More Kingstown, St. Vincent

I spent Saturday morning collecting prices in the grocery store, and by the time I broke for lunch, most shops had closed their doors for the weekend. I was advised to visit the Saturday market in downtown Kingstown, so I walked a few blocks from lunch and meandered my way through stalls and umbrellas of food and an assortment of goods. Mangoes, bananas, and coconuts seemed to dominate the market, but I saw a few vendors selling bootleg media and small hygienic products. Nothing too out of the ordinary here in St. Vincent.

I joined Allie the economist for a pleasant meal at a hotel down the street, indulging myself with a tasty pan-fried red snapper. While Allie reminisced about growing up in Iran and working for the IMF in D.C., I dodged fish bones and made an impish decision to eat the snapper’s eye. It was chewy.

Sunday morning, I woke up and hopped in an hour-long taxi to the northern part of the island. My plan was to hike up La Soufrière (“sulfur outlet” in French), St. Vincent’s highest point at 4,048 feet, a stratovolcano that last erupted in 1979, thankfully leaving no casualties in its wake.

According to the hotel staff and two of my taxi drivers, I absolutely, positively needed a guide. On paper, the hike did not appear dangerous in the slightest, yet I was warned of raging ganja farmers that may try to take advantage of me. Raging ganja farmers? You’ve got to be kidding me. My ‘guide’ and I trudged through bamboo forest and arrived at the crater rim with no problems whatsoever, but my eyes were constantly scanning the horizon for fiery-eyed lunatics. My summit experience was short-lived, however, as rain clouds crawled over neighboring peaks. As it started to drizzle on the way down, I knew that the party of 4 on its way up wouldn’t be able to see much of anything if they made it to the top. “Dee urlee bird, day eet da best worms!”, my guide happily declared. Below are some short clips of the crater and hike down:

I slept the rest of the afternoon and went down to the ocean for a little swim. I passed out early and awoke this morning refreshed and ready to start another week. Today was pretty standard; wake up, go into town, and write down prices. I had lunch with some family friends that were here visiting their daughter – stationed nearby in the Peace Corps – and it was good to see some familiar faces.

Ooh, I forgot to mention! I usually take the public van into town each morning, but this morning I wasn’t sure where to get dropped off, so I took a taxi. As we drove into town, Andre, my driver, honked at a passing car.

“That’s one of the biggest drug traffickers in St. Vincent.”

“Do you know him or something?”

“Yea, we went to school together. The government just froze all of his assets.”

Thought that was worth noting. I leave for Grenada on Wednesday evening and will post another update there, Internet-connection pending.

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