A New Airport for St Vincent
Written by Kathy Martin

Come March 2012, airlines will be touching down on a spanking new runway in a brand new tourism hot spot – Argyle International Airport. No longer will long haul visitors have to endure tedious delays waiting in transit to complete the last half hour of their journey to St Vincent & the Grenadines, often without their luggage. Even better, we will be able to send our fresh
flowers and exotic fruit throughout the world and they will arrive within a day, in tip top condition. It will be VIP treatment all the way. Twixt a backdrop of majestic mountains and a rugged shore renowned as a lovers’ hideaway on moonlit nights, planes of all sizes, right up to jumbo jets, will be able to land on the 2.75km strip literally carved through some of the most scenic terrain of the West Indies. Passengers will have an arrival experience out of this
world as they are guided through the newest terminal in the Caribbean, built with the expertise of the finest aeronautical engineers around. It’s a coalition of the willing with Taiwan, Iran, Austria, Libya, Trinidad and Tobago all chipping in to help SVG to fly. But let us begin at the very beginning. As soon as the Government had decided to position the airport right on the Atlantic coast at Argyle they set to work to cut a bypass diverting the Windward Highway around the site. Some 3.5km of new road opened up a swathe of farmland for development. One of the
features along this road, saved from the demolition squad by a mere squeak, is the Escape Sugar Mill ruin. It is scheduled for redevelopment as a Heritage Park; a good place to cool off when waiting for arriving guests. The Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Lourdes is also being relocated along this road. Strangely the occupants of the graveyard were the first to move into the newly consecrated premises. Surveys completed and lands acquired, some 134 former Argyle householders trouped off to build, if not quite castles in the air, some very nice new homes elsewhere. Piscine residents of the Yambou River however won’t be disturbed. A purpose built
‘ladder’ in the culvert under the runway will help the little tri-tri fish climb upstream to lay their eggs as usual and make sure Vincies have their local delicacy, tri-tri cakes. Our friends in Venezuela sent in big, yellow, earthmoving machines which were paraded in convoy with
great festivity from port to ‘soon to be’ airport. The scene was set. On Wednesday 13th August, 2008, the birthday of benefactor Fidel Castro, Cuban operators mounted the bulldozers and the leveling process began under the direction of Leonardo Perez who built the Grenadian Airport at
Point Salines. Local counterparts joined in to form the Chatoyer- Che contingent. The hills were laid low thanks to some 125,650m³ of dynamite in the first year alone. As the ravines were filled up an even slope started to emerge in the first two kilometers. A de facto earth
shattering experience to witness. Meanwhile, ahead of the heavy equipment, rescue work is being undertaken by the National Trust to locate little nuggets of our industrial past. Sugar and
arrowroot processing machinery is being transferred to archaeology museums at Orange Hill and Escape. Information retrieval from the prehistoric period also continued apace as digs revealed
evidence of an Amerindian long house probably 2000 years old and round houses half that age together with a central plaza, causeway, refuse middens and burial sites. In fact there were so many jumbies (spirits) taking off the people had to hold a special exorcism one Sunday evening. In another spot a village belonging to ancestors of our Garifuna/ Kalinago people is gradually being unearthed from the dust of some five centuries. The last hidden Caribbean destination is opening up – welcome to St. Vincent & the Grenadines!

Categories: St. Vincent

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