On Sunday, which is a day or two ago as I write this depending on how you count this (I am really behind on my writing, sadly), a group of people, myself included, took a somewhat impromptu journey through the western coast of St. Vincent, and it was a trip that deserves some commentary on my part even if the failure of my cell phone’s battery meant that I was not able to take as many photos of the trip as I would have liked. As for myself, I was minding my own business at breakfast when I was invited to fill an empty space in a taxi, which I did, even though I had to rush a bit to get my swimming suit and a towel so that I was prepared to enjoy the waterfall we were going to visit along the way. Four of us in the taxi had a speaker’s and songleader’s meeting to go to at 6PM, and so we couldn’t spend too much time out, but we did manage to spend a good deal of time out and come rolling in at about 5PM or so, giving just enough time for a shower. So how did we spend our day out and about before the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles?
When we left the airport a bit after 9AM, we quickly stopped at a gas station where some of the distaff members of our party had to use the restroom facilities. After that we made our way along the Caribbean side of the island, until about 11AM or so, discussing the various towns and villages along the way and noting the various markets of the capital, Kingstown, as well as various other buildings of interest, including the old airport that had been replaced because it could not accommodate any planes larger than Cessna propeller aircraft. We saw several hydroelectric plants along various small river valleys and also the Belle Isle prison where the Vincy prisoners are apparently supposed to be self-sufficient, growing their own food and working to survive without a great deal of drain on the budgets. Our taxi driver appeared to be rather well-informed about the death penalty and the troubles that the nation gets from various organizations that protest executions despite popular concerns over crime and punishment.
Once we reached the Dark View Falls we had about an hour and a half to two hours to stay there, and six of our seven people entered into the national park and changed into our swimming suits to enjoy the waterfall. Although the stones were painful to walk on barefoot, as I did not have any sandals or flip flops or anything of that nature, I wasn’t going to almost go to a waterfall on a place like this, and the waterfall was very refreshing on a hot day. After we did that we ended up chatting with some people who were cooking up a BBQ lunch and playing particularly vigorous games of dominoes and then we were on our way back South, where we soon stopped for lunch ourselves at the Beach Front Bar and Restaurant in Chateaubelair, which had some wonderful food as well as a wonderful black sandy beach with a gorgeous bay and an island that would make a perfect lair for a villain. After that we made our way back to Kingstown and stopped briefly at a pharmacy to see if some members of our party could pick up some liquid bandages for their granddaughter, who bumped her head the previous night and bled a fair amount from the wound.
It was after that when we stopped at the Botanical Gardens in Kingstown, which was notable as the oldest such gardens in the Western Hemisphere, founded in 1765. I have to say that my impression of the place is mixed. There are some beautiful plants there but the staff was extremely pushy looking for tips and the hiring of guides and what not, especially considering we only had about an hour there as we had to return for our meeting. There were a lot of spaces where more plants could have been added–the gardens were by no means crowded or necessarily well labeled, but they were a peaceful and pleasant place. And, most notably, a couple of us got to feed peanuts to some friendly green parrots that happened to be the national bird of the island with gorgeous plumage the color of St. Vincent’s flag that happens to be an endangered and endemic species of bird and an intelligent one to boot. So all in all the botanical gardens, like the rest of the trip, were definitely something to view on the positive side of the balance.