Tag Archive: Caribbean


The 2017 hurricane season is far from over, but already several Caribbean islands have had their future jeopardized by intense hurricanes in the space of a few days. Even the common man on the street, who is not schooled in meteorological information, will easily admit that this year has seen troubling, deadly unprecedented hurricanes.

And it continues.

We in St Vincent and the Grenadines had just held a concentrated series of response efforts to help Vincentians and other citizens in the BVI who were crippled by hurricane Irma. Physical donations were placed on an 1800 ton barge for the BVI. But before the vessel could have reached its destination, up pops hurricane Maria, forcing a speedy return to the safe waters of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Now, even though this post focuses on the Caribbean, it is important to state that hurricanes Irma and Harvey (its predecessor) also brutally assaulted Texas, Louisiana and Florida, causing billions of dollars in accumulated damages. This acknowledgment is necessary so that a balanced perspective of the overall issue is not lost or trivialized in any way.

Of course, the Caribbean people are no strangers to hurricanes and tropical storms. But any blind man can see, as they say, that the frequency and intensity of the 2017 hurricanes have been abnormally shocking. There have been some hurricane seasons in the past when there were few–or no–hurricanes. And even when there was a hurricane or two, they were usually geographically spaced out and occurred far in time from each other.

But it looks like hurricanes no longer respect the Caribbean islands.

Right now, the BVI, Barbuda, the UVI, Puerto Rico and Dominica are all reeling from the effects of category five (major) hurricanes. In my living memory, we have never had multiple islands in need of regional and international help all at once.

The barge I mentioned earlier has left for a second time to deliver relief supplies to anxious relatives and friends in the BVI. Simultaneously, we are raising other relief resources to help Dominica.

My heart aches painfully for Dominica. They have suffered a double whammy!

On August 27, 2015, tropical storm Erika left at least thirty persons dead in Dominica with communities such as Petite Savannah all but buried under massive mudslides from torrential rains.

Two years later, on Monday September 18, 2017, hurricane Maria, packing category 5 winds of over 160 mph, took direct aim at Dominica and steered its small eye from the southern end to the top of the island with  surgical precision.

As I saw the satellite imagery I could not believe it.  The eye, flanked by the brunt of its most destructive winds, literally followed the contours and shape of the island to a T. It was as if hurricane Maria was a car in some child’s video game, and Dominica was its roadway.

Early in the storm, Dominica’s prime minister alerted Facebook followers that his own house roof had gone and that he was at “the complete mercy” of hurricane Maria. Around 2 AM on the morning of September 19th he told the regional and international community that his island and people will need all the help they can get because Dominica had “lost all that money can buy or replace”.

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Hurricane Maria, just before it made landfall on Dominica with 160 mph winds

I also recognize a highly skilled friend in Dominica who tragically lost his house in 2015 when Erika brought down tons of mudslides on their house, burying his mom and dad instantly, while trapping his feet in the rocks. His dad’s body was never found.

Now an orphan, he and his surviving siblings (all young adults) have had to face the nightmare of Maria a mere two years later.  This is a tragedy that one will not even desire for one’s enemies!

Can you imagine what it must feel like to be trying to rebuild your life after one tragic storm, only to be knocked down again by another disaster in such a short space of time?

As you can imagine, hurricane Maria completely knocked out all means of communication with Dominica, so there has been no word of that family’s fate; however, I trust that they did survive, and they are not numbered in the seven or so fatalities which I have heard about so far in Dominica.

At the time of this post, hurricane Maria is pounding the Dominican Republic and other nearby territories as it barrels northwards now. Meanwhile, radar images are showing non stop tropical activity in the eastern Atlantic ocean.

It is clear that we are not out of the woods as yet.

The speed with which Maria and Irma reached category 5 status has left everyone astounded. Some have even questioned whether or not somebody somewhere has found a way to manipulate weather systems. A plot which would make for a great James Bond film, no doubt.

Nonetheless, meteorologists are citing that the increasingly hot temperatures in the Atlantic Ocean is giving hurricanes a boost. There also seems to be little shear or high pressure systems which usually make it difficult for hurricanes in the tropics to develop into monsters.

