmas message of peace and goodwill. In the Caribbean, this message is no different, and whether they’re based at home in the region or abroad, Caribbean people find a way to add their special touch to the festivities. Speaking with Caribbean bloggers, Francis Wade, Geoffrey Philp, Afrobella, Abeni, Bajegirl, and TriniGourmet, I get the sense that the festivities among the various nationalities share similarities, but also have unique celebrations.

For example, in St Vincent and the Grenadines, there is the Nine Mornings Festival. Abeni explains:
For nine days before Christmas (excluding Sundays), we get up in the wee hours of the morning and participate in church services, fetes, go to the beach and/or head into Kingstown where there are organised competitions in the form of singing, recitals, and other fun competitions. There is also a carol competition hosted by the National Broadcasting Corporation that attracts thousands. The format is such that you sing a traditional song and then do your own creation to the tune of any popular song. There are also string bands playing music on the streets, Police bands playing music in communities throughout the island, community singing and the lighting of the Christmas tree. However, serenading is dying though.

Generally, music plays a huge role in making Christmas, well, Christmas. Throughout the region, one can hear traditional carols, many of which originate from America. However, in Jamaica, Christmas carols are sung to a reggae beat. In Trinidad and Tobago, Christmas music belies the country’s Spanish heritage with Parang, indigenous music that has Latin rhythms and is sung in Spanish, filling the airwaves. Soca parang is also another spinoff from the Parang genre, with an extensive playlist in existence.

“In Trinidad, Christmas is the time when the Spanish cultural influences really come to the fore,” says Trinigourmet:

Through the traditional tunes (parang) or foods (pastelles), several of the Spanish influences help to make a Trini Christmas unique, especially amongst the English speaking Caribbean islands.
The cuisine at this time of year makes for a great feast. A typical Vincentian Christmas dinner will have sorrel, ginger beer, ham, green peas (if one can afford the going price), baked chicken, mutton (curried or stewed), beef, rice, pies, salads, and black cake (a rich, fruity, alcoholic concoction). Sorrel is a staple Christmas drink throughout the Caribbean. And according to Abeni, “Christmas is not Christmas without a bottle of locally made Black wine”.

Other countries have similarly grand feasts, but each has its own specialty. In Barbados, you’ll hear about jug-jug (a dish made from ham, guinea corn flour and peas). In Trinidad, pastelles and ponche de crème.

As expected, Christmas is a time of excitement with increased social events and parties.
“In Jamaica, people say it’s our Carnival,” says Francis Wade:

We also have a few traditions like Christmas morning market, and Jonkonnu (a little like Ole Mas). The Christmas spirit starts to set in from late October going into November. Tourists from the more temperate areas love the Caribbean as a warm alternative to the winter season, but you might hear a few locals talk of it being “cool” or “cold”. This “cool” is a sure sign that Christmas is coming. The Christmas breeze starts with a cool wind from the North…

Abeni agrees, describing the nights as getting “cooler”, with longer days. Bajegirl notices “a special breeze that blows at this time of year, but for sure the nights get a lot cooler”.

In St Vincent and the Grenadines, Abeni shares the telltale signs that Christmas is coming:
Barrels from North America start rolling in, people start talking about plans to fly to Trinidad for bargain hunting, the nights get cooler and the days longer, carols play on the radio, stores begin to entice us with offers, banks and other financial institutions promote Christmas loans, the string bands begin to make their music on the streets of Kingstown, and the place just gets busier. It's a joyous time for the most part. It's very community-oriented with people still taking time out to spend time with neighbours. Lately, we have been lighting up our homes in a big way - so much so that there are competitions for the best lit house.

In Barbados, Christmas is a time for family, says Bajegirl:

The major town centres are all lit up and people drive around to admire each others’ decorations. It’s also a time for food and parties, with popular dishes such as jug-jug, sweet potato pie and ham on all menus. Late night shopping in Bridgetown begins and everywhere people are painting and cleaning their homes. The thing is we try to be patriotic and wait till December 1, since our Independence Day is November 30th, but the stores put up their Christmas decorations mid-November, and carols begin playing around that time too, so you can never begin sprucing up your home early enough.

