Saturday, January 30, 2010

Passports Not For Sale

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, CMC The St. Vincent and the Grenadines government says it will not permit the sale of passports as an inducement to get foreigners to invest in the country.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves told Parliament on Friday that his administration would no longer engage in the practice and would resist any attempts to do so.

A number of Eastern Caribbean countries had embarked on the citizenship scheme as a means of luring foreign investment to their countries.

Gonsalves called on the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) to state its position on the subject, saying that the party has promised its financers to re-enact laws that would allow for the resumption of the scheme that was ended in 2001 when the Unity Labour Party (ULP) came to office.

Gonsalves said the NDP skirted the issue when it came up during the Constitution Referendum campaign last year.

"They never answered it. The Leader of the Opposition (Arnhim Eustace) ducked it and danced," he told legislators, noting that while the scheme has ended, his government is bombarded with offers for its resumption..

"I tell you, they are at us all the time ‚ these people who want to sell the passports. There is a company, they say they are marketing the facilitated migration of 3,500 persons representing EC$850 million (US$313.8 million)," he told Parliament.

"When you see those monies, you know they just want to turn poor people's head. But they can't turn my head. Money doesn’t turn this man's head," Gonsalves said, as he read a letter, dated  December 14 last year, from a company seeking a meeting with him to discuss the sale of passports.

"I would be pleased to assist you in establishing such a programme for St. Vincent and the Grenadines and in promoting this programme worldwide through my international network," the letter stated.

Gonsalves did not name the letter writer or the company, but said the writer requested a meeting to discuss the subject.

In his response to the letter, Gonsalves made it clear that the sale of Vincentian citizenship and passports is not a part of the policy or practise of his administration.

"Please be advised that my government has absolutely no interest in selling my country's passport or citizenship," Gonsalves wrote on January 11.

"The highest office in our land is that of citizen, and it is not for sale. Similarly, our passport is sacrosanct and is not a tradable commodity"

"Other countries may choose to sell their passport or citizenship but not St. Vincent and the Grenadines, under my administration", Gonsalves wrote, denying a request for a meeting.

"They come to us all the times. And the only way to withstand them is that kind of a letter and that kind of a position," Gonsalves told Parliament.

"That is what [the opposition] wants to bring this country back to? Never! Once I have breath in my body, the people of this country will expect me to fight relentlessly at those kings of colonial marauder," Gonsalves said.

Opposition legislators had stayed away from the session of Parliament, joining supporters outside the building, highlighting "major issues confronting the nation".

Asthma Relief

Direct Relief's Activities in St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a group of 30 small islands in the Caribbean with a total area of 345 square miles and a population of just over 100,000. Most of the country's economy is based on tourism and agriculture, both of which are inconsistent sources of national income. Frequent tropical storms and hurricanes damage this already fragile economy and nation.

Respiratory disease is prevalent in St. Vincent and has been on the rise in the last decade. Asthma-related incidents account for at least 2,500 emergency room visits per year; forty-five percent of these patients are children.

Direct Relief has provided more than $160,000 (wholesale) in medicines and medical supplies to St. Vincent and the Grenadines since 2008, focusing on basic medical supplies and respiratory health.

Direct Relief's partner in-country is the Asthma Clinic of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, which operates in a wing of the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital in the capital city of Kingston. The Asthma Clinic was founded by the Ministry of Health in conjunction with local and international Rotary Clubs, and it currently supports about 2,300 patients with approximately 200 new referrals each year. Although the number of asthma cases in has risen fourfold in the past decade, the government is only able to provide only half of the funding for the supplies needed.

With a generous donation from Schering-Plough, Direct Relief has been able to help those with respiratory conditions by providing necessary medications like the Foradil Aerolizer (for long-term asthma patients to use twice daily), Proventil inhalers (for prevention and treatment of wheezing and increasing air flow to the lungs), Nasonex (for treating allergy symptoms), and Asmanex Twisthalers (for treating asthma in children).

Friday, January 29, 2010

Erica's Spicy Book

A Visually Attractive Journey to St. Vincent and the Grenadines with Erica

Author Erica McIntosh invites readers to visit her beautiful paradise islands in this coffee table book of magnificent sceneries, amazing unique places and pictures of success. A Journey with Erica to St. Vincent and the Grenadines visually introduces Erica, her picturesque homeland and her life commitment to her country, her business "Erica's Country Style", and most importantly to her family and friends.

Author Erica McIntosh, owner and CEO of Erica's Country Style, presents her agro-based business, which was established in 1989. Through her pictures, she displays Erica's Country Style's range of twenty-two products, her factory, the produce she uses, some of the local, regional, and international trade shows she attended, and more.

This book also serves as a travelogue of sorts as it offers the breathtaking views, landscapes, and panoramas of the archipelago of small islands located in the Eastern Caribbean, South of St. Lucia, West of Barbados, and North of Grenada - St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

St. Vincent being an agricultural-based island which is very rich in volcanic soil, its produce has been a great main source of exports. With its captivating, exotic, incomparable islands - people and place - there's no doubt why tourism has also taken center stage.

A Journey with Erica to St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a mesmeric collection of not just vividly captured pictures of the islands, but of the well-earned success of both the people and the place. 

For more information on this book, log on to

About the Author
Erica McIntosh was born and raised in St. Vincent. She only lived abroad for her college degrees. She specialized in Industrial Microbiology with specific reference to food products at Centennial College in Toronto, Canada. She also studied milk and milk processing at the Tropical Products Institute in London. Upon her return to St. Vincent, she began working with the Government's Agro-Lab as a produce chemist, where she did research and development on food products from locally grown raw materials. In addition, she worked at Diamond Diary as a Quality Control Officer. When the Agro-Lab closed down, she saw a demand in the market for the development of local products, and she seized he opportunity to start her own agro-processing venture. Erica's Country Style was born in 1989. In 1999, she was the first female in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines to receive the prestigious Entrepreneur of the Year Award (Ernest and Young), as well as the Entrepreneur of the Year for Barbados and OECS. Her company, Erica's Country Style, produces a variety of hot pepper sauces, spices, seasonings, marinades, chips, and jams, based in Saint Vincent.

A Journey with Erica to St. Vincent and the Grenadines * by Erica McIntosh and Alexandra Paolino

Publication Date: January 26, 2010

Picture Book; $51.99; 98 pages; 978-1-4500-1902-6

Picture Book Hardcover; $61.99; 98 pages; 978-1-4500-1903-3

To request a complimentary paperback review copy, contact the publisher at (888) 795-4274 x. 7479. Tear sheets may be sent by regular or electronic mail to Marketing Services. To purchase copies of the book for resale, please fax Xlibris at (610) 915-0294 or call (888) 795-4274 x. 7876. 

For more information, contact Xlibris at (888) 795-4274 or on the web at

Media Contact:
Xlibris Corp.
Marketing Services
(888) 795-4274

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pirates: the backstory

[It has been some time since the last movie was shot in St. Vincent, but the remains of the sets are still a tourist attraction in Wallilabou. I ran across this on the web.]

On February 28th, 2005, the cast and crew of “Dead Man's Chest” packed their bags, kissed their loved ones, and wedged themselves into a chartered L-1011 jet bound for the distant West Indies…and a location journey of nearly a year's duration which would prove to be as much of an adventure as anyone could have predicted, and as much of a challenge as anyone could have imagined.

First destination: the island republic of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 13 degrees north of the equator. Because it's not highly developed for tourism, which is one of its great charms, St. Vincent's airport cannot contain anything bigger than a two-engine prop commuter plane. Thus, the “Pirates” jet had to land on the neighboring island of St. Lucia, situated between St. Vincent and Martinique, and ferry the company, over rough seas for two hours, to their destination. And if seasickness was to become something of a motif throughout production, the “Pirates” crew had some good practice on that initial voyage.

