Tuesday, October 10, 2017

A Walk In The Village

After spending the entire day on the boat, we we were ready to get back onto dry land for some exercise! We’ve been watching street traffic weave up the hill between Cumberland and Chateaubelair and there are tiny houses scattered along the upper ridge… There must be something interesting to see up there…

Our target of 8 am was missed by an hour… it was after 9 by the time we made it ashore and set out. It wasn’t hot in the shade, but in the sunshine and with the uncustomary level of physical exertion we were experiencing… the way became strenuous right away!

We skirted the new Playing Field via a footpath that was just one step above goat-worthy. Right away the main road began a sharp upward slope! We stopped for a break in literally EVERY shady spot!

We met a man coming down the hill carrying a large bag on his head. We were thinking ‘coconuts’, but he paused to offer us some of his breadfruit… I almost took one but really didn’t want to carry it up this hill! He continued on a short distance then turned in to the road that led to a tiny shop and some houses.

During the recent rains, the island experienced more than a few landslides… one of which we would soon see from above.. and multiple smaller ones along the road. Rocks simply fall off the hills and spill onto the road. The trick is not to be there when they do!

Hairpin turns no problem on foot

Did I mention frequent BREAKS?? There was a good bit of traffic on this road… and it seemed to be a sporting event for the local drivers to see how close they can get to pedestrians without toppling us down the hillside! Even off the road a bit, they almost ran over my toes!
Bananas and other fruits growing along the road side

Our boat is down there!  Notice the Bay is all blue now...

Wesley's house
Up and up we climbed to the village of Coulls Hill. This white house is where The One And Only Wesley lives… He’s got a pretty nice view! No wonder he can keep such a close eye on our boat!

Right across the street from Wesley’s house is a nice bus stop. The people here live very simply and use what the land gives them… This bus stop is a good example. It’s a simple structure made with limbs and palms.

I really like the use of bamboo for seating… it feels nice on my bum! Figuring we were about half way, we rested here for a while in the breeze…

The village is very tiny. There are a dozen or so homes, two little grocery stores and two churches! There are NO flat surfaces so everything is built on a steep slope. Homes are just wedged in wherever like puzzle pieces. 

Two Churches and the Health Centre at the top of the hill
We met up with Wesley on his way down through the village. Bruce was just finishing his first water bottle and headed for the grocery to buy another… Wesley quickly showed us a better way. 

 Many of the villagers can’t afford to have water piped directly to their homes… so there are public water faucets where anyone can fill up their jugs with fresh, delicious water that comes from the volcano. How awesome is that??? The water here on St. Vincent is more pure than what we’re getting from our water maker right now… 

I love the thought of drinking the essence of this island… It makes me feel like I’m a part of it somehow… Connected.

We continued on up the street hoping to get the best view from the ridge at the summit.

A woman was actually tacking back and forth as she walked up this steep hill...Easier she said. 

Primary School
School is in session now as their summer has just ended. There is a little schoolhouse with some eight teachers and several teacher’s aids. This school houses grades K-6, which is their primary school. The eight teachers teach a total of 52 children. How’s that for student-to-teacher ratio??? The village considers education to be very important! The children we’ve met have all been very well-behaved and well-spoken.
Notice a little bit of brown water flowing out of the river on the left?

Wonder if this bar is ever open...

Goat lawn mowers.  We saw no mechanical lawn mowers on the island.
Another use for the plentiful bamboo

Crop growing far below

We made it to the ridge!
We saw several cars just tumbled off the road and stripped of every useable part.

Up on the ridge, we came upon some really nice houses and stopped to talk to the residents for a bit. The pink house lady had love birds and a budgie… I told her about my Mom’s love bird and how she thinks I’m feeling sibling rivalry toward the little beast. She had several cats around as well.

Papaya anyone?

This is somebody's back yard!!!

Continuing on a bit more, we came upon Mr. and Mrs. Charles. Unbeknownst to Mrs. Vivian, Wesley had already told us we would meet her up on the ridge. She is the Justice of the Peace for the area. We chatted her up and told her how much we were enjoying her beautiful island and what a shame it is that more of the Cruising community doesn’t stop here.

Now you can see a lot more sediment coming out of the river
We talked about the murder last year and subsequent failure to prosecute the perpetrator and she lamented that the outcome of the trial had ended in a boycott… We shared our view that coming from a country where so many people get away with crimes every day… who are we to judge? Honestly… the people on this island can NOT be any nicer and it is a terrible shame that they aren’t given the chance to show off their stunning island. OK, I’ll get off my soapbox…

Mrs. Vivian Charles, the Justice of the Peace
Mrs. Vivian Charles showed us the spot where the landslide took a portion of the road… Standing above the scar on the mountainside looking down… we were amazed that the earth could have just shed such a huge chunk! The pictures don’t show the depth as the rock just tumbled down the ravine… all the way down to the Cumberland River far below. They are still trying to clean out all of the rocky sand that blocked the river’s outflow.

