We were both awake before the 6.00 alarm. It was like fitting a quart into a pint pot to pack our luggage ready for our flight to St Vincent, but we somehow managed it, and left for George F L Charles airport at 7.40. The roads were very busy with people going to work and school. A double rainbow in the sky brightened things up. We were glad that we had sussed out the airport yesterday, so knew where we were going. It was very small, but there was no-one about to collect our car initially, but he did arrive a bit later. We sat in the row of seats in the open-ended lounge, filling in our immigration forms for St Vincent – always a trial. The security officials appeared as unfriendly as anywhere, but the passport lady was singing along to the music! In the departure lounge the seats were laid out as if in a plane! It was cool in there, and I couldn’t locate my cardigan, so put my bedjacket round me! Very fetching! We walked ‘around the block’ to the small plane for our short flight to St Vincent. After we took off, we could see the airstrip and Castries below us, but then we went into cloud. The flight was less than half an hour, so at 10.25 we were landing at Argyle Airport. This a new airport opened in 2017 and was a massive undertaking for a small country, as they had to flatten 3 hills and fill 3 valleys to make it and took 10 years to build. The immigration lady was as officious as any. Adrian had got prepared with the hotel phone number, but this lady wanted to know when we were leaving the Caribbean! Our luggage was first off the carousel (but there weren’t many bags!) There was no car hire person there to greet us, so we waited outside. It was humid, with a mixture of cloud and blue sky and then it rained for a few minutes.
After a while, and after Adrian had phoned, the people arrived with our car. It was a once grand, but now lolloping old jalopy which had seen better days! The lady official was very casual. ‘We’ve put some petrol in’. A - ‘Shall we leave it full?’ ‘As you like, you can leave some in’. Adrian ‘We’ll be arriving back late on 5th, after 8.00pm’ ‘That’s OK, you cane leave the car in the car park, and give the man the key, if we’re not there. Or you can just park and put the keys under the mat’! We drove on the constant wiggly road to Paradise Beach Hotel, where we had an apartment booked for our 6 days stay. It was on the beach, but not at all ’quirky’, as our last two places had been. This was more of a resort, with tourists, not travellers. There was no warmth at reception, unlike Sunset Lane. We were shown to our ground floor apartment. It looked towards the sea, but past potted palms and the restaurant, with the loos to the side of us. Adrian asked, but the upper apartment was already booked.
Waiting for our hire car
We were feeling warm and weary as we unloaded our stuff and tried to find homes for it all. We made up tortilla wraps for lunch and ate them on the narrow ‘balcony,’ but were only half in shade. In the afternoon we set off in the car for Massy’s supermarket, said in our book to be the best in the island. Well! We weren’t impressed, and had to hunt to find things that we wanted at a reasonable price. Everything seemed rubbishy and expensive. Outside there were some market stalls. Fruit and veg in the shop were almost non-existent. I was cajoled into getting a bag of home grown lettuce, and we bought a couple of bananas and a small mango. We drove back to our place in the old jalopy, with its driver’s door which didn’t open from the outside, the glovebox my side which didn’t close, and the horrible tinted side windows and top windscreen. Adrian noticed that it was nearly out of fuel – or maybe this tank holds a lot! We enjoyed our cup of tea when we got back, sitting at a table above the empty beach. It was 5.00 and all the sunbeds had been stacked. But then soon afterwards it rained heavily – quite nice sitting on the balcony in the warmth. We enjoyed a drink outside, then came in to cook the pizza we had bought. Trouble – we couldn’t get the oven to light! Adrian fetched the receptionist, who couldn’t make it work either. She said that she would get someone to look at it. Luckily this wasn’t too long, and the chap did something to make the gas work, and we were able to get on! We ate the pizza outside, and it was good! We came in and did some more website.
