I went to Richmond Vale Academy for four nights this year. The dinner was wonderful one night, and the food terrible the rest of the time. The students told me it's a question of their food budget. It's a big issue for them this year. Others years I've been there it didn't seem that important. The rent is cheap $20 a night for a very basic domitory room. You just can't beat that on St Vincent. The location is extraordinary. You are at the end of the road. Virtually nobody lives nearby. You can't order a pizza from the nearby town. The stars at night are incredible. I hiked to Trinity Falls, no longer a tourist site since Hurricaine Tomas. I hiked the Cumberland trail which is down the road and nowhere near Cumberland Bay per se, but absolutely the best rtail that I know so far. I think some of those trees are probably 500 years old. I was tired out by the time I hiked from Spring Village to the Cumberland Trail, but I rested at every park bench the trail provided. I also hiked the Palm Trail which starts from the beach. I met with some farmers and was a little anxious how they would receive me, but one guy recognized me from last year in Petit Bordel. He had called me from the US and had spent two weeks in Canada last year. His daughter wanted to come to Canada and go to a shopping mall. He was doing well, cooking for the laborours who were working for the landowners garden. They all have gardens, property they own, often way up into the hills, often only accessible by foot, beyond any mapped roads. This time there was a road of sorts which led down to town. There are a lot of old roads, not on any map. You can only find them by going there. Richmond Vale Academy is a place I will always spend a week at. It's difficult to get to because it is at the end of the road, but that is why it is so precious to me. I really don't know what they do there. The students talk to me after a few days. They really value their time there although they complain about the food. They work hard there and even though the aren't hungry at breakfast they eat because they will work until noon. Many times there wasn't enough food for anyone late to a meal. They need to increase their food budget. It's as simple as that. They produce some of the finest Passion Fruit Juice St Vincent has to offer. I've heard their Lime Juice is just as good. You don't understand. One dilutes either juice with four parts water and the taste is absolutely exqusite. The snorkelling is a small patch before a very deep and sheer wall. It's kinda of neat to be suspended in space like that, and there is a current around the edge, and there are quite a few fish amongst the sea fans and soft corals before that, but the trouble of bringing fins isn't worth my experience. Next year I won't do that. At Richmond Vale Academy you are at the edge of humanity, the end of the road. Next year I might rent a car because it is a thirty minute walk to the bus stop in Fitz Hughes. A woman this year, A Belgian, a psychiatric nurse, visiting her son at the academy, was raped and robbed on that stretch of highway to Fitz Hughes in broad daylight. That hasn't happened before. Lots of people walk that highway. A lot of very young nubile females walk that highway to the beach in thier bikinis. It is quite a contrast to the locals walking that highway. Some of the people in the hills beyond the highway aren't from St Vincent. They are crimminals from other islands escaping police. A recent raid of the mountains turned up weapons like an AK-47, growers of marijuana protecting their fields. People die up there and their death is never recorded, but most of the growers, this is their kilivehood and only some trade their marijuana for cocaine and guns. It would appear from recent police reports that many have guns to protect their fields, shotguns mostly. That is very sad. There would appear to be no honour amongst thieves in St Vincent. That said I will be there next year for a week this time. I only stayed 4 nights this year. Hopefully they will have increased their food budget. It's a wilderness. There are very few people who live there. The stars at night are incredible. I see animals everywhere I turn there. Some people come for the horses who are basically wild. They were rescued from abuse, and they are quite wild. I've never seen wild horses before. They run around a lot. Richmond Vale has donkeys, goats, sheep, pigs. They all look very happy. Many people don't know that because pigs don't sweat they like cool river valleys. These pigs seemed quite happy rooting in the dirt. I understand that this charity has come under some criticism as a cult. The only complaint I heard was the food budget. Nobody had any complaints about their time there, but some had trouble getting along with the Russian volunteers. The volunteer/students come from all over the world and they are wonderful people. This year was a little different. Their program was a little different. They complained about the food, and I am going to send them a care pakage of chocolate, something they really missed.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Nestled in picturesque beauty our Hiking Centre offers comfortable and basic rooms as a base for hikes to La Soufriere, Trinity Falls, Darkview Falls and many other nearby trails. Scuba Diving in the prestige North Leeward Water. Socialize with international volunteers preparing to do development work in Africa and Ecuador; take advantage of free internet in our assembly hall or join us for meals. Enjoy our horses and other animals. Properly the most affordable accommodation in St. Vincent. US$20 a night. Food is US$5 per meal. Also Scuba Diving in Saint Vincent with us, our price level suit the rest of our Center making the underwater world affordable for backpackers and low budget travellers, US45 per tank. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Richmond Vale Diving & Hiking Centre St. Vincent, St. Vincent And The Grenadines