Front Cover
 Half Title
 Title Page
 Table of Contents
 The foreground of the picture
 The background of the picture
 Yourself in the picture
 Back Cover

Group Title: Sydney Clark travel book
Title: All the best in the Caribbean
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00078414/00001
 Material Information
Title: All the best in the Caribbean
Series Title: A Sydney Clark travel book
Physical Description: vii, 251 p. : illus., maps (on lining-papers) ; 21 cm.
Language: English
Creator: Clark, Sydney, 1890-1975
Publisher: Dodd, Mead
Place of Publication: New York
Publication Date: 1948
Subject: Description and travel -- Caribbean Area   ( lcsh )
Description and travel -- West Indies   ( lcsh )
Genre: non-fiction   ( marcgt )
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00078414
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.
Resource Identifier: aleph - 000682730
oclc - 25268740
notis - ADM3701

Table of Contents
    Front Cover
        Front Cover 1
        Front Cover 2
    Half Title
        Page i
        Page ii
    Title Page
        Page iii
        Page iv
    Table of Contents
        Page v
        Page vi
        Page vii
        Page viii
    The foreground of the picture
        Page 1
        Page 2
        1. Messages from the map
            Page 3
            Page 4
            Page 5
            Page 6
            Page 7
            Page 8
            Page 9
            Page 10
            Page 11
            Page 12
            Page 13
            Page 14
        2. Wings to warmth in the age of air
            Page 15
            Page 16
            Page 17
            Page 18
            Page 19
            Page 20
            Page 21
            Page 22
            Page 23
            Page 24
            Page 25
        3. Seaways for the leisurely
            Page 26
            Page 27
            Page 28
            Page 29
        4. Foreground information
            Page 30
            Page 31
            Page 32
            Page 33
            Page 34
            Page 35
            Page 36
            Page 37
            Page 38
            Page 39
            Page 40
            Page 41
            Page 42
            Page 43
            Page 44
            Page 45
        5. Travel money and exchange
            Page 46
            Page 47
            Page 48
            Page 49
            Page 50
            Page 51
        6. That crucial matter of hotels
            Page 52
            Page 53
            Page 54
            Page 55
            Page 56
            Page 56a
            Page 56b
            Page 56c
            Page 56d
            Page 56e
            Page 56f
            Page 56g
            Page 56h
            Page 57
            Page 58
            Page 59
            Page 60
            Page 61
            Page 62
            Page 63
            Page 64
            Page 65
            Page 66
            Page 67
            Page 68
            Page 69
        7. Caribbean informants, printed and oral
            Page 70
            Page 71
            Page 72
            Page 73
            Page 74
            Page 75
            Page 76
    The background of the picture
        Page 77
        Page 78
        8. The march of the centuries
            Page 79
            Page 80
            Page 81
            Page 82
            Page 83
            Page 84
            Page 85
            Page 86
            Page 87
        9. Colors from the palette of the past
            Page 88
            Page 89
            Page 90
            Page 91
            Page 92
            Page 93
            Page 94
            Page 95
            Page 96
            Page 97
            Page 98
            Page 99
            Page 100
            Page 101
            Page 102
            Page 103
            Page 104
            Page 105
            Page 106
            Page 107
            Page 108
            Page 109
            Page 110
            Page 111
            Page 112
    Yourself in the picture
        Page 113
        Page 114
        10. Cuba on the way
            Page 115
            Page 116
            Page 117
            Page 118
            Page 119
            Page 120
        11. Jamaica is "paradise center"
            Page 121
            Page 122
            Page 123
            Page 124
            Page 125
            Page 126
            Page 127
            Page 128
            Page 129
            Page 130
            Page 131
            Page 132
            Page 133
            Page 134
        12. Haiti holidays, unique in travel
            Page 135
            Page 136
            Page 137
            Page 138
            Page 139
            Page 140
            Page 141
            Page 142
            Page 143
            Page 144
            Page 145
            Page 146
            Page 147
            Page 148
            Page 149
            Page 150
            Page 151
            Page 152
            Page 153
            Page 154
            Page 155
        13. The Dominican Republic, where Columbus rests
            Page 156
            Page 157
            Page 158
            Page 159
            Page 160
            Page 161
            Page 162
            Page 163
            Page 164
            Page 165
            Page 166
        14. Puerto Rico and the three virgins
            Page 167
            Page 168
            Page 169
            Page 170
            Page 171
            Page 172
            Page 173
            Page 174
            Page 175
            Page 176
            Page 177
            Page 178
            Page 179
            Page 180
            Page 181
        15. Antillean crescent to Trinidad
            Page 182
            Page 183
            Page 184
            Page 185
            Page 186
            Page 187
            Page 188
            Page 189
            Page 190
            Page 191
            Page 192
            Page 193
            Page 194
            Page 195
        16. Venezuela on the Spanish main
            Page 196
            Page 197
            Page 198
            Page 199
            Page 200
            Page 201
            Page 202
            Page 203
            Page 204
            Page 205
            Page 206
            Page 207
            Page 208
            Page 209
            Page 210
            Page 211
            Page 212
            Page 213
            Page 214
        17. Curacao, a Dutch treat
            Page 215
            Page 216
            Page 217
            Page 218
            Page 219
        18. Colombia's capital and coast
            Page 220
            Page 221
            Page 222
            Page 223
            Page 224
            Page 225
            Page 226
            Page 227
            Page 228
            Page 229
            Page 230
            Page 231
            Page 232
            Page 233
            Page 234
            Page 235
            Page 236
        19. Memories have wings
            Page 237
            Page 238
            Page 239
            Page 240
            Page 241
            Page 242
            Page 243
            Page 244
            Page 245
            Page 246
            Page 247
            Page 248
            Page 249
            Page 250
            Page 251
    Back Cover
        Back Cover 1
        Back Cover 2
Full Text

All the Best in the




All the Best

in the


With Illustrations and '~Maps










Second Printing


Illustrations follow page 56

Around the Caribbean Dial
A Quiz on Definitions
(Caribbean Sea; West Indies; Greater and Lesser
Antilles; Hispaniola; Leeward and Windward
Islands; Spanish Main)
A Roster of Sovereignties
The Twelve-Stop Circuit of This Book
Rugged Independence Versus Coupon Travel
Hours Replace Days
The Caribbean Week or Weekend
The Pan American Network
Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM)
Linea Aeropostal Venezolana
British West Indian Airways
Eastern to Puerto Rico
Advancing TACA
Jamaica Air Transport
Caribbean Atlantic Airlines
Other Planes and Plans

Services on Schedule
Cruises and Cruise Life
The New CTDA
Passport Formalities Greatly Simplified

A Hundred-Dollar Warning
Seasons, Weathers and Clothes
Some Things to Know
About Food and Drink and Health
About Luggage Through the Air
About Air Mail
About Tips and Service Charges
About Worry and How to Enjoy It


A Plan for the Sea of Babel
And the Spanish Main
A Caribbean Masterpiece
Supplementary Sources


A Note on Havana
Surprises of Unknown Cuba
Kingston and the Pirate Port
Montego Bay and the North Coast
The Caymans for Turtle Steaks
Port-au-Prince, Capital of Contrast
Things to See and Things to Buy

