Book Review: Blue Pastures

Blue Pastures, by Mary Oliver

Discretion can be respected in a writer.  Here the writer is rather private about her personal life, something I can certainly respect, and feels free to include a great deal of fragments from her prose writings as well as expressing some hot takes and unpopular opinions (more on that below).  That is not to say that I agree with everything she says or that I think her writing is necessarily polished enough that this deserves to have been a published book from a major publisher, but I recognize that publishing decisions are not made based no quality but based on whether there is a market for this sort of thing and when it comes to the writings of poet Mary Oliver there is certainly a market for anything that she says, and so this book fits such a market.  I thought that this book would be more memoir-like, but it is more of a feast of scraps variety, and not even a feast of scraps, but more like a goulash in which various doubtful ingredients have been put together in hopes of making a stew that can help one to survive the winter.  If you like that sort of thing, this book exists.

This book is a short (just over 100 page) collection of various short material, some of it not even paragraph length, about a wide variety of subjects.  The author starts by talking about questions of power and time.  After that there is a reminisce about a nature excursion at Herring Cove.  The author thinks that she would have been friends with Walt Whitman if they had been around at the same time period.  There are discussions about owls and the titular essay on blue pastures.  The author discusses having friends and companions with a zest for life as well as more discussion about ponds, which makes sense given her fondness for water.  The author discusses aspects of her writing technique as well as more random observations on subjects relating to fish.  “Staying Alive” is a collection of writing that is extremely fragmented, and “Steepletop” is an interesting look at the affair between Edna St. Vincent Milay and someone named George Dillon.  After that the author talks about sand dabs twice, provides a few more words about various topics, and discusses the poet’s voice and how it differs based on when one started writing.  The author even manages to say that she hates things being called cute before the book is done.

It should be noted, though, that not all of the hot takes of the author are in fact bad ones.  In fact, there are at least some things about this book that I happen to appreciate.  If it was not the sort of book that I was exactly looking for or would have preferred, it is at least the sort of book that I can appreciate and understand on its own merits and that is certainly something worth appreciating.  I mean, this is not the sort of book that I would be offended to mildly recommend with some caveats, and the author herself does explore memory in a few important aspects.  Perhaps most notably, I can say that I appreciate what she has to say about poetry and the way that understanding and appreciating the older way of writing poetry with rhyme and meter allows someone the freedom to at least adopt such techniques sometime and recognize what they provide to poetry rather than simply writing prose poetry of poor to indifferent quality because one does not realize that taking advantage of the natural rhythm and cadence of a language to increase the beauty of one’s own offerings is a very good thing instead of a bad thing in being too mainstream.

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Book Review: Old Age: A Beginner’s Guide

Old Age:  A Beginner’s Guide, by Michael Kinsley

Sometimes if you know enough about someone you would avoid reading their books.  Such is the case here.  The author is someone I didn’t happen to know about when I picked up this book but it quickly became clear that as one of the co-founders of Slate a frequent contributor to other leftist newspapers and magazines that this fellow is not one that I would greatly appreciate.  And for the most part that is true.  This is a book that is all too full of the author’s personal perspective, where the author assumes the reader is someone who is sympathetic to his views and perspectives and to who he considers to be important political commentators from generations past who have (quite justly) been forgotten as soon as they were dead, and sometimes long before then.  When one adds to this the ways that the author tries to play the victim card by talking so much about his long struggle against Parkinson’s Disease, this book becomes all the more unpleasant.  That isn’t to say that this book is devoid of worthwhile information, but rather that the author’s perspective makes it hard to appreciate what insight he does provide, a symptom of so much that is wrong in our contemporary world.

This book is slightly more than 100 pages long and is divided into a variety of sections based on the subject matter the author is talking about.  The author begins by looking at what it means to win at death in the yuppie mindset as well as in his own eyes before getting to a more personal introduction.  After that the author breathlessly narrates encounters in pools (1), a defense of denying one’s aging and illnesses (2), and talks about the awkward subject of brain surgery (3).  The author then whines about the second act of Robert McNamara (4) and talks about what it is like to lose one’s mind or fear that one has lost it (5).  Finally, the author ends the book by talking about the vain hopes of controlling one’s reputation by referring to the strange afterlife of Jane Austen (6) as opposed to those lesser writers who were more popular during her lifetime, and then gives some highly politically motivated advice as to what is the least that baby boomers can do (7) to ensure that the world is a better place, proof that many boomers never stop being  tiresome when it comes to what they are looking for out of the world.