Meanwhile, a monumental amount of equipment and materiel were already on their way to the islands via air and sea in a deployment which again echoed a military campaign. “Priority equipment went by air,” recalls unit production manager Doug Merrifield, “but we also chartered a freighter, loaded it up with all of our rolling stock and containers, and it sailed to St. Vincent, and later to Dominica and then to The Bahamas. It became afternoon entertainment for the island people to watch a procession from one end of the island to the other as our equipment came out of the port.”

Some 300 crew members were imported to St. Vincent from Los Angeles, Great Britain and many other home bases, with their numbers considerably increased by local islanders also employed in a myriad of departments. As St. Vincent lacks large resorts, crew members were housed at 43 different hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, condos and apartments sprinkled across the western part of the island. For many in the company, it was old home week, as the first “Pirates” film shot in St. Vincent for nearly two months.

Also making the journey to the Caribbean was a veritable menagerie trained and accompanied by Boone Narr and Mark Harden from Animals for Hollywood, which included two capuchin monkeys, two macaws, a dozen goats, three pigs, two white horses, two carriage horses, three dozen chickens, six cows and 14 ravens. In the first “Pirates” film, some of the on-screen creatures-including the Prison Dog, Jack the Monkey and Cotton's parrot-had their moment of stardom, which was about to be repeated. The silent Cotton's parrot is actually portrayed by two macaws, spicy and spirited avian creatures appropriately named Chip and Salsa. “One's a good flyer, the other's a good sitter,” notes David Bailie, who portrays the tongue-less pirate. “God, if you heard him squawk! You have no idea what that squawk is like at a two-inch range. Your head just rings.”

The Prison Dog, a beloved character both in the original `Pirates of the Caribbean' attraction and the first film, is now played by Chopper, a friendly and unbelievably smart eight-year-old terrier mix. Twister, who portrayed the role in “The Curse of the Black Pearl,” is now enjoying a well-deserved retirement after years of film and television work. However, like many stars, Chopper needed time in the makeup trailer to correctly align the color of his coat with Twister's. “Chopper has an air-conditioned little trailer that he stays in, and sometimes he allows me to go inside,” says Boone Narr ruefully. “Then, on his day off, he expects me to run around and take care of him. Usually, I'm at his bark and call. He's got me well-trained.”

Once again, the beautiful inlet of Wallilabou Bay, due north from the island's small capital of Kingstown, would be the locale for both Port Royal and Tortuga exteriors. Rather than take the long and winding (and sometimes treacherous) road from Kingstown to Wallilabou, most in the company preferred to shuttle there on the water, a beautiful journey which skirted the lush shoreline dotted with palm trees, banana plantations, mountains often shrouded by clouds and brightly colored little houses. Some landlubbing crew members spent more time on the water in the first weeks of Caribbean filming than they had in their entire lives, careening back and forth from one of the three starting points in and around Kingstown to Wallilabou, enjoying the warm tropical breezes, sunshine and spectacular views. Of course, there was the occasional downpour and heavy ocean swells to deal with as well.

If someone with no connection nor knowledge of “Dead Man's Chest” found themselves sailing into Wallilabou during filming, they would have felt like they had slipped into a time tunnel and out the other end. The clock had seemingly been turned back nearly 300 years to the days when European hegemony over the Caribbean was constantly being challenged by the pirates who freely roamed the waters. Rick Heinrichs and his team re-created Port Royal in even greater detail than the first film, with the added structures of the East India Trading Company dock and offices. Anchored in the bay was an impressive array of period vessels, dominated by the 169 foot, full-rig H.M.S. Bounty, which in “Dead Man's Chest” is seen as the Edinburgh Trader.

The Bounty, like its real-life namesake, has had an extraordinary history of its own. She was built for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's 1962 version of “Mutiny on the Bounty,” which starred Marlon Brando, Trevor Howard and Richard Harris. The first ship ever built from the keel up especially for a motion picture, construction of the Bounty began in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia in February 1960, and spent seven months being constructed with more than 400,000 board feet of lumber in the Smith and Rhuland Shipyard before sailing for Tahiti and the production of the blockbuster feature.

Although the historical Bounty was 85 feet long, its cinematic reconstruction was 118 feet in length so as to allow the cameras more free movement during shooting, and her total height from deck to the top of the mainmast is 103 feet. For “Mutiny on the Bounty,” the ship made the 7,327 mile voyage from Lunenburg to Tahiti via the Panama Canal in 33 sailing days. Forty-three years later, the Bounty, under Captain Robin R. Walbridge, would be required to sail a mere 2,096 statue miles (1,821 nautical miles) in 14 days from Bayou La Batre-where she was being re-fitted and re-painted as the “Edinburgh Trader”-to St. Vincent, with stops along the way in Miami, Florida and Mayaguez, Puerto Rico for fuel and provisions.

The Bounty was joined in Wallilabou Bay by several more “picture boats” from near and far, under the supervision of marine coordinator Dan Malone, assistant coordinator Bruce Ross and picture boat coordinator Will White and their team, who were aided and abetted by boat captains, water safety personnel, technicians, sailmasters and handlers, the rigging crew under Courtney Andersen, and dockmaster Douglas “Kino” Valenzuela, who was often like a waterbound traffic director. Among them were: Sloop Providence, a 110-foot topsail fighting sloop, a replica of Rhode Island's first naval vessel, seen in “Dead Man's Chest” as the “Perseverance.”

The Providence departed its Rhode Island home for the Alabama shipyard in a blizzard in January 2005, and sailed from Bayou La Batre to St. Vincent in a swift 15 days; St. Peter, a 74 foot schooner from Antigua; and Unicorn, a 145 foot barque from its home base of St. Lucia, portraying “Terpsichore.”

The support flotilla in “Walli” included 12 support boats of various kinds, not to mention some dozen British longboats faithfully reconstructed from original 18th century plans.

The primary set in the new and improved Port Royal was Lord Cutler Beckett's imposing headquarters, with a huge map of the world clearly dictating his “today the Caribbean, tomorrow the world” philosophy. “We were re-visiting the Port Royal set from `The Curse of the Black Pearl.'” Says Rick Heinrichs, “and the challenge was to let the audience know they were in the same place, but also that some period of time had passed. Ironically, the original set was still there at Wallilabou two years after they shot the first film, and we were going to use what was left. Not two months before we shot there on `Dead Man's Chest,' a tremendous surge came up and knocked the remaining sets into the water. So we had to do a complete reconstruction.”

On the East India Company dock, set decorator Cheryl Carasik and her assistants created an array of cargo and goods. “We researched all of it, trying to imagine what they would be importing and exporting. We had special ivory tusks-not the real thing, of course-molded in Los Angeles, because ivory was highly coveted at that time. We had tea boxes, silk, chickens in cages, bundles. At the last minute, Gore wanted a little fishing village off to the side of where Lord Cutler Beckett's office was on the Port Royal set, so I actually went to the next village from Wallilabou Bay and saw how they dried their fish on mats made of sticks and bamboo. We bought fishing nets from them, as well as about 40 fresh fish!”

“I've never seen anything like it,” says Tom Hollander of his days of filming in Wallilabou Bay. “Only in this production can you turn around, look out of the window of the set, and see 850 people pulling up rigging on a huge old ship, with another ship sliding in behind it. It's hyper-real, in a way. The production design is wondrous, the level at which they're working is remarkable. We just wander into the sets and go, `Oh yeah, this looks good,' but obviously the most enormous kinds of work go into all this detail, and scale that I've never seen before.

