Grenada: 11/12SEP 2002;
St Vincent & Grenadines: 12SEP 2002;
Barbados: 12/13SEP 2002
Grenada, St Vincent & Grenadines and Barbados.
Our Caribbean stint started well as we descended into Grenada. A pretty, green island from the air, with glistening white beaches. The capital, St George, boasted small and very colourful houses spilling down the hill to the deep-green waters of the bay. A wander about the town revealed no immediate reminders of the US backed invasion of OCT/NOV 1983. This returned Grenada to an independent democracy once again. We interviewed a young schoolgirl, Rhysia Joseph, for our book and enjoyed a lunch by the bay.
Next morning, 12SEP, we took a Caribbean Star island-hopper flight to nearby St Vincent. Leaving Grenada airport we entered a queue to pass through a metal detector. 9/11 was just one year before and security was supposedly at its highest level. John noticed a local fellow pass through the detector carrying a large cane knife. Nothing happened. John alerted the nearby security guard who scratched his head. John, always one step ahead of most others, checked the power cord. The detector wasn’t plugged in!
On board, our flight attendant dutifully locked the door of our Dash-8 turboprop and commenced the safety demonstration. Only to be interrupted by a loud banging from the outside. That was the first officer, who muttered sheepishly and headed for the cockpit.
St Vincent was one of the poorer Caribbean nations and we trudged about the city centre of Kingstown which was looking tired & negected. Sadly there were many begging for money & cigarettes. The tragedy of 9/11 had resulted in tourism from the USA dropping considerably and livelihoods for many had relied on the tourist dollar.
To brighten us up, in a tragic sort of way, was the smiling face of the delightful Marlon Map. Marlon was an incorrigible 3 year old playing in front of his mothers market stall. His dream was ‘I want my Daddy back’. His mother rolled her eyes so we interpreted that she wasn’t too concerned where Marlon’s daddy might actually be, as long as it wasn’t anywhere near her or Marlon.
The Dash-8 aircraft operated by various airlines through the Caribbean act more like buses and they hop short distances between 4-5 islands, and return, every day. They stop on the tarmac, feather the left hand engine to allow disembarkation and embarkation while the other right propeller remains active. The whole process takes about 20 minutes from touchdown to lift-off.
I was personally really looking forward to the Caribbean in general. However, as we progressed it turned to disappointment as far as John and I were both concerned. In hindsight, our mixed feelings about the negative attitudes of many of the locals (mainly descendents of West African slaves) would today be roundly condemned. And fair enough too. But this was 2002, not 2020. So much has changed in such a short time!
Barbados was perhaps where we first felt the Caribbean wasn’t quite as luring as we had hoped. Barbados was/is a prosperous tourist mecca but a surly rudeness by many in the tourism sector was uncomfortable. A lesson for us all when we are lucky enough to welcome visitors and clients to our businesses again post-COVID.
The British dubbed Barbados ‘Little England’ and there were British reminders everywhere. In Trafalgar Square a statue of Lord Nelson took pride of place. Cricket is the dominating sport and Barbados boasts more world-class cricketers, for its population, than anywhere else in the world.
Next episode we continue through the Caribbean. Click here to view past episodes.
Article by James Irving – Bhutan Travel Expert
James has worked in the travel industry for over 40 years & has been involved in the leisure, corporate, group, sport, incentive & wholesale travel genres.
James loves rugby union, and keenly supports the Queensland Reds and the Australian Wallabies.