Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Two new orchids in Sally's shadehouse.


It is delightful to have fresh tomatos in February

Saturday, February 21, 2009

UAE signs diplomatic ties with SVG

UAE signs diplomatic ties with St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Feb 21st, 2009
by admin.

New York, Feb. 21, 2009 The UAE and St. Vincent and the Grenadines signed a
joint statement to officially establish diplomatic ties between the two countries at
ambassadorial level with effect from February 20, 2009.
UAEʼs Permanent Ambassador at the UN Headquarters, Ahmed Abdul Rahman Al-
Jarman, signed the statement for his country, while his counterpart from St. Vincent
and the Grenadines, Camillo Gonsalves, also signed for his country during a short
ceremony held here at the premises of the UAE Permanent Mission at the UN
Headquarters. A number of members of the diplomatic corps in New York attended
the ceremony.

The joint statement, which was placed at the UN Headquarters in Arabic and
English copies, expresses the deep interest of the two countries in boosting joint
understanding and strengthening relations of friendship and cooperation between
them on the basis of the principles and objectives of the UN Charter, international
law and treaties, particularly those related to boosting international peace and
security, equality among people, national sovereignty, territorial integrity and non-
interference in the internal affairs of other countries.
The statement calls for establishment of diplomatic ties between the two countries
at ambassadorial level, in accordance with the April 18, 1961 Vienna Convention
on diplomatic relations, with effect from the day of signing the agreement.
Soon after signing the agreement, Al-Jarman and Gonsalves discussed ways to
boost bilateral ties between the two countries, particularly in the areas of politics,
economy, trade, culture and other areas.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a group of islands located in the South Eastern
part of the Caribbean.

Friday, February 20, 2009

The Mysterious Garifuna (v.2)

This is a version of an essay that I wrote back in 2005 and can be found back in the beginning of this blog. It describes certain phenomena associated with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines that are related to the aboriginal population before the diaspora that provided a "Final Solution" to the Second Carib War (known to the colonial british as the "Brigand's War"). It was originally written for the Garifuna website at, on the occasion of the racial slurs that were featured in the second of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies. Since it is now 2009, I forgot about it until I searched on "Garifuna" in the search box at the top left of this page. It reminded me of some questions that might be answered by archeological work like that described here a few entries ago. This version makes a few changes that bring it up to date.


When Sally and I first came to Saint Vincent and the Grenadines looking for a tropical paradise to retire to, we visited the fortress overlooking the capital city, Kingstown. There was a wonderful view of the Caribbean and the nearby grenadine island, Bequia. But something looked wrong. Normally, a fortress that was built to protect an important port like Kingstown has its guns pointing to sea to fire on an approaching fleet. But these cannons were pointing inland! They were obviously placed there to fire on people coming over land, perhaps hostile natives.

Later I found out about the Carib Wars and the way the resident Caribs kept the island relatively free of colonization from the 1500s to the late 1700s. Fort Charlotte was obviously built to protect a detachment of British troops from attacks by the natives whose lands they were enroaching on. The guns were pointed at potential attacks by those they called the Carib indians.

Still later, as I learned more about the history of St. Vincent, something else didn't fit. The British, with the military resources they had surplus after losing the American Revolution, and with German Mountain troops they had hired for the occasion, had rounded up the natives (except for a few deemed less hostile), and exiled them, first to a nearby desert island and later to Rowaton Island off what is now Honduras. They did this in 1797. There were few native people left on Saint Vincent, and those who were had no military power.

Then, after that, they built Fort Charlotte, which was finished in 1803, seven years after the natives, who we now call Garifuna, were exiled. The guns of Fort Charlotte were pointed inland, but not at the Garifuna, because they were gone. The Fort was built and the guns pointed as they were to protect the British Garrison from the ghosts of the Garifuna, the bad dreams they had of what they had done to the native people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

The Garifuna, even in exile, struck fear into the heart of the British Empire.

This realization made me wonder about these mysterious Garifuna who held off the European invaders for so long. But this was only the first of the mysteries that I encountered while trying to understand the history of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. I tried to put it together in a book on the internet (at and quickly ran into some questions. One of the first was who the Caribs were, anyway.

If you read the 17th and 18th century British sources you will find that the "Black Caribs" had practically exterminated the "Yellow" or "Red" Caribs. On the other hand if you read the French sources you will find that the people populating the island are simply Caribs, although there are a small number of people referred to as "Black Caribs" who act like other Caribs, pretty much, but have some African characteristics in their ancestry. They are harder to get along with but are useful allies in war.

Over the last forty years I have been doing research on social evolution. The latest version is Barak Hussein Obama and the Evolution of Utopia (found here ) In the longer version linked there I have shown that the characteristics of appearance we call "racial" evolved in the late paleolithic when we had to maintain a stable tribal population by infanticide. In earlier periods we fissioned and migrated but eventually we saturated the living space.

To limit our population we had to use birth control. The only way we could distringuish one of "us" from a "monster birth" (like Oedipus) was by what the baby looked like. If it looked like "us" that was fine, if it didn't then it was a monster not fit to live. So we evolved into a species that had a tremendous variety of appearance globally and remarkable similarity of appearance locally; and a deep suspicion of anyone who didn't look like "us". That local similarity of appearance is how we identify "race".

To the eyes of the european invaders there was an obvious strain of African appearance among the residents of St. Vincent. Whether this came from the wreck of a slaver in the 1600s or an expedition from Mali in the 1300s is something for the scholars to argue about. Certainly the european visitors, like the paleolithic shamans, had nothing to go on but appearance since they agreed that all the islanders behaved in much the same way. So we are left with motivations to resolve the mystery of the British being unable to see the Caribs that the French did..

The British were in St. Vincent to grow sugar with the aid of slaves from Africa, so if there were people who acted like Caribs but had a complexion much darker than the British did they were obviously escaped slaves who needed to be restored to their proper place. They tended to see more "Black Caribs" than "Yellow" Caribs.