When does one begin old age?  Do we count a particular age as marking it, or do we count it when one makes a certain change of life that puts one in the realm of elder statesman or grandparent or something else of that nature?  Or do we, as the author seems to do, view chronic illness as a sign of old age.  In that case, I would be equally equipped to write about old age as the author does, even if he is focused on Baby Boomers and does not appear to realize that even a young GenXer like myself has had gout for more than a decade and is, in the eyes of the author, someone capable of writing about the decline that one faces as a result of old age and the frailty of the body.  I would hope that if I wrote a book about the subject I would be less self-absorbed than the author is, but I can’t make any promises about that sort of thing, even if I wish to do my best.  This author doesn’t appear to have even tried.

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The Island That Loves Michael Bolton

One of the more odd aspects of my time here in St. Vincent so far is the way that the island has shown itself to be fans of Michael Bolton.  How is this so?  Let me recount the ways.  A couple of nights ago at dinner the restaurant at our hotel played “I Said I Loved You…But I Lied” on repeat the entire evening we were at the restaurant.  The first time I heard the song I was mildly amused, considering it had been a while since I had last heard the song.   The next few times I heard the song I was mildly irritated.  And by the time I was done with dinner, I was very annoyed and didn’t want to hear the song for a while.  Nor is that the only Michael Bolton song that I have heard in the music so far, with songs like “Soul Provider” and Bolton’s version of “When A Man Loves A Woman” showing up as well as other songs.  Not being someone who has heard a lot of Michael Bolton for some time, it is a bit of a mystery why he is so popular among the people on St. Vincent I have been around.

Michael Bolton is an easy artist to hate.  His brand of romance oriented soft rock only became refined after his first four albums had failed to reach a large audience and he was somehow given the chance to make a fifth album that was a success to establish a track record for future successful albums.  Like, say, Bryan Adams, Bolton was a smart and sophisticated songwriter who deliberately sought to create songs that appealed to women who wanted to be viewed with devotion even if the songs he wrote were not designed to express personal relationships.  This particular reality appears not to be one that is well-regarded, and Michael Bolton’s career as a songwriter for such artists as Cher and Laura Branigan before establishing his own successful recording career.  If he has gained a great deal of credibility thanks to his hilarious performance on the Lonely Island’s Jack Sparrow where he shows his comic chops and his capability as a cinephile, a lot of people tend to be less than fond of his career as a whole, which is to be regretted.

Yet it is very easy to understand how Michael Bolton would appeal to some.  His singing style is a bit over the top in terms of its enthusiasm, and that tends to appeal to a great many people not only at the time but also now.  I plan on discussing at a later point the appeal and legitimacy of self-insert sorts of songs of the kind that Michael Bolton (and Bryan Adams and others) succeeded in crafting often, but for now I would like to say that the way that people could easily see themselves as either the performers or the target audience of the performer in such songs made them a powerful way for artists to ensure their own popularity by appealing to such powerful longings.  And while I have not seen any great romantic aspect of the culture of St. Vincent, human beings as a whole tend to have powerful romantic longings and this tends to either encourage the growth of native romantic traditions (the telenovela, Arabic songs about habibi, and so on) or the appropriation of foreign romantic forms (like Michael Bolton’s music for Vincies) as a way of coping with that reality.  Still, it is an interesting mystery as to why Michael Bolton would be the beneficiary of that desire to express romantic longing in music.

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Book Review: Indoor Plants For Beginners

Indoor Plants For Beginners, by Anja Flehmig, with photos by Friedrich Strauss

Sometimes you can tell when a book is trying to push a bit of an agenda when it comes to how one takes care of plants.  As someone who has read a good deal about plants and how to take care of them, even if my own skills in gardening are somewhat modest, I can tell when someone has an agenda and such is the case here.  In this case, the authors have an agenda in trying to push the beginning indoor gardener to use hydroponics to take care of indoor plants.  To be sure, there are reasons why this would be good, namely that it provides a way of taking care of plants for those who are not at home regularly.  To be sure, this is something that would be of appeal to this reader who spends most of his time working or reading out of the home and generally comes come to sleep and shower and that’s about it.  That said, hydroponics will be familiar with most people, if they are familiar with it at all, as a means of growing pot plants indoors, and this book rather coyly does not talk about that sort of growing of indoor plants for fun and profit.

