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Enjoy some pictures of the worldrecordtour taken in St. Vincent


St. Vincent Map




Map of the Caribbean

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Our gravel barge „MV Gondola“
leaves Grenada with destination
Kingstown in St. Vincent
A curious bird on visit
Kingstown Bay with the island of
Bequia in the back, belonging to
the Grenadines

St. Vincent & the Grenadines - "Jewels of the Caribbean"

5th September 2003: The first daylight is shining into the mess room of “MV Gondola”, where we stretched out on a hard bench for the night. Where are we? Rubbing our eyes and still sleepy we step out into the fresh early morning breeze. Amazed by the sight of the islands passing by, we are immediately fully awake. Out of the morning mist Union Island’s rugged mountain silhouette pops up – the first “patch” of St. Vincent after leaving Grenada’s waters – followed by Canouan and later by the more plain Mustique and Bequia Islands – the larger of the 32 tempting holiday destinations belonging to the Grenadines – a chain of picture book islands scattered between the main places of Grenada and St. Vincent. It is a signal that St. Vincent is not anymore far away, and indeed shortly afterwards, the picturesque harbor of Kingstown, nestled on the foot of lush green hills, welcomes us.

Chateaubelair, a nostalgic fishing
village on the Leeward Coast
Testimony of the past – a ruin of a
funnel of an ancient sugar factory
The luxury Young Island Resort,
where we spent some days in the 70’s

It is a sad sight looking at our LandCruiser as it leaves the ramp covered all over with a crust of salt. We cannot deny that this unlucky salty passage has ignited the spread of rust. All we can do is to rinse it immediately thoroughly with the water hose the captain is offering to us. Had we known beforehand that the “MV Gondola” was an old fire extinguisher boat - built preferably for harbors and not for the open sea – we most probably would have looked for another shipping solution to St. Vincent. Besides our LandCruiser’s weight of 4.5 tons, the vessel loaded in Grenada 120 tons of gravel, an empty small car and the ship’s own little caterpillar – despite that it is only approved for a maximum of 98 tons; the latter was overlapping the ramp thus preventing it to be closed properly. Hopelessly overloaded, we sailed ten long hours through a partly very rough sea once we left the wind shade of the islands. The vessel’s water level was sometimes so low that the sea water was not only flowing below our car, but we were showered constantly, either over the top or at least on the side. Luckily at midnight the gravel was discharged at Carriacou – the biggest of the 10 more islands of the Grenadines, belonging here to Grenada. This makes us feel more comfortable during the second half of the journey, although our “Gondola” was still swaying critically low from one side to the other.


Happy children in the St. Mary’s
Complex in Kingstown
The beautiful St. Mary’s Cathedral in Kingstown is made of dark volcanic sand
A colorful market scene in Kingstown

After clearing easily immigration, Emil heads to the customs authorities while Liliana waits at the car. Surprisingly, it does not take long and he returns. He tells how easy things went: Firstly he looked for the Customs Comptroller Mrs. Jones – the highest in rank. She was already informed about the government’s cabinet decision (!) granting us a bond and duty free entrance for our LandCruiser and decides that after being insured against third party collision, we will be free to leave the port without doing any paperwork. Robert, the young watchman at the gate, is far from believing it. He refuses to let us go without any papers because this never happened and thus cannot be true. He asks Emil to follow him to another building, where the higher rank of officers are located, looking all like 4-star-generals. They come to the conclusion that this is not the right way. Therefore he is escorted back to Mrs. Jones and asked to wait outside her office. A minute later Emil gets informed: “You can leave!” We do not even get a visitor license plate as it was before the case in Grenada (it does not exist here). We are only asked to buy a local driving license, because the international is not accepted and to get the permission from the police that we are allowed to drive around in St. Vincent with our original license plates. This was done uncomplicatedly by handwriting on the third part insurance policy. No police officer ever stops us as very soon everybody recognizes us anyway.


Barrouallie – one of the nostalgic
fishing villages on the Leeward Coast
One of the many beautiful water-lilies
in the Botanical Garden in Kingstown
A lonely little church in
a tropical environment

Did St. Vincent change since the 70’s, we ask ourselves, as the harbor gate closes behind us. At that time, we have been lodging at the luxury Hotel Resort of Young Island - situated on a private small island just offshore – for a few days of holiday. Once more we realize how our way of life has changed completely since then, how little we care now about all the luxury. We are far happier to sleep under a canopy of sparkling stars out in the nature. But here this does not work out. But we are quite comfortable to park in the garage compound of Kaspar Dasilva, the brother of the local Toyota distributor, the more that every day we have here also the chance to freeze two bottles of water which allow us to keep our stuff cooled in our recently broken camping refrigerator. Kingstown, the capital of Saint Vincent & the Grenadines, is not as picturesque and sleepy as St. George’s on Grenada. It has more the character of a city, is livelier and offers more shopping. The islanders are mostly light skinned, very open and warm hearted. Their friendliness can be compared with that of the Dominican Republic and Trinidad. The island itself is lush green too, not so much covered with jungle, but more cultivated with plantations of bananas, coconuts and breadfruits (the latter was imported once from Tahiti by Captain Bligh of the Bounty), which spread out over the hills and slopes of this volcanic island.