Looking out from our apartment to the pleasant beach
The first of many lovely sunsets at Paradise Beach Hotel
Thursday 31st January Glorious gardens high in the hillside, hard won and then a surprise evening! 51km
It was beautiful when we looked out at 6.30. All was quiet, just one man sweeping the beach and another walking along. A bit later we enjoyed breakfast on the balcony in the relative cool. At 10.00 we left in the lolloping old jalopy, stopping first to get some fuel. Always fun the first time with a vehicle. Adrian was trying to work out fuel prices, but they dealt in imperial gallons, not metric. We drove into the countryside, stopping at Belmont viewpoint, overlooking the Mesopotamia valley, the ‘breadbasket’ of St Vincent, where all their crops are grown on the very steep slopes. These include breadfruit, dasheen and nutmeg. We could see right down to the sea. Villages had familiar names like Evesham and Cane End. We could hear children at play in the nearby school.
The view of the productive Mesopotamia Valley from Belmont Lookout
Having had our fill, we left at 1.30, and wound back down towards the east coast. We had both become dozy after the fresh air, but there was nowhere at all to stop. We came back down to the airport – recently built at great expense. Adrian drove behind it, on a small road by the sea. Here we did stop, and viewed the rolling waves, and the masses of seaweed. This coast is too dangerous to swim in.
Glorious Montreal Gardens, high in the hills
Instead we headed back for Paradise Beach Hotel, and had our swim there. Not a soul on the beach, and everything was packed up. It was a lovely swim, once we’d got past the rocks and the seaweed on the floor, but we found a nice sandy bit to get out. We had seen some large plants arrive this morning, and now things were all set up for a business function this evening. We walked across to see the beautiful sunset before coming back to get supper, which we ate on the ‘balcony’.
The wild coast behind the airport
People were arriving for the business function. An amazing evening followed! The event organiser Peter came over, and wondered if the music was disturbing us. A man was singing gentle Caribbean music, which we were enjoying.
We told Peter. He invited us for a drink. I felt rather underdressed in my skimpy shorts! Later I changed into leggings. We both had a rum punch, and later we offered another. And another! We told Peter of our interest in arrowroot, after my primary school project when I had written to St Vincent and got a reply, including arrowroot recipes. He said that he would take us to see production on Saturday. We were even given 'lucky bags' before we left. It seemed that the event was a thank you for the October promotion called Vincy Expo 2018, which was an event to raise capital sponsors and business opportunities for St Vincent The music stopped at 10.30pm, as we were told, and all was quiet. In the morning, everything was cleared away, and the large plants returned.
Friday 1st February St Vincent Botanic Gardens 15km
We were both a bit slow after last night’s revelries! I had a shower/hairwash. While we were having breakfast on the balcony, it rained really hard. We booked, after initial difficulties, Jon Makepeace’s camp in August. Adrian spent a long time sorting out WhatsApp, as we’d not been on it since we came away. A lady came to clean our rooms before we headed off to Kingstown late morning. It was manic as we tried to find the market. We gave it up as a bad job, and made for the Botanic Gardens – apparently the oldest in the western hemisphere. We managed to find a space near the gate, and went in, but it seemed to be only the exit, with a small gift shop. We asked several people about tickets. One man wanted to take us on a ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ tour (some of it was filmed on St Vincent). In the end a pleasant lady worker said she’d get them for us – the other gate was far down, and we’d have to walk back. We waited in a ‘shelter’, which had information all about the breadfruit. This really interested us, as we had eaten breadfruit a lot on Ou Pou, in the Marqueses. Captain Bligh had brought breadfruit here on his second trip, after the ‘Mutiny on the Bounty’ one. We saw a tree which was from a sucker of the original plant.
The gardens themselves were pleasant and neat, a bit like a smaller Kew. Peaceful, but not exactly exciting. Nice to sit on a bench and eat our lunch. Very few of the trees were named, which is why you are encouraged to have a guide. In an aviary, there were some rare St Vincent parrots, very difficult to see and photograph, because of the fine netting. Nearby a man was playing guitar and singing, which was lovely.