Christophe and the Christophe Country
To the Citadel, Pinnacle of Power
A New Capital with Old Treasures
The Columbus Lighthouse, A Cross in the Future
San Juan, Rising from the Sea
Superscenery and Ponce
The Three American Virgins
The Steppingstones in Sequence
Trinidad, Tobago, Barbados, Trio of Tourism
Road to Caracas
Metropolis of Little Venice
Bolivar of Caracas; from Cradle to Pantheon
Capital Fun
Motoring to Maracay
Barranquilla, Crossroads of the Air
Bogotd, Metropolis Aloft
Cities of Surprise in New Colombia
Cartagena's Calendar of Conflict
Caribbean Climax




Around the Caribbean Dial

No geographical dial on the maps of all the world catches the
eye of travel more quickly and insistently than that of the Carib-
bean. Like so many modern watch faces it is elliptical rather than
round and one must admit that the design is bold to the borders
of the bizarre, but we would not change a single feature of it.
Who wants conventionality below the Tropic of Cancer? No one
does, as some pretentious hotels early learned when they tried to
make tuxedos de rigueur for men's dinner apparel. The Caribbean
keeps its collar loosened whatever the gods of convention may
The endpaper maps of this book were drawn by the author's
daughter, to include just what the text includes. Central Amer-
ica and Yucatan are outlined, since they form the dial's western
geographical rim, but they are discussed in another book of this
series, All the Best in Central America, and are not considered
here. Our present dial is Cuba to Cuba, clockwise via the Greater
and Lesser Antilles and the Spanish Main, but Cuba itself is
sketched in very lightly, since that island republic is also covered
in a separate book, All the Best in Cuba.
The center of the Caribbean Sea and of our figurative clock
face may be fixed at that point where the seventy-fifth parallel
of longitude and the fifteenth parallel of latitude intersect. All of
it is below the Tropic of Cancer and above the line of the Ori-
noco, continued west to the Pacific. Only Bogota, Colombia's
lofty capital, is perhaps an intruder, since it is as far south as the


fifth degree of latitude. Travelwise, however, it is a logical link
in the chain of Caribbean halts, since it is very easily and quickly
reached by air from Colombia's coastal cities. And historically it
is essential to the most cursory visit to the Spanish Main. Bogoti
was the bleak and goldless goal, El Dorado, of three early and
gullible explorers. Despite their disappointment a community
grew up on that lofty plateau and became one of South Amer-
ica's greatest cultural centers.
The variety of the Caribbean is unsurpassed and probably un-
approached by a region of similar size anywhere in the world. It
is the great melting pot-to shift metaphors as nimbly as possible
-not only of races, languages and customs, which could be said
equally of Hawaii, for example, but also of present sovereignties.
England, France and Holland still have morsels in the melting
pot. So, of course, has the United States. So did Denmark until
she sold out her interests to us in 1917. Yet there are five inde-
pendent states (not counting Central American lands) and these
include Haiti, the only French-language nation in the western
hemisphere. (The case of French-speaking Canada is not com-
parable.) The languages are those of Babel itself, including many
from India and the East, which here meets the West without
hindrance from Kipling, and including also such exotic items as
Papiamento and Creole, which surely were not heard around the
A brilliant book by German Arciniegas calls the Caribbean the
"Sea of the New World" but it is almost the Sea of the Whole
World, in ethnology and cultural ingredients. All of the stocks
and ingredients are dished up from the melting pot with infinite
savor and spice and in these new days since the war they may be
enjoyed almost everywhere in settings of comfort and even
luxury. The glamor of these settings, their range of colors, based
on themes of crinkled blue, and the perfections of the winter
climate become now mere axioms of travel. But there is one more
axiom, of which the first-timer may be unaware. The winter in-
sectlessness of the holiday haunts is one of the Caribbean's more


practical glories. You need not share your moonlight with mos-
A Quiz on Definitions
(Caribbean Sea; West Indies; Greater and Lesser Antilles; Hispaniola;
Leeward and Windward Islands; Spanish Main)
The Caribbean Sea took its name from the Carib Indians, whose
original habitat is still a matter of speculation. At the time of
Columbus' discoveries they inhabited chiefly the smaller islands
which form a crescent southeast of Puerto Rico, the larger
islands, including Cuba, being chiefly inhabited by Arawaks.
Spanish lust and ruthlessness erased the gentle Arawaks from the
face of the earth but the Caribs put up a much stouter fight and
were often tough customers. Their aboriginal habits are suggested
in the etymology of the word cannibal, which is a Spanish corrup-
tion of their very name, but this was a contemptuous word of a
hostile race and may cast a needless slur upon the Indians. A sub-
stantial number of pure-blooded Caribs still inhabit the British
island of Dominica, in the Leeward Islands, and are respected sub-
jects of King George. Others inhabit St. Vincent, in the Wind-
wards, but they are only a pathetic relic of those who lived here
before 1902, when the terrible eruption of the volcano called the
Soufriere killed two thousand persons, many or most of them
within the tract which had been reserved for Caribs.
The geographical tag West Indies is, of course, a misnomer,
based on the delusions of Columbus that he had reached fabulous
India by sailing west. He bestowed the name and it has clung
through centuries of vicissitudes. It is on the map to stay. British
islands in this area always maintain as a part of their postal ad-
dress the initials B.W.I., for British West Indies.
The Greater and Lesser Antilles take their name from a mythi-
cal continent or large island called Antilla (or Antiglia) on the
fanciful maps of primitive cartographers. The adjectives explain
themselves, as will be seen from a glance at any map. The Greater
Antilles are four in number, being, in order of geographical


"greatness," Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Puerto Rico. The lesser
ones are less indeed, their total area being hardly the equivalent
of an average province in Cuba, but they make up in beauty, and
also in number, what they lack in size, there being thirty or more
of some importance in the half-circle from the Virgins to the
Dutch islands, besides innumerable islets and patches of rock.
Cuba's Isle of Pines and Jamaica's Cayman group fit into no strict
category, being satellites of two large islands. The Bahama group,
not in the Caribbean Dial, are not included in this book. Only
Nassau, on New Providence, and the Biminis, as an "anchorage"
for fishermen, have general appeal and they are holiday units in
their own right.
Hispaniola is a name that confuses. It is a corruption of La
Espafiola, or Spanish Isle, the name bestowed by Columbus on the
island now comprising the two independent states of Haiti and
the Dominican Republic. The native Arawaks called the whole
island Haiti, and it is still correct to call it Haiti, but that is much
more confusing than Hispaniola since it designates the entire
island by the name now applying politically to the nation which
occupies the smaller portion of it, as though the whole Iberian
peninsula were to be named Portugal or the whole Scandinavian
peninsula Norway. We may stick to the word Hispaniola for this
handsome and exciting portion of "Antilla." The name is both
beautiful and historic.
The Leeward and Windward Islands present another misnomer
and a flagrant one, the terms being utterly incorrect from every
angle, including the angle of the winds. Originally the terms
made sense. The prevailing trade winds blew from the northeast
and on early Italian maps the whole crescent of the Lesser
Antilles was called Islas de barlovento (Isles over the wind)
and the relatively sheltered Greater Antilles were Islas de sotto-
vento (Isles under the wind). Gradually the terms came to apply
merely to two groups of British-owned islands in the Lesser
Antilles and the northerly Leewards are actually more in the
teeth of the wind than the southerly Windwards. There is now


much talk of the two groups being welded for administrative
purposes into one unit, with Grenada as capital; but the old names
will doubtless linger on in full and regular use.
The Spanish Main is one of the most self-explanatory items in
Caribbean nomenclature, though it is by no means always under-
stood. It refers, in its strict and original sense, to the Spanish 7nain
land of early exploration, adventure and trade, that is to the
northern rim of South America. Today the term is often used
more broadly (as, for instance, by the author Philip Ainsworth
Means) to designate the whole Caribbean area, including all the
islands and also the Central-American Caribbean coastline. For
the purposes of this present book it will be restricted to its ety-
mological meaning and will apply especially to the northern
coastal cities of Venezuela and Colombia and the capitals of these
two countries. The spice of old glamors remains very pungent in
all this region and it is enhanced rather than spoiled by the re-
cent great advances of both countries. Except in a very few cases
important relics of the past have been preserved with respect and
intelligence. Resort hotels and business buildings have not been
4 allowed to impinge upon the colonial treasures of El Dorado
and the revolutionary shrine of the cradle (Venezuela) and nurs-
ery (Colombia) of New-World freedom.

