Wednesday, January 04, 2012

SVG Market

​St. Vincent and the Grenadines, sometimes known as the spice islands of the Caribbean, lie in the southern part of the island chain. Not as popular with tourists as St. Barts or Barbados, the island has more of a local vibe. There are no T-shirt shops or places trying to sell you a Rolex. The black-sand beaches are filled with fishermen and children instead of sunburned tourists, and the plentiful nature trails are pristine and virgin.

St. Vincent's center of commerce is the sprawling market in Kingstown. Set along the water, the market runs for blocks. Saturday is an especially busy day, when shop merchants sell their wares in the streets to compete with local farmers and fishermen for business.

The market consists of many parts. The indoor market's first floor is devoted to locally grown produce and spices, while second-floor merchants sell clothing and housewares. The market spills into the sunlit courtyard and outside, where small huts serve as individual restaurants. There's even a bar. The Kingstown Fish Market is directly on the water and sells mostly jack fish, strawberry grouper, and Caribbean lobster.

St. Vincent lives up to its spice island moniker, with merchants selling freshly grown anise, cinnamon, nutmeg, tumeric, ginger, clove, and guinea pepper. Coconut oil, green bananas, tomatoes, and breadfruit are also readily found.

Local farmer and park ranger Erasto Robertson was our guide to the maze-like marketplace. Erasto sells home-grown vegetables on the weekends and took some time to identify the various fruits and spices indigenous to the island, as well as point out the best place to grab lunch.

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