These people are all experts at what they do, it's the most inspired sort of creativity.”“The sets for this film supports everything you do,” adds Jonathan Pryce, “because the authenticity and attention to detail are quite extraordinary. When we shot the scene in Beckett's Port Royal office with me and Tom Hollander, normally that would be a kind of fairly intimate scene probably shot inside of a studio soundstage. But in our film, you look out of the window and there's a whole world of life on the dockside going on. Ships are being loaded. Bananas are going up and down the gangplank. Boats are coming in and out. It's a great approach to filmmaking. It's a great mix of old-fashioned filmmaking and modern technology.”

Typical of the film's attention to minute detail was the enormous amount of goods that spilled out from property master Kris Peck's truck like a cornucopia. At one point, Peck and assistant propmaster Michael Hansen had eight prop trucks in all four countries in which “Dead Man's Chest” was filmed, waiting to supply whatever necessary to appropriately outfit an actor, extra or stuntplayer. Much of Peck's work was done in collaboration with Rick Heinrichs' art department, or, if there were mechanics involved, with special effects and other technical divisions.

For the pistols, swords, daggers and other weaponry, Peck worked closely with armorer Kelly Farrah, an expert in the field who's also quite an historian, as well as historical adviser Peter Twist, who served in the same capacity on the first film.Although many of the weapons are replicas or realistically fabricated from latex, Captain Jack Sparrow's sword is the real 18th century deal (although obviously, less lethal versions were used for the swordfighting sequences). “We have 300 swords, and they were all manufactured for this movie,” notes Peck. “The pirates' swords are down, dirty and grungy. We have dress swords for characters like Commodore James Norrington and Governor Weatherby Swann. Our Flying Dutchman crewmen have swords that are encrusted with oceanic life.”

Perhaps the most important prop of all, however, was the titular object-the dead man's chest itself, designed with intricate nautical motifs. “Gore made it very clear to us that since this was the title that was going to be on every billboard, poster, bus stop bench and grocery store line, he wanted us to get it as right as possible,” says Peck. “This integrated more departments than any prop I've ever worked on. The writers, the illustrators, the production designer, the sculptors, the molders and then on to the prop shop for the mechanics. It had to look unbreakable, like a cast iron skillet.”

As it was on the first go-round, the shooting in “Walli” was the biggest show in town for Vincentians. Just outside of the gates which ran across the perimeter of the set from the main road, hundreds of people were just “limin',” island patois for “hanging out,” chatting, partying and peering at the grand spectacle. From a distance, the huge helium lighting balloons prepared by gaffer Rafael Sanchez and his team, suspended in the night sky, presented a surreal sight to islanders and tourists alike.“

Vincys” are fiercely proud of their country, and took an almost proprietary joy in the fact that one of the most successful films in history had been partially filmed on their small but vibrant island…and now it was happening all over again. “'Pirates' - Our Movie!” was the headline of an article written by St. Vincent lawyer Vynnette A. Frederick for a local newspaper: “'Pirates' brought Hollywood home,” she wrote. “It put money in our coffers, brought jobs for our people, and above all else, we now have the right to brag that St. Vincent and the Grenadines, just like Trinidad and Jamaica, can be considered a `movie location.' Every time you drive along the Leeward Coast, it is almost impossible not to look out to the horizon and hope for a glimpse of the Black Pearl.”


has some panoramic photographs of Bequia that you can control with your mouse. Fun to play with.

has a slideshow of photographs from the Grenadines

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

De Comrade: 'Better by far'...and some

[Rather than post the budget message, I thought I'd post this commentary on the web at:]

Dear Sir:

One cannot help feeling sorry for Opposition Leader, Ho. Arnhim Eustace. Not because he has been an abysmal failure as a politician and Opposition Leader, but because it is just unfair to expect him to keep pace with the outstanding visionary Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

As my late father would have said, "Jackass should never enter horse race".

The Prime Minister's 2010 Budget Presentation (delivered Monday), is easily the best I have heard since following politics some 40 years or so... It was loaded with "recession-coping" information; and delivered with superb oratory.

Dr Eric Williams, Sir Winston Churchill, John F Kennedy and Fidel Castro - all great leaders and orators - would have been easily dwarfed by De Comrade yesterday.

Mr Eustace will be hard pressed to question/dismiss the good news contained in the Prime Minister's Budget Presentation. How can any rational individual try to wish away the gains made by the government and nation, as outlined by Dr. Gonsalves yesterday.

De Comrade was extremely harsh on Mr Eustace yesterday. The PM literally removed the winds form Mr Eustace's political sail. Mr Eustace's only issues for the past two years - The Vat and $1 Grenadines service fee - were put to rest yesterday. And Mr Eustace was delt massive body blows as government projects were enumerated.

So much for "half pound ah chicken back an neck and half cake ah soap"

Prime Minister Gonsalves' minor Cabinet shuffle last week and yesterday's good news budget have put the Comrade and ULP back on the road to maintaining their majority in the next general elections. For SVG's sake, the ULP must not defeat itself.

There is much more to be done by Comrade and the ULP government, but they are on the right track.

Now it's back to the picket lines and daily radio "bark" shows for Mr Eustace and the NDP.

Cde T Wade Kojo Williams, Sr

Judge Lectures in Bahamas

NASSAU, Bahamas -- The Hon Justice Adrian Saunders, Justice of the Caribbean Court of Justice will present the 2010 distinguished lecture at the 2nd annual Eugene Dupuch Distinguished Lecture, Thursday, January 28.

He will speak on the topic “The Relevance of the Privy Council in Post Independent West Indian Nation States”. The Lecture is organized by the Eugene Dupuch Law School in conjunction with Dupuch and Turnquest, counsel and attorneys-at-law, and will be held at 6:30 p.m. at the British Colonial Hilton. It is open to the public and is free of charge.

According to a release from the Eugene Dupuch Law School, the Lecture is intended to provide a forum for the scholarly discussion of topical jurisprudential matters that are of interest to the legal profession and civil society.

The Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) is the regional judicial tribunal established in February 2001 by the Agreement Establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice that was signed by the Caribbean Community. The Bahamas is not a signatory to the agreement, the release stated.

Tonya Bastian Galanis, principal of the Eugene Dupuch Law School, said she is pleased with the strategic partnership with Dupuch and Turnquest.
“Both the Eugene Dupuch Law School and Dupuch and Turnquest are excited about the scholarly information that Justice Saunders will impart to the Bahamian society as a whole, and more specifically, to the legal profession on this very important issue,” she said.

The Eugene Dupuch Law School is one of three law schools operated by the Council of Legal Education, where students can obtain post graduate legal education, before being called to the Bar in various Caribbean countries. The other law schools are the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago and the Normal Manley Law School in Jamaica.

Mr Justice Saunders is a native of St Vincent and the Grenadines. He obtained a Bachelor of Laws (Honours) degree from the University of the West Indies (Cave Hill) in 1975 and followed this with the Legal Education Certificate of the Hugh Wooding Law School in Trinidad and Tobago in 1977. He was called to the Bar of St Vincent & the Grenadines in 1977.

From 1977 until 1996 he was in private practice as a barrister and solicitor. While in there he served as a member of the Bar Council of the Eastern Caribbean Bar Association and for several years as Secretary of the St Vincent Bar Association.

In 1996 he joined the High Court Bench of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) and on May 1, 2003, he was appointed to that court’s Court of Appeal. Between 2004 and 2005 he acted as Chief Justice of that Court and in 2005 he was appointed as a Judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Prior to his appointment as a judge, Mr Justice Saunders was President of the National Youth Council of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Theater at Buccament

Caribbean Resort To Include Performing Arts Academy

ST. VINCENT & THE GRENADINES — Harlequin Hotels & Resorts, a new luxury 5-star brand that will debut its Buccament Bay flagship property in St. Vincent & The Grenadines in July, is taking some creative steps to ensure that it is a tough act to follow.