There were a lot of Germans in the gardens. We were asked several times if we wanted a taxi back to the ship. Later we saw the enormous cruise ship, and were glad not to be on it. It was nearly 2.00pm when we headed back to Kingstown. It was still just as manic! Added to it this time were the myriads of schoolchildren coming out of school on to the busy streets. All wore uniform. There seemed to be lots of schools, each with its own uniform. We managed to park near the catholic cathedral. Getting out of the car was a feat in itself! There was a steep wet ditch my side, and not much spare space on the narrow road. This car is a trial anyway, as each door has to be locked separately, and the drivers door doesn’t open from the outside! A lady with a pavement stall (yes, in this cramped mess) tried to help. The Catholic Cathedral is black and quite imposing looking. The nearby Anglican Cathedral is white. This is waiting for renovation, and was only half in use, but the English hymns being played on the piano made it atmospheric.
St Vincent Botanic Gardens with a rare St Vincent parrot
We wandered on towards the market, not a pleasant walk with people and vehicles everywhere. It was late in the day, but we got an impression, and actually bought a breadfruit from a roadside stall later. Seeing a supermarket, and needing bread and booze, we went in, but it was busy and didn’t have much to offer - no beer that we could see. Massy’s may not have been good, but perhaps it was the best on the island as our book said! We stopped off there on our way back and got some beer.
Kingstown's Catholic and Anglican cathedrals
We reached Paradise Beach Hotel at 4 o’clock. Time for a cup of tea, and for Adrian to have a quick swim. There was a nice ‘sundown’, but the sun went into cloud before descending. Friday night is barbecue night here, so we went across to eat at the restaurant, outdoors, above the sea. We ate fish, which was tuna, with a variety of accompaniments, including breadfruit and plantain. Beers came as a special offer if you had three! A variety of small cakes were for afters – too much for us tonight – we collected our little plastic box and took some back. Afterwards we finished the St Lucia part of the website.
A lady takes her fish home from market as children come out of school
Saturday 2nd February St Vincent arrowroot
True to his word, Peter arrived on the dot of 10.30, with his driver friend Brentley. By then, we had already sent the letter for our first website, and had had a lovely walk along the quiet sandy beach, while the cleaner did our room.
Brentley drove us up the eastern (windward) side of the island so that we could see where arrowroot is grown. Being Saturday, the manufacturing plant wasn’t open. However, we stopped by a field of arrowroot and Peter pulled up a slim white root. Arrowroot is used as a thickening agent, leaving the substance clear, unlike other thickeners. Brentley said that he didn’t know what it was used for at all. I was just thrilled to have at last seen ‘St Vincent Arrowroot’ growing.
The end of the lovely beach in front of our hotel
The locals here also grow bananas everywhere, but these are only for export to other Caribbean islands particularly Antigua & Barbados (not enough water to grow their own) and Trinidad (can’t grow enough for their needs). The road was quite challenging, being continually winding above the sea, and often very steep and narrow. After Georgetown, the second largest town on the island, villages were quite poor. This is where the Carib people live – the former occupants of the island, originally from South America. We drove through a village called London, and one called Point – a simple little place which apparently always wins the Christmas Lights competition! We drove as far as the village of Owia, almost the end of the road, before starting on the homeward journey.
St Vincent arrowroot!