The French had a different bias. They were not particularly sympathetic with the local people: they could easily exile all the locals like they did in Martinique. But they wanted the people living in St. Vincent to help them harass the British so that the French could eventually take over the British posessions in the Caribbean. The colonists they sent in did what the voyagers did in Canada, they did what farming and trapping they needed to do to survive and in many ways adapted the local customs that worked, including taking local wives. Being less racist they tended to see just "Caribs", with maybe a small proportion of "Black Caribs" who didn't like the French any more than they liked the British.

Since we are not likely to be able to view photographs or DNA scans of individuals living on St. Vincent in the 18th century, it makes little sense for us to make fine distinctions between "Caribs" and "Black Caribs", especially since they differed only in appearance. So I'll refer to the native residents of Saint Vincent as "Caribs" and the people who were exiled in 1797, and their descendants, as "Garifuna", and not worry about what they looked like.

The major mystery was why the Caribs maintained a viable society late in the 18th century when the Taino vanished as a society in places like Hispanola and Cuba much earlier. The short answer is that the Caribs had worked out a solution to the problem of the mesolithic-neolithic transition that was able to use European technology without being affected by European ideology.

The Neolithic Revolution that we read about is a phenomenon that is associated with the transition from a hunter-gatherer economy structured by conformity and consensus, and a grain-growing economy structured by a central ideology and authoritarian government. The normal model developed in the plains of the mideast and spread out from there. Somilar societies developed in mainland America and among the Taino on the big islands in the Antilles.

The mesolithic-neolithic transition could cause radical changes because of the higher population densities permitted by agriculture. In northwest Europe, for instance, as soon as grain agriculture was introduced the population stopped eating fish and wild game. This made the normal children suceptible to vitamin D deficiency and bone disease. Only those children with noticeable melanin-deficiency got enough of the weak European sunlight to survive, so the melanin-concentration of the people within a few hundred miles of the North and Baltic Seas took on a paleskinned melanin-deficient appearance.

That is similar to the development of the sickle-cell trait in mosquito prone areas, so that people with a single gene for sickle-cell are immune to malaria while a person with both has sickle-cell disease. People whose ancestors came from North Europe have melanin-deficiency that allows them to survive on a grain-based diet in the north, but are suceptible to sunburn and skin cancers in the tropics.

There are also social adaptations to the transition. In the temperate rain forest of northwest America there is an area that has immense supplies of fish, wild game and berries. A tribal society using late paleolithic technology can produce much more food and fish-oil than it needs, so the society developed the practice of potlatch, whereby a tribe gave away its surplus for prestige. This amounted to a redistribution that provided a less lucky tribe with survival at the cost of a little prestige, and evened out the situations of tribes that were, for instance, berry-rich and fish-oil poor. This society lasted until the late 19th century, thousands of years after the mesolithic-neolithic transition elsewhere. It only collapsed when a commercial market for beaver skins paid for in manufactured goods completely unbalanced their redistribution system.

In the 16th century Caribbean the Taino on the big islands had gone through the transition to grain agriculture, a central religion and a hierarchical society and were suceptible to invasion from a society that had those qualities plus better technology. Their society collapsed under the domination of the spanish colonists.

The Caribs, on the other hand, resisted. In particular, the Caribs on St. Vincent had developed a solution that maintained the vigor of a late paleolithic hunter-gatherer society and that was able to use European technology without being suceptible to Neolithic-style ideology. This appears to be a unique social development.

Luckily we have a contemporary observer Rev. Fr. Adrien Le Breton, S.J.(1662-1736) whose manuscript "Historic Account of Saint Vincent, The Indian Youroumayn, the island of the Karaybes" was translated and published in 1998 by the Mayereau Environmental Development Organization.

The Caribs of St. Vincent, as described by Fr. Le Breton from personal experience, are "perfectly equal, and they recognize absolutely no official, chief or magistrate." This is characteristic of the hunter-gatherer stage of social evolution and normally is limited to groups of the order of a dozen in size who operate by a combination of conformity and individuality. This is generally found at a population density of about a square kilometer per person in open country.

However, Le Breton also says "...the fortunate complicity of the country astonishingly encourages the people's frenzy for total independence. ...the island ... is riddled with bays and hollows ...[and].. offers each father of a family the opportunity to choose ...his ideal site. far from any foreign constraint and completely safe ... to lead his life exactly as he pleases."

In other words, the Caribs of St. Vincent took advantage of the geography to settle in small communities that were relatively isolated from one another and so avoided the crisis of size that determined the population dynamics of the hunter-gatherer band in open country. The conflicting needs of conformity and individuality made the band fission at about a dozen members. The constraint of the barriers between settlements made possible a population density an order of magnitude larger than elsewhere. This made it possible for the Caribs to practice limited slash-and-burn agriculture and use ceramic technology while avoiding the hierarchical structure of the people on larger islands.

The other characteristic that Fr. Le Breton describes is that they "visit one another as frequently as possible". This again is unique to the Caribs of St. Vincent, but it allowed them to maintain a uniform island-wide culture while maintaining the egalitarian and antiauthroritarian values that were their characteristic and that Fr. Le Breton found so unusual.

At the same time it also gave them the ability to absorb technology from the Europeans without losing their own culture. They not only quickly adopted iron tools and weapons, but, as described by Moreau de Jonnes from his own experience, when there were food shortages on St. Vincent they felt free to go to Trinidad in a pirogue, hire schooners there that were more suitable to transport bulk cargo bought with salvaged spanish coinage. In other words rather than being "savages" they were perfectly capable of operating in a european-style money-based economy. They simply chose not to.