The first Harlequin Performing Arts Academy will afford guests at the Buccament Bay Beach Resort the chance to explore and evaluate their interest in singing, drama, dance and music in a wide range of workshops and master classes led by experienced Broadway and West End performers. Children, aged 8-18, also will enjoy programs to learn and develop performance and communication skills in a fun-filled environment.

The Harlequin Performing Arts Academy is a novel vacation concept that combines arts training with recreation and relaxation in a fine resort setting. Ultimately, each of Harlequin's resorts in the Caribbean will feature a Harlequin Performing Arts Academy.Additionally, the ambitious Academy plan will include technique courses in stage management and make-up. Regular performances by the Academy at the resort will give class participants the opportunity to showcase their talents.

Importantly, to validate the exceptional quality of the Harlequin Performing Arts Academy, world-class talent has been engaged to direct this entertainment enterprise. Michael McCarthy, whose critically acclaimed portrayal of Inspector Javert rocketed him to stardom in the West End and Broadway smash hit productions of Les Miserables, will head an illustrious group of gifted individuals whose theatrical credits include West End and Broadway roles in Miss Saigon, Phantom of the Opera, Sweeney Todd, Blood Brothers and also Les Miserables.

Monday, January 25, 2010

SVG National Trust Walk


For further details please call us at 451-2921/494-2010/533-0752 email: 

For further details please call us at 451-2921/494-2010/533-0752

Located in the upper Cumberland Valley, the Mountain trail was once used by villagers as part of linking to the upper Vermont Valley. The area was popular for the movement of animals, and was a “Mourning” ground for the Spiritual Baptists Religion. The Forestry Department acquired some lands from farmers in the 1960’s and this assisted significantly in maintaining the trail. The reforestation involved the planting of trees like Caribbean Pine and Blue Mahoe. The Cumberland Trail is also one of the habitats for the St. Vincent Parrot (Amazonia Guildingii).

The Cumberland Nature Trail is rested in the Cumberland Valley, traversing a variety of Forest Vegetation and Farm lands. At the initial section, the trail runs next to a wooden water pipe transporting water to a hydro-electricity power plant located in the Cumberland Valley. Its biggest attractions are however the rain forest and the opportunity for bird-watching both endemic species and other wildlife. The trail is between one and a half and two hours hiking.
Facilities at Cumberland Nature Trail include:
Ticket Booth
Lookout Point
Exit Shelter
Approximately 2.5 miles
At a relatively moderate pace the trail takes approximately 2hours to complete.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Porter with Homemade Wagon

The usual method of moving small quantities of freight from point-to-point inside Kingstown. More maneuverable than a truck, and much easier to park.

Old Fashioned Bus

A flatbed truck adapted to carry passengers and friight to the other end of the island

Carnagie Library

The Library, built around 1900 with a grant from Andrew Carnagie. It houses the National Trust exhibits on the ground floor and the Alliance Francais on the upper floor.

Iron Man

A memorial to deceased soldiers of the World Wars. Located in front of the market on Bay Street.


The New Market. The ground floor is devoted to food, mostly fresh local produce. The upper floors have other kids of stores.

It is diagonally across Bay Street from the Administration Building.

Administration Building

Contains government offices including the Office of the Prime Minister

Botanic Garden

The St Vincent Botanic Gardens were established in 1765 by General Robert Melville, then Governor of the Windward Islands. At that time they were administered by the British War Office. Their foundation were as gardens for "the cultivation and improvement of many plants now growing wild and the import of others from similar climates" which "would be of great utility to the public and vastly improve the resources of the island". 20 acres were set aside which Melville had cleared. Their first curator was Dr George Young, a keen horticulturist and surgeon to the British forces in the region. He curated the gardens during the first years after its establishment. The French held St Vincent during the years of 1779 to 1783 but Dr Young remained as curator during this time. He also worked closely with General de Bouill‚, Commander in Chief of the French forces in Martinique who was also a keen botanist. They exchanged plants between them for the St Vincent and Martinique botanic gardens respectively.

In 1783 Dr Alexander Anderson succeeded Dr Young as curator. Anderson had a close relationship with notable British botanists, particularly Sir Joseph Banks, which helped greatly in the acquisition of new plants for the Gardens. In the Gardens at that time an excellent collection of native and exotic plants was grown. In 1791 nutmeg and black pepper were introduced from French Guiana. Anderson also brought about the introduction of such important plants as Syzygium malaccensis, plum rose; Averrhoa carambola, Carambola and others and shortly afterwards plants of breadfruit, Artocarpus altilis (incisa) arrived in St Vincent on the H.M.S. Providence, introduced by Captain Bligh in 1793 from Tahiti, Polynesia, an event for which the Gardens are famous worldwide, following the mutiny that took place on Bligh's first attempt some years before on the H.M.S. Bounty. This introduction was quite a feat of horticultural skill as the young plants had to maintained on board ship for a long voyage. Seeds of breadfruit die quickly when stored. According to Dr Freitas (pers. comm.) all of the breadfruit trees in St Vincent are derived from suckers of these original introductions. Although it is said that six varieties of breadfruit were introduced into St Vincent there are only two (or two main) varieties used today. Several trees arising from Captain Bligh's original introductions are prominently labelled as such in the Botanic Gardens. Captain Bligh returned to England on the Providence with 465 pots and two tubs of plants from the Botanic Gardens which were sent to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew.

The St Vincent Botanic Gardens at that time therefore played an extremely important part in making possible the colonization of not just St Vincent but also other islands in the West Indies, introducing, establishing and distributing plants upon which the future economies and food supplies of most islands became based. Of course once this important work had been completed the major task of the Botanic Gardens was over and it became one of a series of agriculture station gardens which occurred on most of the West Indian Islands at that time.

On his death in 1811, Anderson was succeeded as curator of the St Vincent Botanic Gardens by William Lockheed in 1812 who remained as curator for only a few years until his death in 1815. He was succeeded by George Caley and in this time the Gardens went into decline. The management of the Gardens was handed from the War Office to the Colonial Office in the early 19th century and in 1823 three acres were removed from the Gardens for the construction of a house for the Colonial Governor, which later became Government House. In 1849 the Gardens appear to have been regarded as abandoned and it was only in 1884 when it came under the control of the British Government again that it was revitalized. Mr H. Powell was installed as curator and he began the work of restoring the Gardens to their former glory. He faced a major setback in 1898 when many species were lost during a hurricane. However, much of the damage was quickly made good and plants that had been lost replaced from the collections of other botanic gardens. In 1904 a botanic station was added to the Gardens for the purpose of "raising and distributing economic plants and assisting local industries" a task which the Gardens continue to perform to the present day.

Mr Powell sent many botanical specimens from St Vincent and the Grenadines to the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew where they remain today as an important record of the native flora. Many of the species contained and described within the paper, Flora of St Vincent and Adjacent Isles, Kew Bulletin, No. 81, September 1893, pages 231 to 296 are based on his collections, and those of his predecessors, some of them from plants grown at the Botanic Gardens. An account of the history of the early history of the Botanic Gardens is given in the Kew Bulletin for 1892, pages 92 to 100.

Following Powell tenure as curator, its management was handed over to the Superintendent of Agriculture, Mr William Sands in 1904. His major impact was in creating the present day roads layout and building the Doric Temple and the Allamanda Fountain within it. The management of the Gardens continued under the tenure of six more Superintendents of Agriculture, the last one being Mr Hugh McConnie. During McConnie's time the Gardens flourished thanks to the labours of his assistant, Mr Conrad De Freitas. Today the Gardens remain under the management of the Ministry of Agriculture.

Published on the I Love St. Vincent and the Grenadines Page on Facebook

Passion Fruit Flower

The passion fruit is grown commercially for its juice, but I have always felt that its flower was unusually attractive.

Police Headquarters

The prominent colonial era building in the center of town contains the Police Headquarters, the gaol for short term prisoners, and the immigration office. The normal visa one gets on entry is good for a month, but can be extended by application here.

