After a few months of gruelling full-time work, I managed to escape from the claws of my job and scurry to the sunny island of St. Vincent. Honestly, anyone who endures a 9-5 6 day’s a week needs a medal. Here I was though, finally fleeing on my gap year, utilising my freedom and prime time to travel out of the unforgivingly freezing England.
My heritage is deeply rooted in the island, my grandad came to Stratford as part of the Wind rush generation and has worked his way up to become the High Commissioner for London, although my mates continue to speculate he is the prince of Caribbean. This would obviously be amazing, as impossible as it is, but my mum had warned me that the Vincentian lifestyle was a complete culture shock when she went. This was to be expected, but maybe not to the extremes that I experienced.
The road raging, 50 Cent blasting buses, unrecognisable Patois: ‘Oi me pussyclaat, bloodseed Selecta’ // ‘You what mate?’ And occasional torrential rain made the whole experience an unconventionally enjoyable one. Of course the weather was glorious, the beaches were the bluest I’d ever witnessed, and they brew a cracking larger in their Capital (Kingstown). However, one of its less obvious beauties ways was how satisfied people seemed with so little.
I grew increasingly in awe of the juxtaposing landscapes. One minute, you were travelling in undulating mountains, covered by elaborate canopies and volcanic rock, the next you were in the dog pit that was Kingstown - described by another tourist as ‘Haiti in the 1940s’. The Capital was a jungle of drug dealers and beggars, all as lazy you would be if you were to experience 100 degree heat in Britain... in our dreams you think to yourself.
If I had a pound for every Lizard I saw, I could retire tomorrow. These amphibians are absolutely everywhere, crawling beneath your feet and darting off whenever you make a sudden movement. They unfortunately didn’t outweigh the swarm of mosquitos that managed to find hiding spots in my hotel room, and proceed to maul my ankles religiously every night. This made, no matter where I was, a good old scratch a necessity. I did manage to forget every now and then - especially when I was eating the food that was on offer. The fish out there is amazing, freshly caught from the sea, and served with the traditional rice and peas - which was lovely, but I can’t imagine I’ll be eating that combo again anytime soon.
One of my highlights was definitely climbing the volcano ‘La Soufrière’; if I have an inner Bear Grylls, it definitely came out there. Clambering past annoying American tourists, reaching ridiculous altitudes, and freezing in whirring winds, that easily could have blown me into one of the craters, I had a blast. It turns out St. Vincent’s soil is the most fertile in the world for weed production, so if you literally want the cream of the crop, you need to get yourselves down to meet the Vincentian rastas and their perfect ganja. Chilling on the beaches of the Grenadine islands was difficult to find unenjoyable too, kicking back, tanning up and getting odd looks from the locals for banging out Slowthai, Kwengface and Kelis on my speaker was lovely; they are still holding on to their number one hit ‘Turn Me On’, which Chris Brown ruined, over there.
I am still slightly traumatised by one event of the trip however involving a dangerous bus driver, an overcrowded bus and an ill passenger sitting next to me. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say I had a lucky escape from some unwanted chundered chicken projecting into my lap.
What a trip it was though, I would fully recommend any of the Caribbean to anyone. Although St. Vincent is one of the poorer islands you can visit, it had more adventurous aspects than the likes of Barbados.