Rumskys Repositioned from the Caribbean to Europe and Back Again travel blog

The National Trust Museum is just a few minutes from port

Our journey through the post office was memorable and fun!

Ballast stones from old ships give the town its stone buildings and...

Striking churches are architecturally very interesting

Red stained glass robes rejected by the Queen!

First church built by slaves is culturally significant

Our friendly islanders is delighted to share his Garifuna past at Fort...

Painting in the fort shows the Garifuna exile to Roatan, Honduras

We pose in front of the island where the shipwrecked slaves survived

Going down is a lot easier than hiking up!

St. Vincent was a very special stop for us. We had learned all about the Garifuna community from Audrey, our friend at the Flamingo Cultural center in Punta Gorda, on Roatan, Honduras. They were comprised of former slaves who survived a shipwreck off of St. Vincent, who then lived with the local, indigenous Caribs (originally from South America). After the island was fought over by the French and English, the English won and banished the Garifuna from St. Vincent, putting them on boats to Roatan. We were so eager to see the island that began this fascinating culture!

Our first stop off the ship was the tiny National Trust Museum housed in the “Old Library” building. This museum had artifacts found from the early native settlers of the island, the South American people who brought various traditional pots and stones with them. While the woman who took us around (as part of our tiny entrance fee) gave us very interesting information, we were eager to learn more about the Garifuna so we began our quest to Fort Charlotte, perched high on a hill just north of the port city of Kingston. Along the way, we immediately noticed the dramatically different buildings from all the French architechture on the previous three islands. Large stones were abundant that apparently were used as ballast on the eighteenth century ships from England (which were replaced with sugar and spice “and everything nice” on the return trips). The arches constructed with these stones apparently gave Kingstown the nickname “the City of Arches.” The buzz of the markets along the water contrasted with the serene churches just a couple of streets inland, each with an interesting history and architecture. For example, the stunning St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Cathedral of the Assumption, was built in stages beginning in 1823, so it has a glorious combination of of Moorish, Georgian, and Romanesque styles in black brick, which appeared Gothic to me. Across the street, a stained glass window in St. George’s Cathedral (1820), depicts an angel with a red robe. Apparently, Queen Victoria commissioned the window for London’s St. Paul’s Cathedral in honor of her first grandson. However, she was horrified by the red color and sent it to St. Vincents instead! Across the main street, freed slaves built the Kingstown Methodist Church in 1841, decorated with “quoins” or salid blocks that form the corners. Along the way, we stopped at the Post office and received the royal treatment! One of the workers took us through hallways into a little backroom, where decades of old stamps are stored. We paged through books and chose stamps for Christopher’s collection. The selection was pretty much dictated to us given that we only had $5 in Eastern Caribbean dollars, change from our bus trip on Antigua. The also threw in an extra packet of Carnival stamps, sealed it up nice, and we were on our way! What a nice treat!

Our walk to the Fort was a bit grueling as it was a steep climb with weather ranging from hot sun to pouring rain within a few minutes time. However, the gorgeous views and very friendly local people who enjoyed chatting with us about our home country and sharing a travel tale or two, made the climb very pleasant. The fort was impressive and interesting, in that the canons are facing the interior as the British fended off the locals for control of the island! Best of all, we found a series of beautiful paintings depicting the island’s Garifuna history, including one showing their exile to Roatan. They were a bit out of order but we were able to put together the story line based on Audrey’s teachings. We sat at a table outside and ate our sandwiches, stolen from the ship, and a local man came over and struck up a conversation. We ended up telling him about Audrey and our quest for Garifuna knowledge. He was very pleased that someone was spreading the word about their history, and better yet, sending people to the island eager to learn more! Overall, we had yet another fantastic day and left the port with the friendliness of the St. Vincent islanders in our minds and hearts.

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