Sunday, July 13, 2008

Day 11 (Tuesday)

The entire island of Carriacou was very quiet on election day. The music had stopped; the speeches were done; there were no more campaign messages being broadcast from loudspeakers attached to roaming vehicles. Many of the local businesses were closed or had shortened their hours to accommodate the voters. It was strange in a way, as we had gotten accustomed to hearing so much about the election during the previous ten days we had been on the island.

The morning temperatures promised another hot day. There was a gentle breeze to help keep everyone cool. The weather for our holiday was so much better than it was for our last visit to Carriacou, when it was much more windy and rainy. That is part of the crap-shoot of visiting the Caribbean in mid-summer. It is the end of the dry season and the start of the rainy season. You just don’t know for certain which of the seasons you will experience during the time that you are there. We do know that we prefer the low-season when there are fewer tourists. The more peaceful setting in the islands is worth the potential risk of experiencing less favorable weather.

Since this was the day before we were scheduled to leave, we had already planned to spend some time gathering our belongings, sorting through it all, and packing our bags for the trip back to the States. However, we were still on holiday, so we made certain that we spent some time playing in the water and visiting friends. Godfrey Calliste and his son Adrian stopped by. The brought with them a new broadband modem from Cable & Wireless for installation at the villa. Between the three of us, we had the modem and all of the phones connected and working in short order. It’s somewhat amazing to be on a small island in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, surfing the web at 100 Mbps.

Godfrey and Adrian proudly showed us their ink stained fingers. As part of the voting process, each person had to dip the tip of a finger into a well of ink to ‘mark them’ as having had voted and to avoid any malicious attempts to vote more than once. Many of the local residents we saw that day were quite proud to display the ink stain and the fact that they had voted. The word in the villages was that voter turn-out was very strong, and everyone was anxious to hear the results.

With most of our bags packed, the family got cleaned-up and traveled to Tyrrel Bay for an early evening visit with Mike and Nan Hatch on their boat, the Cynara. Mike and Nan invited us to join them for beverages and snacks. It was a perfect evening to be on Tyrrel Bay as the wind was very light, the sky had only a few clouds and temperatures were quite comfortable. While Anthony threw treats to the seagulls, Courtney enjoyed the view from the fore deck and the adults lounged in the cabin. Mike and Nan have a lifetime of experience sailing the Windward Islands. With family in Trinidad and Barbados, and their villa on Carriacou, they have sailed the passages between these locations dozens of times. As you might suspect, such experience has given them many interesting stories of their adventures. Nan is also quite the amateur poet, and we all enjoyed hearing her recite some of her favorite pieces. It was a wonderful evening spent with some of our best friends.

Our evening was unexpectedly disrupted with the sound of fireworks and possibly gunshots (which was alarming since firearms are illegal in Grenada). Initially, we were not certain what the occasion was, and then we recalled that it was election day! Marine radio traffic soon confirmed that the election’s preliminary results were beginning to come in, and at least some of the people felt confident enough to celebrate the news. There were reports of fireworks and gunshots from several locations around Carriacou and Petite Martinique.

Once we said our goodbyes to Mike and Nan, we departed the Cynara and returned to the villa. We turned on the radio to learn more about the election results. About that time, more fireworks could be heard and a parade of vehicles sounding their horns made their way about the island. The NDC had won the majority of seats and the party’s supporters could be heard chanting “Yellow! Yellow! Yellow!”, signifying the official color of the NDC campaign. Fortunately, the NNP supporters were gracious in their loss and we did not hear any reports of violence or trouble on Carriacou.

As the election day came to a close, the island again grew quiet and we enjoyed the last night of our holiday by viewing a clear and beautiful starlit sky. The children spotted the Southern Cross, Big Dipper and Northern Star amongst other constellations in the sky. We will certainly miss having such a sight overhead once we return to the States.