5 – Caribbean Notes

The following stories are taken from my book Travel Tales from Exotic Places like Salford

Catching the bus in Antigua

Bus number 17 travels from outside Nelson’s Dockyard to the West Bus station in St John’s, the capital of Antigua. The journey costs either EC$3.75 or EC$2.75, depending on the driver.

The bus I caught to St John’s took 45 minutes and the driver was incredibly considerate. He stopped for people who weren’t yet at the stop, waited for regular passengers to arrive, and even reversed down a hill to pick up two school children. People paid when they got off so I paid when we reached St John’s.

The driver on the return took my money at the West Bus station. He was obviously a frustrated Formula 1 driver as we made the trip in 20 minutes. He seemed to resent passengers asking to alight from the bus, which they did by shouting “Bus Stop”. Even the locals realised the driver was insane; one person told him she wanted to see her grandchildren again after he had overtaken three vehicles on a narrow stretch of road.

St Kitts Radio Host

Basseterre is the capital of the country St Kitts and Nevis. It’s an unremarkable town with two cathedrals, an independence fountain, and The Circus, a roundabout containing the Berkeley Memorial Clock, which is modelled on Piccadilly Circus in London (it’s alleged).

In Basseterre there is a shiny new harbour facility, Port Zante, where cruise ships berth and which contains duty-free shops and souvenir stores. Many tourists only see this facility and don’t go anywhere else in St Kitts, so missing the amazing Brimstone Hill Fortress.

My taxi driver back to the Timothy Beach hotel was called Two Point, who hosts a radio show on 106.9FM between 10pm and 2am most nights. He is a political activist and dislikes the Prime Minister of 17 years Dr Denzil Douglas. The PM is disliked by everyone according to Two Point, yet he keeps being re-elected.

Dr Douglas offers sweeteners to the electors, such as a 20% cut on electricity prices, but then reverses them once he has been elected. Two Point also told me that the opposition is not allowed to broadcast on the TV and radio

St Maarten

Named after St Martin of Tours by Christopher Columbus, Sint Maarten/St Martin is administered by Holland/France.

Marigot is in St Martin on the French side (No border controls – don’t worry). It is as good a visit as there is if you are in transit at the airport – there are no left luggage lockers at Princess Juliana airport – and you decide to hire a taxi for the duration of your stay.

Marigot is the largest town on the French side. There is a large outdoor market selling souvenirs and clothing. The Le West Indies mall is a small indoor shopping centre selling high-end cosmetics and designer label clothing.

Fort Louis is a 10-minute uphill walk from the mall and affords wonderful views over the town and the marina.

On my way back to the airport, my taxi driver took me to Phillipsburg on the Dutch side so I could see the cruise ship terminal and the salt pan which has been destroyed by building the city rubbish dump too close to this sensitive natural feature.

Marigot is a far more interesting place.

Kingstown

Kingstown is the capital of the small Caribbean nation of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

It’s quite a shabby place that appears run down. However, you can catch the ferry from here to Bequia (pronounced Beckway), Mayroun, and Union Island, some of the Grenadine Islands. There are some ATMs on Grenville Street and Halifax Street, if you miss the cash dispenser at the airport. These two streets have colourful properties along them that contrast with the other dour buildings.

There are two cathedrals along Grenville Street, St George’s Cathedral from the Anglican diocese of the Windward Islands, and the truly dark St Mary’s Catholic Cathedral, which was hosting a fully attended service on a Tuesday afternoon.

Most of Kingstown is built on land below sea level and many locals fear that the town will be inundated by a tsunami when the undersea volcano Kick’um Jenny bursts through the surface as appears inevitable in the next few years.

Barbados

Lying on the verandah of my hotel the crash of the Atlantic Ocean waves is constant. The view both ways along the coastline shows white-topped waves smashing into the boulders and beaches. This is Bathsheba on the East coast of Barbados and it’s not visited by many tourists. In the late afternoon there were more people surfing that sitting on the beach. The waves are gradually eroding many of the rocks that sit proudly on the shoreline and the water has created spectacular sculptures for photographers. With palm trees along the coast and an absence of large-scale development Bathsheba is an ideal relaxation stop for the busy traveller. It’s also close to the exceptional Andromeda Botanical Gardens, which are up the hill from the blue-coloured community centre. These are beautiful gardens with views down to the Atlantic. The Round House Inn is also recommended for its tasty meals with ample portions for the hungry.

Harrison’s Cave is a major tourist attraction in Barbados. After you have paid for your ticket, you can either walk down to the visitor’s centre or take one of the three elevators that have been strategically placed so they aren’t an eyesore. Outside the centre some hidden tape recorders play the sounds of birds and insects to give the experience a more natural feel.

The following stories are taken from my book Travel Tales from Exotic Places like Salford

Published by Julian Worker

Julian was born in Leicester, attended school in Yorkshire, and university in Liverpool. He has been to 94 countries and territories and intends to make the 100 when travel is easier. He writes travel books, murder / mysteries and absurd fiction. His sense of humour is distilled from The Marx Brothers, Monty Python, Fawlty Towers, and Midsomer Murders. His latest book is about a Buddhist cat who tries to help his squirrel friend fly further from a children's slide.

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