Friday, September 30, 2011

Garifuna Music

Aurelio Martinez—a Central American singer, composer, and guitarist from a small fishing village in Honduras—comes to Zankel Hall on October 15. He brings a bittersweet vocal style to guitar-accompanied ballads and other traditional song forms, particularly Garifuna music. Robert H. Browning, with Michael Stone and Ivan Duran, provide a brief history of the music.

Garifuna Music

The history of the Garifuna people dates to 1635, when two large European ships carrying kidnapped Africans were wrecked in the eastern Caribbean near the island of St. Vincent. Survivors swam ashore and took refuge among the indigenous Carib people, who absorbed the escapees. Fiercely independent, the Garifuna resisted colonization for more than 150 years until the British captured St. Vincent in 1797 and they were exiled to the Islas de la Bahía, off the Caribbean coast of Honduras. Soon after, they settled in the coastal regions of Central America, creating communities in Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
Combining powerful vocals with a dense percussive base, Garifuna music is unlike that of any other in Central America. While parallels can be drawn with other Caribbean traditions, the genres created by the Garifuna people are unique. As a population never enslaved, this culturally hybrid, multilingual people maintained discernible West African elements in their music, echoing the three-drum ensemble common to African percussive traditions on both sides of the Atlantic. Garifuna singing and drumming entails a fiercely percussive, communal call-and-response rooted in the sacred context of ancestral invocations and spirit possession, as in Cuban santería, Haitian vodoun, and Brazilian candomblé. The most popular Garifuna secular traditional genres are paranda and punta. Paranda (Spanish for carousal) adds an acoustic guitar to the Garifuna drum tradition; the punta couple dance (named for its characteristic rhythm) recalls the pelvic thrust, or vacunao, of the Cuban rumba guaguancó form.
In the early 1980s, punta rock, a creation commonly attributed to Belizean Garifuna musician, composer, and artist Delvin “Pen” Cayetano, added the amplified guitar to the Garifuna rhythm ensemble.

Punta rock’s upbeat message of cultural awareness and mutual respect has spilled over into the rest of Caribbean Central America. Among this ethnically diverse population, it has also fostered an expansive sense of national identity both at home and abroad, and has brought belated recognition of the minority Garifuna population’s contributions to the region.
The Garifuna garaón drum ensemble comprises the lead primera or heart drum, the counter-rhythmic segunda or shadow drum, and the steady bass-line tercera. An unusual adaptation is the use of snares—one or two guitar strings or wires stretched over the drumhead to achieve the buzzing sound also favored in some West African music cultures. This lends a highly valued denseness to the overall sound.

Additional traditional instruments include turtle-shell percussion, bottle percussion, claves, and a variety of shakers and scrapers drawn from the Amerindian music of St. Vincent. Garifuna musicians have expanded their instrumental array with European additions, while also incorporating English, Jamaican, Haitian, and Latin American folk elements along with reggae, country, R&B, and rock gleaned from radio broadcasts.

The two artists who have been at the forefront in furthering Garifuna music in recent years are the late Andy Palacio, a Belizean musician who popularized punta rock, and Honduran artist Aurelio Martinez, who has been a major force in maintaining and expanding the paranda tradition.Paranda refers both to a rhythm prevalent in Garifuna traditional drumming styles and also to a genre of music. While the rhythm can be traced to the Garifuna’s roots in West Africa, parandaas a genre was born in the early 19th century when the Garifuna settled in coastal Central America. It was there that they encountered Latin American music, adding the guitar and elements of Spanish and Latin rhythms. In their chronicling of daily life from social ills and romantic trysts to humorous tales and a penchant for improvisation, the songs bring to mind the great Caribbean tradition of calypso.

Martinez has continued to modify and expand the music, while adhering to its roots. A recent sojourn in Senegal where he mentored with Youssou N’Dour and met and recorded with many Afropop artists—both famous and unknown—opened new avenues and drew worldwide attention to his most recent Laru Beya recording.
Continuing the legacy of Palacio and other important Garifuna artists, Martinez uses his art to further the cause of his people, to inform, to educate, and to explore new territory. His work, along with that of both older and younger members of his community, provides a beacon for oppressed people throughout the world. Perhaps the most inspiring aspect of Garifuna music is that it not only chronicles the miseries of an oppressed people, but celebrates their steadfast resilience and their joie de vivre.

According to Martinez, “We’re not going to let this culture die. I know I must continue the culture of my grandparents, of my ancestors, and find new ways to express it. Few people know about it, but I adore it, and it’s something I must share with the world.” The Garifuna music takes its place firmly with the blues, flamenco, tango, reggae, Portuguese fado, and Greek rembetiko in evoking the soul of a community.

—Robert H. Browning, with Michael Stone and Ivan Duran

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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Friendly nations recommit to airport, education in St Vincent

MENAFN - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services -- Unrestricted - Thursday, September 29, 2011
Friendly nations recommit to airport, education in St Vincent
Sep 29, 2011 (Caribbean News Now - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- KINGSTOWN, StVincent -- Friendly nations partnering to build the international airport at Argyle in St Vincnt and the Grenadines havereconfirmed their support for the project, says Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves.
Gonsalves last week travelled to New York, where he attended the 66th United Nations General Assembly. He also metwith several world leaders who "either reaffirmed previous commitments to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, or madenew pledges of cooperation with the government," the country's diplomatic mission in New Work said in a pressstatement.
The prime minister was also invited to pay official visits to Kuwait, Georgia and Palestine to explore additional avenuesof support and solidarity, the statement said.
Gonsalves told Vincentians at a town hall meeting in New York on Saturday that the "coalition of countries" hasreaffirmed their support for the EC$652 million airport project.
He noted that so far this country has received direct contributions from Cuba, Venezuela, Mexico, Iran, Libya, Trinidadand Tobago, and Austria and indirect contributions from Turkey, through the CARICOM Development Fund.
"... when I go to talk to people like Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip] Erdogan of Turkey, I just don't talk about StVincent [alone]. I talk about the CARICOM Development Fund, too. Because what I don't get directly, I could getanother way," he said to applause at the town hall meeting.
"... all those coalitions there are in order. Libya, you know, is in tumult now so we have to wait until that settle down,but all the other reconfirmed their support -- everyone! And new prospective players have come aboard, includingKuwait and Qatar," Gonsalves told the gathering of Vincentians.
Meanwhile, the country's diplomatic mission, in its press statement, said the "Coalition of the Willing" -- the termGonsalves often uses to describe nations supporting the airport -- is on the verge of welcoming two new partners.
The president of Georgia and the prime minister of Kuwait "expressed strong interest in assisting SVG with the airportproject," the statement said.
According to the statement, Georgia, which produces a variety of heavy earth-moving equipment, indicated itswillingness to provide relevant machinery to the project, while the prime minister of Kuwait also committed hisgovernment to exploring the best avenues for partnership on the airport.
Both Georgia and Kuwait invited Gonsalves to pay official visits to their countries to further this cooperation.
Meanwhile, the new prime minister of Portugal, Pedro Passos Coelho, said his administration would honour thecommitment of the previous Portuguese government to continue the delivery of laptops to Vincentian students underKingstown's one-laptop-per-child programme.
Coelho pledged to expedite the delivery of the remainder of the 30,000 laptops Portugal promised.
Further, Gonsalves has secured undergraduate and postgraduate scholarship offers from Hungary and Slovenia.
The precise courses and institutions that will offer these scholarships will be finalized in the coming months.
Further, Qatar, which hosts campuses of a number of major American universities, also renewed its offer ofscholarships to Vincentian students, the statement said.
___ (c)2011 the Caribbean News Now (Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands) Visit theCaribbean News Now (GrandCayman, Cayman Islands) at www.caribbeannewsnow.comDistributed by MCT Information Services
Copyright (C) 2011, Caribbean News Now, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Banana Sqabble