Jamaican Francis Wade says that a key part of a Caribbean Christmas is that members of the diaspora “come back to visit and spend time, so the social scene is quite active.” After living abroad himself for nearly twenty years, he feels that in the US there is less of a connection between people who aren’t family, and that the social side of the Christmas festivities is small compared to the Caribbean.

Like anywhere else, Christmas is a high profit generating period for businesses. Caribbean people are known for their love of shopping, which is seen by some as one of the effects of the Americanisation of Caribbean Christmas celebrations. Nevertheless, Abeni feels that “we have still retained the warmth and goodwill for the most part”, but Trinigourmet notes that in addition to the traditional songs of American origin, there are Santa Claus and “snow–themed” decors, which are “definitely not indigenous in origin”.

Caribbean-born bloggers (such as Geoffrey Philp) learn to integrate the culture of their adopted home with that of their homeland:

When I first came to America, I couldn't get into the Christmas spirit and I didn't know why. It wasn't that there wasn't any rum cake and sorrel or any of the traditional Jamaican dishes; it was the music. The feeling continued for a few more years until one year our church incorporated the song, “The Virgin Mary had a Baby Boy” and that did it for me. It finally felt like Christmas.
The Christmas feeling in my home is quite different from the Christmases I had in Jamaica. Home has become for me a metaphor for the important relationships in my life. So it doesn't matter where I am. As long as I am surrounded my wife, children and extended family, I am a happy man. That said, I will confess that I will always miss the hills that surround Mona Heights where I grew up and the physical aspects of being in Kingston when the cool Christmas breeze came tumbling down the hillsides.

According to Afrobella - a Trinidadian living in Miami - Christmas abroad isn’t nearly as festive:
I grew up in a big family, so when the season hit, it seemed like the air was filled with parang music and who wasn’t helping to paint the house or put up the Christmas tree had to help make pastelles, ponche de crème, or sorrel. Now I live with my American husband abroad, and we’re learning how to blend our traditions. My husband seems to enjoy traditional parang, like Daisy Voisin, but Americans don’t get the subtleties of Sprangalang’s “Bring Drinks,” for example. I enjoy my Christmases abroad a lot as well, but I definitely still believe that Trini Christmas is the best!
Her fellow Caribbean bloggers may or may not agree, but either way, Christmas in in the Caribbean is definitely special.

A Response to
“Caribbean: Christmas Traditions”
Dated December 23rd, 2007 at 21:21 pm
By: Esteban Agosto Reid:

Interesting comparative piece on Christmas in the various Caribbean islands.Enjoyed reading it!Nonetheless,the spiritual, religious, and festive elements of the season is being undermined and eclipsed by the intense nature of commercialization and consumerism.In essence, Christmas today is about consumption,consumption and more consumption.The season has become excessively materialist in terms of the orgy of consumption with everyone trying to out do each other at the various malls and shopping centers,and when the New Year rolls around a considerable number of individuals are in financial trouble/deepwater as a consequence of frivolous and unnecessary spending.Hopefully,there will be a retreat from the excessive commercialization, and the festive, spiritual, and religious aspects of the season regaining its prominience. RESPECT and have a IRIE XMAS and a HAPPY New Year.

And a Merry Christmas from Sally & Karl Eklund, from Villa on St. Vincent

The New York Times on SVG

Michelle Higgins' piece is more recent than novelist Margaret Attwood's piece of 1986, but they both represent St. Vincent and the Grenadines as seen by the visitor. In fact I resisted St. Vincent for several years because I thought it would only be interesting to the "yachting crowd"; in other words I thought it was a place where the spaces between the islands were more interesting than the islands themselves. As a permanent resident I think more like Margaret Atwood: that St. Vincent is the standard against which tropical islands should be judged.

For Sailors: St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Published: January 28, 2007
St. Vincent and the Grenadines is an archipelago of 32 islands and cays at the southern end of the Caribbean. With relatively calm waters, a steady breeze and short distances between anchorages, the islands have long been a draw for the sailing and yachting crowds. But it's become more popular in the last year or so, thanks to increased marketing efforts and expansions by charter companies. Barefoot Yacht Charters,, one of the longest running operators in the islands, organized about 400 sailing trips last year, up 45 percent from 2005. Prices for staffed yachts vary widely depending on the size and amenities. A 47-foot, air-conditioned catamaran with a two-person crew and accommodating six guests costs about $9,660 for seven nights. A week-long charter of a 126-foot sailboat that can accommodate 12 guests will run about $64,000. Footloose Sailing Charters,, a 12-year-old company based in Florida, opened a new base on the island of St. Vincent in October and is offering 10 percent off five-day May charters booked by Feb. 5.
St. Vincent and the Grenadines Travel Guide