Looking towards Owia - as far as we went
Loading bananas onto a lorry to go to Kingstown
All the way, Peter was giving us the benefit of his knowledge. He had had a variety of jobs, starting as a teacher and then jobs in Telecoms and Aviation plus others. He seemed to know all about current affairs and development of the island, and on world affairs. His card said that he was Export Development Manager so it’s not surprising that he knew what was going on as his job is to attract foreign investment to the island. We weren’t too sure about the need for large hotels, or the manufacture of medicinal marijuana, both of which were helping to boost the economy! He has been married for 15 years here on St Vincent and has a three year old daughter & a 10 year old boy here, but had been born in Laborie on St Lucia and has a 25 year old son there and a 26 year old ‘adopted’ son. We weren’t sure why such an important person had given so much time for us, but on both St Lucia & St Vincent, people are extremely proud of their islands and will go to any lengths to help and inform you. By the time we’d got back to Paradise Beach Hotel, and made up our simple sandwiches, it was 2.00 – too hot to sit outside! Later we both had another lovely swim. There was a superb sunset again. We prepared the breadfruit and ate some for supper. Afterwards we did more of the website.
Brentley buys a hot loaf of bread at Kenos Bakery
Peter in his London T-shirt
There was much flood damage in this area from a storm.
Then back through Georgetown to a hidden bakery where they bought the best bread I’ve ever tasted. Why didn’t we buy some too?
We stopped in a place called New Sandy Bay for Brentley to buy something from a small shop. It was a busy little village.
Locals in the village
The better part of Georgetown
Sunset and breadfruit
Sunday 3rd February Discovering the Leeward Coast 105 km
We've become used to the short spells of heavy rain, followed by bright sunshine, and that's how it was this morning. We ate our cooked breakfast, including some breadfruit, on the balcony, by which time it was sunny with a blue sky. We left at 8.45 to discover something of the leeward (western) side of the island. Driving through Kingstown on a Sunday was a pleasure as it was so quiet. We drove down to the ferry terminal to try to find out something about ferries to Bequai tomorrow, but had very little luck. We then drove up and up to Fort Charlotte. We didn't intend going in, although a 'guide' came touting for business, but there were good views down to Kingstown and the Grenadine Islands.
On the way down, we took a 'shortcut', but this was a no-go as the through road was closed, and just came down to a shipyard. We passed the chiming icecream van which we'd heard from the top. We had to drive back through Kingstown before carrying on north. Our first stop was Layou, which had a nice little beach. We saw some of the 'gingerbread houses'.
Looking down from Fort Charlotte to Kingstown and to Bequia
Next we came to Barrouallie where we had our coffee sitting on rocks under a large sea grape tree on the sandy beach with a simple jetty and colourful fishing boats. A returning fisherman offered us freshly caught tuna, which we had to decline because of our limited cooking facilities.
Layou, with its pretty houses
At Chateaubelair we came to a road closed sign, and found that the bridge was 'out'. A man directed us to a diversion through the village. Later there was a similar bridge problem, but this time there was a temporary bridge beside it.
Atmospheric Barrouallie with the old jalopy (A Toyota Harrier)
We noticed people wearing their Sunday best, and occasionally we heard hymn singing from the churches. All the while the road wound round and round with constant hairpin bends, and with impossibly steep gradients. Nearing the end of the road, we came to Dark View Falls and followed a narrow track to the car park. We were the only car when we arrived. We paid our $5ECN (£1.50) fee each and began the short trek to the falls, past the modern toilets. We came to a bamboo bridge strung across the river, and negotiated this. We were ahead of the crowds though, as very soon a noisy large group of locals arrived for their Sunday picnic. It was a lovely setting, in lush rainforest. We feared that all the picnic tables would be taken, but we found one just at the foot of the superb falls to eat our lunch. Nearby there was even a changing cubicle. We were just annoyed that we had left our water shoes in the car, as they would have been ideal. However, we went into the pool at the foot of the falls, and then into a second pool, where we managed a short swim in the cool water before two young local girls arrived with all their exuberance. As we walked back past the large group, a young child called out 'hello granny'!
It was 1.30 when we left here, continuing to the end of the road at Richmond. Here there was a black sand beach, and on from there was only a track around the top of the island.
Fun at Dark View Falls
On our way back, we stopped at Cumberland Bay which had a very English feel with its pavilion and short lawns. It was absolutely beautiful - a secluded bay where there was a little jetty and a few yachts anchored. We saw a lot of birds where little river reached the sea. Locals were enjoying this lovely place. Several spoke to us.