This suggests that the Caribs were somewhat like the Vikings: they built vessels capable of going from the Orinoco to the Bahamas, trading where appropriate and raiding where that was possible. Like the Vikings they were regarded as a menace in the settled agricultural communities of the big islands, so that the Taino told Columbus that they were cannibals, much the way the early English described the Vikings as monsters.

Whether or not they practiced a ritual consumption of relatives like the Mali, or the symbolic consumption of Jesus' body and blood in the Roman Mass, is probably not resolveable now; but they were certainly independent and individualistic enough to horrify a hierarchical society.

If they were like Vikings it would explain the mystery of language in that the men and women seemed to speak different languages. The women of a Carib community would speak the normal Amarak that would be spoken in the family, while the men would speak to a stranger in the Carib that served as a trading pidgen, or creole, within the Caribbean basin.

This would also explain their attitudes toward the Africans, French and British who came to St. Vincent. Whether the Africans came from Mali in the 1300s or were survivors of shipwreaks or escaped slaves after the 1500s they would not have been trying to expel the Caribs and replace their culture with a different one. The French were less welcome but less disturbing to Carib values than the British; so while the Caribs did what they could to play the British and French off against one another, they were generally more tolerant of the French. That is what makes French sources generally more useful.

In a sense solving these mysteries can be considered academic. It may be asked what difference it makes today. But there are some questions that are of contemporary interest.

Sally and I ended up in St. Vincent after stays on other Caribbean Islands. We had made week-long visits to St. Kits, Nevis, Antigua, Martinique, Guadaloupe, and Grenada, and shorter visits to Puerto Rico and Trinidad. We visited St. Vincent for a week, came back the next winter for two weeks, and came back some months later and bought a house. We have spent winters in that house for the last 15 years.

We fell in love not only with the island, as I describe in the web-book (at Http://, but with the people who seemed to be friendlier than anywhere else in the Caribbean we had been. Comments with the same intent have been heard off and on during the last decade, and we have heard from people in the tourist industry that people from other islands come to St. Vincent for a vacation.

There is historic evidence that is consistent with this: Grenada is an island similar to St. Vincent but with a different history. From the post-colonial government to the present Grenada has had two violent revolutions and an international war. St. Vincent has had a couple of strikes and some peaceful elections.

There are some islands where if a melanin-deficient person like myself goes down the wrong street you can cut the tension with a knife; I have had "Honkey, go home" shouted at my car once. and that was with a New York accent. (I was born in New York City so I know that accent well.)

It would be impossible to say that the friendliness evolves directly from the hospitality of the Vincentian Caribs, but they are both characteristic of St. Vincent and not common elsewhere.

I had my attention drawn to the History of St. Vincent and the Garifuna by Professor Hilary Beckles of UWI Cave Hill in Barbados. Professor Beckles had represented both Barbados and St. Vincent at the UN conference on Racism at Durban, South Africa and said, among other things, that just as St. Vincent was at the center of the world in 1795 it was also there at the present. That led me not only to study the history of St. Vincent but to look at the future of racism.

Even an extreme economic conservative like President Bush speaks of spreading democracy around the world, so it is not unreasonable to believe that the next stage in human social evolution will involve an infrastructure that assumes a global egalitarianism. On the other hand it is clear that the developed nations are characterized by a conspicuous display of resource use as a status symbol. In fact so much resources are wasted on status display that there wouldn't be enough if everyone used resources at that rate.

There is no significant ideology that says that people of any particular ethnicity deserve to waste resources that other people need to survive, so there are only two solutions to this situation:

1. The people of the developed nations (i.e., Western Civilization) will have to adopt a lifestyle that can be shared with all the other people of the globe (i.e. economic egalitarianism), or:

2. The establishment of Western Civilization will have to maintain or increase the level of poverty by force.

The policy of the Bush Administration in the U.S. is to redistribute wealth from the poor to the rich, and, as Prof. Beckles reported from Durham, the establishment of Western Civilization doesn't even want to discuss questions of equity such as reparations for slavery, so it is unlikely that the first solution will be adopted any time soon.

The implication is that the force by which Western Civilization will use to maintain economic inequity will have to be answered by force. The conflict between American policy and the Muslim Jehad in Iraq follows the example of the Jehad against Russian puppet governments in Afghanistan in showing that an ideologically based insurrection can cost a large nation so much that conquest is not worth the effort. Unfortunately it destroys what it attempts to save.

What the undeveloped world needs is a movement that is not ideological in the sense of being nationalistic, is ecumenical with regard to religion, is not violent for violence's sake as nihilism can be, and has the power to survive under difficult circumstances.

Common sense would say that that is impossible, except that the Garifuna have managed to provide an example. The Garifuna survived a serious attempt at genocide by the British Empire, they exist as Garifuna in several nations, they can be religious without losing the sense of being Garifuna, and they can, with the support and encouragement of their fellows, escape the status competition that rules most of Western Civilization.

Perhaps most importantly at this crisis-point in evolution they have no attraction to racism. The Garifuna trace their roots to both Africa and the Caribbean basin, but their genetic makeup is likely to run from almost pure African to almost pure Carib with traces of genes from Europe and Asia. The conflict between Westerners (i.e.. Melanin-deficient Northern Europeans and their American descendants) and everyone else may be basically economic, but it is easier to see a pale skin than an economic theory when peering through the sights of a rifle.

So what we need in this crisis is for a group like the Garifuna (if there are any other groups like the Garifuna) to come to terms with its identity and the role it can play in the evolution of the human species.

Karl Eklund, Ph.D.
Villa, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
February 2009

To read the 2005 version search on Garifuna in the box on the upper left corner

Kick'em Jenny

Kick ‘em Jenny is the name of an active underwater volcano on the floor of the Caribbean Sea, about 8 km north of Grenada. Between 1939, the volcano’s first recorded eruption, and 2001, its last, it is said that there were 12 further eruptions. Today, there is a 5-km safety zone around the volcano to deter adventurous snorkelers and scuba divers.