A Roster of Sovereignties

By far the greater part of the lands and islands which hold the
Caribbean in their collective embrace, consists of independent
countries exercising full sovereignty, through their elected presi-
dents and congresses. These nations-Cuba, Haiti, Dominican Re-
public, Venezuela, Colombia and five of the Central-American
republics which border on the Caribbean (only El Salvador does
not)-all speak Spanish, with the exception of Haiti, which speaks
French and, popularly, Creole.
Great Britain holds the allegiance of the majority of the non-
independent islands, in point of number and of area, and to the


islands one must add British Honduras, a colony located between
Guatemala and Mexico's Yucatan. Britain did well for herself
here, as in so many parts of the world, "while the going was
good." Tides of empire now tend to ebb and Britain is herself a
leader in granting more and more independence to more and
more portions of her huge empire. This tendency is notable in
the Caribbean, as elsewhere.
The United States is the second "Caribbean power," its pos-
sessions consisting of Puerto Rico and the "Virgin Islands of the
United States." (Other Virgins belong to Britain.) The inhab-
itants of these islands are United States citizens, despite, in the
case of Puerto Rico, their Spanish origin and language. The U. S.
Virgins are three in number, St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix,
the first-named being much the most important in the travel pic-
ture, as in other fields. The islands were purchased from Den-
mark in 1917, following half a century of intermittent negotia-
France is a poor third in Caribbean possessions, exercising sov-
ereignty over Martinique, famed birthplace of Napoleon's Jos6-
phine and in more recent times notorious as a die-hard outpost
of Vichy France (under the lamentable Admiral Robert); and
over Guadeloupe, with the agreeably named satellites, Marie-
Galante, D6sirade, Les Saintes, and Saint Barth6lemy. The tiny
island of Saint-Martin, comprising only thirty-six square miles
in all, is a political curiosity, being part French and part Dutch,
the inhabitants, however, speaking English as their natural
tongue. A story, perhaps apocryphal, relates that a Frenchman
and a Dutchman agreed, in 1648, to divide the island between
their two countries by walking around it in opposite directions
and drawing the line of demarcation from the point where they
met to the point where they started. The Frenchman walked
faster and secured for his king (Louis XIV) the larger portion,
but the Dutchman secured for Holland the more profitable por-
tion containing most of the island's salt ponds. Salt production is
even now Saint-Martin's chief industry.


Holland, fourth power in the diminishing scale of sovereignties,
owns little Caribbean territory, but that little is of great impor-
tance for it includes the islands of Curacao and Aruba, on which
are located some of the world's greatest oil refineries. These were
conspicuous targets for Nazi gunners of surfaced submarines, and
the oil tankers bringing the raw product from the Maracaibo
wells to the refineries and the refined product thence to Ameri-
can ports were equally conspicuous targets for torpedoes. In ad-
dition to these islands (with unimportant Bonaire) Holland owns
the portion of Saint-Martin mentioned above and two volcanic
dots of land named Saba and St. Eustatius in the Lesser Antilles.
Venezuela, a Caribbean power by right of its own geography
and history and its thousand-mile coastline on that sea, owns
islands that have valid ambitions in the travel picture of the near
future. Margarita, long famous for its pearl fishers, is the chief
one and it is already being visited by venturesome wanderers
who are not too demanding in the matter of hotels and creature
comforts. Venezuelan planes make regular scheduled hops to the
island from the new airport at Barcelona (reached by various
lines, including PAA, from La Guaira). Margarita is definitely an
island to watch and even to consider on your itinerary, as its
facilities develop.
Denmark is only a memory, as a Caribbean power. Its sover-
eignty in the region ceased with the sale of the Danish Virgin
Islands to the United States in 1917. The Danish language still
lingers on to some slight extent and the street names of the islands
-for example Kronprindsensgade and Dronningensgade in Char-
lotte Amalie-add their exotic touches to these lovely adopted
daughters of the United States.
Colombia's mainland, with its stirring story, qualifies that na-
tion in a big way, though it owns no islands worth mentioning.
Honduras and Mexico own minuscule isles and cayos in the Car-
ibbean but they are of no importance in travel. The circle of sov-
ereignties swings up and around to Cuba, which was our starting


The Twelve-Stop Circuit of This Book
The Caribbean Dial may be conveniently marked in twelve
"hours," or chief travel halts, and that is the design of this present
volume. For the sake of clarity they shall be here listed in order,
with Cuba as high noon and midnight. This order will be fol-
lowed in subsequent chapters of this book, especially those under
the heading "Yourself in the Picture."
1. Jamaica, a very well-developed tropical Eden, with luxury
hotels on breeze-blown beaches and in the cool of the mountains.
2. Haiti, a primitive paradise with a few excellent hotels and
with the greatest single travel attraction, Christophe's mountain-
top Citadel, in the whole Caribbean if not in the whole western
3. The Dominican Republic, oldest yet most earnestly modern
of Caribbean nations, with a glittering luxury hotel and with the
beginnings of a multi-million-dollar lighthouse, being built by
funds from all the Americas, to serve as a shrine for the remains
of Christopher Columbus, which now lie in a gleaming sar-
cophagus in the capital's cathedral.
4. Puerto Rico, problem "ward" of the United States, gifted
with more physical beauty in proportion to its size than any other
Caribbean land and possessing more good roads, to reveal its
beauty, than does any other country or island.
5. The Virgin Islands of the United States (to be distinguished
from the British Virgins), bringing the journey's joy into fullest
"unconfinement." Hotels are good, but holiday, in shirt and
shorts, gives Mrs. Grundy very little time. Only Tobago, in my
experience, radiates relaxation as do the three U. S. Virgins.
6. The Lesser Antilles of Britain, including (a) the Leeward
Islands; (b) the Windward Islands; (c) Barbados. The Leeward
Islands are undeveloped, unspoiled, but not uncomfortable. Two
of them, Antigua and St. Kitts, can be visited by means of the
regular air services of Pan American Airways and British West