Dove Island

Dove Island is located off Indian Bay Beach. It is unusual in that the cross serves as a mausoleum for Sylvester DrFreitas, who was placed in the cross standing up.

Adventist Church

The Adventist Church was originally built, in the Colonial Era, by the Scotch Presbyterians. It is located at the east end of Back Street

Cobblestone Inn

A hotel located on Bay Street near the center of town. It was converted from a colonial era commercial building and shows the typical Vincentian arches.


There are two kinds of craftwork available from street vendors: souvenirs and useful housewares. The vendor above can usually be found on Bay Street or at the dock if a cruise ship is in. The brooms are sold on Bay Street just west of the Iron Man

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Windward Highway

View from the Windward Highway toward Cane Garden on the approach from Arnos Vale to Sion Hill.

Windward Highway

Windward Highway, approaching Arnos Vale and the E. T. Joshua Airport from the north.

University of the West Indies

The extention campus of the University of the West Indies on St. Vincent. It is across the street from Peace Mo.

As I understand it, the metal sculptures mounted on the wall were designed by Vivian Child. They are based on Garifuna Petroglyph designs.

Freight Port

Container ship unloading at the dock in the freight port.

Kingstown Harbor

Kingstown harbor as viewed from Fort Charlotte.

Chatoyer Monument

This monument to Chief Chatoyer, the heroic principal chief of the Garifuna, is located above Kingstown on Devonshire Hill.


Behind the new market on Back street, this colonial era building serves as a courthouse and Parliament.

Craft Store

This is the shop of the crafts cooperative that is just up the road from French's Corner. You can recognize it from the Garifuna design painted on the front. I strongly recommend the valise-shaped basket that can be found from purse- to suitcase-sized versions. There are also placemats that are easy to fit in a suitcase.

Red Angel

As I understand it, this was a window that was made for Queen Victoria, and she didn't like the idea of an angel in a red robe. So it was stuffed away in a cellar or attic somewhere.

There was a later occasion in which the Queen had to send something to St. Vincent for some ceremonial occasion and the Colonial Office said "Let's get rid of that window Her Majesty didn't like" and it ended up in the Anglican Cathedral, where it still can be viewed.

I rather like it, but I'm not Anglican or a Queen.

The hate and the quake
The hate and the quake

l Sir Hilary Beckles is pro-vice-chancellor and Principal of the Cave Hill Campus, UWI.

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Hate and the Quake

The hate and the quake

THE UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST INDIES is in the process of conceiving how best to deliver a major conference on the theme Rethinking And Rebuilding Haiti.

I am very keen to provide an input into this exercise because for too long there has been a popular perception that somehow the Haitian nation-building project, launched on January 1, 1804, has failed on account of mismanagement, ineptitude, corruption.

Buried beneath the rubble of imperial propaganda, out of both Western Europe and the United States, is the evidence which shows that Haiti's independence was defeated by an aggressive North-Atlantic alliance that could not imagine their world inhabited by a free regime of Africans as representatives of the newly emerging democracy.

The evidence is striking, especially in the context of France.

The Haitians fought for their freedom and won, as did the Americans fifty years earlier. The Americans declared their independence and crafted an extraordinary constitution that set out a clear message about the value of humanity and the right to freedom, justice, and liberty.

In the midst of this brilliant discourse, they chose to retain slavery as the basis of the new nation state. The founding fathers therefore could not see beyond race, as the free state was built on a slavery foundation.

The water was poisoned in the well; the Americans went back to the battlefield a century later to resolve the fact that slavery and freedom could not comfortably co-exist in the same place.

The French, also, declared freedom, fraternity and equality as the new philosophies of their national transformation and gave the modern world a tremendous progressive boost by so doing.

They abolished slavery, but Napoleon Bonaparte could not imagine the republic without slavery and targeted the Haitians for a new, more intense regime of slavery. The British agreed, as did the Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese.

All were linked in communion over the 500 000 Blacks in Haiti, the most populous and prosperous Caribbean colony.
As the jewel of the Caribbean, they all wanted to get their hands on it. With a massive slave base, the English, French and Dutch salivated over owning it - and the people.

The people won a ten-year war, the bloodiest in modern history, and declared their independence. Every other country in the Americas was based on slavery.

Haiti was freedom, and proceeded to place in its 1805 Independence Constitution that any person of African descent who arrived on its shores would be declared free, and a citizen of the republic.

For the first time since slavery had commenced, Blacks were the subjects of mass freedom and citizenship in a nation.
The French refused to recognise Haiti's independence and declared it an illegal pariah state. The Americans, whom the Haitians looked to in solidarity as their mentor in independence, refused to recognise them, and offered solidarity instead to the French. The British, who were negotiating with the French to obtain the ownership title to Haiti, also moved in solidarity, as did every other nation-state the Western world.

Haiti was isolated at birth - ostracised and denied access to world trade, finance, and institutional development. It was the most vicious example of national strangulation recorded in modern history.

The Cubans, at least, have had Russia, China, and Vietnam. The Haitians were alone from inception. The crumbling began.
Then came 1825; the moment of full truth. The republic is celebrating its 21st anniversary. There is national euphoria in the streets of Port-au-Prince.

The economy is bankrupt; the political leadership isolated. The cabinet took the decision that the state of affairs could not continue.

The country had to find a way to be inserted back into the world economy. The French government was invited to a summit.
Officials arrived and told the Haitian government that they were willing to recognise the country as a sovereign nation but it would have to pay compensation and reparation in exchange. The Haitians, with backs to the wall, agreed to pay the French.
The French government sent a team of accountants and actuaries into Haiti in order to place a value on all lands, all physical assets, the 500 000 citizens were who formerly enslaved, animals, and all other commercial properties and services.
The sums amounted to 150 million gold francs. Haiti was told to pay this reparation to France in return for national recognition.
The Haitian government agreed; payments began immediately. Members of the Cabinet were also valued because they had been enslaved people before independence.

Thus began the systematic destruction of the Republic of Haiti. The French government bled the nation and rendered it a failed state. It was a merciless exploitation that was designed and guaranteed to collapse the Haitian economy and society.
Haiti was forced to pay this sum until 1922 when the last instalment was made. During the long 19th century, the payment to France amounted to up to 70 per cent of the country's foreign exchange earnings.

Jamaica today pays up to 70 per cent in order to service its international and domestic debt. Haiti was crushed by this debt payment. It descended into financial and social chaos.

The republic did not stand a chance. France was enriched and it took pleasure from the fact that having been defeated by Haitians on the battlefield, it had won on the field of finance. In the years when the coffee crops failed, or the sugar yield was down, the Haitian government borrowed on the French money market at double the going interest rate in order to repay the French government.

When the Americans invaded the country in the early 20th century, one of the reasons offered was to assist the French in collecting its reparations.

The collapse of the Haitian nation resides at the feet of France and America, especially. These two nations betrayed, failed, and destroyed the dream that was Haiti; crushed to dust in an effort to destroy the flower of freedom and the seed of justice.
Haiti did not fail. It was destroyed by two of the most powerful nations on earth, both of which continue to have a primary interest in its current condition.

The sudden quake has come in the aftermath of summers of hate. In many ways the quake has been less destructive than the hate.

Human life was snuffed out by the quake, while the hate has been a long and inhumane suffocation - a crime against humanity.
During the 2001 UN Conference on Race in Durban, South Africa, strong representation was made to the French government to repay the 150 million francs.

The value of this amount was estimated by financial actuaries as US$21 billion. This sum of capital could rebuild Haiti and place it in a position to re-engage the modern world. It was illegally extracted from the Haitian people and should be repaid.
It is stolen wealth. In so doing, France could discharge its moral obligation to the Haitian people.