This particular book is about 150 large and beautiful and colorful pages long and is divided into various sections.  The author begins with various suggestions for plant care, including finding the right environment for plants, watering (including accessories), fertilizing, providing proper care, and knowing what special care some plants need.  after that the author discusses a wide variety of plants, divided by what kind of locations they do best in, from sunny locations (including cacti) to bright locations (including orchids) to partially shaded locations (including hydroponically grow plants) to shady locations (like robust houseplants).  After this the author discusses various ways to beautify one’s home with plants and provides some arrangement ideas.  After this the book closes with some technical terminology as well as some helpful magazines and books for future reading, an index, photo credits, and copyright information.  Even the covers of this book are worth reading, as the back cover in particular provides a handy guide with ten golden rules on how to care for plants and some suggestions on what plants are easy to care for or demanding of various kinds in locations that are sunny, bright, partially shaded, and shaded.

As is often the case with books on plants, this book happens to succeed when it comes to providing a lot of photographs as well as maps on how one can do a good job growing plants indoors, and especially at pointing out which plants succeed the best at various levels of light and where these levels of light may be found based on exposure.  Sadly, this book (like many others) does not appear to recognize plant allergies as being something worth talking about when it provides recommendations on what plants to grow.  Of course, it is possible that the author does not know the sorts of allergies one can have to indoor plants like the miniature schefflera (which I am sadly allergic to), and might be of the opinion that those who are allergic to plants would do best not to try to grow them indoors, even though the book does give information on how to avoid being poked by some of the succulents and cacti that one could grow and want to move around from time to time.  Perhaps the author is simply shortsighted about the barriers to growing plants that some people face, but this is by no means an uncommon problem for writers.

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Book Review: Houseplant Basics

Houseplant Basics, by David Squire & Margaret Crowther

This book is certainly what it sets out to be, an easy to read and basic book about how to grow vibrant and beautiful houseplants.  The title page promises help in selection, care, and propagation of houseplants and that is what this book delivers on.  More than most books about houseplants, this particular book focuses on the plants themselves.  It is always striking to see what draws most of the attention by a given author, and in this case photography of gorgeous plants of diverse kinds that can be grown indoors is what this book provides along with a surprisingly large amount of text about particular plants as well.  Admittedly, I did not know that so many plants could be grown indoors, although it is quite possible that most of these plants would be beyond my own modest skills in taking care of plants.  If this book had even more photos it would have been even better as there are plenty of varieties of plants that this book discusses that do not have photos, and that would have made this book even better, although also more than likely quite a bit longer as well.

This book is a little bit more than 100 pages long and is divided into 9 chapters.  After a short introduction the author talks about healthy houseplants (1), with the knowledge that many are not.  After that the next six chapters of the book, taking up a large majority of the contents, are spent talking about various kinds of plants that one can grow indoors, namely flowering pot plants (2), flowering houseplants (3), foliage plants (4), palms, ferns, and bromeliads (5), cacti and succulents (6), and bulbs (7).  These chapters have a lot of photos as well as a substantial amount of text dealing with the specific plants and what it takes to grow them well and what kind of care they need.  It cannot be overemphasized just how much the author likes to talk about various plants here.  After that there is a chapter about propagation (8) that gives a few techniques on how one can use cuttings, runners, plantlets, and division to increase the amount of plants one has.  After that the author includes a chapter of troubleshooting (9) that shows the way that one can deal with various pests as well as problems that different plants face, after which the book ends with a glossary, index, and acknowledgements.

It is striking what the author considers to be the most serious sort of problems that someone growing indoor plants would face, and this author clearly believes that the main problem that people face when it comes to growing plants indoors is not knowing the right plants to grow.  And so this book is dominated by discussions of various kinds of plants that can be grown indoors, all of which presents the reader with a lot of different options.  Some of these options appear to be quite lovely.  For example, there are a wide variety of cacti that can be grown indoors, all of which makes sense because indoor environments tend to be pretty dry relative to the outdoors do the decrease in relative humidity when one heats air from the outside, making many homes (unless they have humidifiers) a lot like deserts.  Still, most people would not tend to think of their homes as deserts, and so some people might take a bit of time and effort to imagine their homes as being fit for desert and savanna plants, although such things would likely work very well in a large amount of cases.  Still, I found a lot to enjoy about this book and think many others would as well.