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011.

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, CMC – Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace has dismissed as “flimsy excuses” the government’s explanation for the late ordering of oil to spray banana trees infected with the dreaded black sigatoka disease.Banana fields are expected to be sprayed from Wednesday, months after the disease began to wreck havoc with banana farms across the island.

The delay in aerial spraying has been attributed to a mix-up at the Ministry of Agriculture and recent storms across the Caribbean and the United States.

Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has said that agriculture officials “dropped the ball” on the disease, which has further curtailed banana cultivation even as the sector struggles to recover from last November’s Hurricane Tomas.But Agriculture Minister Montgomery Daniel said he accepts “responsibility” but not “blame” for the situation.Daniel explained that his staff did not send the requisite documents to the Ministry of Finance until July, although monies were released since April.

“As Ministry of Agriculture … I have to accept the responsibility but I am not going to accept the blame. … The Ministry has its officials. They have their work to do. They must do their work,” Daniel said over the weekend.

But Eustace said he was rejecting the excuses because legislators had approved the national budget that made provisions for the Ministry’s programme for controlling the disease.

According to the budget, agriculture officials are to control the disease through ground crew operations, at least six aerial spray cycles this year, and implement an effective management programme for the control of black sigatoka and moko, another disease affecting the country’s banana cultivation.

“I mean the Ministry of Agriculture wrote this last year to be effected this year and (it) was passed in the budget in January. So, the Minister only [knew] the other day that they weren’t implementing it?” Eustace said.

“All that is foolishness. They did not manage the programme properly. They didn’t do it as they said in the Estimates and the Ministry of Agriculture must take the full blame for that, including the Minister and by extension the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Eustace said, adding that the government should not blame civil servants for the situation.

“… if I am Minister of Agriculture … I would want to know why the fields are not being sprayed. And I’ll make sure that they are being sprayed because I know how important the industry is to the country,” said Eustace.

“The government dropped the ball. They drop the ball,” the former prime minister said, adding that  because of the situation, investments in the industry after Hurricane Tomas, which destroyed 98 per cent of banana plants, is wasted.

“The fertilizer government gave to farmers, the income support they gave to farmers, all of that is now come to naught. … and then our reputation as a banana producer, because you are not hearing that complaint  in St. Lucia and Dominica. It is here alone,” he said.In June, St. Vincent exported bananas to the United Kingdom for the first time since Hurricane Tomas.


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

PM and First Lady spotted with marie-claire

Written by Ayeola

Dominican-born, Bronx-reared opera singer marie-claire was spotted in NY with Prime Minister of St.Vincent and the Grenadines Ralph Gonsalves and his wife Eloise. The three were at a town hall meeting for the PM who was in New York for the UN General Assembly meeting.

Here’s a little trivia for you.Mrs. Gonsalves was born in the ‘Nature Isle’ Dominica!!!

Also at the town hall meeting was PM Gonsalves son, Camillo Gonsalves,who is St.vincent’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations.

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St. Vincent a genuine escape to paradise

Sept 27, 2011

The Caribbean nation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has an authentic feel that's disappeared from other islands where slick condo developments form a wall between the beach and the real world.

There's none of that on this laidback island. No apartment towers, mega-malls, tourist-only gift shops, or fast-food franchises. Your cellphone might not work. There may not be a telephone, an air conditioner, a television or Internet in your hotel room. And there are travellers who love it.

On Young Island, luxury cottages and villas, barely visible in the greenery, dot the lush hills. You have to take a five-minute boat ride from the main island to get here. There are more places like this strewn about the 32 islands and cays that make up the Grenadines. Mustique, a hot spot for rock stars (Mick Jagger among them) and the international jet set, is one of the best-known. The natural sand is black, thanks to St. Vincent's volcanic geological roots; but since black sand isn't as pretty as white and it's much hotter on bare feet, the resorts ships in powdery white sand from Guyana.

St. Vincent is well-known among hiking enthusiasts for its wicked hills, especially around La Soufrière volcano. Snorkelling, too, is a delight thanks to the crystal clear island waters and abundant marine life.

A new international airport is scheduled to open in 2013 but until then Canadians need to fly to Barbados, then hop onto a connecting flight, to reach St. Vincent.

For more information on St. Vincent and the Grenadines, visit www.

© Copyright (c) The Vancouver Sun


Iran president praises St Vincent

Published on September 22, 2011 by Kenton X. Chance

NEW YORK, USA – Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has praised St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) for its resistance against a number of “bullying states”, according to media reports.

Ahmadinejad and Vincentian Prime Minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves met on Tuesday ahead of the 66th meeting of the UN General Assembly, the general debate of which takes place under the theme “The role of mediation in the settlement of disputes by peaceful means.”

The Iranian leader is said to have stressed that dominant powers must understand that slavery is over and nations are not going to tolerate pressures. Ahmadinejad further said that independent states cooperating with each other could provide for their own interests and resist arrogant powers, according to reports.

He is said to have referred to the excellent and expanding relations between Iran and SVG, saying that both nations and other independent and justice-seeking countries can stand and resist those who want to pressure and dominate other nations.

Ahmadinejad is quoted as saying that the main economic problem of Caribbean countries is that their rich resources have been looted by colonialist states and that current human problems are that former slave merchants have taken up positions as world managers.

Gonsalves, according to the reports, said that the world is facing serious dangers and that a number of states, by using their own economics and military powers, are trying to impose their own desire on the world, but added that the era for such acts has ended.

