We sailed down to Marigot Bay where we’d spent Christmas and cleared out of customs there. I had to take the cats to the vet in a taxi to get their export certificate. This also involved a dinghy ride as we were moored out in the bay but they were so well behaved and completely at ease.
In order to travel around St Vincent and the Grenadine Islands we had to check in with customs and import the cats so we moored at Long Island near Kingstown where Sam’s Taxis dealt with all the paperwork for customs, saving us from going through the lengthy process ourselves. I’d emailed the vet and arranged for her to come and inspect the cats on the boat. This was a free service which seemed unreal.
We weren’t planning on staying in St Vincent but there was a local marina called Blue Lagoon nearby that looked quiet and we thought we’d stay there for a couple of nights. We fell in love with the place and ended up staying for 2 weeks.
The people in the marina were so friendly. We were greeted initially by Razmike who spends his time zapping about in his dinghy, helping boats navigate through the coral reef that surrounds the bay. Raymond is the sailmaker in the marina, such a pleasant guy who would come over to chat and offered to take us hiking up the volcano when we arrived. The dockmaster is a guy called Desmond who is always around somewhere to help take lines. Sunsail used to have a base in the marina but for some reason they left and now the place is quiet with just a few charter catamarans that are there a couple of days each week. There’s a lovely bar on the beach called Flowt where you can wiggle your toes in the sand while having a drink and the Black Pearl restaurant which has the best views of sunset.(And the Black Pearl pizza is to die for!) The marina building itself is undergoing a complete renovation to provide some accommodation and rooms to let which should bring life and activity back for the locals who were badly hit when Sunsail pulled out. There’s a beach to one side of the marina and and a rocky area for snorkelling on the other side. Behind the marina is an overgrown garden that became the cats’ favourite place to go for their walks. So many different smells and places to sniff with little lizards darting about.
Kingstown is a 20 minute bus ride from the marina and the journeys became our highlight of the day. Every one was different and such a blast. They play very, very loud music and you can hear them in the distance before you can see them. Each one has a ‘conductor’, a guy who hangs out of the window shouting at people on the side of the road and then cramming as many into the bus as possible. Just when you think the bus is full he’ll manage to get another one, two or even three in. When all the seats are used up he’ll produce a cushion from under a seat and sit someone on that. You know that the bus is full when the conduct has to crouch by the door almost sitting on someone’s lap. The bus ride is 2EC each which is about 50p and I could spend all day just driving around watching all the goings on. It’s hilarious!
Kingston itself is a busy, bustling town, especially on Saturday when it’s market day. Once again, loud music seems to blast out from everywhere. One guy walks around with a ghetto blaster on a wooden trolley and even the hardware shop has a massive music system on it’s doorstep. We loved it and went there nearly every day.
One day we decided to go and see the island’s number one attraction which is the Montreal Gardens up in the Mesopotamian Valley. This involved 2 bus rides and we went equipped with a basic map from the Tourist Office. The bus weaved up and up and we eventually got off in a little town and stood looking at our map. The bus driver stopped, reversed to ask us where we were going and looked at the map with us. He told us to get back in and then took a diversion to get us a bit nearer. After a 10 minute ride he told us to hike up a track and then turned the bus around and went bouncing off down the road with all the other passengers. It certainly was a hike, 40 minutes of wondering where we were going and if we’d ever find the gardens. Eventually we saw the sign “Montreal Gardens”. They are quite stunning but sadly are getting neglected as the government won’t put any money into them. There used to be a workforce of about 20 but now there are just 4.
We wandered around beautiful flowering lilies, prehistoric looking trees and shrubs and had the whole place to ourselves. Taxi drivers don’t like going up there because the road is full of pot holes. On our walk back to catch the bus we passed a few men walking back from the fields carrying machetes and an old lady carrying a huge basket on her head.
We also had a trip to the Botanical Gardens in Kingstown, another beautiful place within walking distance of the town.
After chilling out for a couple of weeks we were joined by our friends Gren and Elaine who were expecting a week’s sailing, so it was time to move on for a whistle stop tour of the Grenadine islands.