From "Environmental Graffiti"

Sports Illustrated on Canouan

The cover of Sports Illustrated, and an interior shot, done at the Raffles Resort on Canouan, St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Moreau's Memoire

I forgot that I put Moreau's Memoir (the Caribbean chapters) in the early part of this blog. Put Garifuna in the search box. You'll also find an essay about the Garifuna that I wrote for the Garifuna website and had forgotten about.

Archeological Note

The archeological site mentioned below reminds us of a situation that appears to be something of a paradox. The lifestyle of the residents of the site appears to be that of the Mesolithic-Neolithic transition, which happened roughly 8000BCE in the mideast, yet Alexandre Moreau De Jonnes' memoires [Adventures in the Wars of the Republic and the Consulate (1858) by Alexandre Moreau De Jonnes, translated by A. J. Ardy.(John Murray, London, 1920)/] describes people who are equally comfortable in their native culture on St. Vincent and in the nominally civilized colonial culture of Martinique.

We would not expect this because we have not had a choice of cultures: of being relatively free under the extended-family culture of the Garifuna of St. Vincent or being one step above a slave under the European-Colonial culture of the French and English islands. The Garifuna tolerated the French because they were not as culturally parochial as the English, but that did not encourage them to subject themselves to French colonization. The Second Carib War had French support, but on the basis that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend".

This is why it will be particularly interesting to carbon date and do detailed excavations of the sites (existing and potential) of Carib/Garifuna culture on St. Vincent. The native culture was able to carry forward the democratic mesolithic values for centuries after first contact with post-Neolithic European culture, when other incursions of European culture (especially technology) quickly transformed the aboriginal role to that of "Barbarian at the Gate" (Toynbee's "external proletariat"). This makes Vincentian archeology a unique resource: not only because it is literally a relatively virgin field but because it asks entirely new questions.

Let us hope that we get to answer some of those questions before St. Vincent gets overdeveloped as a supplier of tourist facilities. Perhaps a global recession will slow down the development enough to allow us to do that.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines is certainly a venue that is easily accessible to northamerican archeologists and it will be, before the Argyle airport and its surrounding areas get developed, a particularly good source for training students and volunteers. Not to mention that one can work outdoors for most of the year. All we need is to convince the arceological community that the results are potentially "interesting" from an acdemic point of view.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Archeological Excavation

Children visiting site. "Doc" Kirby, whose biography is noted below, would have been particularly pleased to see the schoolchildren visiting the site.

Artifacts found on site.

Outline of "Long House"

Volunteers on site.

Working on burial.

This is a preliminary visit to the archeological "dig" on the windward side of Saint Vincent. I hope to add more information later.


Saving the Hotel Industry—With Models!

Travel Blog • Alexander Basek • 02.19.09 | 1:13 PM ET

It’s not all Singapore Slings over at Raffles HQ. Nope, they’re also quite proud to have made the cover of Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. That’s Raffles Canouan Island behind Bar Refaeli. (OK, it took me a little while to get my eyes off the foreground. Apologies). The hotel is also offering a package simulating the experience the models had, complete with a tour of the property where the shoots took place. Without the models on hand, it doesn’t have quite the same luster, but it’s still an interesting concept.

But is “Bar Refaeli writhed here” reason enough to visit a hotel? Unless you’re a creepy, creepy person, it is not. As nice as Canouan is—that is to say, nice enough to host a of bevy models—Raffles’ get says more about the Swimsuit Issue than anything else. It’s very hard for hotels, especially high-end hotels, to break through these days when the news is mostly bad and super deluxe amenities all start to sound the same. Having a supermodel or two in your back pocket can’t hurt, especially when Americans still stop and pay attention to SI’s annual fleshfest even as the rest of the magazine industry plummets. The lesson here? Make the Swimsuit Issue twice yearly, to save the hotel industry.

Pigmented Spectacles -- "Doc" Kirby

In 1972 David Chesterton met Dr. Earle Kirby on the island of St. Vincent. Most years after that, until ‘Doc’ died in 2005, David visited his home or the Museum where ‘Doc’ displayed artifacts he had personally collected. Those objects refuted the English history books children had studied in the island schools.
The true story showed a thriving civilization flourished before the Western invasions.
Yet the life history of the discoverer of that truth was unrecorded. This biography reveals the story of ‘Doc’ Kirby, the island’s veterinarian (he studied in Guelph, Canada and in Edinburgh, Scotland). When farmers began showing ‘Doc’ artifacts they had dug up as they ploughed their lands, he taught himself archeology and collected artifacts from the seashore to the top of the island’s volcano, Mount Soufriere so that children could learn, from those artifacts, their true history and ‘stand tall’.
Thanks to friends of Doc’s, from all over the world, this volume records that incredible story through ‘Conversations with Ian Ayrton Earle Kirby.’

Copies of the book can be obtained by contacting the author at :
David Chesterton, 5 Snowberry Court, Caledon Village, Ontario, Canada L7K 0B5

The cost of the book is $15 Canadian plus shipping and mailing costs

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

International Entertainer To Visit St. Vincent

Mattanja Joy Bradley, an international singer and musician based in Holland, will be visiting St. Vincent in April and May of 2009. She can be seen and heard on You Tube here and here. In addition to her work as a cabaret singer she has performed with the bands Bradley's Circus here and Karma Bonita here.