Gonsalves is quoted as having underlined the expansion of bilateral cooperation between SVG and Iran and said that his country intends to consolidate ties with Iran.The Vincentian head of government is also said to have met on Tuesday with Kuwait’s Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Mohammad Al-Ahmad Al-Sabah.

During that meeting, held at Kuwait’s Mission at the UN, the top officials discussed ways of strengthening bilateral relations and cooperation and issues of mutual interest.

Copyright© 2004-2011 Caribbean News Now! at

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Friday, September 23, 2011

Trinidad Cabinet approves inter-island ferry service

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, Friday September 23, 2011 - Cabinet has approved the establishment of an inter-island ferry service between Trinidad and Tobago and the Eastern Caribbean.

This comes less than two months after Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar revealed that the plan was being considered.

Minister of Transport Devant Maharaj said the service, which will be based in Port of Spain, will be financed through a public/private arrangement, with the majority of capital expenditure coming from the private sector.

“We are looking at perhaps US$10 [Million?] to jump on an inter-island ferry from Trinidad to go up the Caribbean and the vessels that have been linked to these proposals right now promises to be substantially larger than what we have,” Maharaj told a post Cabinet news conference Thursday.

He expressed hope that the service be extended as far as Jamaica “if not further.”

Maharaj said this will “strengthen the integration movement between and among CARICOM countries and expand the free movement of people and capital”, and bring tremendous benefits to Trinidad and Tobago and the Caribbean.

He said the initiative already has the support of St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Stephenson King and Guyana President Bharath Jagdeo.

Read more:


Wednesday, September 21, 2011

PM at UN

NARRATOR: This is a time for the international community to confront an epidemic that is correctable, reversible and treatable.Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves of St. Vincent and the Grenadines told a high-level meeting on the Prevention and Control of Non-communicable Diseases that this meeting should not be a culmination of an effort, but merely the beginning of intense, focused and coordinated action to address the health and developmental impacts of non-communicable diseases, particularly in poor and middle-income countries.Prime-Minister Gonsalves also pointed to what he said was the reason the meeting is being held in the UN General Assembly and not at the World Health Organization’s (WHO) headquarters in Geneva.

“That reason is the fact that the fallout of the NCD epidemic is much wider than the health sector or the health of those individuals tragically afflicted with non-communicable diseases. The developmental aspects of this epidemic must be highlighted and addressed. In particular, we must confront the tremendous strain that NCD treatment places on the health care budgets of developing countries. We cannot ignore too, the disproportionate impact of this epidemic on poor people and developing states; or its negative impact on the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.”NARRATOR: Prime Minister Gonsalves stressed that the response to the non-communicable disease epidemic must therefore be multifaceted and coordinated.

And he cautioned that the political consensus must give impetus to a robust follow-up process and a detailed action plan that will provide assistance to local hospitals and primary care facilities; and collaborate on education and pubic awareness efforts in combating these diseases.

This is Donn Bobb reporting.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Book Review (with local reference)

The Eponym Dictionary of ReptilesBo Beolens, Michael Watkins and Michael GraysonWhat?Reveals the lives hidden behind the names of the world’s reptiles.Why?Firstly this is a beautifully produced, satisfyingly stylish book! Now the superficial is out of the way, what’s inside?Like Bo and co’s previous efforts along these lines – Whose Bird? and the Eponym Dictionary of Mammals - the Dictonary of Reptiles explores the lives of the historical figures ‘immortalised’ in the names of the world’s fauna. Some feature more heavily than others – Darwin, for instance, appearing in the names of nine reptiles (find out more in this post featuring an extract from the book), while other folk such as Dr. Ian Earle Ayrton Kirby (1921-2006), unearther of pre-Colombian artifacts and erstwhile Curator of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Museum – have the honour of a single beastly namesake – in this instance, Kirby’s Least Gecko, or Sphaerodactylus kirbyi.This should be an addictive book for anyone interested in the finer details of natural history, the perfect gift for the herpetologist in your life who has everything (else), and will be of particular interest to bibliographic researchers since the titles and publication dates of any known literature written or edited by the subjects is given.Who?Bo Beolens, Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson are the co-authors of The Eponym Dictionary of Mammals, also published by Johns Hopkins.

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Sunday, September 18, 2011

More SVG Videos



SVG Videos

You Tube has some videos take on SVG at:


Saturday, September 17, 2011

Buccament Bay Beach Resort, Harlequin The Truth

There are more recent comments.

Some comments on Trip AdvisorSep 14, 2011, 12:15 PMThere has been a huge amount of interest in Buccament Bay and in Harlequin on this site. A larger ammount of positive reviews for the hotel, allegations that the positive reviews are coming from purchasers, attacks on negative comments on forums questioning the operations of Harlequin. A huge amount of negativity on the Harlequin business model. A larger number of instances where posts were removed for not being compliant with Trip Advisor Guide Lines

The RestarauntsWhat is it that Harlequin have opened at the resort.This from Harlequin themselves.

Of the restaraunts that they state are open. Only one the Bay Beach Club is as was originally designed and planned for The Safron Fine Indian Cuisine Restaraunt has been opened in one of the 4 bed room converted villas. Whilst this might be adequate for 10-20 guests it certainly will not suffice when the resort is fully completed.The Bamboo restaraunt has now found a new home on the far side of the land owned by Harlequin and over the bridge from the resort proper. This restaraunt is located in a leased building which Harlequin have leased for 3 years. The Bamboo restaraunt is another temporary facility being operated by Harlequin. HQ the coffee shop and ICE Cream parlour, is just that a small coffe shop and ICE Cream shop.Below was an update from Harlequins agents on the 6th of June 2011


(1).New Bay Beach in the village area will open on the 8th June. From Mid-July, 3 evenings per week, Trader Vics menu will be served and 4 evenings per week, Jack’s menu will be served.(2).The existing Bamboo restaurant will become “Saffron Indian” serving an A La Carte menu. Clarification of quote 2 above; ((( The existing Bamboo Restaraunt is now the staff canteen )))(3). The existing Bay View is being improved with decking and a solid roof. This will re-open Mid July as “Bamboo” and will serveCaribbean / Italian food on an A La Carte basis. 1 night per week, there will be a themed evening on the beach with BBQ and Steel Band.(4). Ginger & Co – Will be opening mid-July. Clarification of quote 4 above; ((( Ginger & Co now not due to open until 2012 as per Buccament Bay website )))(5) HQ Coffee shop has now turned into a deli as well as serving ice cream & pastries.