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Book Review: Growing Healthy Houseplants

Growing Healthy Houseplants:  Choose The Right Plant, Water Wisely, And Control Pests, by Ellen Zachos

If this book was not an astounding read, it was at least a solid one whose merits are easy to appreciate.  A great many of us (myself included) are not particularly confident about our skills in dealing with plants, whether in gardens or in the house, and a book like this is certainly a good one when it comes to encouraging people on how they can better take care of plants so as to not feel that they are cursed with a black thumb when they simply lack knowledge and experience in how to deal wisely with growing plants indoors.  The author, with text and black and white drawings, seeks to use this book as a way of encouraging people to grow plants and manage to understand the way that plants attempt to communicate through the way they appear in hopes that people will be able to respond effectively and grow some plants indoors.  The author also believes that growing plants indoors is a great way to spruce up a place and make it appear much more beautiful as well as much more alive, and that seems a fair judgement.

This book is a slim one at just over 100 page sand is divided into three parts.  Before this, though, the book begins with a preface and an introduction that encourages the reader to learn how to speak plant.  After this, the first part of the book deals with some essentials to being able to deal with plants (1), such as knowing how much light is enough, mastering watering and humidity levels, using the right growing medium for one’s plants, and appropriate fertilization.  After that the author discusses the daily care of plants (2), including some cool tools, repotting, good grooming, propagation of new plants, dealing with plants while one is on vacation, managing pests, and diseases.  After that the book continues with a discussion of how someone can design an indoor garden (3), with a discussion about the importance of display before the author shows off various foliage, flowering plants, trees, and cacti that are shown roughly one to a page with species name and a black and white drawing of them included along with a paragraph of information about each plant.  The book then ends with an index that is easy to use for those who want to look at one page in particular.

This book is aimed at an audience that is looking for a practical guide to self-reliance in a way that, as the publisher says, encourages personal independence in harmony with the environment, and this book certainly lives up to those expectations.  Not only is the advice generally quite intriguing but it is also advice that limits the use of toxins and encourages a gentle treatment of plants to seek to overcome pests, provide appropriate watering, and encourage the development of beautiful indoor gardens.  To be sure, the book is highly ambitious in seeking to do so in such a slim fashion when so many other books exist with far more colorful photos and techniques that this book does not deal with, but if you want a serviceable and somewhat plainspoken guide this is certainly one that can be easily recommended to the reader.  This book is by no means flashy but it does its job and does it well, and if one can listen to its advice it is likely that one will be able to grow quite a few plants to one’s own personal satisfaction and pleasure, even if one is a long way from being a professional at it.

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Book Review: Cat High: The Yearbook

Cat High:  The Yearbook, by Terry Deroy Gruber

One would think that it’s not too hard to make compelling parody material about cats.  Cats are naturally pretty entertaining animals to watch and to read about and there are many funny memes relating to cats.  This book, unfortunately, takes cat memes and puts them into a senior yearbook that is somewhat awkward (especially considering the photoshopping that is done to add the heads of cats, and one dog, to the photos of high school seniors from decades ago), reminding this reader at least of the worst moments of high school.  It would be one thing if this book was consistently funny in a way that was enjoyable, but for the most part this particular book is content to demonstrate a love of insult humor that is sadly not too surprising but also not as enjoyable as it could have otherwise been.  When one is looking at a book full of cat memes, one hopes for more than cringeworthy reminders of the worst time of life in a way that encourages the reader to make fun of other people, and this book could have been so much more so easily that it is a real disappointment.

This particular book is organized like a yearbook is, which is what one would expect.  The author imagines there being a town in rural Michigan inhabited by cats that has a very eclectic mix of students and teachers and staff in a highly politically and culturally divided setup that involves plenty of students who get in trouble both for pranks as well as for being addicted to catnip and being involved in various crimes.  The book features an attractive young nurse who attracts a lot of younger male admirers, has lots of terrible puns in the name, and even features a dog who is in the yearbook as part of an interspecies study program.  The book goes political often, featuring some tasteless jokes at the expense of the French as well as a wealthy Arabian princely cat who is also visiting for some reason.  Included are photos of all of the staff and students at the school, with some suitably ridiculous courses and clubs and activities shown, and then photos of various clubs that show the cat students dressed in various ways involved in playing tennis or swimming or debating or something else of that nature, with some jokey advertisements at the back.

In reading a book like this, it is easy to wonder what could have made it better.  In this particular case, some more ambition might have made this a better book in showing off the quirkiness of cats rather than having them stiffly photoshopped on top of human bodies and photos of graduates.  After all, the mismatching head size as opposed to body does tend to make these photos less attractive than they could have been otherwise.  And when a book comes along like this one based on pretty basic insult humor and mocking on behalf of some sort of obvious attempt at making fun of people who are not so unlike the various cats, any sort of ambition and excellence helps make the book’s bad writing less disappointing.  Unfortunately, this book includes plenty of cats but does it poorly and thinks that cats will be funny no matter how much the author lacks a skilled use of humor, as if the very idea of cats being high school graduates is funny enough to make this an enjoyable book.  Given the comedy gold that cats can provide, the fact that the author gets so few laughs out of this is a great disappointment.

