Impressions of being in Saint Vincent
On Saint Vincent, I was in the place which I had been dreaming about for a long time (without even knowing that it exists). One might wonder why Saint Vincent is so special?
To begin with, the nature there is just breathtaking. No matter where you turn, you are always surrounded by mountains. I have spent 3 months in St. Vincent and I could not get enough of the view. The vegetation is surprisingly rich as well.
The soil is so rich that if you stand on it for a while you will grow taller they say. Also there is a huge variety of fruit there! Before we left, the mango season had started. And when it starts people can survive just on mangoes.
Also, coconuts are a very important part of life in St. Vincent. If you are thirsty they provide you with water, if you are hungry they fulfil you with nutritious coconut meat et cetera.
Secondly, another thing that I loved about the island was the people. Vincentians are very open and friendly, it is hard to describe with words how friendly they are. I really liked to be around the locals: they brought a lot of good vibes.
Vincentians always greet each other! Usually, after “good morning”,“good day”, “good night” followed other sentences or invitations, for example, to give you a lift to town or explaining where you can find the place you were searching for.
One of the brightest memories from St. Vincent is participation in the event as an artist: several times I was asked to do face painting. To be honest, I never did it before. Thus in the beginning I was slow and lacked self-confidence.
But the more I painted the better I became and in the end I was satisfied with the results.
My personal record: 6 hours in a row doing face painting. Imagine me surrounded with bunch of babies and children.
Sometimes you could not even see me! My teammates and others were wondering how I managed to do face painting for so long and still smile afterwards.
The secret behind it is simple: I did not look at this activity as a work or burden. I was actually enjoying it a lot and trying to put myself in every drawing I made. And the biggest reward was huge smiles on the kids (and also adults) faces!
Furthermore, Vincentians are very connected and caring: they look straight into your eyes, wave at you and show interest in your cultural background while sharing their history and habits.
I bet I will get a reverse culture shock when I go back home…
Last but not the least is the music. Cheerful music was everywhere we went and it seemed that most of the people felt comfortable singing. One of my favorite things was taking a van to Kingstown (the capital city of the island) while listening to the Caribbean music: usually extremely loud and with a clear beat (very danceable).
Thus, I would call St. Vincent a friendly island by all means. However, when it comes to things which shocked me the most, it was the amount of trash on the beaches.
They were full of rusty metal pieces, plastic, shoes, glass and many more different types of trash, and children were playing around with bare feet.
I have to say that Caribbean houses were wonderful to my eyes but the piles of trash around them did not add value.
To take a deeper look at this problem, I would say that it is partly the result of long-term colonization.
During those years plastics and chemical fertilizers were introduced to the island without mentioning the dangers related to those products or showing how to deal with them later.
At that time the local people had their own culture that went hand in hand with nature, but unfortunately this was destroyed by external forces.
I have learnt many practical things on the island, for instance, how to open a coconut with bare hands, prepare granola and make a cement platform.
Besides those practical things, I realized how important is to aim high but at the same time stay open and flexible.
This was very important while making a school garden.
Also, during projects my patience was tested.
Why? Because time flows differently in the Caribbean and people deal with things in their own ways. For this reason, it was very important to get to know people, their habits and discuss how to solve this problem all together.
To sum up, my stay on the island opened up new horizons and challenged me in many ways. The island will always have a special place in my heart. One day I would like to come back to ‘Vincy’!