Buccament Bay – the beachfront/waterfront area now looks stunning with two new pools, a children’s pool, decks with sun loungers, more new palm trees and boutiques now open. The remaining restaurants are coming on-line over the next few months.

Buccament Bay Resort, St Vincent & The Grenadines The official opening of Buccament Bay Resort to the travel industry took place on 3rd April 2011.The waterfront area is looking stunning with two large swimming pools and a children’s pool, decks with sun loungers, umbrellas and palm trees and some of the restaurants and boutiques now open.The remaining restaurants will open over the next few months as bookings increase and demand grows. Buccament Bay Resort is featured with all the leading UK tour operators and has been widely advertised in the UK press as well as featured in several articles. Holiday bookings have increased substantially since the opening, which gives us confidence for the future success of the resort.We have exhibited in the US and are working with a NewYork PR agency to increase awareness of the resort in the US. To ensure a quicker and smoother transfer to St Vincent we are in the process of setting up our own airline, HarlequinAir.We have registered with the authorities in the Caribbean and aim to be flying by the end of 2011. While work is continuing at Buccament Bay Resort to build further accommodation and facilities, Harlequin Hotels & Resorts is now focusing on its other resorts.We have employed a highly respected construction management company, Kraus Manning, to project manage construction and work with Harlequin Developments to deliver the projects efficiently and within budget.

Other future developments include a Trader Vic’s and Jack’s Steak and Seafood Restaurant, set to open on July 1; a fine dining restaurant, Arlecchino (December); and a replica of the Black Pearl ship used in Pirates of the Caribbean, parts of which were filmed close to the resort, will drop anchor in Buccament’s marina in 2012 to be a restaurant and wedding venue.

The list of miss leading statements and basic down right lies from Mr. Ames goes on and on. The Black Pearl is allready in SVG, it has been there nearly a year now, it is beginning to decay, but for anyone interested locals will be able to show you where it is.

The False Occupancy Level claims

Harlequin state that their resort in Buccament Bay is operating at about 85% in the low season, yet Harlequin laid off a large number of Hotel Staff citing seasonal reasons.

I think this is self explanatory.

A recent guest posted on trip advisor that occupancy levels were close to 20% on their visit. The post was very complimentory of the resort.

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Friday, September 16, 2011

New UWI SVG Site Head

The UWI Open Campus is pleased to welcome Mrs Deborah Dalrymple as the new Head of the Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Open Campus Country Site.

Mrs. Deborah Dalrymple joined the staff of the University of the West Indies (UWI) Open Campus, as Head on September 1, 2011. Prior to joining the UWI, Mrs. Dalrymple served as the first Adult Education Officer at the Ministry of Education, St. Vincent where she made a significant contribution to the development of government policy on Adult Education and was intimately involved in the training of Community Educators. She also served as Director/Therapist at Marion House, the first social service agency in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, where she provided counseling services as well as training programmes for youth at risk, along with their parents.

Mrs. Dalrymple is passionate about the empowerment of marginalized Vincentians, particularly out of school youth and has served for many years as an advocate for disenchanted, “left out” youth in local, regional and international fora.

Described as a goal oriented thinker with excellent leadership ability, enthusiasm, dynamism, warmth, intuition, persuasiveness and professionalism, Mrs. Dalrymple, is no stranger to UWI, having previously worked as the Saint Vincent Tutor/Coordinator of the UWI’s MSc programme on Counseling. Mrs. Dalyrmple is married and is the mother of three. She replaces outgoing Head, Mr. Adrian Fraser.

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Political plain speech

Political plain speech9/17/2011When the Wikileaks website started to release thousands of diplomatic cables belonging to the US State Department, more than one pundit warned that the decision would have repercussions throughout the world. A gradual release of countless diplomatic documents belonging to the world’s most powerful country – a country that has diplomatic dealings on some level with nearly every place on earth – is bound to have consequences. These were confidential documents, never intended for the knowledge of the general public.Now it’s our turn to deal with the revelations in these cables. Some of us may have thought that because most Americans can’t tell the difference between a Jamaican and a Bajan that our politics would be of no interest to the State Department. The cables show just how wrong that assumption was. US diplomats in the region have been taking notice of what goes on in the region, and in their missives, minced no words when it came to Caribbean politics. Former US Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean criticised the decision to budget money for revamping Barbados’ sugar industry, calling it “imprudent”. The cables refer to the leader of the Opposition in St. Vincent as “a singularly uncharismatic and uninspiring figure who is unable to translate his technocratic expertise into any kind of viable or sustained political activity”. In some cases, the diplomats were merely passing on the information and opinion they gleaned from local sources.Still, whether giving a personal opinion or quoting a local source, US diplomats in the region have managed to upset a great many people in our region, especially in political circles. Ralph Gonsalves, the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Bharrat Jagdeo, President of Guyana have expressed their displeasure with the way the region has been portrayed in these dispatches. On the other hand, other leaders have declined to comment.In a way, the veil has been lifted – all the dirty laundry politicians in this region try to conceal has now been hung out to dry in the Caribbean sun. If you’ve always felt that your politicians were lying to you, these cables will give you proof. If you’ve always felt that half of what goes on in regional politics goes unreported, the cables confirm this. In truth, the US diplomats have confirmed many rumours and assumptions which we in the region have discussed in the rumshop or at the salon. For example, it was always believed that disgraced American businessman Allen Stanford used his money to gain significant political power in Antigua and Barbuda, and the cables confirm this.Furthermore, we now know what US diplomats really think of our leaders, their policies and their characters. The cables have provided a rare chance for us in the region to hear plain words about our countries, not just the clichéd rhetoric we hear at speeches and functions about friendship, co-operation and partnership. In that respect, these leaked cables have been invaluable.But in the midst of the controversy and furore caused by the Wikileaks cables, some of us have missed a key point. The cables may be scandalous and upsetting for our leaders, but there is very little new information in them. We have discovered that our politicians are just as we imagined them, but no worse. It may be hard to believe, but this is a good thing. Now we see our flaws, we can begin to fix them. Especially now that the extent to which money is playing a role in our political elections has been made plain. Instead of focusing on the less than flattering tones used in the dispatches, we should focus on the content of the cables and what it says about us. Is our democracy secure, or will money corrupt the process entirely? Do we need greater transparency in government? Will the decisions our leaders make now help or hinder our development? These are the questions we should ask after reading the Wikileaks cables.