After seeing the unbelievable way in which the eye of hurricane Maria navigated the island of Dominica, it has dawned on me that another  such major category five hurricane can do another impossible thing in the Caribbean. That is, it can very well happen in the future that a hurricane, moving in a WNW direction, can pummel the Eastern Caribbean archipelago in one horrific slow-moving and deadly day.

Or night.

I also realize that most–if not all–of the times when a hurricane makes landfall, seems to be in the dark of night, as if the hurricanes know they must also generate panic, fear, and blindness to terrified citizens trapped beneath their destructive clutches of floods, wind and rain.

And even if one hurricane does not do this, it is also quite possible that several hurricanes can strike different islands in the same hurricane season. Or, each year might have one or two  islands being disrupted again and again by natural disasters. And, like Dominica and the Virgin Islands, it might very well be that the same islands will be affected year after year.

The question is, therefore, how much rebuilding can small, generally helpless Caribbean islands sustain in an intensifying hurricane zone. I actually heard a citizen on Puerto Rico asking a television reporter this very question, because Puerto Rico had been affected by hurricane Irma just days before hurricane Maria knocked out all electricity on the island.

Incidentally, hurricane Irma had earlier made the water supply on Puerto Rico a scarce, scarce commodity.

Facing future hurricanes is now a matter of individual islands and regional security. It is not just something the Caribbean can entrust to each territory’s office of disaster management. Indeed, the head of the BVI’s disaster management acknowledged that their headquarters and equipment which they took over forty years to acquire, were all destroyed by hurricane Irma.

Caribbean citizens, from child to adult, must become immediately sensitized to environmental responsibilities and acts of protection and conservation. Studies in regional climate change impact is a must. The construction industry must galvanize support for creating structures that are more resistant to high winds and flooding.  Additionally, each island (and the entire region) now needs not just a hurricane management or response plan, but general disaster coping and survival protocols.

Let me also say that we must begin to look closely at hurricane shelters. I do not think that every building that is owned or operated by government should automatically become a hurricane shelter. The same is true with churches. There are instances where existing hurricane shelters are also suffering similar damages and loss as the home from which many persons run away in the fist place.

Every local community also needs a disaster response and management group with persons trained and equipped to deal with some basic aftermath issues, such as medical and counseling. Every family should have access to hurricane shutters and knowledge of the kind of foods which can last without electricity, for about 4 days.

Let us not forget that the Caribbean is in an active earthquake zone. Many Caribbean islands have dormant and active volcanoes which each has the capacity to decimate the island it is on.

Right now Mexico is counting its dead from a major earthquake which hit even as hurricane Maria was beating up on the Caribbean. Who is to tell if in the future a hurricane and/or volcanic eruption will be affecting one or several small islands simultaneously in the Caribbean?

There has to now be a paradigm shift in leadership, education, corporate and civil collaboration, as well as a new thrust and partnership with the international community. Such a shift must go beyond individual islands’ politics. Now more than ever, Caricom and the OECS must have faith in each other and their abilities, otherwise I am afraid the fate of the Caribbean will be one of literal ruin and destruction. Presently, no human being is living on the island of Barbuda after hurricane Irma. Our human civilization in the Caribbean can be easily placed at risk of extinction by the onslaught of intensifying hurricanes in the Caribbean in future hurricane seasons.

 

 

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Not too long ago, news broke here in St Vincent and the Grenadines of the historically shocking hacking of our government’s website by the Islamic State of Iraqi and Syria (I.S.I.S.) military group. Anyone with access or interest in world affairs over the last  year will definitely have heard of the proliferation of horrendous and wantonly inhumane geographical conquests of ISIS in the Middle East. They started as a  little known, barely visible group of militants who were taking away towns and cities from the shaky democratic government in Iraqi. When they began to increase their borders and inch ever closer to Iraqi’s capital city of Baghdad, the international media and stake holders in peace in the Middle East began to take note.

global ISIS

Perhaps if ISIS was just capturing cities and governing them in some semblance of reasonable human control things would not be so bad; however, here is a group that not only overthrows democratically elected governments but also tortures, enslaves, dismembers and kills multitudes of ordinary citizens in the process. They especially terrorize and literally destroy minority groups such as Christians living among the populations which they now govern. Many villages and neighbourhoods in ISIS strongholds have become prime examples of ghost towns brandishing public signs of ISIS ownership and quarantine.

