Bush Man No More
Sandy Bay (St. Vincent), St. Vincent and the Grenadines
I've saved myself the grief of trying to catch a painfully unpredictable minibus into Kingstown (for my flight) tomorrow morning by checking into a guesthouse in the city for the night.
For EC$50 (US$19), I grabbed a tiny pink room at Leslie's Guesthouse, a nice enough place on the top of a hill overlooking the city. With good access to town, I'm a happy boy. I nearly cried tears of joy when I felt the sweet, sweet pleasure of a hot-water shower for the first time in nearly two months—what decadence. With a freshly shaven face, I feel like I'm ready to enter civilization again.
What A View
My legs are a little sore. Yesterday Ben and I hiked up around 4,000 feet to the rim of La Soufrière, the cratered top of the volcano that formed St. Vincent.
We started before sunrise at a trailhead just a few miles south of Sandy Bay, and ended on a black sand beach on the complete opposite side of the island. If you've ever wanted to feel what the inside of a cloud is like—cold, wet, and windy—give the top of this volcano a shot.
The hike down the leeward side was interesting; I've never see such obvious marijuana cultivation before. Entire hillsides with pot plants the size of Christmas trees were in plain view, complete with a shanty to process the crop.
While we were on that side of the island, we stopped by for a visit with Ben's mom at her home—a nice experience. Later, I got a great tour of area from the minibus as we shot down towards Kingstown. It's amazing how calm the ocean is on the west coast compared to the east, it's like the difference between night and day.
There was some drama at the homestead last night after I pulled Ben aside and told him his 16 year old brother had entered my locked room during the day and used my CD player. I had suspected this had happened on more than one occasion, but never before had my belongings been disturbed in such an obvious way. I expressed how unhappy I was with Akeem's blatant breach of my personal space and property.
It might be a simple coincidence that the device (annoyingly) stopped reading discs properly the day before last, but there's a strong possibility that he played a part in its current dysfunction. Ben warned me on the first day in the house not to loan the device to his brother, as he has a history of damaging electronic property. At the same time he instructed Akeem not to use the player.
Interestingly, it seems that Akeem had come to live with Ben and his wife just two days before I was brought to the house—no other family member would consider taking him in.
An hour or two later, a teary-eyed Ben sadly recounted his brothers checkered past with me, shamed and embarrassed at Akeem's actions. Ben doesn't know what to do with him. He loves his sibling, but can't trust him to make the right decisions when tempted to do otherwise. I don't think he'll be living with the two much longer.
I felt bad about stirring up the beehive on my last night in the house, an evening that Ben was trying his best to make memorable. I suppose it was, just not in the sense that he was hoping for.
I had a very interesting time staying out in the country. I did have my issues with it from time to time, but for three weeks I was a part of everyday Vincentian life, and for that exposure I'll always be grateful.
As a small thank you gift I presented to Ben a new (huge, shiny, and intimidating) machete (AKA: a cutless) with a little note written on the blade in permanent marker. A saying that I coined in some years ago was part of the message: "Live for the moment—look to the future."
To me, the phrase means to embrace the day—every day—passionately, like it was your last, but to always think ahead and plan for tomorrow, and the days to follow.
The Saga Continues
I received an interesting e-mail from a distressed Jakob last week. It would seem that he lost all of his digital photos (some 3,000 images) when pirates boarded the Odessa, anchored in St. Vincent. While he and the captain slept, the bandits allegedly crept on board, proceeded below deck, and relieved the vessel of a handful of items (including his daypack full of photo CD's).
For obvious reasons, I'm happy I was off the ship when the incident occurred. It'd be annoying to lose any of my gear, but what gives me greater pause is what would have happened if I was present and woke up during the theft. I tend to be acutely sensitive to my surroundings when I sleep, particularly to the proximity or presence of people. In all likelihood there would have been a nasty altercation if I was aboard, so I'm glad the situation was otherwise.
Geez… it's always one ordeal after another with that ship. I bet there would be a great book in the troubled 20+ year history of the boat if someone chose to write it. Hell, I've got a few chapters, and I was only aboard her for a month!