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Thursday, September 15, 2011

James Hamilton in St. Vincent

Interesting bit of international history from the post-revolutionary period......................... Hi,

FYI. I am forwarding SVG-RELATED information about James Hamilton, originally from Scotland,the father of Alexander Hamilton, the first Secretary of the Treasury of such fame in the USA. The book,"Alexander Hamilton" by Nathan Schachner [1946] states thatJames Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton's father, died and is buried in St. Vincent.On p.11, it states, "From St.Croix he went to the island ofSt.Vincent, a British possession; but the fatal defects of his characterprevented him from ever rising above poverty and obscurity." On p.13,"The old man died on June 3, 1799 and was buried in St. George'sCathedral, in the town of Kingston, on St.Vincent Island." That, I feel sure, really should be what is today Kingstown, the capital of St.Vincent, not Kingston.

See also: Hamilton, father of Alexander Hamilton moved to Bequia from St. Croix, where he had raised Alexander as his son, in 1774 under a program instituted by the Britain to give land to indigent settlers. The land granted to Hamilton lies along the shore of Southeast Bay. The elder Hamilton lived in Bequia until 1790 but was never visited by his son nor did he visit Alexander in America, despite the latter's frequent gifts of money and entreaties to immigrate or at least visit him.[1]References^ St. Vincent Registry, deed book for 1784-1787. (from Chernow, Ron. Alexander Hamilton. Penguin Press, New York, 2004. Chapter 2, Note 21)

Sincerely,Cheryl Phills King.