Cruise Report, Grenadines

Charter/Cruise Report – Grenadines By marc • Apr 25th, 2008

The Liat turbopropʼs engines droned loudly as we cruised over the Caribbean Sea
at 15,000 feet. The three hour flight from San Juan, Puerto Rico would bring us to
Kingstown on St. Vincent Island—just a short taxi ride from Sunsailʼs charter base
and our departure point for a week of sailing among the Grenadine Islands. Mike,
Randy, and Nate spread out in the lightly populated main cabin for some rest and
relaxation while I gazed out the scratched window. The paint on the engine cowling
was peeling off in the slipstream.
Liat Airlines

A few months earlier, Mike, a former charter client, had called me and asked that I
put together a weeklong sailing adventure in a “warm place”. I considered the
options. The Mediterranean was still too cold. Mexicoʼs Sea of Cortez offered some
great adventure, but the sailing conditions could be fickle and the destinations a
wilderness. The charter bases in the South Pacific held some attraction, but my
experience there was limited and many of the destinations required offshore
passage making. I figured our best bet would be the Caribbean. I knew the islands
intimately and Caribbean sailing is some of the most consistent on the planet. The
balmy trades blow from the easterly quadrants at 15-25 knots throughout fall,
winter, and spring. The island lees provide plenty of anchorages, and passages
between islands are short and though sometimes boisterous, rarely involve
tacking. But where in the Caribbean should we go?

For me, the British Virgin Islands are the Disneyland of the archipelago. The
passages are short and well worn. The destinations are scrubbed and shiny. The
word adventure just doesnʼt ring true in the BVIs. Iʼd just returned from skippering
the Heineken Regatta in St. Martin. This was great sailing, but the destinations are
few. Then I remembered the portion of the Caribbean that I had come to regard as
the most genuine and unspoiled during my 5-month jaunt up the island chain in
2004—the Grenadines.

The Grenadines are a group of small islands nestled between the big islands of St.
Vincent and Grenada. Politically, they are divided into the St. Vincent Grenadines
and the Grenadian Grenadines. The crown jewel of the Grenadines is widely
regarded as the Tobago Cays, an anchorage that is well protected by a huge coral
reef, but is otherwise open to the full force of the Atlantic Ocean and Trade winds.
Uninhabited islands, white sandy beaches, clear waters, abundant sea life, and
dramatic views account for the popularity of this area, and many visitors to the
Grenadines spend most of their voyage there.

A squall rushes toward us in the Tobago Cays as we try to finish our BBQ cookout
For my money though, Bequia takes top honors. For those who take the time and
make the effort to scratch through the surface, the people of this island have stories
to tell. Unlike the big islands, with cultures rooted in slavery and an economic
history based is based in agriculture, Bequia is ground zero of a seafaring nation,
famed for boat building and whaling.

The people of Bequia show little of the anger-tinged obsequiousness that
characterizes so much of Caribbean culture. These people are the independent
and proud descendants of sailing folk for whom the color of oneʼs skin counted less
than the cut of oneʼs jib.

To this day, the people of Bequia exercise their lawful right to hunt whale using
small sailing boats and hand-held harpoons. As you ply the Grenadine waters, you
will encounter at least two Bequia built schooners made of rough-hewn timbers
and crewed and captained by Bequian seamen. These people have stories to tell.

Friendship Rose is a Bequian-built schooner captained and crewed by skilled local mariners

For seven days Mike, Randy, Nate, and I toured the Grenadines from St. Vincent to
Bequia and then to Mayreau, Tobago Cays, Union, Mustique, and back to Bequia.
The sailing was as good as it gets—brisk and lively, and the navigation was just
challenging enough to keep things interesting. Good sailing in the Grenadines

But as I reflect on our voyage, I think the cultural experience may have been more
than my clients had bargained for. The black-skinned people of these islands may
live in a tropical paradise but their daily struggle to survive makes visiting their
home waters edgy. Boat boys, restaurant employees, and market owners proffer
their services in an aggressive effort to make a few dollars. Their manner and
attitudes are shaped by a long history of economic exploitation and daily
experience with rich tourists, expecting and sometimes demanding, a pristine

Determination Bar and Grocery echos a senitment that is typical fo the Caribbean
Beauty is more than skin deep, and to really appreciate the Grenadines, it is
necessary to dig down a bit to find the seafaring heart of the island people. It takes
a desire to know. It takes work. It takes time. Above all, it takes humility. But once
the exterior is pierced, the true beauty of the islands can be found.

Art Class


Have you always desired to understand how to help to bring out creativity in children and other adults?
Here is your chance to make that desire a reality!
Call in and register at : ADULT & CONTINUING EDUCATION , 457-1504 or 450-0415, located upstairs, passed the Library on Middle St. (left hand side walking from the Market).
We are taking applications until February 27, 2009.

The weekly class will take place at the Technical Institute, next to Bishop's College (Entrance through Bishop's), starting Thursday, March 5, at 4:30 p.m.
Register today!

Forwarded by:

Cécile Comblen, BFA, BEd.
Peintre & professeur
Visual Artist & teacher

Sunday, February 15, 2009

More Garifuna Information

First of all, enter Garifuna in the search block and click on search this blog. I posted several blogessays relating to garifuna over the last couple of years.

Go to to read the memoires of an 18-year-old french spy during the Second Carib War. It gives a very different picture of the Garifuna than any of the English colonial sources.

Go to for a collection of remarks on St. Vincent and the Grenadines. There are a lot of lost links between pictures and text. I may try to find time to fix that sometimes. In the meantime look at this blog at:

Garifuna Reunion

The Garifuna Reunion in St Vincent (Yurumein)
The Power of the Past and the Promise of the Future
By: Jose Francisco Avila

In his 1970 book “Future Shock” Alvin Toffier wrote, ”Change is the process by which the future invades our lives, and it is important that we look at it closely, not only from the grand perspective of History, but also from the vantage point of the living, breathing individuals who experience it” 1

Change is inevitableand there’s is no question that it is happening in the relationship between St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Garifunas as demonstrated by the Garifuna Reunion to be celebrated on July 18th – 23rd, as part of Vincy Homecoming 2009.

It has been said that “The future does not just happen, we must make it happen” and that’s what the Garifuna Coalition chose to do when it linked the power of the Garifunas’ historic past while looking forward to a future brimming with promise and hope when it proposed the Garifuna Reunion as part of Vincy Homecoming 2009 to the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadine through the Regional Integration and Diaspora Unit (RIDU) Office of the Prime Minister.

