Well folks it’s official, David recently graduated from SCUBA school and is now a Dive Master! This is a wonderful accomplishment for someone who has been dreaming of SCUBA diving since he was a teenager in South Africa. Many thanks to JP at LUMBADIVE in Tyrell Bay, Carriacou who guided David through the course. It was an opportunity that allowed David to dive on a variety of Wrecks and reefs surrounding Carriacou, visit the outer islands between Carriacou and Grenada – Isle de Ronde, dive with Dominic Serafini ( underwater illustrator on Cousteau’s Calypso) and Catherine Salisbury of DreamWrecks.com and teach and guide new divers to the area. With Amanzi having its very own Dive Master on board, we’ll be able to really explore the underwater world of the Caribbean, together.
With David finishing his course, we are now turning our attention to making our way north. We had been thinking it would be great to stay in the Caribbean maybe one more year, but we’ve made the decision to return home to Toronto and plan for another adventure in a few years. This will give us time to save the money we’ll need and make new plans for projects. So, it’s northbound for Amanzi and crew. First stop after leaving Grenada was the next island chain and country, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. We had missed all of the Grenadines on our way south, so we promised ourselves we would spend time there on our way home.
The Grenadines are a group of islands south of the main island of St Vincent. The islands are Bequia, Mustique, Canouan, Mayreau, Tobago Cays and Union Island. Union Island and its main community is Clifton. It is a community full of local colour and it was a welcome site. Fruit and Vegetable stands surround the local community square so, this was an unexpected treat. The Tobago Cays are essentially several small islands behind a large ring of reefs. Its crystal clear aqua water and white sand beaches are very popular with locals and visitors alike. Because of the reefs, boats are protected from the swell and waves coming all the way from Africa. When we arrived in the Cays, we were excited about snorkeling or maybe SCUBA diving in the area. But after snorkeling in several areas, we were shocked and saddened to discover that with the pounding of the waves and recent hurricanes, the reefs are badly damaged and little coral is alive. There are some reef fish but not what we thought would be present. The main attraction in the Cays for us was getting a close look at a number of regular residents – Hawksbill Turtles. They love the grassy spots inside the reef and each morning they could be seen feeding to their hearts content. As Tobago Cays has been recently declared a Marine Park, it’s reassuring to know that the Hawksbill Turtle population will be carefully monitored and protected.
Mayreau Primary Government School
Following our visit to the Cays, we sailed to the small island of Mayreau with a population of 400. We were told that it’s only been over the last 3 or 4 years that the island has had electricity. People are incredibly friendly and love to have a chat with you. I enquired about the local school and made a point of returning to the school a few days later. I arrived at the school during the recess break. Mrs. Annie Adams, the senior teacher, welcomed me into the spartan classroom. With only 38 children in the school and next to no Government support, Mrs. Adams, painted a bleak picture for her school. The lack of support from their own Government made teaching very challenging, to say the least. However, she made a point of telling me that anything they did have in the school was donated by visitors to the island. In her class of 12 grade 4-5-6 students, I did not see any books but few supplies, 4 posters and a world map on the wall, a chalkboard, 4 desks with 3 students to a desk and a teacher’s table.
Mrs Adams told about the choices families and students have for education when they complete Grade 6 in Mayreau or Canouan. The children can attend secondary school in the nearby island of Union or they can go further north to St. Vincent. Wherever they go, the families must pay for school fees, books, uniforms, food and lodging, and transportation. It is incredibly expensive for the families and they have few options. As I listened to Mrs. Adams and looked around the room, I couldn’t help but think about my own classroom in Toronto. Our children are very fortunate and our Government values education. Before I left the class, I showed the children the route we had traveled to get to their country and island. I talked about Canada, shared a local story, The Nutmeg Princess
by Grenadian author, Richardo Keens- Douglas and left 2 books about Canada and small Canada flag pins for all the children. From the smiles on their faces, I knew the children were very happy with their gifts, as I was with mine. As I said to Mrs. Adams, lending a helping hand would go a long way for this school and community. I hope I can do more when I return home. If any of you are interested in helping this little school, you can address your gifts to Mrs. Annie Adams c/o Mayreau Government School, Mayreau Island, Southern Grenadines, St.Vincent, W.I. I know they would be welcomed.