View of the wild
Northeast Coast
Hanging flowers in the
Botanical Garden in Kingstown
A Nordic „Touch“
along the East Coast

Impressive is the scenery on the West Coast North to Richmond, where at the wild, stony Wallibou jungle river the road ends abruptly (the Taiwanese are apparently starting soon with the constructions of the missing continuation to the North point to finish the island’s ring road). It is an adventurous driving, with stretches climbing nearly vertically up the hills just to descend the same way downhill. And there is an ongoing change of wild jungle vegetation and beautiful coconut plantations. A most fascinating sight is also the many quaint fishing villages, especially Layou, Barrouallie and Chateaubelair. Everywhere fishing boats in bright colors catch our eyes in palm fringed bays, and everywhere fishing nets hang to dry or for repair. In one of the bays we spot a fat pig cooling down in the shallow sea, in another one people are cooking on open fires or women are washing and chatting at public washing places. This is exactly what we considered a fisherman’s community life to be. Shortly after, we reach Richmond. Here we find a lovely picnic spot at the edge of the Wallibou River, even with picnic tables and benches, which unfortunately are overgrown and in a bad shape. In front of us, at the wide stony beach, we watch Rastafarians - men and young women - sorting out all kind of big and small stones, carrying the heavy load on their head to different collecting places – a hard job for presumably small money.


Our camping spot under an almond tree...
...with view to the Calliaqua Bay
Brian is printing colorful T-Shirts
with African motifs


The calm bay of Calliaqua - just a few miles past the airport - becomes very soon our favorite place. There is hardly a day that we do not park under the big shady almond tree with its wide spread branches to cook our meal and enjoying the afternoon hours. One day Brian passes by for a chat. He is the owner of a gourmet shop in town, but prints also T-shirts with wonderful African motifs. His workshop is just across – a good opportunity to have a look at the working process. He uses different stencils and different colors of fast drying ink. In less than two hours, the result can be admired and we get a T-shirt with a beautiful market motif as a gift. But he is even more generous: We are invited to choose whatever we like from all the delicacies in his shop and end up with a box full of olive oil, marmalade, Thai beer, rice noodles, couscous, cornflakes and sweet chili sauce among others.


View of the perfectly shaped
Cumberland Bay on the Leeward Coast
Woman selling bananas
at Kingstown Market
Church between coconut palms
in the soft evening light


One day, as the “MV Admiral Bay” anchors in the harbor, we take the chance to talk to the captain. To our big surprise, he agrees to take our LandCruiser and us on board to Barbados on September 29th. What a happy moment! The sun is shining brightly the next day, as we drive again direction North, this time along the East Coast. We do not get very far as we hear an explosion and find out that our rear left tire blew up, leaving us stuck on the rim in the middle of a narrow, potholed road. It is always a delicate work to jack up our heavy car in such steepness; therefore we are really happy to continue half an hour later along this wild coast. With each driven mile, we expect the end of the potholed tarmac - but it does not happen - although its condition is getting worse. Now and then we have to cross a short sandy stretch. Will the crossing of the wide and stony bed of the Dry River be a real challenge? But even that does not cause any problems, despite we were told otherwise.


Rugged Windward Coast (East
Coast) with lonely church on a cliff
Falcon with its prey on a coconut tree
One of the many deserted beaches of black volcanic sand on the East Coast


North of the second largest city of Georgetown, which has rather the appearance of a ghost town, it gets obviously poorer, but its scenery more spectacular. Just after crossing the Rabacca Dry River, deserted beaches, mostly of black volcanic sand, line the coast. Unfortunately, none of them are recommended for swimming due to the rough sea with its strong and dangerous currents. A very outstanding outlook points to Sandy Bay and Owia. At the Owia’s Salt Pond we are attracted by a well preserved picnic area with tables and steep stairs leading down to the lovely pool. My heart is beating faster as I discover all the beautiful shells, and because today is my birthday I consider them as a birthday gift. Due to lack of time, we enjoy a simple meal consisting of an egg and cheese omelet, which we share with a wild dog before we bump our way further to Fancy where the road definitely ends. The more North we come, the narrower, steeper and windier the road gets, forcing us to drive all the way in 4x4. This “End of the World” is home of the black Caribs, the descendants of the first island settlers, looking smaller and more graceful than the Negroes of African origin. They seem to live still in harmony with nature. On our way back, the evening light becomes more and more beautiful. The coconut palm trees, the red rocks and the blue sea reflect in an enormous intensity – a wonderful spectacle of nature and another highlight on this very special day.


View of the small fishing village
of Layou on the Leeward Coast
Barrouallie – a fishing scene
from a picture book
Peaceful fishing village of Barrouallie
on the Leeward Coast

St. Vincent measures 131 sq miles and has about 100’000 inhabitants. What strikes us is the percentage of youth. At least 60% are said to be between the age of 15 and 30 years. Watching every morning the invasion of much younger children on their way to the different schools in Kingstown, we automatically ask ourselves how this small island will be able to support this enormous population explosion, the more that due to the lack of an adequate jet airport it has to rely mainly on the seasonal tourism of cruise ships. Our departure day, September 29th, arrives much too fast. At 1pm we board the “MV Admiral Bay”. The peaceful island of St. Vincent says good-bye to us in the same exceptional non-bureaucratic way as it welcomed us. In the future, our thoughts will return many times to this sleepy place with its warm-hearted people and especially also to its wonderfully uncomplicated car entry procedures. We decide to sleep on deck on the uncomfortable banana boxes, despite that the captain offered us mattresses inside. We just love to feel the salty and refreshing sea breeze around our ears and to watch the sparkling canopy of stars and distant lights which belong to other Caribbean jewels of islands or ships passing by.


When the red sun sets at Young Island……
Articles in newspapers about us in St. Vincent:
Article: "Swiss couple drives St. Vincent, the World", September 19, 2003
Article: "Emil and Liliana, the driving couple", September 26, 2003