Airlines that fly to St. Vincent and the Grenadines include Caribbean Star and LIAT.
A typical seven-day itinerary setting sail from St. Vincent might include Bequia, an island with a strong seafaring history and where model boats are ubiquitous; Mustique, a private island famous for its celebrity beachcombers; and the numerous islets, coves and coral reefs of the Tobago Cays.
WHERE TO STAY If you need a night on land, the Frangipani on Bequia is a favorite hangout for the yachting crowd and overlooks the island's harbor. Doubles start at $60 a night in season (784-458-3255, On Mustique, the high-end Cotton House offers cottages starting at $700 a night in season (784-456-4777, Petit St. Vincent is the only resort on the island by the same name. Rates start at $940 a night for a couple in season (800-654-9326,
Introduction to St. Vincent and the Grenadines

One of the major British Windward Islands, sleepy St. Vincent is just beginning to awaken to tourism. Sailors and the yachting set have long known of St. Vincent and The Grenadines, and until recently it was a well-kept vacation secret. Even if you've not been here, you may have seen its scenery in Pirates of the Caribbean, starring Johnny Depp.
You visit St. Vincent for its lush beauty, and The Grenadines for the best sailing waters in the Caribbean. Don't come for nightlife, grand cuisine, or spectacular beaches. There are some white-sand beaches near Kingstown on St. Vincent, but most of the other beaches ringing the island are black sand. The yachting crowd seems to view St. Vincent merely as a launching pad for the 64km (40-mile) string of The Grenadines, but the island still has a few attractions that make it worth exploring on its own.

Introduction to St. Vincent

One of the major British Windward Islands, sleepy St. Vincent is just beginning to awaken to tourism. Sailors and the yachting set have long known of St. Vincent and The Grenadines, and until recently it was a well-kept vacation secret. Even if you've not been here, you may have seen its scenery in Pirates of the Caribbean, starring Johnny Depp.
You visit St. Vincent for its lush beauty, and The Grenadines for the best sailing waters in the Caribbean. Don't come for nightlife, grand cuisine, or spectacular beaches. There are some white-sand beaches near Kingstown on St. Vincent, but most of the other beaches ringing the island are black sand. The yachting crowd seems to view St. Vincent merely as a launching pad for the 64km (40-mile) string of The Grenadines, but the island still has a few attractions that make it worth exploring on its own.