For a nation that prides itself in the celebration of modern diplomacy, France, in order to exist with the moral authority of this diplomacy in this post-modern world, should do the just and legal thing.

Such an act at the outset of this century would open the door for a sophisticated interface of past and present, and set the Haitian nation free at last.

Sir Hilary Beckles is pro-vice-chancellor and Principal of the Cave Hill Campus, UWI.

More Backyard Orchids

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Garifuna Awards

New York – The Board of Directors of the Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc. a, nonpartisan, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization is pleased to announce The First Garifuna Heritage Awards which will be presented during the First Annual Garifuna Heritage Awards and Cultural Night on March 13th 2010 at 7 PM at the Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture, 450 Grand Concourse Bronx, NY 10451.

The first Garifuna Heritage Awards will honor those who have made outstanding contributions to the preservation and promotion of the Garifuna Culture. The annual event, which is a flagship event of the Garifuna Coalition, celebrates the contributions, legacies and future of those of Garifuna heritage.

This year’s honorees include Crisanto Armando Meléndez, (Savaranga, Uayujuru), Executive Director of the Garinagu Cultural Center and Artistic Director of The Garifuna National Folklore Ballet in Honduras; Kensy Sambola, President of the Afro Garifuna Association of Nicaragua (AAGANIC), David Augustine Glasgow, President of the Garifuna Heritage Foundation of St Vincent and the Grenadines; Mr. Pablo Roberto Mejía from Livingston, Guatemala, Blanca Arzu, Branch Manager at Ponce de Leon Federal Bank in New York and E.Roy Cayetano, author of the People`s Garifuna Dictionary from Belize.

A dynamic cultural stage production will feature James Lovell and the AfriGarifuna Youth Ensemble, Hamalali Wayunagu Garifuna Dance Company, Chief Joseph Chatoyer Garifuna Folkloric Ballet of NY, Paula Castillo and Hechu Garinagu and a grand finale directed by Mr. Crisanto Armando Meléndez, (Savaranga, Uayujuru).

The Garifuna Heritage Awards and Cultural Night is an integral part of the Garifuna Heritage Month 2010. The proclamation will be presented by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr and New York State Governor David A. Paterson’s office during a press conference in the Rotunda of the Bronx Borough President’s Office on Thursday, March 11, 2010 at 11:00 AM. 851 Grand Concourse, Bronx, NY.
Garifuna-American Heritage Month, celebrates the great contributions of Garifuna-Americans to the fabric of New York, and will pay tribute to the common culture and bonds of friendship that unite the United States and the Garifuna countries of origin. New York City is home to the largest Garifuna Community outside of Central America.

On September 17th 1821, nearly a decade before slavery was completely phased out in New York City; William Henry Brown's African Theater presented its first performance near the intersection of Bleecker and Mercer Streets in Greenwich Village. Mr. Brown is also known as the first American Playwright of African Descent, he wrote the play The Drama of King Shotoway, recognized as the first black drama of the American Theatre and has as its subject the 1795 Black Caribs (Garifunas) defense of the Island of Saint Vincent, against colonization by the British.

The Garifuna Heritage Month Proclamation is significant and critical in making visible the Garifuna American identity, developing the agenda and recognizing Garifuna Americans who contribute significantly to the American landscape.

For tickets or general information, please contact: Hostos Center for the Arts & Culture (718) 518.4455 Garifuna Coalition USA, Inc. (718) 402-7700 or, Luz Soliz (646) 245-7302, Jose Francisco Avila (917) 783-5298

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

New SVG Website

To unveil the best of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, a new website at specifically focuses on four key niche products – yachting and charters, diving and snorkeling, eco-adventures and weddings and honeymoons – and makes it easy to explore each option. uses graphics and interactive maps to highlight the charm of SVG’s nine inhabited islands – St. Vincent, Young Island, Bequia, Canouan, Union, Mayreau, Mustique, Palm Island, Petit St. Vincent – and Tobago Cays (inhabited only by marine, plant and animal life).

The site is also easy to navigate and abounds with practical tips and useful information including “getting there,” “what to do,” “where to stay,” and a gallery of photographs capturing the visual allure of the 32-island chain’s natural and cultural attractions. A regularly updated “latest news” section proffers inside advice to media, as well as to travelers, on recent developments and news in SVG.

To complement the new website, SVG also updated its social networking pages including Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube and Blogger, giving visitors and locals the platforms from which to engage in lively conversations and exchange their own stories, news and updates.

Joe Pike

Monday, January 18, 2010

Cruise Ships

A day when two cruise ships were in at the same time.


Kingstown harbor as seen from Cane Garden

Pretty Polly

A new member of our family.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cécile Comblen - Interview

Cécile Comblen
Blue Mood I

Cécile Comblen - A Bold, Expressive Artist and Active Contributer to St. Vincent's Visual Arts Scene

By Marina Vatav Posted: January 13, 2010

Cécile Comblen, an artist originally from Belgium, settled in St. Vincent about 10 years ago. She believes that art can boost the Caribbean countries’ economies. She was one of the founders of St. Vincent and Grenadines' Visual Art Society, which was formed to unite the artists and to convince the people and government that art is worth to be taken seriously.

Cécile is an art educator who has taught art for many years. She was born in an artistic family. Her grandfather was a well known architect, and her aunt was a watercolorist. She says, "I have some background in art and some interesting people in the family."

Q: How is the art environment in St. Vincent, in terms of institutions, etc.?

From my point of view, there's a lot of work to do, but it’s growing. We’ve been joining hands to get some art shows together, and the art organization, founded in 2003, to move forward. The awareness is growing, as well as the sense of artists to help each other more, to put on shows, to tell people about the things to look at and to collect. Now people coming back to St. Vincent are building these huge places based on North American standards. They will need art for their big homes. It takes perseverance to keep doing things and to interest people.

Q: You are one of the founders of St. Vincent and Grenadines' Visual Art Society in 2003. Why was it necessary to create this organization?

When you said "art" in St. Vincent a few years ago, it meant craft. People didn’t even know the difference because they probably didn’t see enough of it. Our mission was to give an expression and importance in the arts, to value the arts in the community, to encourage people to take it more seriously. It’s a profession, and not just an activity to pass the time.

Q: What changes have occurred since the organization was founded? Now shows are more professional.

We taught people how to organize a good show, how to frame, and arrange their art on the walls. We had two major events. One was a national workshop for all the kindergarden teachers. It was really good to make them aware of art, and how they can influence the young children. The other was an art exhibition in 2004. The Art Society made the Ministry of Culture more aware that artists are to be taken seriously and not for granted. It made them aware that they needed to give more obvious support to artists who wanted to go abroad. Most of the time, artists had to have their own money or find sponsors in order to exhibit abroad. If the government values culture, they have to put more money towards art. It’s a long term evolution.

Q: What new opportunities emerged for the artists after the founding of this organization?

It was great to start working together. Foremost because artists were isolated. You need to connect and make the links and work together as much as possible. We had to learn to get our act together and come to meetings and get things done. The Art Society gives the voice. If you want something done and you come as a group, people listen to you. If you come alone, well, you must have a lot of good friends in the government to make things change. We didn’t go as far as having studios, and maybe opening an art gallery, I think these things will come.

People have to put energy, but sometimes you do your own work and you wonder "why should I put some energy for a group?" But that’s where the awareness comes in that putting energy in the group will help you in different ways. We are learning to work together and be more cooperative.

Q; Can you name a few things that should happen in St. Vincent for the arts to develop?

First, develop a more open and positive attitude towards the visual arts. People should know that art is a serious endeavor. There is this St. Vincent attitude that a student who is bright in math and academics is valued in the educational system. But the attitude towards art is, "You are not so good, you can do art." That needs absolute change because it discourages the children right there. If a child is gifted, parents would say: "You can't make a living doing art, and it’s not serious." These attitudes need to change at every level, including the education system. Creativity is not dangerous, creativity makes life exciting.