While the US Garifuna Diaspora has maintained links and connections with the Central American countries, where they were exiled to that has not been the case with their homeland of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (Yurumein). With the exception of Garifunas from Belize, no other Central American Garifuna Community has maintained regular contact with St. Vincent. There will be some who will remember the Honorable James Mitchell, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ visit to Honduras in 1997 during the Garifuna Bicentennial, in commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the
Garifunas exile. However, twelve years later there has been no renewed linkage. An analysis of the situation led to the conclusion that it was due to the language barrier since the largest Garifuna Diaspora is located in Spanish speaking countries.

Therefore, the Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc. chose to organize the Garifuna Reunion as an integral part of the Vincy Homecoming 2009 celebrations in an effort to forge
better relations. It also chose to develop bilingual English/Spanish) promotional material to reach out to all Garifunas.

The Garifuna Reunion creates an opportunity for the Garifuna Diaspora to get to know and reconnect with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and to meet and exchange information with Saint Vincent leaders in the government, business, political, non-profit, and cultural sectors during their visit to the country. The reunion also enables Saint Vincent leaders to gain a greater understanding about the multicultural and multilingual Garifunas while developing a framework and action plan for further enhancement of relations between St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Garifuna Diaspora.

The media has brought greater awareness about the Garifunas and their special place in history. The wakening of ethnic cultural pride among the Garifunas combined with the increased awareness about their special place in history provides Saint Vincent and the Grenadines an opportunity to develop a new cultural tourism strategy to compliment its thriving tourism industry, while facilitating greater collaboration and partnership between the business community in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and entrepreneurs in the Garifuna Diaspora.

According to Dr. Adrian Frazier, the reconnection of the people, among other things, will help in the reclaiming of their history, identity and pride; and in reconstructing and restoring their central place in the early history and development of St. Vincent, or Yuremi as it is known in Garifuna language.

The history, artifacts and other symbols of the Black Caribs (Garifuna people) are essential parts of the history and culture of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Many of the forts and places where the different encounters took place remain and tell their own story, among them the cannons at Fort Charlotte that point inland. Beside the information they provide to the Vincentian people, they also add to the rich heritage and cultural-tourism infrastructure.2

However, the Garifunas special place in St Vincent’s history has also generated a great deal of debate about the sale of the Island of Baliceux, as demonstrated in the following excerpt from an article in the Caribbean Net News “We are of the opinion that the nature of the proposed development will obliterate the significance of the history of Balliceaux and Battawya to the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, now and in the future. This is particularly in reference to the Garifuna people who suffered tremendously at the hands of the early settlers. This proposed development will be grossly disrespectful to the memory of the indigenous peoples, especially those who lost their lives on Balliceaux, and those who were exiled to Central America in 1797.”3

For full disclosure purposes, I must mention that various people have written me about this issue and I will share part of my response to one of the messages: “I understand that we need to do something, however, I feel that it needs to be in an organized manner and we need to first engage in dialogue with the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines at all levels. That is why I chose the diplomatic approach of reestablishing the links with the country. Once we have engaged the Government officials, we can negotiate a mutually beneficial agreement.”

While it is true that when there is a conflict between heritage preservation and economic development, the preservation and protection of the nation’s heritage is not given equal weight in the discussion, there is evidence that the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines is taking steps under Minister of Culture René Baptiste to preserve the Garifuna heritage. This is demonstrated by the Pilgrimage to Balliceaux - A Journey of Spiritual Remembrance, which was started on March 14, 2002 when the Great
Carib (Garifuna) Chief, Chatoyer, was declared first National Hero of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and the day became a national holiday.

Furthermore, it is demonstrated by the SVG Government’s acceptance letter to our proposal for the Garifuna Reunion, which stated “We are looking forward to welcoming all of your members for Vincy Homecoming 2009-The Garifuna Reunion. We are ready to work with you to develop an exciting and fulfilling program to ensure that you have a full appreciation of your homeland, St. Vincent and the Grenadines (Yurumein). The Minister of Culture, the Honourable Rene Baptiste has included Vincy Homecoming 2009-The Garifuna Reunion in her strategic plan for 2009 and is anxious to begin working on the logistical and administrative details to ensure that your welcome home is flawless.“

It is to be assumed that the new
In addition, as part of the planned Tourism development sites, which will be an integral part of the construction of the Argyle International Airport, is the development of the Rabacca National Park, a concept that is jointly promoted by the Ministries of Tourism, Agriculture and the National Park, Rivers and Beaches Authority in the area between the Rabacca River and Miss Jane River, immediately to the
South of the Rabacca River. While a theme for that park was not yet determined by the time of writing the final report, it is likely to be a mixture of recreation and a Carib theme village with a memorial statue of Chief Chatoyer, shops, play area, parking, rest stop, cabins along with the camping and picnic facilities.4

There’s is no question that positive change is happening in the relationship between St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Garifunas. it is hoped that by linking the power of the Garifunas’ rich history to the promise of the future of Vincy Homecomeing 2009, the Garifuna Reunion will create an opportunity for
the Garifuna Diaspora to get to know and reconnect with Saint Vincent and the Grenadines while developing a framework and action plan for further enhancement of relations between St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Garifuna Diaspora. It will also allow for a look at the future from the vantage point of the Garifunas as the conflict between heritage preservation and economic development is reconciled
around their special place in St Vincent and the Grenadines’ history!

1 Alvin Tofler, Future Shock, Random House, 1970
2 Dr. Adrian Fraser, The Reconnection Of The Garifuna Peoples, The St Vincent and the Grenadines Department of Tourism , 2001
3 An open letter from the Linley family in St Vincent, Caribbean Net News, June 4, 2008
4 Argyle International Airport Project Environmental Impact Assessment

A Peace Corps Blogger about SVG

Work, work, and more work

One of my good friends mentioned that she thought I was allergic to writing about work, and maybe I am, because to be honest that’s the reason why I haven’t wanted to sit down and type up a post. There’s been a lot of work the last month, which has been rewarding at times, but also very tiring.

