Monday, November 22, 2010

Dark View Falls' Post Disaster Clean Up

by Jacqui English, E-Commerce Officer, St. Vincent & the Grenadines Tourism Authority

The bus headed from Kingstown, St. Vincent to Dark View Falls, filled with staff members from the Ministry of Tourism, St. Vincent & the Grenadines Tourism Authority, and the National Parks Rivers & Beaches Authority. It was Tourism Week, and our mission of the day was to clean up Dark View Falls after the recent passage of Hurricane Tomas.

Our one and half hour picturesque journey presented scenes of fishing boats in Layou, yachts anchored in Wallilabou and Cumberland Bay, fishing seines at Barrouallie’s jetty, and a few goats and cows along the way. As we passed through Wallilabou, tourists were seen walking towards the Heritage Park, probably anticipating a dip at Wallilabou’s waterfall.

As we continued along the meandering roadway and approached misty mountains, the cool change in temperature was detected. All along the route, the apparent telltale signs on the landscape from Hurricane Tomas became increasingly evident.

Upon arrival at Dark View Falls, some persons stood in awe, amazed at the aftermath images of Hurricane Tomas. The grand overhead bamboo archway had disappeared, broken trees, branches and leaves fell everywhere. Yet, swaying proudly amidst all this was the sturdily built suspended bamboo bridge, leading towards the waterfalls.Dark View Falls is an eco-adventure for visitors, as well as a popular picnic site for locals. This spectacular site boasts three waterfalls, along with a pool for bathing, a welcome booth, vending kiosks, and washrooms.

Persons drifted off into sub-groups to commence chores of chopping, sawing, and hauling broken bamboo and branches into designated areas. Some individuals raked soggy leaves arduously. While others assembled to cook an outdoor meal on coal-pots. Also, personnel from the electrical service company were seen busily repairing damaged electrical poles. Throughout all of this, a group of visitors appeared from the trail behind the waterfall, as they trekked their way towards a vehicle.Unfortunately, our clean up was interrupted by a downpour of rain, followed by persistent showers. This break provided the opportunity for rewards of an outdoor lunch of soup (boil-up) and pelau, along with a cool dip in the waterfall.

As I got ready to depart Dark View for the 24 mile drive to Kingstown, I was rather comforted by the knowledgeable Park Ranger, Maxwell ‘Erasto’ Robertson, who informed us that the bamboo arcade should grow back after a few years.

Monday, October 25, 2010

A Divine Day in the Tobago Cays

by Jacqui English, E-Commerce Officer, St. Vincent & the Grenadines Tourism Authority

Heading from Kingstown’s Cruise Ship Terminal, our first stop with Fantasea Tours power catamaran, was along St. Vincent’s leeward coast to pick up a few guests at Buccament Bay Resort.

On the two-hour ride to Tobago Cays the boat vibrated to the up tempo beat of salsa and soca. We were also entertained by a few prying fishes which darted in the ocean. The male crew outfitted in red shorts and white t-shirts, eagerly served local soft beverages and rum punch. During different occasions seats were shifted as cool waves sprayed several passengers. However, some persons didn’t appear to be bothered, as they munched on un-parched peanuts soaked in rum punch.

Filled with chatter and laughter Fantasea Tours catamaran chiseled the leaping waves, while we passed the inhabited islands of Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Mayreau, Union Island, Palm Island and many uninhabited cays. As we approached Tobago Cays spread before us was a picturesque view of Petit St. Vincent, Petit Martinique and Carriacou.

The Tobago Cays Marine Park is infamous for sailing, snorkelling, diving and its huge horseshoe reef. The five cays of Petit Bateau, Petit Rameau, Petit Tabac, Jamesby and Baradal comprise the Tobago Cays. Petit Tabac was a site for the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Petit Tabac is located apart from her sister cays, and is accessible by a dingy, due to the protective reef.

Set against a backdrop of the Friendship Rose schooner and yachts anchored in the cays, Fantasea Tours entered Petit Bateau; a couple was seen donning their snorkelling gear and plunging into turquoise waters, also another vessel headed past us, decked with passengers revelling in this haven. Cameras snapped and flickered to capture these perfect photo opportunities.

Then came the moment everyone was longing for – disembarking on Petit Bateau to sink your toes into the white sea-shelled sand, dive into the translucent sea, or to just imagine that you’re marooned on an enchanted island. I opted to snorkel amidst the coral reef and pretended to be one of the multi-coloured fishes. A few visitors on board Captain Yannis’ catamaran ‘Typhoon’ sampled a taste of splendid swimming.

Our next island retreat was Mayreau for a swim at the superb Salt Whistle Bay. Along the beach there was an assorted display of local colourful fabric. The shoreline also offered a bountiful supply of juicy wild sea grapes. Then we headed to the charming Bougainvilla Restaurant on Union Island for a delectable seafood lunch.

After lunch we stopped at Palm Island Resort, which would provide the night’s accommodation for two of our fortunate passengers. I just couldn’t resist a quick dip on Palm’s phenomenal beach.

Then it was time to return to St. Vincent. As the boat glided home I enjoyed the salty splashes on my body, and the gorgeous view of the round moon high in the daytime sky, then came the glorious descend of the purple pink sunset, an ultimate closing cast of a divine day.

A Day Visit to Bequia

by Jacqui English, E-Commerce Officer, St. Vincent & the Grenadines Tourism Authority

The Bequia Express ferry pulled out of St. Vincent at 10:40 a.m. on a sunny October day. She was laden with leisure travelers, business persons and visitors, which included a Canadian film crew on a photo shoot of Bequia. The day promised to be near perfect as the sun glistened on the shimmering blue Caribbean Sea. For the one-hour ride, passengers were engaged in various activities i.e. admiring the captivating view of Port Kingstown and Cane Garden point via binoculars, reading, listening to radio and watching television. The travelers seemed to enjoy the rocking, rolling motion as the ferry plowed through choppy water, which is somewhat expected at this time of the year.

Bequia is endowed with a rich history as its traditional boat building, and festivals like the popular Easter Regatta. It is the largest Grenadine island of 9 square miles with a population of about 5000. Bequia prides itself for its repeat clientele, mostly who return to build homes or rent villas. As we entered the Port Elizabeth harbor, I scanned the coastline for familiar sights and nostalgic spots. Our pleasant welcome climaxed with an enjoyable safari style open-back jeep ride to our destination of Bequia Beach Hotel, where we were greeted by great company along with a tasty lunch.

A relaxing stroll on Friendship Beach afforded views of brightly colored fishing boats docked in the bay and pulled up along the shoreline, with majestic Mustique tranquilly nestled on the horizon. Friendship Bay dappled with shady trees, is known long ago as an indigenous boat building site. Tempting waves splashed playfully on the shore, unfortunately it was insufficient time for a dip as the 4:30 p.m. ferry beckoned.

A quick sojourn was granted on a bench at the tropical beach bar. Our troop cooled down at the end of a lovely day with a refreshing drink of lemonade.

As the ferry departed from Bequia’s harbor, my only wish was that I could over-night or better yet stay forever in Bequia.