Second, the country will have to have a physical space to show art. Up to this point there is no formal official art gallery or museum. There is a private gallery, but I didn’t see many local artists bringing art from the outside. There are some spots in town, a couple of government buildings where you can rent some space, but you have to negotiate each time. There is a real need for displaying finished work. It’s a big task, but it can be done.

Third, the Minister of Culture must be much more proactive and understand the value of art. I am sure he supports some projects. There is a lot of value in visual arts, but maybe they haven’t understood that yet. They know that if you organize a big jazz festival, they will make a lot of money. However, they haven’t understood that there is money to be made in the visual arts as well.

Last, they can buy art for the official buildings, for example. There’s no art on the walls when you go into the government buildings. It’s really depressing. They also have to start buying and have a National collection of art.

Q; How can art effect economic change for St. Vincent?

Art will develop more with the international airport coming. They need to have an art space right in town for tourists who want more than T-shirts and wraps, a place to be able to see some decent local art. If the government offers grants and artists don’t always have to look for sponsors from overseas or international organizations, it will give a good boost to the visual arts. I see that the Minister of Culture has to take things more serious financially, because what makes an island interesting is not just the beaches and palm trees. You have to have something culturally strong to offer.

In Jamaica or Trinidad people are open and interested in art. In St. Vincent, unfortunately, it’s not there yet, but it’s coming. Art events can boost the economies as well if the promotion is made properly, like in Trinidad. There, they have a big art exhibition next to the stadium where the Carnival takes place. There are some young artists coming up in St. Vincent, and I am sure they have lots of energy and they will shake up things.

Q: How did you get involved with the Caribbean?

I visited Trinidad in 1994, then a friend invited me to St. Vincent and I was absolutely attracted by the colors and the light. I was coming back regularly with my art materials and I did quite a bit of production, so I knew I was in the right place. It started with just a holiday trip and it ended up with me realizing that I was carrying on the dream of having my little place by the sea. So I ended up building it in St. Vincent in 2000, and settling there and having my studio there.

Q: What inspires you in St. Vincent?

I’ve always been very impressed. St. Vincent is a great island. The nature is wonderful and the light is beautiful. Because I tend to express myself in an abstract way, I take all the elements around me into the painting. When you have strong colors and beautiful light around you, it naturally gets revealed in the works. I love color. Painting is emotional and color is a strong medium to express emotion. St. Vincent, as is the Caribbean in general, has a raw beauty. It may change over a few years because of the development of the International Airport. Hopefully it will not change it to the point that it’s not St. Vincent any more.

Q; What is different about the light in the Caribbean?

People may be taking it for granted there, but I am absolutely amazed. I call it the golden hours. Between four o’clock in the afternoon and sunset, you have these amazing warm colors all over. For me this light is magical. I don’t know if the local people notice it, or they are so used to it, but it’s quite noticeable. And with so little pollution, the air is so clear, more transparent, and brighter.

Q: How did St. Vincent change your art?

I think it made me bolder and not afraid of really expressing intensity of feelings, intensity of experience through colors and generally through the artwork. I am looking at one painting in my living room now, and definitely you can see that it’s not made in a Northern country. It’s something there that’s connected with my Caribbean experience. With all the effort it sometimes takes to organize yourself to move to the Caribbean, it’s worth it. I think it definitely is a place where I can expand my horizons and my art.

Q: Is your style a combination of you living in different parts of the world?

Style is absolutely a combination of life experiences, of personality, of vision, of talent and technical skills, and a lot of work behind it. Someone once made a comment about one of my paintings, saying that in that painting was a mention of my European roots and Caribbean atmosphere and composition. It’s all melted into something, and it would not be the same if I lived all the time in one place. The more you experience, the richer you are and the richer your expression is. It doesn’t mean that somebody who lives all his or her life in one place is not a good artist, but it can expand.

Q: What topics are most common in your art?

I let my hand go and I don’t have a specific plan to start with. But I have a series of symbols that I use, like a house or waves.

Q: What do some of the symbols that you use mean for you?

I guess, it’s fairly simple. The house is the sense of security and belonging. You know, as we are children, we draw little houses all the time. And you have this simple, basic shape which is yours, and for me it’s a place where you can be and relax. It means protection, security and belonging.

The spiral is the symbol of growth and extension. Water and waves mean a lot of things, like movement and being conscious.

Q: What are your current interests regarding your work?

Regarding my work, it’s not just to produce, but to show more and to increase visibility for it. But also to continue to paint and to expand into printing, for example. A lot of artists love to produce, and when you have to share your time between producing and promoting, you tend to lapse. I tend to lapse with promoting because I love being in the studio. I think that’s what I’m doing now, looking at being more out there and try to make a better living out of it because of all the energy you put into it.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Taste of the Real Caribbean ...

... on a visit to St Vincent and the Grenadines(07 January 2010)

St Vincent and the Grenadines has been a well-kept secret among travellers seeking luxurious hideaways, idyllic settings, and a taste of the truly authentic Caribbean. However, a multi-million dollar investment programme to boost tourism looks set to let that secret out.

The government is investing £4.5 million in sustainable development projects to improve 20 key tourist sites, such as the Soufriere Cross Country Trail.Construction is also under way on St Vincent’s Argyle international airport. UK visitors usually fly to Barbados with British Airways or Virgin Atlantic and transfer to local airlines such as LIAT or Caribbean Airlines. However, the new airport, which is scheduled to be completed in 2012, will accommodate direct flights from Europe.

Strides are also being made in accommodation. July will see St Vincent gain its first five-star luxury property. The Buccament Bay Beach Resort will feature a Pat Cash Tennis Academy and a Liverpool Football Club Soccer School.

Why go?

Caribtours product manager Katherine Hobbs says: “Clients who choose to holiday in the Grenadines are often looking for the tiny palm-fringed islands and deserted white-sand beaches that represent the true Caribbean.” She says the islands have some of the best sailing, scuba diving and snorkelling in the Caribbean and are great for island-hopping.

For older couples looking for the ultimate getaway, suggest they go to a private island such as Young or Palm.

Kuoni Caribbean product manager Karen Walpole says: “Our biggest seller to the Grenadines is Palm Island, an Elite Island Resort. “It tends to be mostly couples aged 40-plus who book this property, which offers total escapism. More independent travellers and younger couples like to stay at our small boutique hotel, the Friendship Bay Resort in Bequia.

”For couples seeking the ultimate romantic experience, Harlequin Holidays recommends booking a Sailaway package, which includes five nights’ accommodation on Young Island plus two nights’ sailing through the Grenadines, visiting islands such as Bequia and Mustique.

A Carrier spokeswoman says that its Grenadines clients are mainly couples who stay, on average, at least seven nights. For families, she suggests Raffles in Canouan. The luxury resort is equipped to cater for the needs of children and parents, and boasts a spa, golf course and idyllic beach.

The islands

Of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ 32 islands, there are nine major ones:

St Vincent is volcanic and unspoilt and its beaches have black and golden sand. The climb up La Soufriere, an active but dormant volcano, is popular with hikers.

Bequia is smaller and more manicured than St Vincent, with secluded bays, white-sand beaches and turquoise seas. Choose Bequia 
for sailing, snorkelling, and turtle watching.

Canouan offers white-sand beaches and a turquoise sea, and is where you’ll find the luxurious Raffles Resort. You can also charter a yacht from Canouan.

Mayreau, which can be reached only by boat, offers a taste of the untouched Caribbean.

Mustique, one of the smaller islands, offers an intimate and exclusive getaway with nine soft-sand beaches. Cotton House is the island’s only full-service hotel.