If you didn’t know already, Steve and I officially switched work sites. This decision was born more out of necessity than desire, considering the ridiculousness of Steve’s being assigned the task of leading a remedial reading program. The night before school was going to go back in session and Marion House was planning on starting its program, we finally realized that the only answer to our situation would be to swap jobs. Afterwards we both wished that this thought had occurred to us earlier so that we would have had some transition and preparation time, but so it goes.

Four weeks into my new duties, I can’t say that I’m not struggling a bit. The remedial reading program at Georgetown Secondary is quite a beast — 8 classes, containing almost 200 students. They are all at different levels, but most are reading at an approximate age of 8 or below. (That’s 8 years old, not grade 8). Even with my previous experience as a reading teacher, I do not feel prepared to handle many of the challenges that I face throughout the day. First of all, I’ve never taught remedial reading — all of the kids that I’ve taught have been basically at grade level, or above. It is, in many ways, a totally different subject. I’ve spent a lot of time in the past few months just trying to educate myself in different phonics approaches, how to build fluency and automaticity, games and activities that I can play with a group of 13 year olds who are reading at a 6 year old level…Lesson planning is time-consuming, and I’ve tried to use differentiated instruction (where different groups in a classroom do different activities, based on their level), but have found it tough to manage.

The reason why I’m leading this program is because the regular teacher left for maternity leave in the beginning of the school year, leaving the class with no teacher. Hence Steve (and thus me) being asked to take over the program until the teacher returns after Easter Break. So, good news is that I will be not be doing this by myself indefinitely, and after meeting with the remedial instructor I feel confident in her abilities and look forward to working in more of a partnership when she returns.

In general, working at the school is just very draining. The classes are large, and the kids that I see are mostly apathetic, due to the fact that they have been failing in school up to this point. The classroom environment is noisy, and some kids actually refuse to come into the classroom (I’m talking, run away from me), therefore they end up in the halls wreaking havoc all period. The word chaotic definitely pops into mind. Most of the kids I see are the ones who have “slipped through the cracks” but with two hundred of them, it seems more like a canyon than a crack! Still, I have found that when I am able to work one-on-one with even the worst-behaved child, they show signs of caring, which is a lot to ask from a kid who still doesn’t understand the main tool of communication that is used in all of their classes, reading.

Steve and I recently completed a three-day In-Service Training for the Peace Corps, and while we were there our training officer said something which I think reflected quite accurately the frustrations of our service here in the Eastern Caribbean. She said that in many ways we are serving in one of the very hardest Peace Corps posts. The reason for this being that most other posts seem so different than the United States (including a different language), that Peace Corps volunteers quickly realize that the problem-solving strategies they used at home will be probably not be successful in this new context, and also, because of the language barrier, they set their expectations pretty low as to what they think they can achieve the first year. Here, because at times it doesn’t feel that different than America and everyone speaks English, volunteers try to go about work with the same attitude and efficiency they would back home, and don’t cut ourselves any extra slack. When a project is not totally successful, or a kid still doesn’t get it, we blame it on ourselves rather than considering cultural differences. This is probably one of the biggest reasons why Eastern Caribbean has apparently, at least for a time, had the highest drop-out rate of any PC country. The fact that we’ve only lost one volunteer out of our group is “unprecedented” (A volunteer resigned in St. Kitts — St. Vincent is still intact).

The problem is, St. Vincent is a different country and a different culture. Just because many Vincentians watch American TV doesn’t mean that we can blow in here and think that Vincentians will run meetings, or classrooms, or NGOs like an American would. Steve and I are realizing more and more that we do have an “American” way of doing things. We like projects organized, planned well in advance, with meetings that do not last more than an hour and a half. We place a high value on creativity, efficiency, and self-motivation. We hate “wasted” time. We need our personal space. We crave variety. So many other things which we’ve always just taken as the “normal” or “right” way of thinking, but are now beginning to see are just one way of thinking. This is a growing process, and I believe that sometimes we are blinded to our own progress because of the similarities, and comforts, of life here in SVG. We often times wonder what we are getting out of it. But I also know that lessons learned are generally only exposed in hindsight, so we’ll keep doing what we’re doing, and hope that we make ourselves, and our community, a little better from it.

I suspect that by the time they are finished being Peace Corps Volunteers they will understand things about "home" (i.e., the US) that they never thought about before coming to SVG. Being an American living in SVG, not a tourist but living here, is a worthwhile learning experience.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Travel Blurb

I always like to read nice things said about St. Vincent by travel writers.

A Caribbean Family Vacation To Saint Vincent
February 14th, 2009 by admin

Saint Vincent, one of the British Windward Islands, is a place to be visited on its own as a Caribbean Vacation Getaway.

Saint Vincent tends to be tagged as Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, which includes islands like Bequia, Mustique, Canouan to name but three. What then happens is that tourists arrive at Barbados, catch a flight to Saint Vincent, and another flight or a boat to the island in the Grenadines they will be staying on, without taking any time at all to discover Saint Vincent island.

St Vincent is 18 miles long and 11 miles wide, covering around 133 square miles, so it is big enough to ensure no-one gets bored on a Caribbean family vacation because there is something for everyone, and there is no risk of getting lost provided you have a good map!!

There are lots of reasons to stay on Saint Vincent, and it is worth doing some research because it could be the ideal choice for a Caribbean family vacation.

The island of Saint Vincent is the big island of the Grenadines, and is a mixture of rugged mountains, lush forests and many empty beaches. It has an active volcano to the north of the island called Soufriere which as recently as 1979 spread volcanic ash over a wide area.

