Continuing my need to post about photographs taken decades ago on long-forgotten film cameras, today I am posting the last pictures from the before-kids vacation Bhavna, and I took to St. Vincent & The Grenadines. I wrote about my trip to Bequia to spend some time with my grandmother and the nature hike we took out to Trinity Falls when staying on the mainland at the Bank House with Dad. But I still have a few pictures from our drive along the Leeward Highway to Trinity Falls.
Most of the roads in St. Vincent are narrow one-lane roads that wind around the outer rim of the mountain ridge from the southern coast of the mainland up to the La Soufrière volcano on the northern end. One such road is the Leeward Highway. Using the word highway to describe this road is a stretch of the modern North American understanding of the word. However, according to Wikipedia, the word highway can be used for any major roadway. The British definition is a legal term to describe "...any route or path with a public right of access, including footpaths etc.". So the Leeward Highway is a major public road along the east coast of the mainland. Got it?
The roadway was so narrow that at one point, the driver asked us to exit the minivan and stand back while he navigated past another vehicle. The tyres of the back of the minivan were on the very edge of the left side of the road. One mistake and a 200-foot drop awaited the vehicle and its driver.
And for those who don’t know the word leeward, it's a nautical term to describe the side of a ship facing the direction toward which the wind is blowing and the side opposite the windward. In the Caribbean Sea, leeward is west, and windward is east. Got it?
While the highway is narrow and bumpy, the drive offers spectacular cliff top views, hidden bays, flora and fauna. We drove through Barrouallie, a small village established by French settlers in 1719 and the first European colony on St. Vincent. We also went through the town of Walliabou. Wallilabou Anchorage was one of many locations in St. Vincent and the Grenadines where Disney Studio filmed the movie ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’.
The nature trail is to the north of Chateubelair, a large fishing village with archaeological significant rock carvings believed to have been left by Kalinago, the native inhabitants of the islands. Near the foot of the La Soufrière volcano, the nature trail is accessible from the Leeward Highway. Some of the previous trails had eroded and caved in.
Apologies for the quality of these photographs. When we took this vacation, APS film was being pushed by Kodak as the future of film photography. I was ignorant and bought into the hype. I purchased an APS film camera and several rolls of APS film, which was the worst camera to bring on a vacation. The quality of APS film was inferior to the 35mm film format it was intended to replace. 35mm film is still made and sold, but APS (along with Kodak) was relegated to the dustbin of history.
NOTE: Last year, after I bought a scanner to digitise my 35mm film negatives and old prints, I discovered a box full of developed Fujicolor Nexia Smart APS ISO 200 canisters. I was excited when I found a roll containing images from the last time I visited the land of my birth. I quickly sent off the rolls to be scanned by ScanSafe in their Noritsu Koki EZ scanner. I apologise for the quality of the images. I was technologically ignorant of photography then and bought into the hype behind APS (compact and easy) without understanding the downsides (low quality, expensive). The APS canister was in poor condition in my basement and didn't age well. I was also an inexperienced photographer, and whatever point-n-shoot thingy I put these rolls through was probably cheap. Here are the images and as much as I can remember about our trip.
Decades ago, in August 1998, Bhavna were in Antigua for my younger brother’s wedding. A few days after the wedding, we hopped on a charter flight to visit St. Vincent to visit Dad and then to Bequia to visit my grandmother. Bhavna had her first chance to experience the islands where I was born and raised.
Dad was still working as a Kingstown branch manager for Barclays Bank, PLC. Bhavna and I stayed with Dad and Mom at the bunkhouse. Barclays always provided housing for senior staff. My parents had rented out the family home on Dorsetshire Hill. We took a few days to explore St. Vincent, but I was excited to get to Bequia. Bhavna had heard so much about this magical island that was lost in time, and I wanted her to meet Mom’s mother, whom I affectionately called “Mama”.
My cousin, Cashena "Suzie" Wallace and her husband, Elvis Gooding, operate Admiralty Transport Company Ltd, one of two ferry services between St. Vincent and Bequia. Around 9 AM, we took the ferry leaving from Kingstown Harbour. Bequia and St.Vincent's are about nine miles apart; depending on the weather, it takes about one hour from port to port.
Admiralty Bay is on the sheltered west side of Bequia and is known locally in Bequia as "de Harbour". The horseshoe bay offers good protection from the weather for visiting yachts & local ferries, which run between the Grenadine islands regularly. The capital village of Port Elizabeth is tucked safely in the heart of Admiralty Bay, with a selection of shops clustered along the front street.
As we arrived at the dock at Port Elizabeth, memories of summers long past flooded my mind. The noise level in the ferry increased with the chatter of passengers readying their belongings for departure. Mom's cousin, Emmanuel Corea, who runs a taxi service around Bequia, greeted us at the dock. In Bequia, a taxi is any vehicle that can seat six or more passengers, typically a Kei sized van or minibus imported from Japan. These vans tend to be smaller than the vans in the USA. In between fares, most taxi drivers sit while cooling under "The Almond Tree" near the dock in Port Elizabeth.
After a 20-minute drive, we arrived at my grandmother's home on the hill near Friendship Bay. Friendship Bay is located on the south side of Bequia with a horseshoe of fine white sand. It is suitable for snorkelling, diving and sailing. The gentle trade winds swept over me. It was great to be home.
