Monday, December 29, 2014

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

The last country on our whirlwind tour of the Caribbean was St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Yes, that sounds about as official as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers but that's what the country is called. We had another rat-hole hotel booked somewhere but I was done with that noise and booked us a nice oceanfront place that was still pretty reasonably priced. I figured our adventures were complete for this trip and that we would have a nice day of lazing by the beach and that'd be that. Nope.

St. Vincent is the big guy and the Grenadines are the little guys.

Lydia came in and reported that the beach was overrun by locals, a group of which were playing soccer. She was also unimpressed with the hotel pool. And I was like: adventure time.

My understanding is that all of the fancy beaches and fancy hotels are located in the Grenadines. We were currently on St. Vincent. We'd had enough boat time this trip so St. Vincent was where we'd stay. I made a mental note of the hour-long walking route we needed to take and then we hit the road toward the capital city of Kingstown. By this time I was done with getting ripped off by taxis and I figured a nice walk would be fun.

We saw this beautiful two-story KFC in the distance but it wasn't a mirage. It was real.

SVG is the abbreviation often used for the country. I also heard the adjective "Vincy" used which I thought sounded cool.

Well this was a fun walk through random neighborhoods because it was clearly not a place tourists go. A couple little kids walked up to us laughing and said "Hello white people".

Kingstown was a pleasant surprise. There was a vibrant market in progress, with several streets of produce as well as clothing and some bootleg CDs and DVDs mixed in. I liked it because it was real without being scary. We saw maybe a handfull of other tourist-types the whole day which made it obvious how legit we are.

Our cool cab drivers in Dominica were talking about a bar that the police owned, so it was funny to see that there was really a place like that here too.

This looks awesome.

This hike around Kingstown ended up being a high point of the whole Caribbean trip for me. We walked into this sort of sketchy looking horseshoe of little bars where groups were playing dominoes on rickety tables. They were audibly slamming down their pieces each turn and being pretty rowdy. I liked the liveliness of the scene but was also a bit wary so we went a few stalls down and sat in front of an empty little stall. The owner might be my favorite local of the trip. We talked about all kinds of subjects. He seemed to watch a good amount of CNN and so seemed pretty knowledgeable about US/world current events.

The conversation was cool because I could sort of review all of the things I had learned at the other islands. We talked about bumping into the prime minister of Antigua and Barbuda at the supermarket on Christmas Eve. I mentioned I thought it was interesting that the airport in Dominica had recently changed names due to political reasons. As we talked, people came over one by one and soon we had a whole table of characters conversing with us. A couple of them had crazy accents so it was fun to hear the difference when they talked to us so we'd understand and when they were talking full throttle amongst themselves.

The friendly owner said his daughter worked in customs at the airport so I was hoping to see her the next day when we left the country and have a funny conversation but she wasn't working that day.

We were having the local beers, Hairoun, and they were drinking white Sunset Rum and water. I feel like mixing something clear with water is boring to look at and hard to tell the dilution rate, but whatever. One of them offered a taste of what they were having and it tasted like grain alcohol. Like if you mixed clear with burning. But hey, I can hang. I asked what this little area was called: Chinatown was the reply. I laughed for a while about that one. This place had not one single Peking duck hanging in the window. Or windows. I guess it was built by the Chinese. I've noticed several little gifts/investments from the Chinese on the various islands. Very interesting. Next door was Little Tokyo. We'd had fun but it was time to leave Asia and get something to eat. When I asked for the bill the other guys were laughing because I was paying the foreigner price for beer. I think they were still like a dollar each so I was happy with the experience. I gave the guy a good tip and he shook my hand and gave me a little hug. If I'm ever in St. Vincent again I'm going right back to that spot.

The bottles were those nice heavy returnable types.

We walked uphill a few blocks until we reached the Grenadine House, our dinner destination. I feel like it was fancy without being predatorily expensive. Imagine that.

I was all like "nice restaurant, let me just class this place up a bit."

We finally got a little of the local food we'd been hunting for a week now. A roti is like a burrito with Indian curry type stuff inside. It was pretty delicious.

St. Vincent gets the John Milito thumbs up.

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