Published: January 5, 1986
I first went to St. Vincent and the Grenadines in 1973. I had never before been south of North Carolina; these were my archetypal Caribbean islands, the ones I imprinted on, and so they became the standard against which I have measured all subsequent experiences of tropical islands. I have not yet found any more wonderful.
Part of this wonderfulness consists in what they are not. They are not overdeveloped -no serried glass-and-concrete ranks of Miami Beach or Surfer's Paradise high-rises. They are not overcrowded - you won't find hordes of tourists laid out flank to flank, turning hot-dog color on the beach. These are not - for the most part - islands for people who want to stay in walled-off tourist ghettos. They are also not sleek or slick or chic or twee. They haven't been particularly reconstructed for the tourist trade, partly because the tourist trade is not dominant. Most of the people you will see on the streets roads or paths really live there.
One reason for this is that you have to work a little to get there. This is not a country served by packaged tours or direct flights: you can't just roll off the jumbo jet, roast yourself by the sea, drink a lot of pina coladas and roll back onto the jumbo jet for sluggish re-entry. More is expected of you, which is why you will rarely see a truly overweight tourist in these regions, and why the people you bump into in beach bars will tend to be a shade more fit, or more adventurous, or even more eccentric, than most. There were two Frenchmen going by double windsurfer from Trinidad, up the islands, to Florida, who stopped overnight in Bequia to eat, rest and consult their map, which was plastic-sealed on the underside of their windsurfer; there was the man who built a single-hand sailing boat in Bequia, sailed around the world in it, and ended up in Bequia two years later . . . and, incidentally, if some youngish man with a yacht tells you he's in real estate in Miami, he probably isn't. Half the fun at social gatherings in these islands is trying to figure out what the other outlanders are really doing there.
The usual route to St. Vincent and the Grenadines from the north goes through Barbados, where you may find you have to overnight, due to cunningly arranged air schedules. From there you take the LIAT flight to St. Vincent. LIAT stands for Leeward Islands Air Transport, but local wit has it as Luggage in Another Terminal. Certainly things can be a little casual; we once waited on the tarmac while they removed part of the engine of our plane and did something to it that looked suspiciously like winding it up. But the pilots are all aces, the flight attendants - who, the last time we looked, were wearing hot-pink satin outfits and Rasta beads - are charming and imperturbable, the flight, it's a daytime one, is spectacular, and the steep landing on St. Vincent is not as foolhardy as it feels the first time you do it.
If you want to spend some time on St. Vincent before going on to the remoter islands, you have various choices. You could stay right in Kingstown, the principal (and capital) town; if you want an old-time but not luxurious hotel experience, try the Heron. Or you could stay a little farther from the center, at the Mariners' Inn, which offers seashore, or farther out still at one of several pricier but still modestly sized resort hotels. You could have a look at the Parliament buildings (St. Vincent is a former British colony, and retains the parliamentary system, with 13 seats). There is still a largely oral culture, and the spoken word is very important. Political speeches are, among other things, a form of popular entertainment, and people will turn on their radios or hasten to the scene if a noted speaker is doing his stuff. A politician is judged partly by how long he can speak - three hours is pretty good - and how many jokes he can make at the expense of the opposition, and a good Vincentian harangue is a work of art, replete with wit, allusion and flowers of rhetoric.
Or you can go to the market, on Bay Street; or you can visit the extensive and beautiful Botanic Gardens, started in 1765 and among the oldest ones in the New World, with breadfruit trees introduced by Captain Bligh. Right in the Botanic Gardens is the tiny but fascinating National Museum, which houses pre-Columbian artifacts. The museum is the brainchild of Dr. Earle Kirby, who is also its curator, and visitors lucky enough to find him there can find out just about anything there is to know about the history of St. Vincent. On the other hand, he may be off digging artifacts out of a bog, or watching the elusive and endangered St. Vincent parrot (he is also a naturalist) and if you are a bird watcher he might be able to give you some pointers. Or, if you're in good shape, you can rent a jeep, pack a picnic lunch and go to the Soufriere, the volcano that blew up in 1979, something it does at about 80-year intervals. We climbed it before the eruption, but after it had begun to smolder, and had sore hamstrings for a week, but the experience was well worth it.
When it's time to move on to the Grenadines, there are again several choices. To get to Bequia, the largest and most northerly island in the chain, you can make the classic trip on the Friendship Rose, a large, chunky motorized sailboat that does a cargo-and-passenger trip every day except Sunday. Or -some days - you can take a thing called the roll-off roll-on, so called because it can take cars, although you won't see many of those. Or you can charter a boat. A friend of mine used to go back and forth in a twin-engine motorboat, but this is not recommended, as she found out when both of her motors conked out in the middle of the channel, noted for its choppy tidal currents.