While ISIS has been wielding its deadly fist in the MIddle East, its next of kin, Boko Haram, has turned many villages in Nigeria, Africa,  into the citizens worst nightmares. Maybe the one act of  Boko Haram which is most renown is  its nocturnal kidnapping of approximately two hundred teenage girls from a boarding school. That happened well over a year ago now. In the months that followed this tragedy, several of the girls managed to escape from the forested areas where they were being held captives. It must also be pointed out that all the girls were students at a Christian school. So they were specifically targeted.

Boko Haram’s leader public bragged in subsequent speeches how the girls were converted to Islam and married off to their soldiers. While the world was up in arms over the girls’ capture, the Nigerian government admitted that they had located the girls but lacked the military man power to rescue them. In a sad twist of development, several Nigerian soldiers had to be cour marshalled for their refusal to follow orders and fight against Boko Haram on the grounds that the Boko Haram soldiers were of the same tribe as they were.

Eventually about half of the girls were rescued and the media reported that almost all of them were either pregnant of were expectant mothers.

Through all of this, Boko Haram continues to blow up building and people while kidnapping more women and children across regions of Africa.

But let’s return now to the Caribbean. One may wonder what any of these developments across the Atlantic has to do with us here in the Caribbean. But after the alleged hacking of our government’s website by ISIS I began to wonder the what ifs. It’s almost certain that groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram are always looking for new territories and populations where they can  spread their violent fingers of death, deprivation, incarceration and destruction. Does ISIS or Boko Haram have covert plans to unexpectedly invade one or more of the Caribbean islands.

Maybe terrorists, too, are looking for the perfect getaway destination to set up a new camp. Hmmm.

The Caribbean History shows that in times past an innocent people who occupied these quietly serene lands, were violently ousted and killed by another set of visitors in the form of the war-like Caribs. Yes, we have all the technological tracking and warning systems but how tangible a support will that be in the event of a dead-of-night crossing o the ocean and visit by ISIS or Boko Haram?

Indeed, for years we in the Caribbean have enjoyed the peaceful exemption from the international troubles of many parts of the world. But this does not mean that we should still hold a reactionary policy. I think this is one case in point when we will do well to take heed and see how we can help protect our islands’ security. And Boko Haram’s visit need not be a sudden one-time event. Are our government’s immigration resources keeping astute checks of who may be entering our islands, their past travel history or connections to terrorist groups and terrorist safe-zones?

In the 21st century the onus is on us to actively defend and protect our rights and freedoms as individuals and as a people.

SVG Netball Champs 2012

St Vincent and the Grenadines defeated last year’s champions to become the 2012 Regional Netball Champions. The nail-biting finals happened in Grenada last Thursday.

Of course it is always an ecstatic feeling to hear of my country performing well in regional and international competitive events. There is still much work to do in promoting an awareness of the geographical location, cultural identity and economic potential of my small multi-island territory of St Vincent and the Grenadines nested in the Eastern Caribbean.

 

Watch this video to learn more about St Vincent and the Grenadines

 

So obviously I extend vociferous congratulations to this young squad of netballers who have etched another indelible mark into the history books. Over the years St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) has often produced exceptional ladies at the top of their netball performance.

The local netball association has to be commended as well. I would suggest a redoubling of efforts in teaching the young children this game which has traditionally brought recognition to us as Vincentians. I remember that netball was just as visible on the playing field as soccer or cricket when I was in primary school.

Such must be the continued thrust: the school curriculum, directly or indirectly, must expose with much excitement the rewards and pleasures of playing netball. Not only must netball be given priority at the primary level of schooling but probably even more importantly netball must be stridently pushed also at the secondary school level. Sports is a great open door for many at risk juveniles and otherwise under-performing youths.

This game has the potential to give many a Vincentian girl the motivation and self discipline they need to claim a purpose for their lives. By playing netball they can be influenced to set personal goals which would delay unplanned pregnancies and set a proper foundation for their future.