The end of the road at Richmond
So at 2.00 we began our homeward journey. It may only be 25 miles back to Kingstown, but on this road you could only travel very slowly as there was never a straight stretch.
One of the many, many steep hairpin bends
We got back to Paradise Beach Hotel at 4.30. Although the beach was busy, Adrian went for another swim. We enjoyed the lovely sunset again before supper of 'breadfruit patties'.
Charming Cumberland Bay where we saw lots of birds
Monday 4th February The Grenadine island of Bequia 15 km
We had wanted to go to the island of Bequia (pron Bekway) - the nearest of the many Grenadine Islands. There are about 700 islands, some very small, and seven inhabited, one being the well know island of Mustique. We had decided to drive down to Kingstown and see what happened, although we knew that parking would be impossible, as a huge cruise ship had come in. Traffic was very busy - the ’diversion’ that Adrian took was extremely steep and hairy. Parking was not possible at the terminal, or at a second place we tried. When we asked where we could park, we were answered with a shrug. We drove round the busy town, and were about to give up, when we spied a paid parking lot. It was some way from the dock, but we went for it. It was now 10 o'clock, so an unpleasant dash down to the boat through the busy streets seething with traffic and people. Passengers from the ship were walking into town, so we were ‘against the traffic’. We got to the boat at 10.15. It was all very casual. We paid for our tickets on board and made our way upstairs to the open deck for the hour’s crossing to Port Elizabeth.
Adrian amused himself trying to photograph the swift flying brown boobies diving for fish.
Leaving Kingstown for Bequia
Bequia looked green and hilly. We didn’t find Port Elizabeth inviting, with cars parked randomly and no obvious place to sit and contemplate what to do. We found a bit of shade and sat on a ‘kerb’ to eat our sandwich. We had been approached by a man called Lubin to take us around, so went back to him. He was of Portuguese/Scottish descent, and lived in New York in the summer, where his 4 children and 8 grandchildren live. In the winter he acts as a tour guide here. We sat in the open back of his vehicle, a bit like being on safari. He drove around much of the island, stopping to point out things. First was the island’s schools, all together as we left the town. He told us that the island used to grow bananas, after that coconuts, but now a whole area was ‘real estate’, with foreigners living there. He drove us down to a turtle sanctuary, run by a 79 year old and his son both of whom used to be divers – before scuba equipment. I was confused, as the father looked like Lubin, and I thought that it was the same person! (even though Adrian said that he had a beard and Lubin didn’t). He had been born on the island. We saw the tiny baby turtles in tanks, then larger ones, and one very large and infirm. Adrian felt it was all a bit trial and error – not much science. He didn’t try to ‘breed’ eggs and raise turtles from them. Instead he allowed wild turtles to lay eggs in the beach beside the place and when they hatched, caught them and raised them until they were 2 years old (illegal in most places!). That way he had a much higher success rate than letting them go straight into the sea. 1 in 1000 survive in the wild whereas he claimed he had a 15% success. We did our bit for conservation, as the man had no change, so we paid over the odds for our tickets!
A brown booby looking for fish
We stopped by an idyllic palm fringed beach with a small guest-house and sunbeds, owned by a white man who chatted to Lubin.
By 2.15 we were back in Port Elizabeth (we’d asked for a 2 hour tour), but had to find a bank to pay for our trip. Then we were on our own, and contemplated what to do. A newly made walkway had been built along the shore. Called the Belmont walkway, it was quite narrow, so not easy for me. We followed it along until we came to a lovely sandy beach. Here we had a delightful swim. The few other people here had left, so we managed to change into our cozzies.