St. Vincent is lush, mountainous and volcanic, Bequia flatter and drier. This is a hiker's paradise: hardly any cars and much variety of terrain, from the palm-fringed shores and truly deserted beaches to the somewhat wild avocado plantations, the rocky but manageable cliffs around Shark Bay and the highland plateaus, which were settled by Scots in the 18th century, some of whose descendants are still there. People are friendly but not intrusive, and they will expect you to be the same. Bequia is an island of seafaring men, who do quite well by island standards and are self-reliant and proud of it. The harbor at Port Elizabeth is one of the safest and best harbors in the Caribbean, and you will usually see sailboats from all parts of the world at anchor there, being repainted or refurbished or just resting up. If you want to meet the sailors, hang out at the small but charming Frangipani Hotel, especially on barbecue night; the Frangi specializes in homemade local-ingredient cuisine, and is one of the best places to eat in these parts, as the boat people know. Don't miss the key lime pie.
If you want to see the other Grenadines, the best way is to charter a boat. In fact for most of them it's the only way, unless you have a boat of your own. You could make a day trip to something nearby - Battowia or Baliceaux, or Isle a Quatre, all of which will raise visions of Treasure Island, so admirably suited do they seem for pirates. Then there's Mustique, hangout of Princess Margaret, which is a different story. I went there once but don't remember much about it, as we made the mistake of going in a motor launch instead of a sailboat, and the big item for me was not the scenery but whether or not I was going to keep my breakfast down. (I did; others didn't.) Should you wish to go all the way down to Union Island or Petit St. Vincent, you should overnight in the Tobago Keys, a cluster of tiny uninhabited wonders that, unlike most things on tourist brochures, really do look that perfect when you actually get there. The next day you can go on to Union Island, where there is a real French restaurant in the Anchorage Hotel, or to Petit St. Vincent, which is - all of it - a private resort, with discreet but well-equipped individual cottages along the shore. If you've been on a boat for a while, you may want to spend a night there in hot-water luxury. There's even breakfast room sevice, which you get by putting a note in your individual mailbox: the ultimate luxury is no telephones.
Across from Petit St. Vincent is Petit Martinique, which is geographically part of the Grenadines but politically part of Grenada. The people there are as individualistic and resourceful as Newfoundlanders and, like the Bequians, are noted sailors. As there is no electricity on the island, they build their boats by hand. If you know someone who knows someone, this is a great island to visit. If not, you may find you attract suspicion. The story goes that when the previous Grenadian Government tried to impose some regulation on the islanders - who are used to managing their own affairs - by sending a couple of soldiers, no one would rent them a room or sell them anything to eat, so they had to stroll about on the beach until picked up.
When you want to go somewhere else, you can either do it by boat, or make use of the airport on Union Island, which will get you somewhere else, from where you can get somewhere else. By that time you'll probably be so relaxed that the actual timetable won't worry you a lot.
But beware of these islands. Fifteen years ago, a friend of mine - she of the twin-engine motorboat - was going around the world for the second time. She stopped over in Bequia, and has been there ever since. On the spot, on the move in an island chain Accommodations The Heron in Kingstown, St. Vincent, close to the anchorage and the market, has 15 rooms, each with private bath. The veranda at the rear, overlooking a tropical garden, is a favorite meeting place. Meals are served family-style. Rates are $54 a day for two, including breakfast and dinner. Outside the capital, on Villa Beach, the Mariners' Inn overlooks a channel and across to Young Island. It has 21 rooms and charges from $70 to $80 for two, with breakfast and dinner. The Grand View Beach on Villa Point is a former estate house with 12 rooms and it has a pool and squash court. The daily rates for two are $94, or $118 with breakfast and dinner.
On Bequia, the Frangipani, on Port Elizabeth Beach, has 12 rooms and charges from $30 to $60 a day for a double room. The hotel, owned by the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, James (Son) Mitchell, is a favorite gathering place for island politicians and artists, and the Thursday evening barbecues held on the patio and in the garden are a major social event. The barbecues, which include entertainment, cost about $35 a person. Queen Elizabeth II had tea in the Frangipani's garden during her visit to the Caribbean last fall.
The quieter Friendship Bay Hotel on Bequia is a small resort with 27 rooms, a pool and beach bar. It charges $150 a day for two, including breakfast and dinner. The Sunny Caribbee has cottages at $60 for two, or $100 with breakfast and dinner. Rooms in its main building are $30, and $70 with breakfast and dinner. There's a beach, and an anchorage nearby.
Petit St. Vincent, a resort occupying an entire island of the same name, has 22 villas, all with views of the sea. The rate of $420 a day for two includes all meals. Island Hopping Among the interisland boats is the Friendship Rose, which sails from St. Vincent to Bequia every day except Sunday. The trip takes about an hour and a half and the one-way fare is about $2.50. The Grenadines Star, known as the roll-on, roll-off because it takes cars, sails to Bequia about three times a week and also makes weekly visits to Cannouan, Mayreau and Union. Among the one-way fares from St. Vincent: Cannouan, $5; Union, $7.50. Boat Charters Visitors can arrange a bareboat or crewed charter with Caribbean Sailing Yachts, which has a marina and hotel, the C.S.Y. Marina, in Kingstown, St. Vincent. Trips are arranged around the Grenadines and beyond, as far as the United States Virgin Islands. A boat with crew and all provisions costs about $132 a day for two people. Rooms at the hotel cost $50 a day for two. Reservations for rooms and boats can be made through Anchor Travel (Post Office Box 24, 29 Engle Street, Tenafly, N.J. 07670; 201-569-5464). Information Information is available from the St. Vincent and the Grenadines tourism representative (40 East 49th Street, New York, N.Y. 10017; 212-752-8660) and the Caribbean Tourism Association (20 East 46th Street, New York, N.Y. 10017; 212-682-0435).