This 2012 regional victory by our young netball squad is a time for us in St Vincent and the Grenadines to reshape the national focus on the role of netball in the lives of our younger generation.

Iran: An Apocalyptic Countdown

The Islamic Republic of Iran has been headlining the halls of international fearful relations for decades now. The USA acting as the unitary world police of global peace balancing has been unable to halt Iran in its determination to be a thorn in the flesh of the global community.

I remember when I first became cognizant of Iran as a not too friendly a nation; it was when I heard news reports that Iran wanted to remove Israel off the world map. That I thought was inhumanely heartless. Should the policy makers in Iran step into hell they probably would neutralize the heat due to the ice box cold heart they possess.

Several months ago I was breathing a sigh of relief when I saw that the Iranian presidential elections was likely to have a winner other than the incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. My hope was short lived when the Iranian supreme leader intervened and declared Ahmadinejad the winner.

The Iranian president has put a face to the Iranian’s anti western ambitions and is doing a tremendous job of it unfortunately. They have continued to enrich uranium in their quest to create nuclear energy. That is tantamount to creating nuclear weapons. Of course, the Iranian’s official take on it is that the rest of the civilized world has no need to worry about Iran using its nuclear capabilities to create world war three.

They would have to forgive me as I find that hard to believe. Off the record i am certain that Mr Ahmadinejad and the Iranian dark knights would admit they can’t give up an opportunity to have nuclear energy to fuel their infrastructural services and not fulfil their dream of removing Israel. Maybe it is that the nuclear energy they speak of is to diffuse Israel.

The UN has been trying for years as well to get its inspectors on the ground in Tehran to see first hand what exactly Iran is doing where nuclear activities are concerned. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) seems likely to have clearance to visit in the up coming weeks.

Is that going to be another run in the maze visit?

The sanctions and blockade on Iran by the United Nations have been a slippery knot around Iran’s dogmatic neck. That knot has been tightened over the last few weeks as President Obama was able to collude with his American allies and extend the UN sanctions against Iran.

Now even though America used its resources to rescue some Iranians from pirates at sea, the response from Iran was that act was a mere humanitarian gesture and does not change the pending wild west showdown between the two nations. How do the Iranian populace feel about their government I wonder.

Two other recent developments concerning Iran is worth mentioning in this post. The first is that it seems as the sanctions realities begin squeezing the life blood in Iran, president Ahmadinejad has flown to my neck of the woods actually. He is currently in Latin America. His first visit was to his Venezuela’s counterpart, Hugo Chavez.

Of course the rest of the world is paying close attention to everything these two presidents do. Both have made audacious statements at the UN during past presentations to the Assembly. But what is the nature of Iran’s relationship with countries in Latin America?

The world of politics would dictate that leaders are always negotiating something. In fact, politicians only have friends so long as their interests are being advanced through such associations. Sad to say, pragmatically speaking, there is a whole lot more that the mighty USA could be tangibly doing for countries in the Caribbean and the Latin American geographic spread. Is it that Iran, following the lead of Cuba, will step in to be a Don and godfather to this often neglected part of the world?

Make no mistake about it, the Caribbean and Latin America are struggling with some basic socio-economic problems and threats that they will welcome help in solving. That’s politics I guess. However, many regional leaders would want at least to give the US the benefit of the doubt.

The second incident has to do with another January assassination of an Iranian scientist directly connected to Iran’s nuclear thrust. The USA has categorically denied involvement; however, Israel, who is usually co-blamed by Iran for such attacks, has indicated that they would not be shedding any tears over the assassination. Can you blame Israel?

It seems to me that the patient diplomatic efforts of the Obama administration is not even scratching the  force shield of Iran. It seems likely that yet another US administration is sliding into history with Iran still shaking its boxing glove at any new challengers who dare to step into the ring.

The rhetoric of Islam and Iran’s own cold statements over time definitely signal that with its acquisition of nuclear energy and capabilities it would be akin to a chess player manoeuvring his opponent who must then shamefully crown the successful intruder.