Indian Airways. The Windward Islands include the Grenadines,
especially their capital, Grenada, which is slated to be capital of
all the Lesser Antilles if and when administrative consolidation is
effected. Grenada is served by BWIA planes; St. Lucia by both
PAA and BWIA. Barbados, geographically an outpost or
"sentry box" for the Windwards, is now a highly developed
beach-resort island, served by frequent BWIA planes.
7. The French Antilles, Guadeloupe (with its dependencies)
and Martinique, aromatic isles whose fragrance is that of Creole
8. Trinidad and Tobago, forming a single administrative unit
of Britain's empire and tied together by the transportation
shuttles of BWIA planes and frequent steamers, are as different
in the holiday picture as sunlight and moonlight. Lovely, lazy
Tobago bears much the same relation to bustling Trinidad, turn-
table of many airlines and ship lanes, that St. Thomas bears to
Puerto Rico.
9. Venezuela, northern bulwark of a vast southern continent
and cradle of that continent's liberty, is much larger in area than
all the Caribbean islands put together. Its thriving capital, Ca-
racas, goes forward like a comet in the Latin sky. Nowhere else
in the western world, save possibly in some cities of Brazil, is so
much happening in the construction line.
10. Curapao and Aruba, important nodes of air travel, being
home islands of the Royal Dutch Airlines system (KLM) and
the base of operations for its expanding West Indies Division.
Willemstad, the polyglot capital of Curagao, is an extremely in-
teresting town in its own right, being bisected by a harbor en-
trance which is one of the busiest in the world, as will be ex-
plained in a later chapter.
ii. Colombia, the northwestern "corner" of South America,
forming with Venezuela the historic Spanish Main, has a galaxy
of cities, some very old, some very new, to quicken the pulse of
travel. Such names as Cartagena, Santa Marta, Medellin, Cali,
Bogota leap from the map to demand their place on the Carib-


bean itinerary, even though some of them have been brought
into the picture only by the airlines of this most air-minded coun-
try of South America.
12. Cuba, our noon and midnight, is treated en passant in this
book, as explained earlier, since it has a volume of its own in the
present series. Its highest highlights will, however, be presented
for the reader's convenience.

Rugged Independence Versus Coupon Travel
The rugged independent who has time and inclination to or-
ganize his own Caribbean trip earns a great reward for himself
(or for herself). He may make a few mistakes, may encounter a
few "troubles" which are grim enough when they occur, though
they tend to grow funny with the lapse of time, but at least the
trip is his by right of conquest. He goes where he likes, stays as
long as he likes, remains an individual always, rather than a unit
in a mass migration or a predigested tour. All this is far easier
than it used to be before the war for air travel has developed be-
yond one's imagining and is still developing, at a rate that leaves
the studier of schedules dizzy. The net result is that nowadays
the traveler is very rarely "stuck" while awaiting an infrequent
steamer. He can get on by air, if not by the line of his choice
then probably by some other competing line. And if he cannot
reach his desired goal by direct flight he can almost certainly
reach it by some sort of triangle or half circle. But-
Do not take a chance in the matter of hotel accommodations.
That way danger lies, danger of troubles that will not begin to
seem funny for a hundred years. The rugged independent who be-
lieves "things will work out somehow" without advance reserva-
tions may often find himself sitting up all night in a hotel lobby,
or trying to sleep on a hard bed in a wretched third-rate hotel. It
is a fact of life that almost every attractive hostelry in the Carib-
bean is booked to capacity from January to March or April every
year, which is the obvious period when most of us want to be


there. New hotels are being built in many cities and resorts and
old hotels are blossoming with new wings and annexes and extra
stories, but this building pace does not even come near to keep-
ing up with the increased demand. The shortage of rooms re-
mains acute and practically universal in the entire area. The in-
dependent traveler may, however, insure the success of his trip
by taking this problem seriously and writing weeks ahead-even
months ahead-for the accommodations he desires. He will thus
ultimately start on his trip armed with a sheaf of confirmations,
which he cherishes almost like his passport and his travelers
The Tietze Associates, with head offices in the Dupont Build-
ing in Miami and a branch office in the Hotel Gotham, West
55th St., New York City, merit a parenthetical note here. They
are specialists in Caribbean travel and are sometimes able to se-
cure accommodations when the most urgent personal letters
bring meager results. In Miami itself, one of the world's most
jampacked transient cities every winter, they seem to know every
room of every hotel and I have found that they can dig up some-
thing "when there isn't anything."
Coupon travel has its hosts of convinced clients and far be it
from me to disparage it. I happen to prefer, for myself, the com-
pletely independent approach, but I am only too well aware of
its drawbacks and of the labor involved in full independence.
There is deep comfort to thousands of travelers, including re-
peaters and "commuters," in having an agent draw up the whole
itinerary, furnish all the transportation tickets, secure all hotel
accommodations, presenting the evidence in the sheaf of coupons,
and even include coupons for all motor and launch excursions and
all sightseeing trips. One pays for "all-expense tours" not only in
money but in loss of personal initiative. The comfort and secu-
rity, however, are abundantly worth the cost to those who wish
to shed all forms of travel labor along with the winter overcoats
they are leaving behind, and this is of course doubly true of the
first-time traveler, who must, in any case, depend to a large ex-

tent on the advice of others. I have scant sympathy with the
seasoned globetrotter who is so gratuitous and vocal a scorner of
"canned travel." He forgets that excellent fare, in music and en-
tertainment and food, as well as in travel, comes out of "cans"
and that lifetime experts are the canners. Even in his cherished
independence he owes more than he knows to such houses as
Cook, American Express, Raymond-Whitcomb, Exprinter, Tietze
and various others who have been oiling the lanes of travel for
many years.



Hours Replace Days
THE first steamer trip I ever made from New York to Trini-
dad took seven days. The latest trip I have made by plane took
under twelve hours' actual flying time. As planes step up their
speed still further we may expect it to become a fact of travel
that hours literally replace days in Caribbean itineraries, and if
the supersonic era ever reaches commercial air travel-but one
rather hopes it will not. Land and sea, mountain, forest, lake and
beach now weave superb polychrome patterns beneath the
plane's cabin windows and the traveler would be loath to have
these incomparable pictures, which now seem to unroll in "slow
motion" when seen from four or five thousand feet above, turn
into a racing blur of blue and green and brown dimly seen from
a very great height.
Steamers will always have their large and devoted following,
for a steamer trip, especially in the tropics, is an excerpt from
the very Book of Glamor, an end in itself, but schedules built on
steamer travel call for time, in broad, unbroken weeks or months,
and time is the commodity hardest for most wishful voyagers to
acquire. The speed which postwar plane services have brought
to holiday planners has made, for millions, all the difference be-
tween having a Caribbean holiday and having none. No island or
city discussed in this book is much more than a dozen hours from
New York or Chicago by direct or connecting planes. That is
a thought to be churned by the mind of the tired businessman-


and likewise by his vacation-hungry secretary. It is a thought to
warm the Spirit of Escape.