At the turtle sanctuary
From the turtles to an exquisite beach location
While changing back, we heard many hoots from a boat. It was 3.15, but Adrian panicked that it might be our boat leaving early. (he had read that this sometimes happened) So then it was an unpleasant dash along the walkway to the boat. We got there at 3.30 – the boat certainly wasn’t leaving yet. This was the time to find a little beachside cafe and enjoy a beer! Adrian had thought these massively expensive, but her $40, turned out to be $14! We passed Lubin as we made our way to the boat at 4.15, and off we went back to Kingstown at 4.30. When we arrived an hour later, it was very quiet, apart from the frenetic vehicles driving off the boat. We now had to walk back up to the car park. We were hoping to see the sunset, but after finding our way back to the road in the one-way system we then we got into the nose-to-tail traffic for much of the way back. Dozens of people were waiting for buses - rush hour in St Vincent! It was almost dark, and 6.30 when we got back to Paradise Beach Hotel – to find the small carpark full. In backing out, Adrian hit a low wall. There was a sickening crunch, but it was luckily just the towing hook (Adrian said in his defence that these stupidly dark windows make everything black in the dark!). We had been two minutes too early, because then several cars left. It was time for a drink on the balcony! Later we ate supper there too.
While at the beach we heard a toot from the boat
Tuesday 5th February To Grenada - from sea to sky 57 km
This was our day to leave St Vincent, but not until late. Our check out time was midday, so we had the morning to get organised and packed up - after writing the diary for yesterday, the first bit of which got lost on the tablet. We had a lovely last swim here from the deserted beach, and even found time to do a bit of the website. We booked out at 12.00, then went to have lunch in the restaurant. They hadn't got the tempura lion fish which I'd wanted, so I had dasheen soup (a bit like spinach) and Adrian had seafood chowder. We left at 1.15, and now had several hours to spare. We had decided to drive up the windward coast - Adrian's plan before we went with Peter and Brentley. We set off, driving on the coastal road behind the airport, and then continuing north. We smiled to see a group of goats running along the road as if in a race. Adrian had wanted to see Black Point Tunnel - a tunnel built in 1815 to transport sugar from the plantations to the sea. It was now in a nice park beside the sea. The seaweed covered beach was no good for swimming because of the strong undercurrent. We paid our $5ECN (£1.50) each and walked across to the tunnel. We went inside a short way. Underfoot it was very wet, and above flew dozens of bats.
Near here was the bakery where 'the boys' had bought bread the other day. We bought one for us. It didn't quite have the magic of the other day, but was very good. We drove on through the strung out conglomeration of Georgetown, which had some nice pastel painted houses, but many which were really run down. We stopped at Chatoya National Park, named after a 'National hero' Joseph Chatoya. It was obviously 'in progress', but we found a seat to sit and eat a bit of the still warm bread, while goats wandered about.
Black Point Tunnel in its nice park
It was 4.00 when we began our journey back down the coast, arriving near the airport at 4.45. We pulled in above the sea to finally sort our luggage. Adrian had difficulty in getting his sat nav off the dashboard, resulting in the already cracked dashboard breaking, and a piece falling down inside! We ate some bread and cheese for 'tea' and drove on into the airport. It was now 5.45, and very soon afterwards it got dark, so we were pleased to have arrived at Argyle Airport and sorted the car in the light. We just left the keys to the car under the mat, as planned and made our way into the modern airport, finished 2 years ago at enormous cost (and is used by very few planes). We knew that we were really early, but found a quiet place to sit and do some more of the website. When we finally checked in, all was really pleasant, but when we went through security things were a bit different. There was only us, and a dozen or so staff with nothing else to do, so we were really given the 'once-over' - body check, everything out of our bags - all inspected- binoculars, cameras, folding mirror, even the tissues in our pocket! We both survived it all - we had had to go to separate scanners. We got ready for the next bit - the rotten immigration forms to fill in! As dear Uncle Ali said 'if you don't like it, don't travel'. How often have we repeated