We docked on a relatively new finger pier in St. George's and not on the cargo berth in the Careenage where the cruise ships used to go. Not quite as scenic perhaps, but very handy for ‘downtown’ and a large slightly brash shopping complex that passengers had to go through when they left the ship, cunning planning I thought. I ventured ashore for an hour in order to take a few photos and reacquaint myself to this lovely harbour town that I hadn’t visited for probably ten years.
Hurricane Ivan, eight years ago, did some serious damage to the island and even today there is clear evidence of the destruction. I counted three churches that still had their roofs missing, plus a number of older houses in the same sorry state, and apparently even the Parliament building is waiting for funds to make the necessary repairs.
The town, however, was bustling with activity and the usual traffic problems that occur these days in small communities with an infrastructure quite inadequate for the increasing number of cars. Somehow, however, it all added to the slightly chaotic flavour of the place and as I walked everyone appeared to be quite happily putting up with it all, greeting each with smiles and a casual slap of the hand.
After clambering up a few hills, I came back down to sea level and took a walk through Sendal Tunnel to get to the Carenage. This narrow tunnel, somewhat gothic in appearance and less than eight foot high in the centre, was built in 1894, no doubt for horse drawn traffic.
Now it takes one-way traffic and any courageous pedestrians who are prepared to brave the traffic by hugging the side. There is no pavement, but at least there are lights, even so, in our EU world of health and safety it would have probably been bricked up a long time ago.
On the other side, the Carenage was busy with small inter island coastal vessels and water taxi drivers touting for business, four dollars for a fast ride over to Grand Anse beach, possibly the most famous in the Caribbean. The famous waterside ‘Nutmeg’, home of the real Rum Punch, was back open for business, and I was tempted, but it was far to early in the morning.
The folks went off on their tours, ‘Rain Forest and Grand Etang’, ‘Sunnyside Gardens’ and ‘Highlights of St. George’s, and they all returned much later, worn out but happy enough. As the sun changed colour to a shade of burnt gold behind the distant clouds, we took our pilot and left the berth.
Down in the main lounge, as we pulled on the astern power, our newly arrived Archdeacon gave a service of Christmas readings and carols. The festive mood is building up.