The Caribbean Week or Weekend
The Caribbean Week is no longer marked "Rush" on any itin-
erary. It offers a normal, easy, relaxing vacation for anyone who
cannot find more than a week and who can endure the wrench of
returning, when that period is over, to plunge back into the
maelstrom of home cares and labors. The whole week may be
spent in the place or places of one's choice and even the whole
week plus an extra Saturday and Sunday by taking a Friday
night plane outward and a Sunday night plane homeward.
Consider two examples. One may board a PAA plane in New
York on Friday evening at 6 P.M. for San Juan, Puerto Rico,
transfer there for the Virgin Islands and be ensconced in one's
hotel in St. Thomas (Charlotte Amalie) in time for breakfast on
the veranda. One may leave St. Thomas at 4:45 P.M. on "Sunday
week" and be in New York at 5 o'clock Monday morning. Let us
take another example. One may leave New York for Miami at 5
P.M. on a Friday and continue by a night plane to Kingston,
Jamaica, arriving at or before the crack of dawn. A big English-
American breakfast may be enjoyed beside the swimming pool of
the Myrtle Bank Hotel. Or by services of either PAA or KLM
one may reach the Dutch island of Curacao within a few hours of
leaving Miami to breakfast or lunch or dine on the upper veranda
of the Hotel Americano in Willemstad, as ships pass in and out
of the harbor close before one's eyes. As in the Virgin Islands
example one may leave for home a week from Sunday afternoon
and be in New York for an early breakfast. If New York is not
home an almost precisely similar schedule can be worked out for
dozens of other cities east of the Rockies. Domestic lines co-
operate with PAA, KLM, and various lesser systems serving the
area. (Eastern Air Lines has its own direct service between Miami
and Puerto Rico.) Miami remains the chief take-off point for all


the lands (except those of Central America and Yucatan) washed
by Caribbean waters.
If the nine-day Caribbean Week is a fixed feature of travel for
many thousands of persons the two-day or three-day Caribbean
Weekend is equally fixed for at least a few hundreds of lucky
"commuters." It takes a bit of money to be an air commuter but
many Floridians who have it do not hesitate to use it as a matter
of course in spending their Saturdays and Sundays in some de-
lectable island retreat. From points more distant than Florida
commuting to the Caribbean does not make sense but for dwellers
in much more distant regions, especially those beset by annual
scourges of snow, ice and slush, the occasional tropical weekend
does make sense as a reminder that "life can be beautiful" and as a
prospecting trip in preparation for real vacations that will follow.
The weekender and even the week-stayer must steel himself to
the truly awful ordeal of going home again when the blandness
of palmy latitudes has barely had time to seep into his system. But
no one ever exposes himself to this ordeal without the saving re-
solve that so short a stay is merely an appetizer or a sampling of
hors d'ceures that hints of a banquet to come.

The Pan American Network
Pan American Airways is literally "Pan"-serving all of the
Americas-and it is by very far the most extensive system in that
portion of its world network which operates south, out of airport
terminals in Florida, Louisiana, Texas and California, as well as
out of New York (to Puerto Rico, Trinidad, Brazil and Argen-
tina). In the Caribbean also, which is our present concern, it
offers by far the fullest network, being pressed only on certain
runs by the KLM services (especially those pushing southeast
from Miami to Kingston, Curacao and Venezuela). To Cuba and
all of the Greater Antilles, to some of the Lesser Antilles, to the
Trinidad "turntable," to Venezuela and Colombia and Panama,
and even along the coast of South America (Trinidad to Panama

through Venezuelan and Colombian halts) it provides daily or
twice-daily or several-times-daily service and many of the planes
are four-motored giants carrying some fifty passengers. Hundred-
passenger and even two-hundred-passenger planes, veritable fly-
ing Behemoths with every comfort and safety device known,
may be in operation before you read these lines. Even the smaller
DC 3's, used on local runs, were glibly called giants before the
war. The progress of commercial aviation continues on its spec-
tacular course and defies any book to keep up with it. Things
that were brand-new yesterday begin to seem commonplace
today. Things that are dazzling and breath-taking today will
seem "old hat" tomorrow.
The monthly System Timetables of PAA, or PAWA (Pan
American World Airways), to give its full initials, are current
"magazines" of air advancement. Each one contains various
schedules marked by a solid red circle and the note, "Tables
marked with this symbol indicate important schedule changes or
additions made this month." The changes are almost always added
flights, or improvements for public convenience. The additions
often bring in new place names, in Latin America, in Europe, in
the Near and Far East, in the Pacific and-of present special in-
terest-in the Caribbean.
The subsidiary or associated air lines (their planes are Amer-
ican-made and are often flown by American pilots), whose itin-
eraries appear in the System Timetables are of the most practical
and obvious interest. Let us narrow consideration to the field of
this book and see what we find.
In Cuba we find CUBANA (Compan~ia Cubana de Aviacidn),
serving nearly twenty cities, towns and resorts on this island. This
first-rate domestic service, working very closely with PAA, is a
fixture in Cuban travel and is highly popular with American
In the Dominican Republic we find CDA (Compafiia Domini-
cana de Aviacidn), serving every important point in the republic.
In Venezuela we find AVENSA (Aerovias Venezolanas, S.A.),


tying Ciudad Bolivar, an Orinoco port, and a dozen smaller towns
to the capital, Caracas, at its airport in La Guaira.
In Colombia, we find the very impressive and excellent system
called AVIANCA (Aerovias Nacionales de Colombia), operat-
ing the most complex (and likewise the longest established) do-
mestic system in the whole of Latin America. Avianca is some-
thing of a giant in its own right and because of its long and in-
timate connection with PAA it is much used by Americans.
The four systems mentioned above, strongly dowered with na-
tionalistic pride, might properly resent being called "wards" of
Pan American, but they would not resent being called associates,
and that, in fact, is precisely what they are. They may be used
with confidence in supplementing the main international routes.
Avianca is indeed an international system, as well as national.
It now operates a direct service, by four-motored planes, between
Miami and Bogota.

Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM)
KLM means-if you will adjust your eyes and larynx to the
words-Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij, which is to say
Royal Dutch Airlines. The home company, with headquarters in
the Hague, is the oldest continuously operated system in the
world and maintains an extensive network throughout Europe,
with a very long "comet tail" extending from Amsterdam clear
to Batavia in the Netherlands East Indies. The West Indies Divi-
sion of this vastly ramifying network started local flying in 1935
and was permitted to operate out of Miami in 1943. Since that
date its Caribbean expansion has been rapid, extending from Su-
rinam and Trinidad on the east to Costa Rica on the west and
reaching out with its tentacles to various island capitals, includ-
ing Port-au-Prince and Ciudad Trujillo. In 1947 a direct service
was even opened between Curacao and Amsterdam. It is now
quite feasible and simple to fly from the Netherlands West Indies


to Holland without stopover. The world shrinks into a sphere
that can almost be handled.
I have been closely familiar with KLM flights for nearly
twenty years, first in Europe and more lately in the Caribbean.
Service is dependably good. Courtesy levels are high. Meals up
aloft are lavish and tasty. Dutch hostesses at the airports are as
pretty as American ones, which is saying as much as any loyal
American can say, and it is interesting to hear them switch their
language from Dutch to Spanish to English, according to the
speech of their clients.
Curacao is the turntable of KLM traffic in the Caribbean as
Camagiey (Cuba), Puerto Rico and Trinidad are PAA turn-
tables. Most flights radiate from this center and adjoining Aruba
but these Dutch islands are so conveniently placed by nature as
a Caribbean hub that the traveler loses no time or mileage on the
flights he is most likely to take. The most obvious and conspic-
uous of these is the Miami-to-Venezuela express flight, stopping
at Jamaica and at the Dutch islands en route. (PAA flies the same
route daily, omitting Jamaica.) All these points lie nearly in a
straight line. An alternative zigzag path from Miami, called the
inter-island route, provides stops at Camagiiey, at Kingston and
at Port-au-Prince en route to Curacao (and Venezuela). It is a
sightseer's special used by travelers to Haiti who want to see all
they can on the way. The planes take some two hours longer than
the direct PAA planes, which stop only at Camagiiey, before
reaching Haiti, but the variety of plane-view sights is a many-reel
marvel of this leisured picture.
Other points served by KLM, though not as yet on daily flights
as the same points are served by PAA, are Barranquilla (for all
Colombian airports), Trinidad and Ciudad Trujillo (Dominican
Republic). An island served only by KLM is the Dutch-French
island of St. Martin, which lies almost within motorboat distance
of that curious Dutch "recluse," Saba. The plane to St. Martin
continues also to St. Kitts in the British Leewards.


