This week I would like to share some of my experiences from my recent visit to the island of St. Vincent. Although I was barely on the ground there for 24 hours, I encountered so many fascinating sights and sounds, which triggered me both emotionally and spiritually. St. Vincent is the beloved homeland of my father, and also the setting of my upcoming historical fiction novel, Children of the Ocean God, which focuses on a war my ancestors, the Black Caribs (i.e., Garifuna), fought against the British in 1795. So this was a special trip for me which combined a homecoming with a research expedition.
I arrived at Argyle International Airport, which is the main gateway to the island of St. Vincent, just before noon. Part of the airport precinct sits on the site of the Yambou River, which long ago formed the southern boundary of the Black Carib territory. After a swift passage through immigration I exited the terminal building and went to find my driver/tour guide, Mr. Russell. Shortly thereafter he picked me up in the designated drop-off/pick-up area and we were off. The first stop less than 3 mins away was the Argyle Petroglyphs Park. There I found several reasonably well preserved specimens of the rock art petroglyphs made by the Caribs, almost hidden among some overgrown bushes and high grass.
Next up was a twenty-minute drive along the windward coast of St. Vincent to Georgetown, which was the site of the largest Black Carib settlement, called Grand Sable, over 220 years ago. The drive there was winding, traversing a string of hills and valleys, some with obvious Carib names, like Byera and Biabou. Along the way, Mr. Russell regaled me with several tales about the Black Caribs as well as about modern life on the island, especially in light of the volanic eruption in April, 2021. Georgetown is a small, laidback, rural town, with most residents engaged in living off of the land or sea.
After a brief stop to snap a few photos, we then continued up the windward highway passing several key sites of historical significance, relevant to Children of the Ocean God. These included the Rabacca Dry River, Chatoyer Park, and the village of New Sandy Bay. Near New Sandy Bay we decided to turn around and make our way back towards Kingstown, the capital of the island, in order to visit some other key historical sites, which will be highlighted in Part 2 of this blogpost.
One key observation that I made on this excursion was that the volcano on St. Vincent, La Soufrière, is the dominant geological feature of the windward coast. Although its peak was obscured by clouds on the day I visited, it was clear to see that the broad base of the volcano extends until the shore making the terrain along the Atlantic coast of the island quite steep and formidable. The ash from the volcano also has a huge impact on the flora of the island since I learned from Mr. Russell that it makes the soil very fertile. As he said it, “You plant anything here and it will grow!”
It is impossible for me to convey in words the fire that this trip to the homeland of my father has ignited within me. Part 2 of my visit to St. Vincent will follow soon! Many thanks for stopping by. As always please feel free to leave a comment below, or to join my mailing list if you would like to receive updates on the latest news regarding my writing.