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Book Review: How To Make Your Cat An Internet Celebrity

How To Make Your Cat An Internet Celebrity:  A Guide To Financial Freedom, by Patricia Carlin with photography by Dustin Fenstermacher

It is unclear whether this book is meant to be taken seriously or not.  We live, after all, in an ironic age and there are a lot of knowing winks here to the cynicism of attempting to make money off of exploiting the silliness of one’s pets.  Nonetheless, plenty of serious advice is given here so one could use this book as a way of encouraging one’s efforts, as the information given is specific enough to work.  Whether or not you view this book as a joke (albeit a very funny one) or a semi-serious to serious guide to financial freedom towards trying to make one’s pet’s antics go viral for fun and profit depends on the reader.  As a reader without any pets to exploit for my own personal financial gain, I choose to read this book in a humorous light, but those who have cats and seek to profit from their wackiness may take the book and its materials more seriously and would be wise to do so because the author has some good advice on how to profit from pets.

This particular book is a short one at just over 100 pages and it is divided into four chapters.  The book begins with a short introduction that encourages the reader to embrace one’s destiny as someone who is going to spread the joy of more memes into the world.  After that the author talks about how cats need to be groomed for success in the cat eat cat world of memes, by having a firm knowledge of what sort of cat they are and having the sense to manage the sort of environments that the cat will be working in (1).  After that the author urges the reader to have a sense of the rule of thirds and gain some expertise in properly filming shots and framing material for maximum impact, assuring the reader that the footage will be amateur enough so there is no sense in not doing things as professionally as possible (2).  After that the author talks about how one has to claw one’s way to the top by making sure that one does a good job at marketing one’s photos or footage (3), before closing with a discussion on how the world is the reader’s litterbox (4), after which there are some acknowledgements.

As is often the case when one reads a book, one’s approach to the book and its materials depends a lot on one’s perspective.  There are, to be sure, some aspects of this book that come off as being somewhat cruel and harsh, especially to cats who do not meet our standard of furry cuteness.  Undoubtedly, some people will cringe at some of the book’s material and some people may even be offended by the way that the book so casually deals with the exploitation of feline quirkiness for business endeavors.  Yet this book is obviously meant at least somewhat tongue-in-cheek even if the book appears to have been based on the way that people have made money from their cats.  Again, perspective will determine how you feel about a book like this, whether one laughs about how it is that one can turn an animal into a viral star and gain some money out of it, whether one seeks to follow its advice to do just that, or one mourns the way that even pets cannot escape our culture’s desire to make content and business models out of everything around us, including even our pets and their silly antics.

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Book Review: Grumpy Cat: A Grumpy Book

Grumpy Cat:  A Grumpy Book:  Disgruntled Tips And Activities Designed To Put A Frown On Your Face, by Grumpy Cat

As most people are aware of, I am greatly fascinated by memes, and cat memes are no exception to this rule [1].  If there is one flaw this particular book has, it is that the book is not nearly ambitious enough with its material.  There is a lot to appreciate about Grumpy cat and her approach to life, although her memeworthy grumpiness appears to have been the result of a health condition and the putative author of the book has sadly died.  Still, if your standards are not high and you enjoy a great deal of humor related to being grumpy and sour and gloomy rather than feeling coerced into false cheeriness, this book does have at least that to commend itself with.  I found myself laughing and chuckling at least a few times to the book’s contents and if this book is not as good as it could have been it is certainly a brief and enjoyable read that gives predictably contrarian advice to people who are likely to view it ironically and appreciate it all the same.

As this book lacks a table of contents, it is not organized in a very obvious fashion.  Most of it consists of individual pages with meme photos celebrating grumpiness in all of its aspects or containing other text or games (including crossword puzzles and word searches) that correspond to the persona that Grumpy Cat has established.  Our favorite kitty curmudgeon spends this book complaining about how horrible it is to be in books, what makes one grumpy, how terrible it is to be around dogs, what she feels about people (nothing good, it should be noted), gives various demotivational advice about life, and even includes a bogus timeline.  There are even pictures which show the different faces of Grumpy Cat, from sullen to angry to gloomy to disgusted, all of which are suitably negative emotions, and there are even some connect the dots here as well.  This is a book that it is probably better to own than it is to get from the library as there is the expectation of writing or drawing in parts of it which does not work when one wants to leave the book unspoiled for future readers.