Linea Aeropostal Venezolana
Early in 1947 Venezuela's government-owned Linea Aero-
postal Venezolana made its mark in aviation history by opening
a thrice-a-week service, by Constellation planes, between New
York and La Guaira (for Caracas). A single halt was-and is-
made at Havana. The New York office of the company is in the
Sherry-Netherlands Hotel. I have not yet personally used this line
but I have seen its big American planes landing and taking off
and have been impressed with the convenience of the direct flight
effected in some ten hours, between such distant termini. With
this development the Caracas weekend became an easy reality
for New Yorkers.
LAV, as it is commonly called, opened a line also between La
Guaira and Trinidad in the spring of 1947.

British West Indian Airways
British West Indian Airways is, as its name implies, a system
serving primarily British islands in the West Indies. In this capac-
ity it is vastly useful to the traveler who wishes to visit more
islands, or different ones, than those covered on the main PAA
and KLM routes.
Tobago and Barbados, two fragments of purest relaxation, are
BWIA specials. They are reached by very frequent flights from
Trinidad in thirty and ninety minutes respectively. Small but
comfortable two-motor Lockheeds are used at present.
In addition to these prize-winning specials many other British
islands are served and one "foreigner," the Dominican Republic.
An interesting arc ties British Guiana to British Honduras by way
of Trinidad. (Atlas, please!) From Trinidad northward two arcs-
within-the-arc converge at Antigua and St. Kitts. The easterly
one passes through Tobago and Barbados, the westerly one
through Grenada and St. Lucia. From St. Kitts a single bold path


cuts through the sky due west for more than sixteen hundred
miles to Belize, with stops on the way at Ciudad Trujillo and
Kingston. Belize is the capital of British Honduras, the only
colony on the Central American mainland. It hardly falls within
the orbit of this book and is, in any case, of small travel interest,
but the way stations of BWIA's great arc, from Trinidad to
Jamaica, are of major interest in every case. This British air sys-
tem is a relative newcomer in the tapestry of Caribbean travel
but weaves important threads into the design.

Eastern to Puerto Rico

Eastern Air Lines, long a domestic system only, was granted
permission in 1946 to fly between Miami and San Juan, Puerto
Rico, and between New Orleans and Mexico City. The first-
named service, now a daily flight in both directions, is of prime
interest to this book because of Eastern's eastern coverage in the
United States, its network touching almost every important city
between the Mississippi Valley and the Atlantic coast. It means
that persons living anywhere in the East can fly to and from the
heart of the Caribbean without changing from one air system to
another. Good connections are made at Miami for travelers to
and from everywhere within Eastern's orbit.

Advancing TACA

Transportes Aireos Centroamericanos, commonly abbreviated
to TACA, started in the interval between world wars as a hedge-
hopping line in the Republic of Honduras, going almost any-
where in that undeveloped country with freight and with ven-
turesome passengers. Its development as an important interna-
tional system has been phenomenal and one now encounters it
in all the Central American countries, in Mexico, even in all the
South American countries except the four or five most southerly
ones. It is very active in Venezuela and Colombia and thus has a


valid place in this book's roster of air systems. It also offers pas-
senger service from the Dominican Republic southward to Trin-
idad and clear on to Rio de Janeiro. It does not, at this writing,
have permission to operate as a common carrier from Miami but
does operate contract services.
TACA is of the energetic spirit of this air age and its growth
will be worth watching.

Jamaica Air Transport
Jamaica Air Transport, a local air system with head office in
Kingston, Jamaica, commenced operations just before Christmas
in 1946 and happened to catch my eye and quicken my travel
pulse when I first discovered it a few months later. It advertised
in a small way in the Myrtle Bank Hotel, offering inexpensive
flights to Montego Bay and to the Cayman Islands, dependencies
of Jamaica lying some two hundred miles to the northwest. I
subsequently took both flights and was abundantly rewarded.
(See Chapter ii.) Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac, islands of
schooner building, of turtle trade and turtle steak banqueting, of
tortoise-shell handicraft, have rare appeal since they are off the
beaten track yet comfortably reached by the ordinary traveler.
They are bound to be "civilized" of course, for their charms are
seductive to the promoter as well as the tourist, but those who
visit them within two or three years will doubtless find them
"reasonably virginal." The Kingston-"Mo Bay" flight-achieved
in forty minutes-is of great convenience and costs less than
motor fare across the island.
Two young Americans now operate Jamaica Air Transport
and it is earnestly to be hoped that the infant system will thrive
and develop, for its initiative has already written an interesting
episode in the developing serial of the Caribbean Air Age.


Caribbean Atlantic Airlines

Caribbean Atlantic Airlines is a local system providing service
from San Juan, Puerto Rico, to the Virgin Islands and also to the
provincial cities (Ponce and Mayagiiez) of Puerto Rico itself.
In its service to St. Thomas it parallels the twice-a-day service of
Pan American Airways but it offers the extra attraction of con-
tinuing from St. Thomas to St. Croix, which is its terminus in the
Virgins. It operates modern two-motored planes and is up-to-date
in every way, a glamorous extra link in the growing chain of
tropical air transport.

Other Planes and Plans

Almost every land and large island now has its own domestic
air service. Among those that concern Caribbean travel and that
are not mentioned above, either as Pan American affiliates or
under separate listing, three demand attention here.
Union Southern Airlines (USA) makes contract flights two or
three times a week from New York to Miami to Port-au-Prince
(Haiti) to Ciudad Trujillo (Dominican Republic) and back. This
line is not yet a common carrier but service is frequent and good
two-engine planes are used. It provides a fast and simple service
to those two interesting countries which share the island of His-
paniola. The company's New York City address is 1 West 46th
St. Its Miami address is McAllister Hotel, Biscayne Boulevard.
Cuba. The system called EXPRESO serves various points in the
main island but its special attraction to travelers is its daily ser-
vice from Havana to the Isle of Pines.
Haiti. Military planes are used to convey passengers from Port-
au-Prince to Cap Haitien (for the trip to Christophe's Citadel)
and to other points in the republic. Inquiry may be made at the
Hotel La Citadelle in Port-au-Prince. Captain Edouard Roy, the
husband of the proprietor of the hotel, is now the Officer-in-

Charge of the Haitian air force. This service is a relatively new
one but already seems an absolute essential of Caribbean travel.
Without it the trip to Christophe's Citadel-a must beyond all
musts in the Caribbean-is a long, fatiguing overland affair. The
Haitian army planes, adequate two-motored "jobs" if not large or
of recent vintage, are kept in good flying trim and the officers
who pilot them are experts who know every peak and valley of
their country as they know their own names and homes. One may
fly with confidence under their guidance for they are as thor-
oughly at ease on their sky-cleaving "mounts" as are cavalry
officers on their mettlesome steeds. They will fly you directly
over the vast mountain citadel and will circle it once or twice to
invoke the inevitable ohs and ahs and just-looks, those unashamed,
exclamatory proofs of untethered excitement. This flight in
Haitian air is one of the very great experiences not only of Car-
ibbean travel but of world travel.



