Letter 4 from Alex: “10 years for Gaia” in the Caribbean island of St. Vincent
St Vincent Update 3
Mayreau (To Make You Jealous)
In the last issue I wrote about our trip to the other side of the island to sign up schools for the treelympics. Well, there are also schools in the Grenadines; of course we sacrificed ourselves to do the hard task of going to a tropical island to spend a whole half of a morning to sign up the schools. Some team members went to Union Island, the southern most island; another went to Canouan, the one that is mostly resort; our leader went to Mustique, the one where Mick Jagger’s house; and I went to Mayreau, the smallest and best island.
We took the ferry down, and because of the schedule we had to spend a whole day there. We got there in the late afternoon on Monday, and left in the morning on Wednesday. The school on Mayreau was very nice; it was at the very top of the largest mountain on the island. It was also small; just one room that was divided, and only 33 kids. The principal was very nice and receptive to the planting. He was concerned about the goats eating the trees though, so he will have to fix the fence first. There were many goats running around wild. Apparently the owner let them loose because the rainy season was late and all of his grass was eaten. This of course caused conflict and bad feelings, which is amplified because there are only around 250 people living there. Oddly though, they really liked the plants at the church and cemetery.
Water is a very big problem on the island. Most of the island still looked lush, but in town you could see that they needed some rain. They have no groundwater, so they have large collection systems throughout the island. Because water is so precious the islanders are the best water conservators I have seen.
I was originally supposed to camp outside of the school. However, coming off of the ferry I met the leaders of a group called Youth With a Mission; I had previously spoken with them about staying at their location, but had not got an answer. They offered a place to stay, and I reluctantly accepted. It was a pleasant surprise. Camping at the school would have been fine, but sleeping in a real bed, and having water to drink and shower was nice. It was a very fortunate event. YWAM even fed me lunch, grilled cheese and tomato soup; a welcome change from all of the rice, potatoes, and beans I don’t eat because they have green peppers in them we eat at RVA.
Mayreau is only 1.5 square miles. It originally was owned by just one person and has just recently been split, and parcels sold. Because of this there are not many attractions other than the beaches, and the small stone church. But there are plenty of places to explore, and I got to most of them.
The ferry drops you at a small bay on the southern part of the island. This bay had a great beach with a few yachts. Next to the bay was a salt pond, which is beautiful even if it is not a classic beach. From the bay one road leads up through the town to the top of the mountain. This is where the school and the church are. Behind the church you can see that Tabago Cays, a group of small uninhabited islands. There are many yachts that visit them, so they aren’t deserted. They are even more popular now since some scenes in “Pirates of the Caribbean” were shot there. Just on the other side of the hill is the graveyard, and the YWAM facility.
The road then leads down through lush forest to Saltwhistle Bay. This is where most of the yachts stay, and many of the postcard pictures are taken. There are a few shack restaurants, and vendors of tourist items. The bay curves around and almost meets the ocean. This forms a small strip of land no more than 20 feet wide that leads to a large rock a few hundred feet wide and a tall. On the bay side of the isthmus it is perfectly calm, and on the other side there are waves crashing hard on the beach. It is something amazing, you can stand in the bay and watch the waves crash on the other side. Where I was staying up on the mountain had a great view of this bay, it was something special to wake up to each day.
The salt pond is an interestingly beautiful area. It is a very large bog essentially, but its ugly beauty is sandwiched between two very nice beaches. The beach in the bay where the ferry drops you is your typical gorgeous tropical paradise beach. From there you can walk along a dirt road that leads around the pond. As I walked up a small rise I saw some blue water in front of me; soon I was on a great beach that was covered with shells and dead coral; and had a great view of the cays; and was totally alone. The great sea in front; the dirty pond behind; and a great beach below my feet. What more could I want?
The island is a beautiful paradise, and it doesn’t get many visitors. Few people take the ferry there, most come on their own yacht. Everyone asked me what boat I was on, to which I replied “the ferry.” It was a little sad though because the tourists didn’t really visit the town; they mostly stayed in the bay; the only time they went to town was at night, to drink. But for the tourist like me, who likes to explore; who likes to sit and relax on a beach with no one else around; who likes meeting nice folks; it is a perfect island.