Palm Island is an idyllic desert island hideaway, popular with mainly an adult audience, especially honeymooners.

Petit St Vincent promises the ultimate in peace and quiet: no TV, telephones or cabaret, so it is ideal for those who want to get away from it all.

Union Island is ideal for those seeking a more adventurous holiday, as this island offers sailing, hiking, snorkelling and scuba-diving.

Young Island, a 35-acre private island with tropical garden, is laid back and relaxed, and just a few minutes by ferry from St Vincent.

The lowdown

• Location: St Vincent and the Grenadines is situated 100 miles west of Barbados, between St Lucia in the north and Grenada in the south.

• Main islands: St Vincent, Bequia, Canouan, Mayreau, Mustique, Union Island, Palm Island, Petit St Vincent, and Young Island.

• Weather: The average temperature is 27C. The coolest months are between November and February. Rainy season is May to October.

• Language: English.

• Currency: Eastern Caribbean dollar.

• Population: 110,000.

Sample product

Caribtours offers seven nights in St Vincent and the Grenadines from £2,368 per person, combining four nights at Palm Island, in a palm-view room, all-inclusive, with three nights’ bed and breakfast at Tamarind Beach Hotel, Canouan. The price includes Virgin Atlantic flights and inter-island flights., 020 7751 0660 Kuoni offers seven nights at Friendship Bay Beach Resort, Bequia, room-only, in an ocean-view room, including British Airways flights and in-resort transfers. Prices lead in at £1,540 per person, twin-share., 01306 747008

Karen Dempsey

Ben Mitchell goes island-hopping ...

... in St Vincent and the Grenadines, one of the hidden gems of the Caribbean

Published: 16/01/2010

BAMBOO trees creaking and swaying gently in the Caribbean breeze provided a soothing soundtrack as we sweated our way through the humid forest around the volcano which forms the centre point of the lush, green island of St Vincent.We were being led up to the crater of La Soufriere, in St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), and the first stretch of a fascinating three-hour trek was submerged in a world of beautiful forest.

But as we climbed further up towards the peak of the 4,000ft volcano, the landscape gradually broke out into the stony scrub-land that covers the top of the crater.Looking down inside, I found it difficult to get a feel for how deep it was. At first, I thought it was just 65ft down – and then I suddenly saw something moving around and realised with a shock that people were about 650ft below us.I could also make out the “island” – a hill growing in the middle of the crater where the volcano remains active beneath.

On May 7, 1902, La Soufriere erupted so fiercely that it killed 1,680 people. When it last erupted in April 1979, there were no lives lost – because of advance warnings.

At 21 miles long and 11 wide, St Vincent is the largest of the 32 islands and cays which make up this Caribbean group. Mustique, patronised by rock celebs and royalty, is another.

St Vincent is a hilly island dominated by La Soufriere, and as we drove up to the starting point of the crater walk, the winding road took us through what felt like a natural botanical garden.This is typical of the landscape of what is the best kept secret in the West Indies – the islands are full of secluded beaches, lush forests and charming and honest harbour towns, all surrounded by crystal clear, azure seas.But despite its relative obscurity, it is a place which many have fallen in love with, having provided the backdrop for much of the first Pirates Of The Caribbean movie and some of the second.

It is even possible to stay in the same hotel where the stars, Johnny Depp and Keira Knightley, laid their heads during filming. In some places, props left behind from filming are a magnet for tourists.

After our energetic climb up the volcano, guided by Sailor Wilderness Tours, we enjoyed a delicious picnic of home-made chicken, rice and beans overlooking the striking black sand beaches at Black Point, which look almost metallic in glinting sunshine.The spot also captured the imagination of the Pirates location scouts, not only for the unusual sands but for a tunnel carved more than 300ft through the rocks by slaves in 1815 to enable sugar cane to be loaded on to ships for export more easily.

However, St Vincent is not just about hill climbs. You can just as easily take part in those most Caribbean of pastimes, relaxing on the beach and “liming” – the local word for hanging out with friends.I stayed at the colourful Beachcombers boutique hotel, whose bright yellow, orange and blue buildings are nestled in a flourishing botanical garden with a pool overlooking the beach and its calm, lapping waters.This is a great spot for a dip or to play a game of beach football with the local children, or to stand amused as locals gallop along the beach on their horses.

Just 200 yards or so across the water is Young Island, a private hotel resort with a taste of Caribbean luxury.Visitors can choose from a variety of villas, either touching the shore with their own steps on to the beach, or have a more secluded location farther up the hill, hidden among the vegetation and overlooking the bay.There is no need for air-conditioning in this hotel as the rooms have been cleverly designed to make the most of the natural breeze, with the whole room surrounded in beautiful slatted windows which allow the air to circulate – but with wire meshing to keep the mosquitoes out.

One drawback to this corner of paradise, however, is that open windows let in loud music booming across the water from local bars every Wednesday and Saturday.The indoor-outdoor feel is made complete by the bathroom shower actually being in the garden with a view over the water, but with your modesty retained by a shoulder-high fence for a screen.

In the island’s main town, Kingstown, a throwback to colonial times can be found at Grenadine House with its elegantly restored restaurant and hotel rooms, which were chosen to sleep the Pirates stars during some of the filming.From Kingstown, I took the hour-long ferry trip to the laid-back island of Bequia (pronounced “bekway”).

Its tranquil harbour town of Port Elizabeth is studded with little boutiques where you can buy handmade boats and other local crafts while Rastafarians “lime” by the waterfront and residents visit the vegetable market, where there is a sign saying it is illegal to stuff food into the mouths of tourists.There is a range of high-quality, relaxed restaurants along the waterfront, including the evocatively named Devil’s Table. This is famous for being a lively attraction for locals and visitors alike at the weekends, but is quiet during the week, offering specialities including locally caught fish.

I stayed at the Bequia Beach Hotel in nearby Friendship Bay, a sister hotel of Grenadine House, and both have rooms decorated in a stylish throwback to mid-20th-century grandeur with colourful posters for Cuba and Miami on the walls.

Taking an exciting flight in a six-seater plane across to the Raffles resort on Canouan, I could see across the green islands of SVG sticking out of the translucent sea – and could just imagine the pirate ships of yesteryear sailing by.

And it is these unspoiled coastlines which remain thick with the tropical vegetation that brought the Pirates crew to film at the beautiful Tobago Cays, a perfect destination for sailing, snorkelling and diving trips.

I finished my holiday in style at the Raffles resort, which takes up half of Canouan and boasts a Donald Trump-designed golf course.But at this 88-room resort with 650 staff, the golf buggies aren’t restricted to the links as each villa is provided with its own vehicle to travel to the beach, swimming pool, one of the four restaurants, casino or spa.No luxury has been forgotten at this expansive site overlooking one of the most beautiful beaches in the Caribbean, including a poolside sunglasses-cleaning service. And the luxury continues inside villas designed in a crisp, modern and extremely comfortable style.

While SVG remains a hidden gem, work has started on a new international airport to allow major carriers to fly direct, cutting the arrival time for visitors who have to go via Barbados, about 100 miles to the east.

Visitors might be well advised to enjoy island-hopping around this sleepy backwater while they can before too many tour groups start flying in.

Time to go: All year, but cooler between November and February.Ben Mitchell flew to St Vincent and the Grenadines with British Airways, which offers return flights ex-Gatwick to Barbados from £569.Operators to SVG include Caribtours, which offers seven nights’ half-board at Young Island Resort from £1,615, saving £520, including BA flights ex-Gatwick or Manchester, transfers and surcharges for selected departures from January 5 until March 31. Connecting flights ex-Glasgow costs from about £80.Beachcombers Hotel (www.beachcombers has double rooms from £46 per night, and Grenadine House ( from £85.Destination information from St Vincent and the Grenadines (, with advice also from (01273 600 030).

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