Services on Schedule

SCHEDULED sea passages from American ports to the Caribbean
have been slow to be re-established after the greatest of wars.
Many ships were sunk. Many others, long used as military trans-
ports, presented formidable problems and needed months or years
for thorough reconversion to passenger uses. Prolonged maritime
and other labor troubles slowed up reconversion severely and
made the very operation of some well-known prewar steamship
lines a dubious gamble. This book cannot by any means share the
views of the darker pessimists that "the American merchant ma-
rine is on the way out." It feels, on general principles, that Amer-
ica is too able and effective a country to allow itself to be
throttled by prohibitive demands or retaliatory obstinacies.
To emerge rather hastily from this essay, one can merely say,
"Watch the steamship ads," not only the glamorized ones in the
slick-paper magazines but, for practical guidance, the day-to-day
ones in the newspapers. A major source of current information, in
my own case, has always been the advertising portion of the
Travel Section of the New York Sunday Times.
Watch, in special particular, for the reviving services of certain
familiar old lines. (The list hereinafter is intended as a roster of
hopes, not as a report on present sailings.)
i. New York and Cuba Mail Steamship Co., connecting New
York and Havana and Ciudad Trujillo.
2. Peninsula and Occidental Steamship Co. (P. & 0.), plying
from Florida's ports to Cuba.


3. Porto Rico Line, from New York to Puerto Rico and the
Dominican Republic. (The two spellings of our chief Caribbean
possession in the foregoing sentence are not the result of inde-
cision. Puerto Rico is now the correct form, but the old form,
Porto Rico, is retained by many large companies, even on the
island itself, because of the expense involved in changing their
4. United Fruit Company, with normally important services
from New York and New Orleans to Cuba, Jamaica and other
5. Standard Fruit and Steamship Co., from New York and
New Orleans to Cuban points, the Santiago halt being of out-
standing interest, and to Haiti.
6. Panama Line, with service to Haiti as well as the Isthmus.
7. Lykes Brothers Steamship Co., from Texas ports to Puerto
Rico, and to Colombia.
8. Alcoa Steamship Company, from New York and New
Orleans to many points in the Caribbean, ranging from Jamaica
to Trinidad.
9. Grace Line, from New York to Venezuelan and Colombian
The two lines last-named are among those modernists which
are already operating relatively small, ultra-modern, postwar-
built "combination ships." Grace Line lost many of its famous
liners of larger size during the war but the Santa Rosa and the
Santa Paula are again operating-to the Spanish Main.

Cruises and Cruise Life
The enormous success of cruise ships in the Caribbean during
the darkening thirties would seem to presage the early re-estab-
lishment, in a big way, of this type of travel, but the cruise ships
have encountered much the same sort of obstacles as have the
regular liners, and the worst obstacle of all is that many of them,
like Rachel's children, are not. Others have been so harshly used

by war that they are not worth reconditioning for cruise travel.
Of two such ships which I greatly enjoyed before the war, one,
Sweden's Kungsholm, is completely out of the picture. It was
bought for a transport by the United States government and in
March, 1947, it suffered a catastrophic fire at its New York berth.
It will probably never be restored to transatlantic or cruise ser-
vice. The other, Norway's Stella Polaris, a superbly appointed
six-thousand-ton "yacht," is very much in the Caribbean picture.
The American Express Company leased it, for cruise purposes,
from the Bergenske Dampskibsselskab and operated it, chiefly in
the Caribbean, with great success all during the 1946-1947 season.
Wherever I have been on the islands I seem always to have seen
the Stella Polaris, or to have learned that it has just visited that
particular port or is just about to visit it.
A major postwar development in warm-sea cruises is the re-
markable surge of the port of New Orleans as perhaps the chief
point of departure. The reasons for this are logical enough. Not
only is the delta city a natural funnel through which the traffic of
America pours south but it is itself on a latitude so balmy that the
cruise ships need not cope with icy seas for two or three days at
the beginning and ending of each cruise, and the passengers need
not cope with problems of winter clothing for those short
periods. Wearing the irreducible minimum of winter gear they
board a plane for New Orleans and in the twinkling of a pro-
peller they are in the sub-tropics. In a sense their cruise starts be-
fore they board the ship.
Cruise life is so familiar to so many that it needs little comment
here. At its best it is a marvel of deck relaxation, stirred to intel-
ligent activity at each romantic port of call. At its worst it is a
highly competitive social struggle, dividing the passenger list into
various sharply defined cliques, each fenced off but intershot with
petty rancors and jealousies. And at its worse than worst it is a
protracted alcoholic fog in which all ports and islands look alike
and only the ship's bar is important. Those who ruin their trip
with indiscriminate alcoholism are probably no more than ten per

cent of the total number of passengers on any cruise and those
who damage their trip seriously by social combats and corrosive
jealousies are probably no more than a fourth or a third, but they
managed, in prewar years, to give cruise life a bad name so that
many sincere and eager travelers were loath "to get mixed up in
it." One may earnestly hope that better ship sense will prevail as
cruise programs are gradually rebuilt. A Caribbean cruise may be
among the most wonderful of travel experiences, a vital, unfold-
ing drama in many acts, the traveler being both actor and spec-
tator. And his comfortable home is moored at some handy dock
or anchored in a nearby harbor.



The New CTDA

As 1946 merged into 1947 Caribbean travel found itself under
the fostering care of a new organization called the Caribbean
Tourist Development Association, backed by all of the fifteen
governments impinging on the "Sea of the New World." (These
include the governments of the three Guianas, which are not
within the scope of this book.)
The CTDA is backed in turn by the potent Caribbean Com-
mission, composed of the British, French, Netherlands and
United States governments, which had previously formed their
own united nations of the Caribbean to develop regional plans in
full mutual co-operation. The Tourist Association is a very prac-
tical venture, in which the three independent nations (Cuba,
Haiti, Dominican Republic) join with the four powers and their
island deputies in co-ordinated efforts. There is nothing picayune
or half-hearted about it. An annual budget of at least $200,000 is
assumed to be necessary and this is apportioned among the fifteen
local governments concerned.
The Association, as reported in the press, aims to "focus at-
tention on the Caribbean as one of the world's outstanding vaca-
tion areas and will help local promotional efforts of the
members." Among its specific listed aims one has especially
caught my eye. It "will provide expert advisory services for those
who want to build resorts or hotels or other tourist inducements.
It even will try to help in obtaining the materials and supplies for
such construction."

There is much more to the statement of aims but if it is effec-
tive in the field of new construction alone, and there is ample
evidence that it is already making its weight felt, it will have
more than justified its creation. Those who travel in the Carib-
bean, or plan to do so, may enjoy a sense of comfort that a ca-
pable foster parent is looking after the Caribbean lands as a family
and is making travel there progressively easier and pleasanter.

