Tag Archives: Caribbean Travel

Sustainable Tourism

“We are not anxious to grab the easiest dollar. The tourist dollar alone, unrestricted, is not worth the devastation of my people. A country where people have lost their soul is no longer worth visiting.

“We will encourage only small numbers of visitors whose idea of a holiday is not heaven or paradise, but participation in a different experience. We shall try to avoid the fate of some of our Caribbean neighbors who have ridden the tiger of tourism only to wind up being devoured by it.

“Large super-luxury hotels with imported management, materials, and values bring false prosperity with the negative side effects of soaring land prices that kill agriculture, polluted beaches, traffic jams, high rise construction that ravages hillsides and scalds the eyeballs – the very problems that the visitors want to forget…
James Mitchell, former Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines

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St. John Virgin islands: Caribbean Travel News

USVI to Receive Economic Aid from the President’s Stimulus Package
President Obama’s economic stimulus package, which has been passed by the US House of Representatives, includes funding for the USVI.

The package includes significant tax cuts for the middle class and working families. As these tax cuts would negatively impact the Virgin Islands’ revenues, a provision has been included in the bill to reimburse the Virgin Islands for this loss.

Read article in Caribbean Net News

Largest Cruise Ship Ever will Include the Virgin Islands in its Itinerary

The 4,200-passenger Norwegian Epic will sail to St. Thomas beginning in 2010. Read article…

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Caribbean Travel News: Two Ships to Sail from NYC to the Virgin Islands

Norwegian JewelNorwegian Cruise Line plans more voyages out of New York City
From the USA Today Cruise Log with Gene Sloan

The mass-market line today announced it will place a second ship, the 2,376-passenger Norwegian Jewel, in the Big Apple during the winter of 2010-2011, doubling its winter capacity out of the growing cruise hub. The Jewel will join the 2,380-passenger Norwegian Gem, which already sails out of New York during winters.

NCL says both ships will sail a series of 10-day Eastern Caribbean cruises from New York that will call in San Juan, Puerto Rico; St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands; St. John’s, Antigua; Philipsburg, St. Maarten and Tortola, British Virgin Islands… read article

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Caribbean Travel: St. John USVI an Exotic Vacation Destination

The Seattle Times, The Canadian Press, The Nashua Telegraph and other Associated Press fed newspapers featured the Virgin Islands in their weekend travel sections in an article by Roger Petterson:

“Don’t just sit there. Pick a destination and plan a vacation, maybe to someplace a little exotic, where national parks come with tropical beaches, and boats rather than big RVs are a common mode of transportation…”

In the section about St. John, they chose our website, SeeStJohn.com as the go to website for St. John information:

“…he smallest of the three major islands is St. John -https://seestjohn.com/ – where the snorkeling guide takes you to spots such as Hawksnest Bay, a convenient and popular beach where a reef waits for you just a few yards off the shore, or Cinnamon Bay, a popular windsurfing beach where snorkelers can explore an old airplane wreck. Some of the same spots are covered in their beach guide. And don’t miss their photo and video galleries.

And as the “snorkeling guide,” they refer to, judging from their mention of the light airplane wreck,  it’s got to be the St. John Beach Guide.

Thank you Roger Petterson!!!

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Caribbean Travel Stories: Cuna Basketball

The Cuna people live on the San Blas Islands, just off the Caribbean coast of Panama and enjoy a limited self government within their traditional homeland. Most of them stay within their Cuna culture, but some have found temporary work on U.S. military bases. It is there that many Cuna young men learned the love of a typically North American sport, basketball.

My Friend Craig at a Cuna Village

Upon returning to their native villages, the Cuna wanted to continue playing and to teach the sport to their friends, but they faced a serious obstacle: Every square inch of land was accounted for — either for crop cultivation or for housing. There was simply no space to put a basketball court.

The Cuna, who had solved greater problems than this, soon came up with the obvious solution — make the island bigger.

There was a shallow coastal area adjacent to the island that could be filled with rocks and then covered in concrete to make a basketball court.

Needless to say, this would not be an easy task. Rocks would have to be transported by canoe from the mainland some five miles away. These canoes, called cayucos, are carved out of a tree trunk and their rounded bottom makes them unstable.

The rocks would have to be hand-gathered on the mainland, loaded onto the cayucos in quantities small enough to allow a marginally safe crossing, and unloaded at the future basketball court site. As vast quantities of stones would be needed, this would be a monumental task. Where would this intense amount of labor come from?

The problem was approached in typical Cuna fashion.

