Wednesday, January 04, 2006


(I started to write about volenteering and my times i have spent doing it but it turned out alot longer, more serious and different than expected...lots of pretty pictures though. I didn't take them all.)

I spent May 2005 on the island of Carriacou, Grenada, West Indies. As it happens to me every few years I bugger off to parts unknown for a few weeks on my own.

The month I spent on the island was a amazing experience to put it lightly. I spent my time at KIDO, night patroling beaches for nesting Leatherback Turtles. Measuring, tagging, and hiding nests from poachers. I was the only slavevolunteer there until two days before I left. It was great, had the whole place to myself. The kitchen and bunk beds were all in one big open airy room. It was on a hill overlooking theCaribbean. I would eat watching the sea. I did end up staying on the catameran about half the time.

Dario and Marina was wonderful. A free spirited Italian couple in the mid 50's who had sailed from England 15 years ago, with the full intention of going to Asia. Instead the stopped and built KIDO on their own. A total inspiration and so full of energy I could barely keep up.

The amount of opposition they faced and still face would have made me say "screw you" and pack up years ago. Dario had a Ultra Light that he flew around the island just to have a look. The cops came and told them never to fly it again. He said that some people still think he is from the CIA sent to spy on their drug/goods smuggling operations.
They have endured years of subtle and not so subtle resistance from many quarters- poachers, politians and locals. Though saying that they do have supporter’s aswell, some nay sayers have even switched sides.

This was taken the season before i was there, the kids found the Hawkesbill hatchlings and alerted KIDO. I love this photo alot

Apart from the turtle conservation they are very active with the community- helping set up a Young Mothers Skills program, boat safety and emergency response programs. In September 2004 Hurricane Ivan (first in 50 years) hit that area, destroying and damaging 90% of the buildings, the response was pretty much everyone for themselves. I told him about being a volunteer in the SES (I love the chainsaws), and he took ideas from the website on how to form a management plan for disasters.

Leatherbacks- biggest in the world. You try wrestling one out of the water at 3am for tagging...

The island has 5000 people, mostly of African slave descent. It is hilly and lush, with small towns scattered through out. The town of Windward was settled by Scottish boat builders, (sure beats working at Thurso) so I saw lighter skin there than the other towns, which I found interesting considering the size of the place.
It’s not a poor community on the whole, everyone has mobiles, good clothes, and the weirdest bit was the new cars. The whole island has about 20 km of road, some paved, some dirt and some washed out barely negotiable goat track. The best one I saw was a shiny gold BMW hatchback. You could reach 40 km max maybe, downhill, over a cliff. Lots of wooden hand built sharp-nosed speed boats that can go fast. Dario pointed out the smugglers boats and cautioned never to get to close.

Mama doing her job. I took this one, enough torch light for my feeble camera

As beautiful as it is I could never live there, just like I don't think I could ever live in any small isolated community. tHis is part of the reason.
Dario lent me a book to read. I can't remember the name or author but it was about a small island off France. A woman who left for Paris with her mother returns after she dies to reconcile with her father. The bigger town that was favored by the tides, currents and tourists vs. the small windy, rocky town vs. themselves. It was good but it made me go
"Stop, stop, STOP your petty squabbling, useless point scoring, anger for forgotten reasons and destructive jealously. Who cares what Their Shaun said about Our Martha overheard by Our Nan 20 years ago. Start living your lives instead of being so caught up in half remembered slights'

It makes me still want to shake them.

Soo cute. Hawkesbill hatchling

I was only their for a month so I’m only getting this from a couple of people I’m not a expert. I couldn't wrap my head around the mentality then and I still can't.
"Just come backs"- folk who had gotten educated and worked in the States for a while then returned are a cause for jealously.
A British couple with a young child got their boat swept onto rocks in a storm. Only one Rasta man helped them save their stuff, everyone else watched cause they had no stake in it.
The old language Patois is dying out because old peoples never taught it to the youngsters, they guarded it so nobody could understand what they were saying.
It’s not all bad either; there are great people and doing their best. I guess some communities can turn inward and stagnate without anyone noticing.

Me holding Red Legged Tortise baby- born the day i left.

Dario is an idealist and a bit of a philosopher. He would wax lyrical about human nature and why people were like they were. If only everyone was nice to each other the world would be great, but with bigger words and a Italian accent.
I'm more of a straight talker and am no good with the lofty words and esoteric concepts. My basic response usually was "Cause people are stoopid".

Windward boat

He said he could never live in a big city again (he was a professional classical musician who toured throughout Europe and was a bit famous), so disconnected from your neighbors, community etc, and was a bit sad for me and my plight.
My response was something like this

" Good, I like it that way. My friends and family are my community and my support system. Why should I pretend to care what my neighbors are doing? I don't want to walk into the Butchers and have everyone stop and give me the LOOK for some real or imagined transgression. I don't want people who I barely know judging me. I have enough people who know me doing that already.
My business is my own. Why should the whole place know we had a blazing row and Rob kicked me out (not true) or he came home with lipstick on his Dalek t-shirt (not true) or haven't done the washing up in a week and theres a cockroach the size of my head guarding the garbage bin (err... not true).
If I want people to know i'll let them know if its important. I'll ring up Tops and tell him to bring the ballista over cause that roach has gotta go.. I don't want my life like in that book or here on the island...'

He could see my point which was nice. I can see where he is was coming from but I like my way. Mmm not sure where to end this so how about here...