Looking straight down at the landslide.  You can't see the depth of it here but it's stunning!
The dirt went all the way down this valley to the river far below!

A man came to set up some poles stripped of leaves and caution tape for safety.  Must not get many visitors... we woke them up!
The valley on the other side
We continued on the short distance to the summit where the road leads down the other side but went no further. We stood and looked out over the lush green valley… The voices and laughter of children could be heard from somewhere down below.

On our way back we said our goodbyes to Mr. Bruce and Mrs. Vivian Charles… and the bird lady… whose cooking wafted the smell of spicy Caribbean deliciousness that almost made me brave enough to ask for a taste…

Somebody's crops... not ganja

A garage.  Seriously.  A garage... with a car and a goat.

A goat met us and she and I had a brief conversation… I watched Dr. Doolittle recently and picked up a few words and phrases… No really… I was talking to the goat!

On approach to the schoolhouse we found half a dozen starched-uniform-clad kids… We stopped to talk to them. They were in grade 6, soon to leave this school and travel to the upper grades in Kingstown. They were very polite and well-spoken… The spokesperson for the group asked us if we were on the yacht (pointing down to the bay) and where we were from. You should have seen his face register surprise, amazement and wonder when we told him we were from Texas in the USA. Might as well have said the MOON!

He was so excited and probably would have continued with his questions but just then, the school bell rang signalling time for classes to resume! The kids scampered off, zipping in through the gate and up the stairs… we started on. Then two of the boys came running back to ask our names and to tell us theirs… Terrance and Felix! What polite little kids. We imagined they were going to tell their teacher of our meeting.

Back at the main intersection in town, we turned right to visit the small grocery store before continuing our descent… We entered the dark interior and a woman broke from her conversation with another woman at the bus stop across the road, and came in to greet us.
This is the store

We asked what cold drinks she had and she produced a couple of bottles for us… Champagne for me and Ginger Ale for Bruce.

We settled on barstools and had a long conversation with Kim. She was from the town we cleared in, Chateaubelair, but her husband was from Coulls Hill so they live here to be near his family. He is undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer and she shared her recent vacation pictures with us. They are grabbing all they can out of life after her husband’s diagnosis… and recently chartered a catamaran for a trip to Tobago Cays. She was very sweet and wished us well on our way as we continued on down the hill.

Another bar/grocery - closed

A calm and beautiful day!
Not so many flowers on St. Vincent

The downward trek was far more easy and enjoyable than going up… even in the warmer afternoon… Yes, we had been up there for more than three hours!!!
Somebody's laundry
Another vehicle on the roadside, stripped.
These homes were built by the government to replace the ones washed away in a storm.
Almost home...

One of the loads of laundry we had dropped off was washed… Their dryer wasn’t working so we picked up the coloured load and took it back to the boat to hang dry on the lifelines. It was our hope that the hot sun would dry this load by the time the next two loads were washed and we could just switch them out…
Fisherman lookin' good on top of those nets...
Busted!  He caught me looking!

What?  NOOOO!!!
I was busily hanging out laundry when Bruce noted the building black clouds just visible in the valley… I had seen them off to our south but didn’t think we would get hit. When the clouds come through the valley though… we’re in for it! Dang it! What rotten luck that we had wall-to-wall sunshine all day… until the very moment we need to hang clothes!

I watched the clouds until the first raindrops hit my cheek… then hurriedly snatched all the laundry back off the lines… We closed up the boat and went below with the AC running to cool my red face!
It's coming... Gotta take them all down!

Laundry everywhere!
Guess what. Those raindrops were the only ones we got out of all that blackness! We turned off the AC, opened all the windows again and I went back to work hanging the clothes. We dinghied back to shore to pick up the remainder of our clothes, now done washing… and spent the rest of the afternoon drying laundry…

It was another very good day. Our hearts swelled with the warm wishes and blessings bestowed upon us by each and every person we’ve met. How can anyone not stop here? These islanders are just people… like you and me… They have hopes but they are happy with their lives. They are hurt by the Cruisers staying away and are so appreciative of those of us who come. I vow to return here to see more of the island and bring friends to experience this wonderful place.

Such a simple thing as a walk in the village has brought us so much happiness and a feeling of being connected to this island that we will never forget.


  1. Thank you for visiting my our beautiful Island and sharing these amazing photos. I hope you had a most enjoyable stay here and wish to return.

    1. We had THE most magical time there on St. Vincent! Cumberland is a stunningly beautiful anchorage and we are doing our best to get the word out. I think things are changing and the Cruisers will return. Thank you for your warm welcome! I hope you saw my other posts as well.