I spent most of that week hanging out with my grandmother. Bhavna and I took vigorous hikes to the ancestral home near the mid-section of Monkey Hill. I followed my grandmother around as she tended to her chickens and goats. It was like old times. It's always windy at the top of the hill.
I'm not sure if it was the next day or later that week, but two of Mom's cousins had spent several hours crossing the Caribbean Sea in a speed boat from Grenada (or maybe it was Carriacou) to dive for lobster near Petit Nevis. Carriacou is 60 kilometres (37 miles) from Bequia. I think my ass would be in pain. The next day, Mom's cousins took us to Petit Nevis, a private island my Mom and her family own.
Bhavna enjoyed the cool breezes of the Trade Winds while we hiked around Petit Nevis island. I showed Bhavna where the whalers pulled ashore captured whales for slaughter. She didn't like learning about this part of her family history. I explained that all the family whalers had retired and were focused on nature conservation efforts.
Mom's cousins were successful with their lobster dive, and later that night, I dined on fresh lobster meat while Mom's cousins regaled us with tales of their recent adventures.
Later that week, we visited my great uncle, Athneal Ollivierre (my grandfather's brother), at his home, a part of which is a whaling museum. When I was a lad, Athneal was the most heralded of the Yankee-style whalers in Bequia. He died several years ago, and though my family is no longer involved in whaling, the other whalers have continued the tradition.
Sometime during the week, Bhavna and I visited Spring. Spring Bay is on the Eastern side of the island. It is the quieter and more remote Atlantic side of Bequia, where you will find a few rental villas, former sugar plantations and nothing else apart from the spectacular scenery.
When I was a child living a the Bequia bank house (atop the bank), Mom’s brother, Uncle Errol, would go out crabbing near the northern end of Bequia in an area known as Spring Bay. Spring Bay is on the Eastern side of the island. This is the quieter and more remote Atlantic side of Bequia, where one will find former sugar plantations and palm tree-lined scenery. My mom would wake me up just before dusk, make sure I had some breakfast (bakes and saltfish), and get me up into the rear of my uncle’s Land Rover, the back already filled with other people and kids. We would spend the morning chasing crabs in the mangrove at Spring Bay, stuffing them into large "coco sacks" made of coconut coir. Later in the morning, after we returned to the bank house, Mom would spend the morning cooking up crab. I enjoyed those moments, stuffing my face with delicious crab meat.
Kiran changed her mind about attending the first sophoremore semester on-campus, so we quickly made other plans for what was supposed to be the move-in day.
Despite months of planning by students and Oberlin College, at the last moment, our daughter Kiran decided not to attend on-campus classes for the fall semester. The last bit of paperwork with the college did it. She had to fill out a form with her plans in case she fell ill to "COVID-19". She realised that Oberlin, OH is an 8-hour car ride from home, and if she was infected and we had to bring her home, we could not quarantine her inside our car. She did not want to risk infecting us. The news reports about infections breaking out in colleges and universities were probably another push. After a last-minute scramble of phone calls and emails on Tuesday afternoon, since I already had the day off, Bhavna and I quickly made other plans for Wednesday, the day we were supposed to travel to Ohio.
Bhavna and I left home around 8 AM and drove down the shore to Seven Mile Island in Avalon, a borough in Cape May. We arrived at the Avalon Community Hall around 10:30 AM and bought two beach passes. We found a spot near the pier to set up our beach chairs, table and umbrellas and sat down to start our "doing nothing" day.
I brought my Fujifilm X-T2 and XF27mmF2.8 lens, and a vintage camera kit, my Minolta X-700 35mm film camera loaded with a roll of Kodak Gold 200. I captured a few test shots on the Fuji X-T2. I was not too fond of the results from the colour recipe I usually use. It just felt too warm and contrasty. The sky was mostly clear with a few clouds, and the scene was brightly lit.
Kodak Porta came to mind because I had a roll of Kodak Portra 160 in my bag. Fortunately, Ritchie Roesch has two film simulation recipes for Kodak Portra. Because of the abundant sunlight, I chose his Kodak Portra 160 Film Simulation recipe. It took seconds to look up his recipe and configure my Fuji X-T2.
Between long stretches of doing nothing, just sitting and staring at the sand, surf and passers-by, I captured beach scenes on my Fuji X-T2 and Minolta X-700. It was fun. I love the sound of the shutter of the Minolta X-700. I shot in aperture priority mode.
Around 1:30 PM, Bhavna and I packed our beach gear and ate lunch at Sandbar Village, an outdoor restaurant. Of course, I ordered a Maine lobster roll and a beer. We regretted not doing anything like this before and why we hadn't visited Avalon and Seven Mile Island.
After lunch, we returned to our previous location on the beach for more sitting around and doing nothing.
I quickly completed the 24-exposure roll of Kodak Gold 200 and then loaded a 36-exposure roll of Kodak Portra 160 colour film. Bhavna wanted to walk the beach. I quickly completed the roll of Kodak Portra 160. We returned to our seats and sat down for another stint of "doing nothing". I loaded a roll of Kodak Ektachrome 100 slide film.
Then Bhavna wanted to walk the beach in the other direction. Surprisingly, I finished that roll of Kodak Ektachrome 100 as well. Bhavna was bemused that I had so much fun taking photographs on an almost 40-year-old film camera. I was surprised as well. Of course, my excitement could turn to disappointment once the film is developed, and I download the scans from the Darkroom.
Around 5 PM, after we had our fill of "doing nothing," we packed up and went home. We enjoyed our day of "doing nothing".