But we were only heading up here for a day. Considering how small St Vincent is, I was amazed how long it took to drive up this leeward highway. Yes the road twisted and turned and had a few patches where the potholes impeded your progress, but also the detail of the countryside demanded it be examined. Each little valley, beach and headland had character, and the human footprint was a lively tapestry of smallholder life, easy liming and bustling commerce all rolled together. I knew by this stage I would not reach the top end of the island, to Richmond and the Wallilabou River where the road gave out. It had been an ambition – as it would be as close as you could get to Fancy – the most northerly point on St Vincent, which I had reached once before but only by driving up the Windward Highway. It seemed amazing that the only way to drive from Richmond to Fancy, barely five miles apart, would be to head down to Kingstown and back up the other side – over 50 miles.
But we were not out to break any records, just have a nice day out, and our late lunch time spot was to be one of the most bizarre locations in the whole of the Caribbean – Wallilabou Bay. We passed through more settlements, the largest being Barrouallie. I tried not to hark back to work that day but I did notice the new estates of modest houses being built on a hillside on the approaches to the town. This was similar to Bequia, where old plantation land was being subdivided, but in this case the government were building the houses and renting them out. Partly an effort to regularise the development of the island, but also to help put life back in to the smaller towns at the northern end of the island and take pressure off Kingstown and its suburbs.