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Photography in St. Vincent (2)

Originally uploaded by Karlek
This is a photograph from the same position, a road leading from Calliaqua into the mountains, but at the maximun telephoto setting of a Canon s3 camera. It still required some cropping, but at least you can see that it is a house.

Over the next months I will be photographing places I have already covered using the telephoto lens as appropriate.

Photography in St. Vincent (1)

Originally uploaded by Karlek
This shows the problem I had with my Nikon camera: this is the view with a "normal" photographic lends on a digital camera from one of the few places where our house can be seen. This is from the road leading out of Calliaqua into the mountains around Mespo.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!

Usually a Christmas email isn't justified because nothing much exciting happens here in St. Vincent, and you can read about what does happen on my St. Vincent blog at []. {i.e., here} But this year is an exception.

On the morning of November 29th I was sitting watching the TV with a cup of coffee and I had a strange feeling. As it got stronger I saw the whole house was rocking and rolling and it kept doing that for about 30 seconds. I heard a small crash, which turned out to be a pile of books destined to be a donation to the local library. Sally and Veronica (our household helper) were in different places in the house and when they could let go of what they were holding on to, they rushed into the living room. We decided it was clearly an earthquake, but was it La Soufrier, our volcano?

I rushed to the computer and eventually found it was a 7.4 earthquake 18km below the sea between Martinique and Domenica, where some noticeable damage was done on both islands. The attached picture is the cathedral on Dominica. The earthquake was the strongest recorded since the 1700s, but the shocks weren't sharp and sudden so it didn't do a lot of damage. But it was interesting--on the east coast of the US we don't get very many serious earthquakes and I had never felt anything like that.

Oh, and our volcano is still quiet.

Otherwise, we did our usual doctor visits this summer and we continue to be in reasonable health for the old f#rts we are.

So have a Merry Christmas and we'll all hope for another Good Year.

With love,

Sally & Karl Eklund

Monday, December 10, 2007

Changes to Flickr

Originally uploaded by Karlek
This photograph was originally taken in 2004 and uploaded to flickr with a reduced content. In recent days I have been reuploading some photographs in their full size, and I will retake some photographs (where possible) in better resolution. Then I will go back and delete some of the old ones that have better versions. Some things have changed in real life, and I will try to keep those old photographs.

Remember, you can reach these photographs at [] or [] (which is easier for me to remember) or by clicking on the picture in this blog entry.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Underwater Caribbean

There is a very interesting article in Slate at:
Underwater Caribbean, from: Elisabeth Eaves

It has some excellent underwater pictures. The following are some extracts from the text:

I've joined the fish watchers, and hope to learn from them, on a scuba-diving trip to the island of St. Vincent organized by REEF, the Reef Environmental Education Foundation. A few years back, the Key Largo, Fla.-based conservation group, inspired by the Audubon Christmas Bird Count, got the idea of using enthusiastic amateurs to gather scientific data. For the purposes of this trip, that means identifying different species and counting them. Some call this sort of project "citizen science." Blue and Warren, a Los Angeles couple on the trip, call it "fish-nerd camp." Blue sometimes pumps her fist in the air and shouts, "Yiii-ess!" when she has confirmed a new sighting.......