This helps the locals with their fruit and vegetable growing, meaning unlike other islands in the Grenadines they are self sufficient.

Soufriere is a great attraction if you are energetic and a bit adventurous, being just over 4000 feet above sea level.

Insofar as the rest of the island is concerned there is a small but bustling with energy capital called Kingstown down on the southwest coast With a hire car you can choose to go north on either coast and the road winds along the coastline. The eastern Atlantic Ocean or Windward side is a pretty rugged, rocky coastline with pounding waves which seem to come uninterrupted all the way from Europe. Some of the coastal scenery is dramatic.

On the other hand a trip up the West coast, which is the Caribbean Sea, or Leeward coast has most of the islands beaches and spectacular scenery. Having said that the best and most beautiful beaches on Saint Vincent are on the south coast, one in particular called Villa is only about four miles from Kingston.

The question of where to stay in Saint Vincent is easily solved because the island has a range of hotels to suit all pockets and tastes. Some would be perfect for a Caribbean Family Vacation, and other perfect for the Caribbean Vacation getaway. Amongst the latter, and almost certainly one of the best hotels in the Grenadines is Young Island a tiny and very exclusive hideaway off the south coast. Equally exclusive and definitely suitable for a Caribbean vacation getaway and only reachable by boat is the tiny Petit Byahaut only four miles north of Kingstown on the Leeward Coast.

Possibly the best value for money is The Tranquillity Beach Apartment Hotel, and Beachcombers Hotel a good choice for families.

There are a number of other hotels certainly worth doing some research on.

There is one certain fact and that is Saint Vincent is beginning to be discovered. It is beautiful and unspoilt and local people treat visitors with a courtesy and respect not always found on a Caribbean Vacation Getaway.

Almost Naked Ladies in SVG

The Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue (commercial porn)
was shot at the Raffles Resort on Canouan.
You can see it on the internet at:

Friday, February 13, 2009

SVG Video

There's a nice video at

It is labled as having come from You Tube so maybe I'll look for it there

Sunday, February 08, 2009

Book Notes from the Internet

Book notes at []

The Political Ecology of Bananas: Contract Farming, Peasants, and Agrarian Change in the Eastern Caribbean
Author: Lawrence S. Grossman
Manufacturer: The University of North Carolina Press
Number Of Items: 1
Number Of Pages: 296

This study of banana contract farming in the Eastern Caribbean explores the forces that shape contract-farming enterprises everywherecapital, the state, and the environment. Employing the increasingly popular framework of political ecology, which highlights the dynamic linkages between political-economic forces and human-environment relationships, Lawrence Grossman provides a new perspective on the history and contemporary trajectory of the Windward Islands banana industry. He reveals in rich detail the myriad impacts of banana production on the peasant laborers of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Grossman challenges the conventional wisdom on three interrelated issues central to contract farming and political ecology. First, he analyzes the process of deskilling and the associated significance of control by capital and the state over peasant labor. Second, he investigates the impacts of contract farming for export on domestic food production and food import dependency. And third, he examines the often misunderstood problem of pesticide misuse. Grossman's findings lead to a reconsideration of broader debates concerning the relevance of research on industrial restructuring and globalization for the analysis of agrarian change. Most important, his work emphasizes that we must pay greater attention to the fundamental significance of the "environmental rootedness" of agriculture in studies of political ecology and contract farming.

Between Slavery and Freedom: Special Magistrate John Anderson's Journal of St. Vincent During the Apprenticeship (Early American Studies)
Author: John Anderson
Edition: illustrated edition
Format: Illustrated
Manufacturer: University of Pennsylvania Press
Number Of Pages: 309

On August 1, 1834, more than 20,000 African slaves were emancipated in the British Caribbean. As in other areas of the British Empire, however, only slave children under six years of age were freed immediately. The rest were apprenticed to their former owners for a stipulated term of four to six years. It was during this time that more than one hundred men were appointed as special magistrates to oversee and arbitrate between the ex-slaves and their former owners. Among them was John Anderson, a Scottish lawyer, who arrived on the island of St. Vincent in 1836. An uninhibited racist, he ironically became a central player in Caribbean emancipation.

For the next two and a half years Anderson compiled a journal describing in extraordinary detail the relationship between the remaining enslaved population, free blacks, and their former owners. His journal documents the lives of different castes of slaves, and also those of whites who lived on the island. While he found all residents -- white and black -- of St. Vincent uncultured, his writings shed light on the island's institutions, the activities of the free colored population, and the character of the towns and rural life.

St. Vincent and the Grenadines: Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Mayreau, Tobago Cays, Palm, Union, Psv : A Plural Country
Author: Jill Bobrow, Dana Jinkins
Manufacturer: W. W. Norton & Company
Number Of Pages: 123

Journeys to the Spiritual Lands: The Natural History of a West Indian Religion
Author: Wallace W. Zane
Manufacturer: Oxford University Press, USA
Number Of Pages: 256

Although much has been written on the Afro-Catholic syncretic religions of Vodou, Candomble, and Santeria, the Spiritual Baptists--an Afro-Caribbean religion based on Protestant Christianity--have received little attention. This work offers the first detailed examination of the Spiritual Baptists or "Converted". Based on 18 months of fieldwork on the Island of St. Vincent (where the religion arose) and among Vincentian immigrants in Brooklyn, Zane's analysis makes a contribution to the literature on African-American and African Diaspora religion and the anthropology of religion more generally.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Google Earth

An update of Google Earth has been released. It has a nice collection of pictures of St. Vincent by various photographers. The map locations aren't that precise; in fact the Pirates of the Caribbean set at Wallilabou has pictures located all up and down the Leeward Coast. But many of them are reasonably well located.

Once you have a picture with a scene and a location name you can go to my flickr page at and go to the tags page and select out all of my photos of that place. Or use and go directly to the tags page.