Many cultures throughout the world have established laws, rules and regulations that are routinely disobeyed. The Cuna had such a law. Unmarried people of the opposite sex were forbidden to have any contact with each other, even speaking to one another was prohibited.

As you may imagine, this was a law that was just about 100% sure to be broken, human nature being what it is, and Cuna teenagers would secretly meet their sweethearts after dark in prearranged locations. Actually it was not so secret, for the parents and elders of the village had broken the same law, in the same places and in the same manner.

The proponents of the basketball court construction decided to harness the reliable power of teenage sexual energy and use it for a means to accomplish an end. A strict enforcement of the law was called for, and a new punishment was established, which was to gather, transport and deposit one cayuco-load of rocks for the first offense, two for the second offense, three for the third and so on.

The idea was successful! Just one year after the passage and enforcement of the new law, the citizens of this tiny crowded island in the San Blas archipelago were able to enjoy spirited games of basketball on their very own, brand-new basketball court.

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Caribbean Travel Stories: Magic Noir (Black Magic)

The following story was told to me by Hyacinth Ashley on St. John USVI

Magic Noir – St. Lucia
The occult science of Obeah is alive and well on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia where supernatural practices and beliefs have become incorporated into the fabric of everyday life.

Obeah came to the Caribbean on the hellish slave ships that brought captured Africans across the Atlantic to toil on the plantations of the New World.

Some practitioners of Obeah follow a dark and deadly path while others are dedicated to the light, to warding off evil spirits and harmful spells, and to aid their fellow man on the often difficult and treacherous journey of life. It is said that the evil ones can grant great power, wealth and worldly delights. It is also said that they can cast evil and wicked spells bringing pain, sickness, insanity and death.

Magic, like anything else in the universe, does not occur without consequences, and with consequences comes responsibility. Most Obeah men and women are considered mediums or intermediaries between the individual wanting a spell cast and the person who receives that spell. It is widely accepted that the initiator of the spell is accountable for the consequences of the magic. Sometimes, however, the Obeah priest or priestess acts on their own for their own purposes. In this case, they must bear full and total responsibility for the consequences of their actions. This is the story of one such Obeahman, who corrupted by the power that he possessed, practiced his dark arts in order to satisfy his own wanton and selfish desires.

The Obeahman in question had long ago withdrawn from society and lived as a recluse near a secluded swamp surrounded by a dark forest. On one of his rare visits to the village, he became obsessed with desire for an attractive young married woman. The next new moon, at the stroke of midnight, the sorcerer performed an ancient ritual that allowed him to leave his body in the form of an evil spirit.

Unseen and unheard by any of the villagers, he made his way to the door of the woman’s house. He knocked on the door. The woman’s husband opened the door. The evil spirit then blew a magic dust that he was holding in his hand into the face of the unsuspecting husband.

The husband then fell into a profound sleep; one which seemed more like a coma or death than ordinary sleep. The spirit then took the woman, bewitched her with a spell, and had sex with her until just before the dawn. Before the sun arose, the spirit took leave of the house and returned to the shanty in the swamp and back into the body of the Obeahman.

Both husband and wife awake shortly after dawn. Neither remembered anything of the night before, The woman, however, felt drawn and ill at ease and was troubled by a deep scratch that itched and burned.

On the evening of the next new moon the spirit generated by the Obeahman returned to the couple’s house. The husband was again rendered unconscious and the woman bewitched into having sex with the spirit. As on the previous month, neither husband nor wife remembered anything and the only evidence left by the evil spirit was the disturbing scratch that itched and burned.

The woman began to feel unexplainably ill and depressed. One day the woman’s brother came to visit and noticed that something was troubling his sister. He asked her what was wrong and in the course of describing her feelings she showed her brother the scratches that refused to heal. Suspecting that his sister was under the influence of an Obeah spell, the man took her to see a white magic woman.

The Obeah woman immediately recognized the scratch as the mark of the evil spirit. She told the woman what was happening and gave her an herb, which her husband was to brew into tea and drink at dusk on the new moon to counteract the effects of the magic powder.

On the next new moon the spirit returned. He blew the dust into the husband’s face, but this time the man did not sleep, he only pretended to. The spirit then took the wife and began to have sex with her. Her husband taking hold of a long sharp knife, which he had kept hidden and ready for this very moment, plunged it into the spirit’s back with all his might. The evil spirit uttered a horrifying shriek, jumped from the bed and ran out the door. Returning to the swamp, the wounded spirit reentered the body of the Obeahman who could now feel the life force draining from his body. The Obeahman knew that there was no hope. No doctor or no hospital could save him, neither could his magic incantations, because his spirit was mortally wounded and as a result the body could not go on living. The Obeahman locked his door, sat in his chair and waited for death.