St. Vincent, fortunately, provides lots to absorb my attention. The swimming pool is a few paces from our room, and just beyond it is the sea. A scattering of masts bobs on the bay. Lillian gets up every morning at 6:30 for a swim in the sea, while I—not accustomed to two hour-long dives a day—sleep as late as I can. Breakfast is on the restaurant patio, then we walk five minutes along the waterfront to Bill's dock. This daily routine reminds me of paths considered but not chosen—perhaps unwisely, since they included more beaches and boats than my current city life.
Bill Tewes has cut an original path. If Lad is our general this week, making sure everyone is supplied with pencils and survey forms, Bill is our guru. He's unrivalled at finding and identifying some of the most unusual fish in the Caribbean. Diving these waters for more than two decades, he's helped put St. Vincent on the map for turning up marine life still undocumented by science. The tiny bluebar jawfish, for instance, was first spotted here.
A native Texan, Bill worked in the oil industry in the United States, then as a dive master on a cruise ship, and at some point in Australia. He ran a dive shop in Papua New Guinea for two and a half years, near the town of Madang, where the deep, clear water of the Bismarck Sea hosts copious marine life and scattered testaments to human folly. I dove there once (while considering one of those other paths) on the wreck of a B-25 bomber.* Corals and fish had made their home on the World War II airplane, and the roof of the cockpit had long ago disappeared. The seats inside, though, were so well-preserved that it was tempting to slip into one, look up at the dancing surface, and contemplate the life of a draftee.
Rising crime drove Bill away from New Guinea, and in 1984 he opened his dive shop on St. Vincent, where he gradually became an institution. He has appeared on a St. Vincent postage stamp. He also had the privilege of naming many of the local dive sites, one of which he called New Guinea Reef.
My first day on his boat, I've barely clambered aboard before he barks at me for not washing my feet. "Look at all this sand!" he says. Before I can protest, he commands, "Get it later!" to someone rummaging near her tank. Once his six divers are assembled, he announces strict rules: No going behind the imaginary line dividing fore from aft, unless you're putting on your tank. No more than two divers at the back of the boat at any given time, one to a side. If you ignore protocol on deck, he'll admonish you. If you misbehave underwater—for instance, by kicking up sand, which lowers visibility and distresses small critters—you're likely to feel his sudden sharp grip on your heel. God help you if you steal a shell with a living creature inside............

I've just surfaced from a dive at Orca Point, where two rock spires at the mouth of a bay frame the lush onshore greenery beyond. Just 10 yards from our boat are two more vessels, one a rowboat, the other slightly larger with an outboard motor. There are four men standing in the boats, three of them shirtless, all in shorts or rolled-up pants. A fifth man is in the water with a mask and snorkel. Together, the team is looping a long net into a cylinder. Red and orange floats bob on the surface as the men draw the net tighter.
After pulling their net onboard, they smile and wave at us. One holds up a long silver fish for our inspection—a ballahoo. "They gotta feed their families," says Captain Bill. "You should check out the fish market. You'll see turtles, pilot whales. They'll fish anything they can eat." Unemployment here, I later learn, is 22 percent; St. Vincent and the Grenadines is literally a banana republic, the fruit being its traditional top export, and the banana market is not what it used to be. The island of St. Vincent—including this very location, the mouth of Orca Bay, favored by shirtless subsistence fishermen—enjoyed a brief stint of Hollywood stardom in the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, during the filming of which every hotel and spare bedroom on the island was occupied. These days, at the site of an elaborate set left behind on a pretty bay, a man sells bracelets made of shells and plastic beads for a few East Caribbean dollars. The government speaks of building a new airport, but Bill reckons it will never happen, and he thinks that's a good thing: At 133 square miles, St. Vincent is little more than the tip of a volcano; above or below water, it can handle only so much.......

Topside, I visit the Kingstown fish market one day with Lad and Mike, the mustachioed retired government worker whom we have put in charge of our species-count betting pool. To get into town from Villa, where the upscale hotels are ghettoized, it costs 30 cents for the 30-minute ride on a packed minibus. Since St. Vincent and the Grenadines is the poorest country in the Eastern Caribbean, I expect the fish market to be open-air and chaotic. Instead, it's housed in a pristinely sterile building on the waterfront, with glass front doors and white-tiled walls. A stainless-steel plaque dated 2005 is embedded in the outer wall, imprinted with a Japanese flag and an inscription: "The project of re-modeling the new Kingstown Fish Market … as a token of friendship and cooperation between Japan and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines."
Lad says he's seen similar gifts from Japan all over the Caribbean. They're Japan's way of thanking these small nations for supportive votes on the International Whaling Commission, the organization that attempts to regulate the rate at which humans may kill whales, and which has objected to catches taken by Japan since a 1985 ban.
Inside the market, splayed out on the ice, are some of the fish I've been seeing all week and a few I haven't spotted: The blackbar soldierfish, red with a black stripe, was one of the first species I learned to identify. I see the sherbet colors of several male parrotfish; a fishmonger proudly holds one up for my perusal. And I see red hinds, a speckled grouper that I've been looking for underwater. Two buyers haggle with a white-aproned seller, who picks up a coney and flops it into her scale.
After the market, we walk down the street to a restaurant called Vee Jay's, where we sit on a veranda overlooking the Bayview Parking Lot. I order my favorite local dish, a fish roti, which consists of a chickpea-flour tortilla stuffed with potatoes, spices, and a hodgepodge of the daily catch.......