Iran is not going to retire from the world scene. The more it gets the more it wants. It is bent on proving that it can survive amidst all imposed sanctions. Iran is prepared long ago to be the world’s pariah. Iranians need to follow their Islamic brothers in Libya, Egypt and Syria and initiate their own people’s revolution. Better must come. What quiet diplomacy has been unable to achieve, some old fashion people power will shake the regime and bring full transparency of Iranian domestic policies and agenda.

If not, the world will not live to regret it.

 

Most of us in the western world have a very easy time expressing our religious views and practices. However, the oil-rich African nation of Nigeria is becoming the battle ground for one of the world’s critical modern day contest for religious supremacy.

Christianity, which is quite common in the Caribbean is under violent attacks from Muslims. over five hundred Christians have been killed during the past year in Nigeria. The country is geographically split between the Muslims, who occupy the north, and the Christians who are more populous in southern Nigeria.

On Christmas Day alone, scores of Christians were killed when a car bomb was detonated near a church during services.

The group of Islamists carrying out these deadly acts of violence against their Christian countrymen call themselves a name meaning “Western Education Is Evil”. Their aim is clear: to make all of Nigeria one nation of Islam. in other words, no other faith or religious sect must be allowed to flourish in Nigeria.

The Christians in Nigeria have commented that they will take actions to protect themselves. It means that Nigeria is most likely about to face off with a religious war that can shatter its international image and world tourism prospects. Of course, the economic fall out given its status as an oil producing giant, is not going to comfort or stabilize investors wallets and confidence in Nigeria.

The government has been ridiculed and criticized for being unable to take corrective action to stem the killings of Christians by the Islamist group the government calls Boko Haram. Its beloved president, Goodluck Jonathan, is facing the defining challenge of his presidency. His critics are insisting that he is incompetent and incapable of dealing with the Muslim group carrying out the attacks.

The western world has to be wary of the jihad focus of the Islamic world. While Christians as well would endeavour to see all the world united under the umbrella of Christ, they would not be blowing other religious sects to eternity in order to realize their earthly goal.

This is a time when Christians from other nations must meet in prayer and offer united spiritual support to their siblings in Nigeria. After all, when one sees his neighbour’s house on fire one must wet his own house down.

Outline map of St Vincent and the Grenadines

Of all the islands in the Caribbean, St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) ranks in the top for its marine and landscape beauty, the friendliness and peaceful stability of its villages and towns and its non polluted environment. But my country is also one of the least known islands on the international scene.

And maybe that has its advantages in that being less popular means that a pristine and naturally happy environment may be longer lasting; nonetheless, we all like to know that we can travel abroad and be comforted that others have heard about the country of our birth. That is why when a friend of mine notified me of a news story in the international media which was promoting St. Vincent and the Grenadines I quickly investigated for myself.

Chris Hall is the author of the travel article  and I commend him for his simplicity  and apt descriptors that makes it easy for the audience to have a striking image in their mind’s eye of SVG.

I end by quoting a part of Mr Hall’s article. I highly recommend that you follow the link at the bottom of this post to read the article in its entirety.

“…when I arrive on St Vincent, I realise I have tumbled into exactly the Caribbean I was expecting.This is the Caribbean of the imagination, an archipelago of 32 islands – St Vincent and the Grenadines, to give it its full, grand name – scattered luxuriously across the eastern edge of the Caribbean Sea. From St Vincent, the largest, in the north, they trail south, towards Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago, and eventually, South America – a ribbon of land in the blue of the ocean.”

via Caribbean holidays: St Vincent and the Grenadines are a slice of paradise | Mail Online.

This summer has seen a lot of violence being perpetrated in many western societies. Many of these acts of terrorizing crimes have been done by the young generations.You will recall I posted about the London riots, the growth of flash mobs and the curfew imposed in Philadelphia to keep minors off the streets.Recently, the government of Trinidad and Tobago also imposed some curfew hours on the island to contain gang war fare and related crimes. In a most unusual development, here is  what a young female Trinidadian teenager had to say about the curfew and her leader. While the language is graphic, it shows the reality of our young generation’s connection and appreciation of the societies and institutions that are there to safeguard the public’s interest. When this upcoming generation gets to be in charge later on what changes in our social fabric are we likely to see as a result?

Vodpod videos no longer available.

The University of Georgia recently released information that showed a direct link between the dumping of human sewage into the ocean and the destruction of coral in the marine world. I guess that it is the established practice of countries to make the ocean the final resting place of the stool defecated from the human world.

The statistics must be staggering when you think of the  many tons of wastes deposited by each island in the archipelago. So when you add it all up, the ocean must be reeling from the sheer stench and impact of the toxic refuse

It has been said that the sea cleanses itself and that it never becomes full; however, when the Caribbean and North America first started flushing their wastes to the ocean it is almost certain that people were eating much healthier foods and were generally dying of natural causes.

Now, with the proliferation of chemicals and genetically modified food being ingested in record timing, the wastes from such a people must also surely reflect their dietary complications which can be often deadly. We must find a healthier and environmentally friendly way of ridding ourselves of our bodily solid waste.

Some time ago there were two occasions when scores of dead fish were washing up on the shores across the Lesser Antilles. To this day, no conclusive reason has been put forward as to the exact cause of such mysteriously frightening events.

Over time the cumulative effects of the dumped sewage in our blue waters must have some spill off effects. The ocean is a world by itself and everything there is part of a perfectly harmonious environment. When we put our faeces into that mix the balance is sure to change. Do you realize that all the wastes from patients, whatever their health status, warded at general hospitals and public institutions are dumped in the Caribbean Sea?

human waste threatens scenes like this

 So the next time you are enjoying a nicely done fish sandwich or fish lunch, remember that not too long ago your food was probably swimming in the waters polluted by the stool of the folks who were in the hospital a while back but are six feet under now. I wonder what was the last thing that fish consumed before taking the fisherman’s bait.

I guess there is no parent who finds it easy to relinquish their protective hold on their growing children, particularly the girl children. It is nature that from the onset of puberty and the activation of hormonal changes, the child now enters a world of some experiences that at first may be scary or unwelcomed. I am certain if you quiz a sample of the ladies you know about their reactions to their  first menstrual cycle, or “period,” you will almost certainly get at least one tale of a very frightened little girl who was scared to death because she believed she was about to die from bleeding.

And that female baptism into puberty has propelled many a parent to say to their baby girl, “You can’t play with boys anymore now.” The confused child is left wondering why.

But in some parts of Africa, the motherland of us Blacks here in the Caribbean, parents have found an easier way to safeguard their young adolescent girls against an unplanned or unwanted pregnancy.

As soon as the girl begins to develop physically into the  coca-cola shaped adult, she will begin to have a daily dose of breast ironing.

Older readers may recall  rural life before electricity and the electric iron. Do you remember having to keep the  “iron” in the coalpot until it was red-hot?  Two alternating irons would be used to maintain the required heat at all times during the ironing process.

Well, for these girls in Africa, it was not school uniforms or church clothes that are being pressed; it is their precious growing breasts. (Their parents  really do not want the girls shaking what God gave them.)

The idea behind the ironing of the breasts is that the repeating exposure to the intense heat would slow the growth of the breasts; therefore, if the breasts do not become protruding or give rise to cleavidge, then the boys and young men will find the girls less sexually attractive and will not pursue any relationships with them.

You will have to determine if the ends justifies the means.

There are also documented situations among tribal groups in Africa where, instead of ironing the breasts at puberty’s inception, an older male relative of the girl will have sex with her and make her pregnant,  thereby averting any future relationships with the boys in the village.

Again, you decide if the ends justifies the means.

So, most of us are in the Caribbean because our foreparents came across the Atlantic as slaves. Who knows, if not for slavery, maybe you would have been in Africa right now under a hot iron, having your breasts ironed.

Slavery actually has some good in it, right?

On the other hand, the annual statistics released from the statistical department continues to show that teenage girls in this country continue to give over 300 births. That is a staggering realization. Each year, over 300 of our age 13-16 girls are getting pregnant.

And if you can get pregnant then you can also get a sexually transmitted infection like AIDS.

In 2000, the St Vincent and the Grenadines Family Planning Association conducted a research called Save the Nation’s Face in which they found out that by age 13, one of every four (25%)  Vincentians was already having sex; by age 18, three of every four (75%) Vincentians were having sex.