Some weeks later, a hunter passing by the swamp was struck by a nauseating odor emanating from the shanty. When no one answered his calls, he broke down the door and found the decaying body of the evil priest.

Just as it is in the physical realm, so it is in the spiritual realm. Balance will inevitably be restored. The laws of karma can be as rigid as the laws of physics, and the Obeahman, who had abused his powers, had to bear the responsibility for his actions, for which he paid the ultimate price.

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Caribbean Travel Stories: A Pig Tale

Recently, the people of a small village in Dominica mourned the passing of an old man who was renowned in his younger days for being one of the best hunters on that Caribbean island. He was also the only person in his village to ever have been interviewed for a live radio broadcast, the subject of which was his incredible ordeal of survival.

He was one of the strongest men in the village, and by far the best hunter of wild boars. He would often venture into the most isolated and remote areas of the forest, armed with just a machete and some rope and accompanied only by his pack of expertly-trained hunting dogs. He was known to have single-handedly carried pigs weighing over two hundred pounds through miles of jungle slung over his powerful shoulders.

Early one morning as he was preparing to leave on a hunt he came upon another hunter who warned him of the presence of an especially large and dangerous boar that had been seen high up in one of the valleys of Morne aux Diables. It had already killed one dog and had left clear marks on several trees bearing testament to its height and great size. “Don’t go after this one alone,” he was cautioned, “especially without a gun.”

Taking heed of the warning, he decided to stay away from the higher elevations where the pig had been known to frequent. As had always been his custom, however, he went alone, save for his five dogs, and, as always, without a firearm.  Entering the valley at the base of the looming Morne aux Diables, which in English means Devil’s Mountain, he stayed low, following the course of a river that meandered through the forest.

He had been walking over two hours before his dogs caught the scent of a wild boar. He untied the dogs and watched as they bounded up the steep bluff on the side of the river and into the forest of giant tropical trees. Within minutes he heard an ungodly howling and the anguished yelping of his dogs. He climbed up the bluff to learn the cause of the awful commotion. What he saw made his blood freeze.

Scattered about were the bloody, lifeless bodies of four of his prized animals. The fifth dog, still young and not as well trained as the others, was running toward him, being chased by the biggest boar that he had ever seen in his life. Suddenly, the enraged boar, maddened with blood lust, turned his attention away from the fleeing dog, looked directly into the hunter’s eyes, and as if recognizing that this was the real enemy, lowered his mighty neck and charged. Realizing that it was hopeless to flee and impossible to climb any of the massive trees nearby, the man drew his machete from its sheath and watched as the giant bore down upon him. The hunter lashed out with a powerful blow of his machete, but the pig was too fast. Somehow, without seriously harming the boar, the machete was deflected and sent flying off into the bush. Moments later the boar was upon the defenseless man, slicing at him with its razor-sharp tusks.

The hunter defended himself however he could, punching, grabbing, kicking and praying, but as strong as he was, he was no match at all for the great beast. Just when all hope seemed lost the pig, blind with rage, bolted to the edge of the bluff. Using every ounce of his uncommon strength, the hunter shoved the boar over the brink and man and beast tumbled down the precipice and into the river.

The tide had turned. Pigs are not good swimmers and their short front legs, ideal for rooting about in the ground, are a liability when trying to stay afloat in the water. Now the man regained the advantage in this life and death struggle. The hunter pushed the boar under the water, embracing his enemy in a death grip as it desperately struggled to raise its head above the surface.

The battle ended in less than five minutes and the man emerged victorious. He was alive, but barely so. Three of the fingers on his right hand had been cut off and one foot was mangled so severely that two toes eventually had to be amputated. He had been gored in the face, leaving a jagged scar that was to stay with him for the rest of his life and was bleeding from tusk wounds in his chest, leg and back. Using water from the river to cleanse his wounds and his shredded clothing to slow the loss of blood, he bandaged himself as best he could and began the long walk back to civilization.

He was discovered semi-conscious and delirious just outside his village and taken to the hospital in Roseau, on the other end of the island. On the way he told the story of his ordeal to his rescuers, including the exact location of the drowned boar.

On the third day of his recovery, three hunters from his village visited him in his hospital room. They had brought him something delicious to eat – something to revitalize him and to help heal his wounds – fresh pig meat from the giant boar that he had killed.

True story – courtesy of Robert Louis.

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