Tuesday, September 13, 2011

US officials drew stark contrasts between Gonsalves, Eustace

POSTED BY KENTON X. CHANCE ⋅ SEPTEMBER 11, 2011 ⋅KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – Despite his public rants against the United States, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves in 2009 struck a positive note with U.S. diplomats in Barbados, a stark contrast to Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace, who generally seems to care what Washington thinks about developments in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).In a diplomatic cable published by WikiLeaks, U.S. officials in Bridgetown compiled a leadership profile on Gonsalves in which they told Washington that the Unity Labour Party (ULP) head was “easily the most intelligent and charismatic of the Eastern Caribbean leaders”.In other cables, the officials said that while Eustace was “undeniable intelligent and acutely aware of the problems facing the country”, he was “a singularly uncharismatic and uninspiring figure who is unable to translate his technocratic expertise into any kind of viable or sustained political activity”.“Without a stronger leader, the NDP’s [New Democratic Party] influence will be muted,” the Americans said of party that governed from 1984 to 2001 and last December came one seat short of the left side of Parliament.On the other hand, they felt that Gonsalves had “the charisma and political savvy needed to keep himself in power for years to come, though his popularity is gradually eroding”.The profile noted that while Gonsalves was “politically rooted in 1970s leftist movement” he was “a pragmatic ideologue with a strong populist bent”.The Prime Minister relationship with Caracas, Havana, and ALBA were “close and built on both pragmatic economic interest and a healthy measure of populist spirit and socialist ideology,” the cable said, adding that then blossoming relations with Iran appeared “to be more mercenary, but nevertheless bear scrutiny”.Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves “easily the most intelligent and charismatic of the Eastern Caribbean leaders”, U.S. officials said.U.S. officials told their superiors that Gonsalves could be expected to work with Washington on common issues of concern even as he took “while at the same time taking public “potshots” at the superpower “to highlight his leftist credentials and rile up his domestic base”.“Despite his affection for Chavez, fears that he could be in danger of becoming a Chavez puppet are overblown,” the cable said.The document argued that Gonsalves had “moved methodically to establish a vertically-oriented government in which virtually all decision making comes to his desk and opposing viewpoints are not warmly embraced.”According to the cable, opposition and civil society elements saw Gonsalves “more darkly, as the head of a centralized political system exercising near-dictatorial control over all aspects of Vincentian politics and economy”.U.S. officials, however, told Washington that some of these statements were “overblown rhetoric born of frustration with the inability of the opposition to mount any real challenge to the ULP.The cable, however, said that there were “kernels of truth” adding that SVG was  “littered with relatives and former close friends of Gonsalves’ who have lost positions in government or ‘kitchen cabinet’ jobs for disagreeing with him on economic policy issues”.The profile said that the Prime Minister had “effectively secured a firm grip on the press by intimidating media outlets that challenge him in any way through litigation”.Noting that Gonsalves had sued successfully at least one such outlet, the cable claimed, “[T]repidation amongst Vincentian media professionals has resulted in a measure of self-censorship”.The profile also commented on the country’s constitutional reform efforts, saying that Gonsalves’ pursuing such far-reaching changes and putting his political capital on the line reflected one of dichotomies:“[A]t  one level he is ambitious and self interested, while at  another level, he is a disinterested academic and theorist  willing to risk a short-term political loss for what he sees  as fundamental political change in the region.”The officials noted that the constitutions handed to Eastern Caribbean nations at Independence had served the region well but could benefit from change.The cable said that of Eastern Caribbean leaders, Gonsalves was “the one most closely aligned philosophically with the leftist-populist ‘Chavista’ crowd” and claimed that he had egged his Dominican colleague Roosevelt Skerrit to join ALBA to gauge regional reaction before Kingstown signed on to the bloc.Gonsalves and foreign relationsThe cable said that despite Gonsalves’ personal political leanings he was “eminently practical” regarding foreign relations.“He knows his country needs money, and he knows his party needs money to support the public infrastructure programs that bring jobs and buy votes.”Gonsalves reportedly saw Chavez's ALBA “only as a funding source in bad economic times”.The profile noted that Gonsalves was not shy about reaching out to “non-traditional” sources of funding such as Iran and Libya, adding that he had “expressed his own reservations about Venezuela and the PetroCaribe arrangement”.U.S. officials said Gonsalves had told them in August 2009 that he suspected that Venezuelan oil subsidies would not last forever, noting a PetroCaribe price hike, and “hinted that he would attempt to stockpile reserves in case the situation worsened”.The Prime Minister is said to have told the U.S. officials that he saw ALBA “only as a funding source in bad economic times” and strove to reassure them that he was only interested in Iran’s contribution to the Argyle International Airport, pointing out that many U.S. allies with Tehran.“He can probably be taken at face value as far as his intentions with Iran go, but it remains uncertain if a country with such porous borders and thinly stretched police forces will be able to maintain adequate checks on such a relationship,” the U.S. officials told Washington.They further said that under a Gonsalves government, Kingstown’s support for ALBA and PetroCaribe would “continue to the last dollar these programs provide him”.U.S. official said that Gonsalves was “not a Chavista satellite and will not become one.“He genuinely believes he can secure handouts from whoever will provide them and still maintain his freedom of action.  That is why, despite his ideological orientation, he nevertheless maintains ties with Taiwan instead of China — he is happy with the Taiwanese and not willing to derail the gravy train,” the cable said.The U.S. officials said that in keeping with this pragmatic approach to foreign relations, Gonsalves continued to work closely with them “even as he uses the U.S. and the ‘colonial powers’ as a foil to play to his foreign leftist audience and his hard core domestic base”.“Gonsalves has adeptly walked a fine line between populist, occasionally anti-US rhetoric to bolster himself locally while maintaining good relations with us on security and law enforcement issues.  He knows we are his most reliable strategic partner and an important source of investment, tourists and trade, and he is unlikely to do anything to damage that relationship,” the cable said.Eustace a ‘man of principle’, lacks ‘political acuity’Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace was described as a "man of principle" but lacking "political acuity.”U.S. officials in Barbados gave their assessment of the NDP leadership in several documents though none of them was exclusively a profile of Eustace.A 2008 cable said that despite several potential openings, the NDP seemed incapable of mounting any serious opposition to Gonsalves. “The party’s lacklustre leadership has had difficulty targeting their criticism and making them stick,” Washington was told of the NDP.“The NDP leadership appears woeful and lost, lacking ideas on how to move forward and mount a serious challenge to Gonsalves,” the cable said, even as it noted that the ULP was “well-organised and well funded”.“Embassy contacts have criticized Eustace for his poor leadership, citing especially his tendency to rattle off his “many concerns” without offering substantive solutions or plans-of-action,” another cable said.U.S. officials’ impression of the NDP in 2008 had not improved much from one year earlier, when they told Washington that Embassy staff had learnt of “growing discontent with the ULP administration”.In 2007, the NDP registered with the Bridgetown embassy their concerns about trade and foreign investment, foreign affairs and warming relations Cuba and Venezuela, drug-trafficking, the Argyle International Airport, and the stifling of free speech.“Despite general agreement on these issues, however, the NDP’s leadership is perceived as weak and ineffectual,” the officials said.“Many Embassy contacts have criticized Eustace for his poor leadership, citing especially his tendency to rattle off his ‘many concerns’ without offering substantive solutions or plans-of-action,” the cable said.However, a biographical note in the same cable said that “… Eustace is widely revered by Embassy contacts as a ‘man of principle’ who is as ‘clean as they come.’ At the same time, he is viewed as lacking charisma and political acuity.”The cable further said that while there appeared to be growing discontent with the ULP government among a wide range of private and public sector figures, the NDP “manages to float from issue to issue, without appearing to secure a stronger foothold among the population.“The opposition leader Arnhim Eustace’s bland personality and lack of charisma certainly hurt the party, as does the apparent divergence of support between Eustace and the looming figure of Sir James Mitchell.”Criticisms of Eustace’s leadership is said to have come from within the NDP, including from former foreign affairs minister Jonathan Peter, who in 2009 asked Washington for money as part of a failed bid to wrestle NDP leadership from Eustace.Peters is said to have doubted that Eustace was the future leadership of the NDP, owing to a lack of charisma.“[H]e still sees Eustace as  a talented technocrat and generously stated he would retain  Eustace as his Minister of Finance if he wins the elections,” the cable said.Private endorsementFormer ULP parliamentarian Ken Boyea reportedly said he would “completely trust Eustace with the keys to the country”.Eustace, according one of the cables, got a private endorsement from Ken Boyea, who in 2007, remained  “one of the most outspoken critics, at least in private, of Gonsalves and his left-leaning tendencies” although he endorsed Gonsalves publicly ahead of the 2010 vote.Boyea, who fell out with the ULP and ran as leader of the People Political Movement in 2001, is quoted as telling Embassy officials that “although Eustace lacks charisma, he is bright, capable and honest,” and added that he would “completely trust Eustace with the keys to the country”.After the NDP’s election defeat in 2005, Eustace stood for re-election as party president, with two years remaining in his previous term.He was re-elected overwhelmingly but Member of Parliament for the Northern Grenadines Dr. Godwin Friday, is quoted as telling U.S. officials that NDP supporters wanted a more “vigorous opposition”.Friday is keyAccording to the cables, in 2008, Friday was “one glimmer of hope for the NDP” and U.S. officials described the Canada trained lawyer as  “articulate, well respected and slightly more charismatic” and having “a solid grasp of the challenges ahead”.“During meetings with [Embassy officials], other NDP leaders including Eustace valued his opinion and often turned to Friday for answers,” the cable said.It further said that Friday did not “share the same apocalyptic view of the future other members of the NDP have.While the Dr. Godwin Friday was identified as an alternative leader, NDP founder and former prime minister, Sir James Mitchell was looming and former trade minister Jonathan Peters was asking the United States for money to overthrow Eustace.“Friday is also the NDP leader best equipped to deal with the press, and he has a good analytical grasp of both domestic political and economic issues.  Aside from Eustace, Friday appears to be the only other real option for leadership in the NDP as currently constructed,” the document said, two years before Eustace brought the NDP one seat away from government.ULP’s young starMeanwhile, Gonsalves is said to have identified five identify up-and-comers he hoped will one day take greater leadership roles in the ULP.The list comprised:Then senator, Sabato Caesar, who won the South Windward seat in the December 2010 poll and is now the minister of tourism.Press Secretary Hans King, who stepped aside to allow Luke Browne to stage an unsuccessful challenge against Eustace in East Kingstown.Then Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly Rochelle Forde and former senator Ronald Marks, both lawyers who did not contest the 2010 poll.Camillo Gonsalves, the Prime Minister’s lawyer son who has been hailed internationally for his work as the country’s U.N. Ambassador, although some labelled his appointment an act of nepotism.Dr. Gonsalves' identified future ULP leaders in Saboto Caesar, Hans King, Rochlle Forde, Ronald Marks, and Camillo Gonsalves.“The PM confided that he had high hopes for current Minister of Health Douglas Slater, who was technically very competent, but whose lack of political sensibility would hinder his popularity,” the cable said of Slater who, in 2010, did not contest the South Leeward seat he had been representing since 2001 and has since been appointed senator and Minister of Foreign Affairs.“The Charge mentioned that these individuals would make good candidates for International Visitor programs, to which Gonsalves jokingly responded that we were seeking to “corrupt” them in the U.S.,” the profile of Gonsalves said.U.S. officials told Washington that despite Gonsalves’ “leftist orientation and sometimes strong public criticism of the U.S.”, he remained “a pragmatic partner who will continue to cooperate with us on the full range of our agenda”.It, however, said the Prime Minister “continues to believe that he can play all sides in his peripatetic international efforts to squeeze every cent of support from a   motley crew of international partners.  In defending his sketchier associations, he tends to exaggerate his own degree of independence …“Nevertheless, he does seek to balance his relations with ALBA and Venezuela, Cuba, and Iran with genuine respect for the United States and the myriad bilateral programs we have in place,” the profile concluded.About Kenton X. ChanceKenton X. Chance is a Vincentian journalist living and studying in Taiwan. He has a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Journalism and is reading for a Master of Arts in International Affairs.

