Eduardo settled in to his long term visits in the islands and got established in the house. I next visited him for a set of general training sessions that we had organised. By this time he was well into the routine and we had been keeping in touch regularly by Skype or email. We had long conversations where I had to try and keep his morale up. As with many of these projects you are often forging ahead alone and trying to persuade your clients to come along with you for the ride. Staff changes, off island conferences, multi tasking all did not help to get them to focus on what you were trying to achieve. And when you are out on a job alone it can often make your energy sap, especially in the early stages of a project when the finishing line seems so, so far away. But when I reached the island for the second visit, he was fairly cheerful and the clients were all appreciative of the progress that had been made.
He had settled in to his apartment too. It was small with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, a small galley kitchen and a central lounge. Most of the rooms were along one long strip of building, as the back was against the hillside. The windows were all out front and opened out on to a long veranda. Eduardo had set up a couple of chairs on one side and this was where he spent most of his time in the evenings, working, skyping his girlfriend or listening to music. From the veranda a few steps went down on to a sloping concrete surface that would normally have been the parking lot, but since Eduardo did not have a vehicle on island, this was an open space, and meant that from the veranda we had a clear view out over Kingstown city centre, the bay beyond and in the distance, the northern most Grenadine Islands. Although many houses had a view over this bay – the theatre style of the valley sides within which Kingstown sat dictated that many got a full view of the stage – I felt especially privileged. I do like views which are dynamic. It is all very well to have a sea view but if it only changes every day, I need only glance at it once to see what is going on. When a view is in a city you have all the motions of the thousands of people to observe. From this spot you could see several of the schools dotted around the city, and sports grounds where cricketers, baseball players, basketball players, footballers at one time or another would play. Many of the houses below us were nestled in amongst their own small holdings so were hidden away behind palm trees, bananas, or fruit trees of various types; mangoes, breadfruit, sugar apples or plums.
And further down the hill we had a could see the roofs of the city centre. The detail was lost on us – only the spires of the Catholic Cathedral and the plain white tower of the Anglican Cathedral dominated the back of the town, and through the jumble of roofs and television aerials I could just make out the tall pink government building where we were working. But a small ridge with houses on it obscured most of that view. We got a much clearer view off to the south east. We could not see the quayside itself, but the headland that protected it from the swells of Bequia Channel was a prominent part of our vista. And we could see beyond and watch the parade of small ferries that came from Bequia itself, or less frequently from the other islands further south. And on a number of occasions cruise ships of various shapes and sizes would glide into view in the morning and later drift off into the night.
If you went out in the garden you could see up the hill too and realise despite our apparently lofty position there were row upon row of house plots going right up the mountain behind us. I walked up those roads a couple of times. Again the expanding housing stock a visible sign of the stress on land this small country.
Eduardo and I spent several evenings…. and breakfasts and weekends, out on the porch working away or chatting. Eduardo was keen to cook for me and we hardly ate out that second trip. He was still settling into the apartment and it was Spartan in its furnishings – a couple of chairs, small table and sideboard. By the time I returned for the third and final trip about eight months later, he was treating it like a second home and the furniture was much more extensive. In the interim he had spent three to four times there of about six weeks each helping out with various phases of the project, including the time consuming case studies we had specked out. He knew which minibuses to use; had a driver that could take him further afield. He knew which supermarkets to get all the best bargains, and where to find a nice bottle of wine (normally he would try and bring it in as the selection was not great in Kingstown).