The next evening, the last for most of us on St. Vincent, Bill takes us all out for drinks on Young Island, the luxury resort we've been gazing at all week, just across a shallow channel from our own hotel and Dive St. Vincent. After a two-minute ride by shuttle boat, we're all sitting on a new veranda, sipping sweet fruity cocktails and looking back at where we've been. And talking about slender filefish.
We finally say goodbye to Bill, the men with handshakes and the women with hugs, cheek pressed to scratchy cheek. As I turn to go, Bill reaches into his pocket and pulls out a small, hard, smooth-as-glass object, which he hands to me. It's the shell of a flamingo tongue, white on top and pale orange, as though stained, where its mantle used to sit. It may not be 1-in-10,000, but it's coming from him, so I slip it into my pocket like a piece of deep-sea treasure.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Wallilabou Falls

Originally uploaded by Karlek
A small falls in a very pretty location, just up the road from Wallilabou Harbor. That became globally famous for being the site of many of the scenes in Pirates of the Caribbean; but it has been known to yachting people for some time. There is even a customs Agent there at appropriate times. There is a set of photographs located at []

Baliceaux and Bettovia ...

Originally uploaded by Karlek
... as seen from the road behind our house. They were where the deported Garifuna were dumped in the first phase of the attempted genocide of native peoples by the British. The second phase was to move those remaining alive out of sight, to Rowatan Island off Honduras. Despite the best efforts of the British, the Garifuna survived.

Young Island Ferry

Originally uploaded by Karlek
My favorite aspect of the Young Island resort is the ferry that runs back and forth to the maintand. Its two-cycle engine has a marvelous sound.

Young Island

Originally uploaded by Karlek
An exclusive resort on an island 100 yards from the mainland. According to local history it was given by Chatoyer to General Young in exchange for a pair of white horses.

Indian Bay Beach

Originally uploaded by Karlek
Indian Bay is also a tourist area. There are some small hotels and eating places near the beach, and there is a hotel on Villa Point overlooking Indian Bay.

Villa Beach

Originally uploaded by Karlek
Villa Beach and Indian Bay Beach are the closest thing to a tourist center on St. Vincent. In this picture the left side shows the beachfront of the Beachcomber Hotel, next is the Sunset Shores Hotel and the Paradise Inn. The dock is that of the Aquatic Club and the ferry dock to Young Island. Beyond that is the Mariner's Hotel. All the hotels have restaurants and there are more restaurants near the Acquatic Club.
The Photo was taken from the point that divides Villa Beach from Indian Bay.

Monday, December 03, 2007


Originally uploaded by Karlek
This is "downtown" Caliaqua. The main street is the Windward Highway. The photo was taken from the road higher on the hill than our house to get over our trees. Among the stores is a Gourmet Shop that carries European goods including frozen swedish seafood and Ikea kitchenware.

Fisherman's Market, Caliaqua

Originally uploaded by Karlek

We used to be able to see this scene from the balcony on our house, but the plumrose tree grew up. I took this from the road behind (i.e., above) our house. The foreground is the playing field where the Windward Highway goes through Caliaqua. The buildings bounding the field are the fisherman's market and a cold storage building. The water behind that is the Careenage, where sailing ships would be careened so that the barnacles could be scraped from their hull. The land between that and the Atlantic is a point that bounds Calliaqua Bay.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Cruise Ship Pier

Originally uploaded by Karlek
This is one of a group of pictures taken in earlier years (this was taken in 2006) that I only recently uploaded to the flickr site []. Either I didn't have time when I took the pictures or I now want to upload it in a larger size, or I may now want to use it on the web.

I am also going to remake my walking tour of Kingstown with better or larger pictures, taken more recently.

This is the interior of the building on the Cruise Ship, which contains some quality botiques and offices of the Tourist Board.