DATE/TIME : 31.01.2013 , 17:30 UTC
MOOD : PRICKLY
We had left Grenada on the 21. January and headed for the Grenadines, a collection of islands and reefs that stretch over 2 States and some 25 nautical miles in a slightly SW to NE direction.
mainly Carriacou ( Grenada), Union Island , Mayreau , Canouan, Mystique and Bequia ( all St Vincent ), and finally St Vincent itself,
is very much tied to the "almost eternal" struggle between the English and French
in these waters,
changing ownership between them like others change their shirts.
But in 1783 with 'The Treaty of Versailles'
( does anybody know the number of Treaties of Versailles ????? ) they all became definitely English.
Whilst today some of them are pure resorts having been bought out by Hotel chains ( like PSV : Petit Saint Vincent ), or almost entirely private ( like Mystique ), the rest has a local culture with a mix of local businesses, a small number of foreign ex-patriates, and visiting tourists of all sort.
Some are doing relatively well, others are struggling, others are discontent to the point of rebellious.
the epicentre and mother of all beautiful postcard islands and reefs,
the cover of tourist and real estate brochures and any other book trying to entice the World Traveller to come here : Heaven, Paradise, Antilia !!!!!
So my best advice for you is to look for these postcard pictures elsewhere as they are much nicer than any shot taken with my old camera.
What is interesting though from a sailor's persepective is that you anchor behind Horseshoe Reef, you sway in the wind, and you are at a relatively safe anchorage whilst except for that 'little' reef ,
you have 3000 nautical miles of ocean and their huge waves just in front of you.
I can't describe that feeling, but it is awesome.
descendants mostly from former slaves
and some white English or French colonist and fishermen,
the latter though mainly Scottish.
But underneath there are some issues that come to the surface only when you observe and stay a little bit longer than just the cruise ship vacationer or the
'Resort happy-hour alcohol induced living in isolation type of sun-seeker'.
Wow, what a wording.
I'm lovin it !
via little shops combined with a lot of colours - purple and pink are the favourite -
whilst the men,
if not working in hotels or resorts,
either focus on selling lobster or other services to the passing sailor,
"smoking grass" as a recreational endevour
and devoting their past time-of which they seem to have plenty- on games similar to Dominos.
Unemployment is high, and taxi drivers are in abundance.
Most of the times it is all in a good natured spirit, so trouble is rare.
But beyond that, there is more.
If you want to know about the future of the western cities "High Street Concepts",
you can see it here already .
The only difference ?
Well at maximum the mentality of the Sales person.
Prices seem to be non-negotiable, and "fixed", so no distinction here either.
The "Competition Commissioners" in Brussels would have a field day here.
Nevertheless there are indeed examples of hard work and craftsmanship.
I haven't figured out yet whether it is because of "smoking grass" or despite of that,
but both men and women are attending almost feverishly Bible classes and congregation meetings.
The variety of churches is beyond belief .
You have as many evangelist churches in the islands as there are 'cabbies' in London,
you have anglican, presbyterian, Jehova's Witness, you name it , it is here.
Sometimes you hear the chanting and preaching well into the evening, and sometimes, when the more fanatic get involved, the sound, the screaming and shouting,
can scare the hell out of you.
There are only two catholic churches though I came about, and that was on the top of a hill on the island of Mayreau where the majority of the 300 or so population is of that religion, and the other one being on Bequia.
anachronism against the Protestantism of the other islands,
but it is a last reminder of the slaves of French colonists who tried to cultivate these places.
Elsewhere, like on Curriacou , it is even rumoured that
some old Voodoo practices from Haiti still exist.
It wouldn't surprise me, as it does
exist in London as well...
as the case of a dismembered child body found in the river Thames two years ago has proven.
As said before, the Caribbean is like London, no doubt !
The last proof of that statement is the fact that even Mick Jagger lives in this area.
At least it is rumoured that he has not been a tax resident in the UK for the last 30 years, so he must live here somewhere.
a rich british entrepreneur,
had the idea of leasing the island from the St Vincent Government
with a contract of 99 years,
the few locals and others were excited.
Jobs and income seemed to be coming, business should have been flourishing, and self-esteem given to the locals for providing for themselves.
Due to Tennant's good connections with the British Royals, Princess Margaret was the first investor and soon got others interested to build or buy houses there,
and the legend of Mystique was created.
I still wonder what is so attractive to live next to Royalty,
but I guess it is mostly new, not old money.
Because since then all the house-owners have now a share in the Mystique Company, and participate in their fortunes and expenses. In their capacity as "owners of the island" they seemingly have decided
to keep the place extremely private.
In fact over Christmas and New Year the island shuts down, even as a passing boat visitor you can only walk the 50m from the jetty to Basil's Bar, and the taxi drivers and other locals are being payed for doing nothing, as movement is restricted everywhere.
Security makes sure of that.
Even without that the whole island gives the impression of an
"Old Peoples Nursing Home",
just the nurses are missing.
At least one can't see them wearing uniforms.
As a result,
resentment against the Company and its shareholders by the locals and
those coming over from St Vincent for work, is growing.
They regard themselves as the 'New Slaves',
living on the welfare of a few very rich people, and they don't like it.
They are angry with the owners,
with their Government in St Vincent - who has no influence on the direction of the island - and
probably they are angry with themselves.
AND THE MORAL OF THE STORY ?
Life goes on elsewhere REGARDLESS: