Day 23: Trouble in Paradise

23.01.09:

Another early riser and onto the ferry ‘Barracuda’ up to St. Vincent, the big daddy of the Grenadines. It’s where they filmed most of Pirates of the Caribbean around here and it looks bloody marvellous. But no time for sightseeing – I’ve got to get to Barbados!

So I met with Kim from the Paradise Beach Hotel in Villa. Lorna Brookes had got in touch with her and had let her know I was interested in getting a speedboat over to Barbados. Now you have to understand that my budget for travelling around THE WHOLE OF THE AMERICAS was about £1500, max – that was based on sleeping on buses, only eating street food and cadging free rides around the Caribbean.

I was steeling myself to be told that it was going to cost me £500 to get to Barbados in a speedboat. I was going to put it on a credit card and forget about it until the end of this impossible mission. But no…a speedboat to Barbados (90 miles away) would cost me US$7000!

I nearly fell off my chair. I could buy my own ship for that! Yeah, but who’s gonna fly it kid? You? You bet I could. I’m not such a bad pilot. We don’t have to listen to this…

Maybe when I get to Barbados, it will have been destroyed by the Death Star and I can knock it off my list of places to visit. But maybe not.

I managed to get a much better price (just $3000!) but it’s not going to happen. The next cargo boat doesn’t leave until Monday and I’m trying to get a space on it. Until then, I’m stuck. Stuck stuck stuck stuck stuck.

Like Guybrush Threepwood on Monkey Island. In fact, I’m finding it quite difficult to get the Monkey Island tune out of my head right now. Oh look – a three-headed monkey.

So, I’ve got a weekend to explore St. Vincent. I’m massively behind schedule already, and this is just adding insult to injury. But why am I complaining? I’ll tell you why.

The Caribbean is WEIRD. Seriously weird. It’s like some hellish literal version of heaven – you’re in paradise but everyone else died old and they just want to play dominos and go to bed early. Which, if you really thought about it, is what heaven would actually be like. For a good few billion, trillion years. I’ve been here five days and I’m more than ready to leave, thank you very much.

I’m running about every night trying to find some life that exists after 7pm. But it doesn’t – the bars are empty, the restaurants are dead and the nightlife consists of a couple of street dogs running around in circles biting each other.

I was talking to the owner of the (utterly empty) Clifton Beach Hotel on Union Island. He blamed the credit crunch, but I suspect it has more to do with how IMPOSSIBLE it is to get around these islands independently. The cruise ships seem to have it all stitched up – visit island during the day, sleep on big, metal, floaty, fruit machine at night.

All they need is a cheap ferry that plies up and down the islands from Miami to Venezuela to take shoe-string backpackin’ stragglers like me from one island to another. And maybe cheap hammock-based accommodation on the islands.

Lovely cheap hammocks.

It may not bring in as much money as the hoards of visor-wearing, nearly-deads stepping off the cruise ships and buying porcelain figurines (or whatever it is they spend their money on) but by god it would inject some LIFE into this place. Yes, that’s right, I’m saying the Caribbean is boring. Sorry, but there it is. There is NOBODY here my age, I haven’t met a single independent traveller and the locals are even more bored than I am.

I’m going to try to prove myself wrong over the coming week, but until then, keep going to South East Asia instead my fellow travelling mooks, it’s much more fun.

Mmm… Thailand, Vietnam, Laos… come to me my pretty ones.

Graham Hughes

Graham Hughes is a British adventurer, presenter, filmmaker and author. He is the only person to have travelled to every country in the world without flying. From 2014 to 2017 he lived off-grid on a private island that he won in a game show, before returning to the UK to campaign for a better future for the generations to come.

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