Saint Vincent (Antilles) is a volcanic island in the Caribbean. It is the largest island of the country Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. It is located in the Caribbean Sea, between Saint Lucia and Grenada and it is composed of partially submerged volcanic mountains. There are 32 islands and cays that make up St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). Nine are inhabited, including the mainland St. Vincent and the Grenadines islands: Young Island, Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Union Island, Mayreau, Petit St Vincent and Palm Island, although our guide encouraged us to return to visit “all 32 islands”.
Approximately 100,000 people live on the island. Kingstown (population 25,418) is the chief town. The people of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are called Vincentians, or colloquially Vincies. There are also a few white descendants of English and French colonists, as well as a significant number of Indo-Vincentians, descendants of indentured workers with Indian heritage and there is a sizable minority of mixed race.
Before 1498, the island had been called Hairouna by the Caribs. Columbus named the island Saint Vincent, since it is said to have been discovered on 22 January, the feast day of the patron saint of Lisbon and Valencia, Vincent of Saragossa. Columbus and the Spanish conquistadors largely ignored St. Vincent and the smaller Grenadine islands nearby, but focused instead on the pursuit of gold and silver in Central and South America. They did embark on slaving expeditions in and around St. Vincent following royal sanction in 1511, driving the Carib inhabitants to the rugged interior, but the Spanish made no attempt to settle the island. Carib Indians aggressively prevented European settlement on St. Vincent until the 18th century. African slaves, whether shipwrecked or escaped from St. Lucia or Grenada and seeking refuge in St. Vincent, intermarried with the Caribs and became known as "black Caribs". Now those of mixed African-Carib ancestry are known as Garifuna.
Following a series of wars and peace treaties, these islands were eventually ceded to the British. Like the French before them, the British also used African slaves to work plantations of sugar, coffee, indigo, tobacco, cotton and cocoa until full emancipation in 1838. The economy then went into a period of decline with many landowners abandoning their estates and leaving the land to be cultivated by liberated slaves. Following a referendum in 1979, St. Vincent and the Grenadines became the last of the Windward Islands to gain independence. It celebrates independence every year on 27 October. In 2002, Saint Vincent was one of the filming locations for the American adventure fantasy film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Filming took place from October 2002 through to March 2003, and several hundreds of the local inhabitants were hired as cast members.
The warm, clear water surrounding the islands provide the residents with creatures that feed and entertain them. There are hosts of rays, colorful parrotfish, hogfish, tarpons, crab, lobster and octopus. Churchgoers light candles in tiny chapels more humble than grand. People stroll at an “island’s pace”, easy, slowly, with a smile and friendly “hello”. They take life at a heart-healthy pace, only moving quickly to dash undercover during an afternoon shower, and they KNOW when the shower is coming. We were visiting the other side of the island and talking to a vendor when she began to cover her wares with plastic. Since it wasn’t even noon yet I asked she was closing up for the day. She replied that no, she was just getting ready for the rainfall coming. Sure enough, ten minutes later here it came. The rain only lasted a few minutes, but would have been long enough to soak the stuff she was trying to sell. I guess she knew what she was talking about.
Houses (as in “nice”, “livable” houses) range from $100,000 to $500,000 USD. The closer the house is to the water, the more expensive. We saw many small, empty, falling apart homes that evidently were willed to children upon the parents’ death, but no one wanted them or everyone wanted them and the fight is on, so there they sit. Almost all the houses had some kind of fence surrounding it. Poor folks can’t afford fences so they put up warning signs to the owners of goats, sheep, chickens, cows, etc., that if that animal encroaches on the poor folks’ land, it will find its way into the dinner pot. The sign seemed to work as well as the fence……..and it’s cheaper.
We returned to the ship in time for our afternoon ice cream (Ben & Jerry). Condiments at the snack bar are served in glass jars, not plastic tubes. Yeah, everything is pretty much First Class on this ship, but we paid for it. I have to keep reminding myself, actually “arguing” with myself, as I try to control my food portions and my weight. One side reminds me how much weight I’ve gained since returning home from the hospital, but then the other side reminds me how much I paid for this cruise that includes all food and drinks. Oh well, back to drinking……