In light of the just mentioned figures, will our society benefit if we start the practice of ironing the breasts of our young girls here in St Vincent and the Grenadines?

The above stats  will mean that only 25% or one-quarter of the Vincentian population at the legal adult age are virgins. But that was almost twenty years ago. There has been a proliferation of condoms, even for women today, so one might probably be safe to assume that the percentage of Vincentian virgins has decreased since the early 2000s.

So, was a former Vincentian prime minister right when he said that Jesus could not have been born in St Vincent because there are no virgins on the island?

Hmmm…..let us think critically on these things.

For years Vincentians have had only one air carrier to transport them in and out of St Vincent and the Grenadines. While it is true that other regional islands have their share of limited air access, the market is beginning to open. But not quick enough.

I am not a very frequent traveller but on every occasion I have had to use the service of LIAT there has always been something that made the flight less than enjoyable. At age  seven, the very first time I set foot on an aeroplane, I had to camp out at Piarco International. Years later, I have had to endure other misadventures with our national airline.

I recall trying to depart SVG a couple of years ago when I turned up excitedly to board a flight. It was a Friday and I was thrilled to be given time off and was looking forward to flying free as a bird when one of the immigration oifficers asked me (now this is like 6am), “Are you sure you want to go in as yet?” When I enquired it turned out that the pilots were on strike.

I felt the gods were against me. I mean, here am I, a spasmodic flyer, and the pilots chose my day to strike! What are the odds?

To make a long story short, instead of leaving SV on Friday first flight, I never left until 1 pm on Saturday!

Within more recent times,  after arriving in the land of the flying fish for my scheduled appointment at the US embassy, lo and behold, no luggage. LIAT workers on the ground there were –you guessed it–on strike. And you know that was the only hitch in an otherwise royal travel experience?

On another occasion our Vincentian contingent was waiting for our flight at St Georges. From looking at the itinerary of flights posted, I realized that our particular flight was not listed at all. All other passengers were taken by their on-time flights and soon we alone occupied the departure lounge.

Upon making inquiries after our departure time had long past, the officials told us that they had no information about our flight! About 20 minutes later they used the PA to tell us that the flight was delayed. Just that. It was delayed.

But my greatest adventure with LIAT has been what was supposed to be a one day visit to the Bamboo in TNT. I was so naively confident in my airline that I walked with no luggage whatsoever. I mean after all,  Im confirmed on the last flight in, right?

Several hours later, the Vincy contingent realized we were not hearing anything. We waited. Other passengers were departing. We waited. The departure area was dwindling in its population. We waited. But what is this at all?

Then a sigh of relief. Guess what? A PA is made for all Vincentians to report to the announcer’s booth. There we were told that our flight turned back in mid-air due to technical issues.

It was then I saw what that old commercial was trying to say with its catch phrase: “Don’t let hunger happen to you.”

Eventually we are taken to a hotel. It was like after 11pm, after checking in about 530 pm. Early the next morning I’m up. Took a shower, and took off my expensive gold ring as a precaution, and in my haste to get to the airport at 4 am I forgot all about the ring.

Fasten your seatbelts for the next part. I recall feeling pleased to be the first on board this larger LIAT craft that had the name St Vincent and the Grenadines etched along its side. It was 530 am. Fine weather. Happy on-board conversations.

At take off the female captain announced that we will take passengers in Grenada in about half hour. After about 40 minutes we started to wonder what about Grenada. The captain soon announced that the Grenada stop had been cancelled.

Better yet we thought. We will get to SVG faster. I recall seeing the lovely cotton candy clouds and looking at Union Island.

Then came the captain’s voice. We had to go back to Grenada.

Again, I saw the effects of hunger and delayed home-coming.

Now, we were told we’d be staying on the ground in Grenada for just 10 minutes. We touched down there at exactly 6:50 am. When we took off it was 7:30 am.

I never heard so many bad words and expletives aboard an aircraft. Even the flight attendant and captain were visibly and orally upset.

When we did land at ET Joshua, almost every Vincentian echoed the sentiments that they will never ride LIAT again.

I felt that way, too, but what choice did we have?

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