Home page

Next Page

From Rodney Bay, St. Lucia, we went directly to Bequia, a small island across from and part of St. Vincent.  We skipped the Pitons in St. Lucia where Superman flew to get Lois Lane's flower for their first date in Superman I, a movie I didn't see. Friends who went to the Pitons told us about problems with the boat boys, actually men, who greet you as far out as four miles, aggressive salesmen of goods and services.   We also declined to anchor at St. Vincent because of trouble many other cruisers reported.  Bequia has no such problems so we left Rodney Bay at midnight and arrived in Bequia before noon.   The guidebook suggests that the sail from St. Lucia to St. Vincent is a comfortable reach and that the passage from St. Vincent to Bequia is rough with short steep waves.  Our experience was just the opposite, the night trip from St. Lucia to St. Vincent being much rougher than the trip from St. Vincent to Bequia. 

Bequia is a small island with only one town at Port Elizabeth Harbor.  Small settlements cluster around other bays and huge houses owned by foreigners are perched on the hillsides.  There are several anchorages in Admiralty Bay but all are in sight of each other.  We anchored off Princess Margaret Beach, a strip of white sand with private homes. 

Reasonable provisioning is available at a number of small grocery stores and an open-air produce market manned by Rasta's (Rastafarians) who crowd your space and try to sell you more of everything than you need.  If you can deal with their aggressive sales techniques, they have an excellent selection of fresh fruits and vegetables and they will suggest which fruits are good to be eaten today, tomorrow or the next day.  The Rasta's have long dreadlocks and, as part of their religion, smoke very long joints.  They taught the two year old on September Song the Rasta handshake.

Since we did not stop at St. Vincent, we took an hour long ferry ride over to Kingstown, the capital.  We walked around the shopping area and saw a most unusual church.  Bob was taking pictures of it when an older man walked up and started talking about it.  He was a boy living nearby when construction was begun by a Dominican priest.  Apparently Dominican priests are men of God but also have secular vocations.  This Dominican priest was an architect and supervised the construction of this church and many similar ones through the islands.  The man said he remembered seeing the priest wearing a red pajama top walking around the church's tower directing the workmen. 

As we walked to the St. Vincent and Grenadines Botanical Gardens, we were "picked up" on the sidewalk by a teacher/guide
who gave tours there.  He started the tour as we walked slowly up a steep incline, telling us about the area.  In the early 18th century, England encouraged the introduction of commercial plants in the American tropics.  The Royal Society gave prizes and awards to those fostering the "introduction, establishment, and dissemination of highly prized species."  In 1765, a twenty-acre botanical garden was started in St. Vincent, the first botanical garden in the western hemisphere.  Today, the garden's hibiscus walk and small lily pond furnish the backdrop for wedding photos and tourists' cameras.  There's a breadfruit tree grown from a tuber of the one delivered by Captain Bligh in 1793 after his previous mutinous and unsuccessful voyage of 1788. 

A sensitive plant has mimosa-type foliage which closes immediately upon being touched.  Bromeliads (air plants) abound in trees and bushes.  Century cactus grow for one hundred years and then bloom once and die.  The fan palm collects water in the base of its numerous fronds appropriately fanned out.  The tree from which hearts of palm are cut is very tall and must be chopped down for the harvest.  Our guide Andy picked a leaf sufficiently rough to file your fingernails.  The nutmeg tree produces a green pod from which both mace and nutmeg kernels are harvested.  The red membrane of mace around the nutmeg kernel may be processed as a spice or as the self-defense product mace.  Philodendron and mother-in-law's tongue proliferate.  Another bush-type plant has white and purple blossoms resembling lilac blooms but without scent.  Many of the plants have medicinal as well as ornamental uses.  The cannonball tree got its name because when balls fall off, they sound like cannonballs.  It is covered with reedy vines and scattered grape clusters of buds producing flowers which open and last for only a day.  When the petals fall off, the center looks like a comb and brush and mirror, much like a woman's compact.   

The garden was experiential as Andy picked leaves and flowers and had us touch or smell the specimens.  We smelled bay leaves, cinnamon leaves, lemon grass, and the mild male garlic plant used in salads.  The female garlic produces the stronger smelling bulb used in cooking.  Cages house the endangered St. Vincent parrot in an effort to preserve it.  The national bird is found only on this island and its population is now estimated at 500.  Exquisite tropical blooms were the highlight of the tour. When cut, these waxy blossoms last about two full weeks before deteriorating.

Next Page