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Saturday, September 10, 2011

Archaeological volunteers sought to help uncover St. Vincent's past

Archaeological volunteers sought to help uncover St. Vincent's pastBy Margarita de Guzman and Jode MacKayIn June 2010, a team of Canadian archaeologists spearheaded a public archaeology program on the island of St. Vincent, in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG), one of the southernmost island chains in the Caribbean. The archaeological program was designed to give volunteers hands-on experience on a professionally run excavation, as well as a unique immersion into Caribbean culture, while at the same time rescuing and recording a significant archaeological site prior to the construction of an international airport.The 2011 field season successfully identified numerous archaeological features, as well as a number of burials and significant finds and as a result a 2012 season has been approved by the International Airport Company (IADC) of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.The SVG Public Archaeology Program was developed in June 2010 to conduct an excavation at the site of Argyle 2. This program had developed from previous work in 2009 and 2010, where team members had participated in archaeological projects at the site of Escape, managed by Bison Historical Services and later the University of Calgary. Both projects had proved to be highly significant in archaeological terms, resulting in the discovery of 36 burials, a large quantity of pottery, and over 700 archaeological features, which were highly indicative of multiple prehistoric and/or historic structures, including a longhouse (previously undocumented anywhere else in the Caribbean).Site of Argyle 2 rich in archaeologyIn 2010, a brief survey of Argyle 2 was conducted, along with Mrs. Kathy Martin of the National Trust. It became apparent that the Argyle 2 area was rich in archaeology, with multiple features, burials and a large quantity of pottery, as well as other types of artefacts such as stone tools, beads and food remains present on the surface and in eroding cutbanks.The SVG Public Archaeology Program was subsequently designed to conduct professional archaeological excavations at Argyle 2, whilst raising the profile for the SVG National Trust, such that future archaeological finds on the island could be recorded and preserved in a systematic fashion.Volunteers from around the world (including Canada, Greece and the United States) assembled and journeyed to St. Vincent to participate in the archaeological project, raising funds for both the public program and for the Argyle International Airport Contributory Fund, as well as the SVG National Trust Heritage Fund. These contributions helped to repay the people of SVG and the IADC for allowing the archaeological work to continue, as well as to provide support for the continued development of this small country.Continuous occupation for up to 2,000 yearsThe archaeological site of Argyle 2 extendsfrom the coast one kilometre inland and half akilometre north to south, on the leeward coast ofSt. Vincent. In 2010, preliminary surface surveys indicated that occupation at Argyle 2 spanned from the Saladoid period (ca. 500 BC – AD 545), through Colonial times and up to the present, demonstrating continuous occupation for up to 2,000 years. Investigations conducted during the SVG Public Archaeology Program in 2011 mapped 147 archaeological features, such as post-holes and small pits, and identified a total of 19 burials (six of which were previously identified by Mrs. Kathy Martin and Mr. Roydon Lampkin between May 2010 and January 2011). It is from these burials that the most significant archaeological findings have been recovered thus far.Of particular significance are two related burials, Burial 8 (B8) and Burial 11 (B11). B11 appears to be a primary, extended burial, in complete articulation. In comparison to other burials at the site and throughout the area, B11 is significant because of its specific nature; this burial was identified face-down on its stomach and may indicate a rather hasty burial. No artefacts were recovered in direct association with B11; however, B8, which is a secondary burial, was located directly above the lower limbs of B11. B8 is disarticulated, i.e., its bones are not in anatomically correct position, and also not deposited in anyLonghouse post-holes. No other longhouses have previously been documented in the Caribbean.This reassembled pot was highly significant for the site because its construction and decorative style placed B8 definitively within the Saladoid periodB8 was recovered with 17 lithic (stone) artefacts, and two ground stone tools, as well as a number of pottery sherds that would later be reassembled to form a complete pot. This reassembled pot was highly significant for the site because its construction and decorative style placed B8 definitively within the Saladoid period. Furthermore, this particular ceramic vessel form has not yet been documented in St. Vincent; preliminary discussions with other Caribbean archaeologists indicate that this form has not yet been identified elsewhere in the Caribbean.In an adjacent area of the site, a group ofburials (Burial 13 – 19) were identified inrather close proximity to one another.Amongst them was another intact pot of thesame new vessel form as B8, though thissecond pot was smaller in size and leftundecorated. Further investigations in thearea by Mrs. Kathy Martin and Mr. RoydonLampkin, former Cultural Officer of theIADC, recovered a number of potteryfragments that appear to belong to a similarvessel form and may be associated with yetother burials. The recovery and restorationof both complete pots (from B8 and fromB13 to B19) is highly significant for itscontribution to ceramic style and function,and has provided excellent specimens forthe national archaeological collection operated by the SVG National Trust. They are currently being housed in the National Trust Museum in Kingstown, St. Vincent.Given the significance of these findings, and the extent of archaeology that remains under threat of impact by airport construction, the IADC has kindly approved the Program to continue at the site of Argyle 2, for the 2012 field season. The site of Argyle 2 is currently fenced to prevent vehicular traffic and preserve the remains of the archaeological materials.The SVG Public Archaeology Program has been a continued and growing success and has raised awareness for archaeology among the Vincentians, as well as on an international scale. The continuation of the SVG Public Archaeology Program will continue to increase this awareness, but would not be possible without the hard work and contributions of volunteers.Dates: The 2012 archaeology program willcommence on January 3, 2012 and will rununtil January 25, 2012, with three 1-weeksessions. Each session will be seven days in duration, with the first five days assigned to field work on the site; the sixth day will be an excursion day within the island of St. Vincent or further afield into the surrounding Grenadine islands. The seventh day will be work-free to allow for errands, shopping and travel. Within each session, Saturdays will be planned as a Public Day for local Vincentians to visit the site and participate in the on-going excavation.Cost: Volunteers will pay a mandatory fee, which will cover room and board, as well as a weekly excursion in SVG. Included in this fee will be a $100 US per person donation to the SVG National Trust Heritage Fund, in order to promote preservation and recording of archaeological sites, as well as an additional $100 US per person donation to the Argyle International Airport Contributory Fund. Not only will this project provide monetary benefits to the people of SVG, it will provide contiguous support for further development of local cultural heritage. The project aims outside of the interest of archaeology, include promoting the beauty of St. Vincent and the Grenadines internationally as a tourist destination, as well as providing Vincentians with a deeper sense of place and pride about their nation.Anyone wishing to participate should visit and follow the appropriate links.This project will be affiliated with Dr. Richard Callaghan of the University of Calgary, who has worked extensively in St. Vincent in the last decade; the project itself will be run by its co-directors, Margarita de Guzman and Jode MacKay, both consulting archaeologists from Calgary, Alberta. The SVG Public Archaeology Program would like to thank Dr. Richard Callaghan for his continued support, Mrs. Kathy Martin and her dedicated team at the SVG National Trust, Dr. Rudy Matthias and his fabulous team at the IADC, Rhona and her team at Rhona’s Apartments, Shirley and the Roti Hut for the fabulous meals, our archaeologists Taylor Graham, Kristin Soucey and Meghan Simper, and, last but not least, our wonderful volunteers: Kate Beaucage, Alan Rae, Joan Connor, Andy Ciofalo, Kristen Chew, Theofania Tsempera, Sue Graham, Dave McGrath and Sandra McGrath.For illustrations visit uncover-st-vincents-past

