March 4, 2006

Coconut Water
Sandy Bay (St. Vincent), St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Having successfully departed Bequia for St. Vincent by ferry, the morning was spent moving to a remote home in the northeastern part of the island.

If I ever have an amusement park, I'm going to put in a ride called "Minibus to Georgetown, THE EXPERIENCE." For a small price, the visitor will witness both expensive a poor homes, nestled in acres of mountainous banana plantations, whizzing by at fatal speeds as the vehicle, horn blaring, repeatedly pulls 2+ G's around blind corners on a narrow, disheveled road for an hour.

I'm a few miles outside of Sandy Bay, a place where the roads have no names, the homes no addresses. The nearest Internet connection is a 30 minute drive away.

Unsure what to expect as I get off the bus at a 300-year-old ivy covered ruin (in the middle of nowhere), I follow my hosts along a rough vehicle path towards their home. "These are family lands that belong to my wife's sister," Ben tells me, as he stops briefly to inspect a young tree that he proudly planted (among the many around it). As we approached a structure, I wonder if this fresh looking, single-story home is our destination.

Completed a year ago, the home is a delightful surprise. A gentle breeze blows through the 4-bedroom house in the afternoon; the ocean visible from the patio. Tiled floor inside and out, there isn't much in the way of furniture or belongings to draw your eye to. The bathroom and kitchen are complete, but no running water moves through the pipes; showering is accomplished with a simple cup and bucket. The electricity is only on at night, siphoned from a consenting neighbor. Ben, his 16-year-old brother Akeem (who I'm sadly having the hardest of times understanding), and his wife Celestie reside here.

Shortly after we arrived, Ben set me up in the guestroom (storing only a small unused VHF/UHF television). He laid out a thin pad and blanket for me to sleep on, and gave me a key to lock the room door with when I leave the property. This room is the only in the house with screens over the windows.

It's quiet here—remote and tranquil—the kind of simple place a professional metropolitan worker would pay excessive amounts of money to retreat to for a week.

I smile as Ben hands me a coconut he just retrieved from a nearby tree, the top skillfully cut off, ready to drink. What an experience this is.

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