that! It was really warm as we waited outside in the night air to board the plane. It was only a 25 minute flight to Grenada, scheduled for 10.30pm, but we actually took off nearly half an hour early (we’ve never been on a plane before that took off early). When we landed at Grenada, it was still warm. There were very few people about. We were greeted by a man from the car hire, who had looked up that our plane was early. However the chap with the car hadn't known, so we had quite a wait while our chap tried to contact him. When he did arrive, the formalities took quite a while. Then it was the difficult drive to Langdon House in the dark, in a strange car. Adrian managed brilliantly, despite the late hour, only taking one wrong turn. Finally we reached the point at the end of the lane where the property should be. The owner had said that she would wait up for us. There were two nearby properties, both with lights on, but no house names and no door bells or anywhere to knock! We didn't know what to do - it was past midnight - and then it began to rain!! It was only a few spots, as it doesn’t rain here at this time of year! Luckily we are not panickers. As good fortune had it, we saw a lady emerge from one of the houses, so Adrian called out to her. It was the other house - at last we were there! The owner Rita greeted us and helped us down some steps with our bags to the apartment. We sorted the essentials for the night - the best thing was that Rita had left a bottle of water in the fridge - we'd given ours up of course at the airport, and there was nowhere to buy any. It was 1.00am when we sank into bed - it had been a long day!
Eating hot bread in Chatoya National Park - and the nearby bridge repairs
A few notes on St Vincent St Vincent Not a tourist island Busy roads around Kingstown Rest of island’s roads winding and incredibly steep Kingstown not touristy – a bit grubby Parking in Kingstown impossible Very few white people Young children carried – few pushchairs Wheelbarrows sometimes used to transport goods Cars pull out from side streets Argyle Airport finished 2 years ago at a huge cost. A white elephant with subsequent running costs and still nowhere near enough hotels to attract the numbers of people for international airlines.
Paradise Beach Hotel Directly on sandy beach – wonderful for swimming Had a restaurant, but rarely busy Large (after previous places) and more ‘resorty’ Seemed more impersonal Our ground floor apartment looked past potted palms and restaurant to the sea We had a small balcony with very little shade during the day Kitchen tap really hard to turn off Poorly equipped kitchen Huge bed Shelf in bathroom and in showered No bedside table Very clean- cleaned each day In a lovely position – we came to love it
Bequia Island Nice one hour’s boat trip from St Vincent Tourist island Lot of white people Many foreigners own land Port Elizabeth had no real front or beach No seating by front A lot of nice beaches
Our plane lands at Argyle airport, St Vincent
We drove on through the steep, green village of Mesopotamia, abbreviated to Mespo here, not Mespot which my dad always spoke of after his RAF days nearly 100 years ago in the Middle East. Mespo seemed to abound with churches. We saw a sign saying Count your blessings, not your problems.
We were heading for Montreal Gardens but saw no signposts to them. We wound on up and up into the hills. We asked two ladies with a little child. They said Go back. Its up, up, up. We knew that this road did continue, so carried on. It was extremely steep. We passed a man and asked him. He pointed and said Up, up. We wound on, the road surface being various stages of bad. Adrian would have given up, if he could have turned around. Through patches of mud, and an unofficial ford, and then finally, by a gateway, a sign saying Montreal Gardens.
Im glad to say that they were amazing. There was just one lone twitcher there, who pointed out a hummingbird to us as he clicked away on his camera with an enormous lens. A lady, with gardening gloves the only other person we saw had appeared and taken our $13 ECN (£3.80) each. Actually a bit less, as she had no change. We asked where to go. Just follow the paths'. And so we did up down and around. It was a glorious area of tropical plants, all filling every space, and spilling over onto the narrow paths. Absolute heaven. There were ginger, datura and huge begonias, just to name a few. We even saw rampant begonia lucerna, which we know so well as a house plant. There was not an empty space anywhere. Our one complaint is that there were no seats, so we had to resort to sitting in the car to eat our lunch. At least that was free of mozzies!