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Friday, September 02, 2011

The Daily Mail visits Buccamen

Less-seen Caribbean: Catamarans, craters and calm in St Vincent and the GrenadinesBy Chris HallSometimes you do not find the Caribbean you expect. Land on one of the bigger islands of this sun-kissed region, and your vision of delicate, deserted beaches and palm-fringed perfection can be all but lost in the long blocks of hotels lined up, almost back to back, along the seafront.But when I arrive on St Vincent, I realise I have tumbled into exactly the Caribbean I was expecting.This is the Caribbean of the imagination, an archipelago of 32 islands - St Vincent and the Grenadines, to give it its full, grand name - scattered luxuriously across the eastern edge of the Caribbean Sea. From St Vincent, the largest, in the north, they trail south, towards Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, and eventually, South America - a ribbon of land in the blue of the ocean. This is not Barbados, where paparazzi-dodging celebrities lounge and pout, but a pristine place of wilderness and genuine isolation. Only seven of the islands are inhabited. So it initially seems strange to me that Harlequin Hotels is opening St Vincent’s first five-star, all-inclusive resort - at Buccament Bay, on the south-west coast. On paper, it sounds exactly the thing whose absence lends St Vincent and the Grenadines its appeal. You can certainly find no shortage of people championing the island’s status as something of an untouched gem (despite it being a regular cruise stop).But the resort's charms quickly grow on me.Arriving on St Vincent just before sundown, I make the transfer from the modest airport to the resort by catamaran, pulling up on the beach to be welcomed with a fresh rum punch. As taxi services go, there is little to beat this, offering me the chance to make a start on my tan while keeping an eye out for dolphins and flying fish.It is the beginning of a busy evening for this sleek vessel. I have barely eased out of my travel clothes before I see it heading out again, this time taking guests out for a sunset cruise that lets them look back at the island as shadows drape across its crags and peaks. But if there is sunshine on my first evening, it does not last. I wake on my first morning to tropical rain.There is compensation, though. This makes for a chance to visit the resort’s spa centre - where I defy anyone not to relax. The aromatherapy massage is so good that, though the clock says I have been in the room for an hour, the experience seems to be over in minutes. I walk out floating several inches above the ground.Within moments of my second day starting, I decide that I may need a second massage. By this point I am trekking - calves aching, lungs bursting - to the top of St Vincent's volcanic peak.This is a six-hour trek up and down endless bamboo staircases, across fossilised lava flows and finally up a gritty, fern-covered slope. It leaves me perspiring by the bucket-load and craving another trip to the spa. But the effort is worth it. La Soufriere, as the volcano is known, is topped by a mile-wide crater straight out of The Lost World.Dropping away for at least a hundred metres beneath my feet, bright green stepped cliffs enclose a prehistoric landscape, stretching into the clouds ahead. With the wind beginning to gust and spots of rain fast becoming another shower, I inch as close to the abyss as I dare - and snap as many pictures as vertigo will allow, before retreating. Buccament Bay is in a state of constant evolution, new areas seemingly opening every day. When I arrive, the Bay Beach Club restaurant is a busy mess of breeze blocks and bare boards. Four nights later, when I pull up a chair, not a single plate is out of place.Likewise, the resort’s programme of entertainment is only just getting going. But then, noise and nightlife do not seem to be a high priority here. The resort is a well-behaved, tucked-up-by-11pm kind of place. And I feel no need to complain. All that volcano-climbing - and adjusting to the time difference - leaves me more than ready for a series of early nights.But if you are feeling energetic, there are plenty of ways to exhaust yourself - such as sea kayaking, which takes you into the neighbouring bay, home to a recently-abandoned eco-hotel (called Petit Byahaut. It is on the market if you have a cheeky $3.4m to spare), and back via a marine bat-cave.Or a one-to-one football coaching session, with ex-professional players, on the best training pitch on the island. I am put through my fairly sluggish paces by Marlon James, a 34-year-old striker who still represents his country. Liverpool (who sponsor the resort’s football centre) regularly bring their youth team out to train with, and play against, the St Vincent national side - who arrive for training just as my session comes to an end. I decide it's the perfect moment to leave the pitch.I realise that it would be easy to spend my entire stay cocooned within the hotel - but I also know it would be a crime to come here and not explore the Grenadines.So it is that, at nine in the morning the next day, I jump into a boat and make for open water. Not by myself, of course. I have some help. And once I've forgiven the pun, Fantasea cruises live up to their name. The crew crack open the rum punch as soon as we pick up speed - resolutely pouring from a 10-litre plastic jerrycan as we crash through the waves. Picking up passengers at Bequia (the largest of the Grenadines after St Vincent), we roar south towards Tobago Cays, past Mustique, and many other millionaires’ bolt holesAside from being the location for much of the filming on the first Pirates Of The Caribbean film, Tobago Cays is home to a protected reef and turtle sanctuary, where even the most inexperienced snorkeller can get within arm’s reach of marine beauty. I flop gracelessly into the water, but - two or three lungfuls of salt-water later - am surrounded by fish of all shapes and sizes. Two sea turtles lazily flap their way through the turquoise water.On the way back we stop at Mayreau, an island home to only a couple of hundred people. There is one small hotel, and a glorious beach that, on a sunny day in June, I have almost to myself. This is very much the Caribbean of my imagination. And it remains there long after I leave.Travel FactsKuoni (01306 747008, offers seven nights at Buccament Bay Resort on an all-inclusive basis, in a junior garden-view suite - including flights from London Gatwick with British Airways (, and transfers.  Prices for September 2011 start at £1,749 per person, based on two sharing.
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