Perhaps someday scholars will wonder why it is that memes were so popular in our day and age and they will ponder why it is that we devoted so much time and so much attention to animals with silly captions.  Perhaps it will be useful for them to remember that communication is hard, and few generation struggled more unsuccessfully to understand others and to be understood than we did, and so it should be little surprise that pictures with suitably ironic or glaringly obvious captions would be an effective means for us to recognize that we were not alone in the world and that sometimes the struggles of life, including dealing with one’s emotional state, was something that could be made a bit lighter by being able to appreciate the humor that comes from cats (and other animals) with funny faces and text set by someone with a suitably warped sense of humor.  To be sure, other generations may have had more sophisticated skills in communicating such matters in a gracious fashion, but we have a great need to laugh about life and about its artifacts and few means that we can do so without feeling embittered by the experience.  At least we have memes as a way of expressing ourselves in a way that can still be understood by others.

[1] See, for example:

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2019/04/27/book-review-cat-vs-human/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/05/14/book-review-the-devious-book-for-cats/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/05/04/book-review-how-to-take-over-teh-wurld/

https://edgeinducedcohesion.blog/2018/05/04/book-review-teh-itteh-bitteh-book-of-kittehs/

 

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Exploring Bequia

One of the odd aspects of St. Vincent life is the way that pronunciation becomes such a vexing problem, which is not totally surprising when you have an island whose names are mixed between English, French, and Crib antecedents, none of which are languages noted for being easy to pronounce.  There is another aspect of life in Bequia which is important to note, and that is the way that since I have arrived in St. Vincent my computer has been inundated with advertisements for property to purchase and develop on Bequia for reasonable rates (at least by Caribbean resort standards).  It just so happens that my observations of the island (more on that below) lead me to think that the inhabitants of the island are mastering the art of trying to fleece foreigners, but that is not the sort of skill that I tend to appreciate, and Bequia, as beautiful as it is, is not a particularly exciting place as of yet, although it definitely has a wonderful beach where I spent some time in the water.

So, how does one get to Bequia.  There are two options, seeing as the island is the largest of the Grenadines to the south of St. Vincent in terms of both population and area.  There is a small airport that has expensive flights from Barbados (as well as St. Vincent), but the cheapest way to get to the island is to take either the ferry or a private boat between St. Vincent and Bequia, which takes about 45 minutes to an hour or so, depending on the speed of the boat, which is by no means a difficult sea journey.  The ferry to and from Bequia goes into Port Elizabeth, which is the largest population center on the island and offers some businesses but nothing worth justifying the taxi ride that is required to get there if one does not want to take an arduous hike there.  I went there with my mother when we were on the island, and I would have been able to make the walk with my trusty cane, but my mother found the uphill walking to be far too much for her, which is a shame.  It was worthwhile to explore the town, though, even if it was not a particularly happening place to be in terms of what offerings it had.  I suppose I could have stopped at the bookstore, as none of the other stores were that interesting, but I wasn’t too interested in staying around or adding more weight to my luggage.

Most of the people spent at least some time around Jack’s, which was the restaurant where we landed and had lunch.  Lunch was very good, with both chicken as well as fish (barracuda, which have fins and scales, and this is the first time I had barracuda, which is quite tasty for such a fierce fish) along with salad, cinnamon plaintains, stewed eggplant (which I did not try) and ginger rice (which I did).  Other than drinks and our meal deal, the restaurant appeared to be making money by renting out chairs as well as offering hair braiding, which some of the young ladies took advantage of (seeing as most of the guys, like me, didn’t have much hair to spare).  I enjoyed the water, though, as there is a sheltered bay right in front of the restaurant which offered some wonderful wading, diving, and swimming, depending on what one was interested in.  I managed to avoid bad sunburns and only got a bit red in the arms and some of the people were able to tan a bit and a good time was had by most, until it was time for the boat ride back, which was enjoyable as well.  All in all, Bequia is an island that offers great swimming and considerable if rigorous natural beauty in its hills and greenery, so long as the people don’t acquire the worst habits of fleecing foreigners with overpriced property and taxi rides and foods and turtle sanctuaries before they provide enough entertainment to make it worth the while of foreigners to be happily fleeced.

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