Passport Formalities Greatly Simplified
A wonderful thing took place in 1946 and early 1947, insti-
gated, no doubt, by the Caribbean Commission. In a series of
swift moves by various nations and colonial administrations trav-
elers to the Caribbean were eased of their most irritating burdens,
the burdens of red tape which had always been formidable and
which were nearly intolerable during the first year after the war.
Passport formalities, with all their attendant horrors, were so sim-
plified that they were all but wiped out. One hardly notices them
nowadays except in the cases of Venezuela and Colombia, where
they are still formidable. Many countries used to say, in effect,
when Americans complained about the formalities for entrance
and exit, "Your country is the worst of all. You demand all sorts
of things when we enter or leave the States. What's fair for you
is fair for us." This attitude may have been quite logical but it
did not tend to increase tourist travel, a thing which almost all of
the smaller countries and colonies urgently needed and desired.
Quite suddenly many of them seemed to realize that deference to
their sense of sovereignty or local authority was sharply hurting
their pocketbooks. They swallowed a bit of needless pride-per-
haps America could profitably do the same-and toned down
formalities almost to the vanishing point. Cuba had already been
a pioneer in simplification. The Dominican Republic and Haiti
followed suit. The British possessions, formerly bristling with
demands and restrictions, took drastic action toward the close of
1946. Let us examine cases, as of now.


Cuba requires no passport at all from American citizens. It asks
only that tourists sign a tourist card upon entering the republic.
This costs next to nothing and allows the visitor six months
quite free of any red tape with immigration or police authorities.
One leaves the country as easily as one enters it.
Jamaica has simplified its immigration requirements com-
pletely. No passport is required for Americans coming directly
from America to Jamaica. If you approach the island from some
other direction, say from Colombia, a passport will probably be
needed but no visa. The Jamaican visa requirements were among
the Caribbean's most troublesome-until relaxment came. Health
and vaccination certificates may still be required by the health
authorities, and the filling in of a very simple money declaration
may be called for.
Haiti abandoned its demand for passports (from Americans) as
of January i, 1947. A simple tourist card, filled in upon arrival at
the airport or dock, takes care of the immigration demands. A
health and vaccination certificate may be needed (see discussion
of "papers" at the end of this section), and some questions may
be asked, in almost casual manner, about the amount of money
you are carrying, but Haiti is completely unfrightening.
The Dominican Republic preceded Haiti in relaxing passport
demands, or at least visa demands, and here too a simple tourist
card, filled in upon arrival, now satisfies the immigration author-
ities. It is decidedly advisable, however, for the traveler to carry
a passport if he is making an extended trip in the Caribbean.
Puerto Rico is, of course, a possession of the United States and
American citizens enter and leave San Juan as they would enter
and leave any other U. S. port. An important and much-needed
warning about the hundred-dollar customs exemption is set forth
in the next section of this chapter.
The Virgin Islands of the United States are in the same cate-
gory, immigrationwise, as Puerto Rico. But they are in a differ-
ent category customswise. Again, see the warning.
The Lesser Antilles of Britain will ask for your passport but


not for visas-thank heaven. A visa for each "Antille," or group
of them, would be a bane indeed.
Trinidad and Tobago will likewise be interested in your pass-
port but not in any visa for it.
The French Antilles are at present less accessible to pleasure
travel, from the transportation angle, than almost any other
islands in the Caribbean. Inquiry about current immigration re-
quirements should be made at some French consulate at the time
of your intended visit. These requirements will not be stringent.
The Dutch islands, all lesser ones being dependencies of
Curagao, require from Americans a passport but no visa. Their
formalities in regard to health and vaccination papers and money
declaration are more cumbersome than in the case of most other
islands but they are merely a bit tedious, upon landing and leav-
ing, not in any sense grim or worrisome.
Venezuela is at present the most difficult of the countries cov-
ered in this book in the matter of entrance and exit. Passport and
visa are required and with the visa a cedula is prepared, at the
Venezuelan consulate. This paper incorporates much information
about the bearer and also requires his or her photograph (three
copies are needed) and thumbprint. The cedula is to be kept al-
ways in the bearer's possession within Venezuela and a caution
stamped upon it announces that it has to be validated by the Min-
istry of Foreign Relations, presumably in Caracas. This is an al-
together tiresome business, which, however, the transportation
company will lucidly explain to the traveler. The cedula must be
surrendered upon leaving the country. The visa is granted with-
out charge, if the applicant is willing to wait three days for it,
or for a charge of $6.25 if he desires it on the same day applica-
tion is made. It is valid, as is the cedula, for three months. Leav-
ing Venezuela is simple (exit permit easily obtained at airport or
wharf of departure) if one stays less than fifteen days. If one
stays longer than that an income tax release must be obtained
and this is another grim business. This book's strong advice-un-
til Venezuela modifies her regulations-is to remain only a fort-


night. Emerging from the country within that period, I have
found myself unchallenged for the income tax release and even
unchallenged for the cedula validation. One can comfortably see
all that need be seen, and there is a great deal in the area of lovely
Caracas, including the trip to Maracay and Valencia, in a two-
week period. When Venezuela really wishes us to see more of the
country she will doubtless extend the "period of grace."
Colombia is also an exigent country in visa matters but in this
case too the traveler's task is relatively simple if he requests only a
"transit visa," as it is liberally called, this being valid for fifteen
days. To secure this one must be in possession of an air or steamer
ticket to Colombia and thence to some point outside Colombia.
This will presumably be one's round-trip or circular-trip ticket
by plane from the United States and back again, so it offers no
problem at all. Lacking such a ticket, however, the traveler may
arm himself with a letter from the transportation company stat-
ing that passage to and beyond Colombia is being arranged. I
have found Colombia's bark far worse than its bite. Formidable-
looking papers abound at every turn but nearly all of them will
be filled out by the carrier in connection with your approach to
Colombia, or by officials at the airports or wharves of entry. I
was once rushed through the whole job, immigration, health,
money, customs, in about five minutes at the Barranquilla airport
by courteous Colombian officials. They seemed truly eager to
help in speeding me along so that I should not miss my plane for
Bogota, which was ready to go, its propellers whirring. Such
courtesy, not too common at the world's frontiers, quite warmed
my heart.
The fifteen-day "transit" stay is enough to enable the traveler
to make the Barranquilla-Bogoti-Cartagena-Barranquilla triangle
trip in full comfort, adding, if desired, such attractive cities as Cali
and Medellin, with a look also at historic Santa Marta, the early
explorers' gateway to the vast, unknown hinterland, the city, like-
wise, where Sim6n Bolivar spent his last tragic days.


"Papers" are far less formidable now than they were during
the first year or two after the war. A health and vaccination cer-
tificate, easily secured from your personal physician (ask the air-
line or travel agent for the conventional wording), will certainly
be needed at various points, and it is well to have plenty of pass-
port-size photographs in your pocket; but the police letter, your
bank's "solvency" letter, and the letter of recommendation from
the carrier or travel agency, which formerly caused travelers
plenty of annoyance, seem now to have dropped quietly into
limbo. Not once, on my most recent trip, were these papers
needed. The police letter, certifying that you have not been
a jailbird during the past five years, may possibly still be re-
quested at the Venezuelan and Colombian consulate where you
secure your visas, but I much doubt if there will be any firm in-
sistence upon it. You have an honest face and can surely get by
on that.
A Hundred-Dollar Warning
At Puerto Rico a warning card is distributed by Pan American
Airways to all passengers embarking for the Virgin Islands. It
should, I think, be amplified and distributed by all transportation
companies at the departing ports of the continental United States
on the traffic lanes leading to the Caribbean. The warning reads:
"All Passengers Please Note. U. S. Customs Regulations
prevent you from being entitled to ANY EXEMPTION from
duties on purchases made abroad unless you have been outside
of the United States for at least 48 hours. Also, only one ex-
emption is allowed during any 30 day period."
That is only a part of the story and the most widely known
part. The important addendum, in two sections, is this:
Puerto Rico is inside the United, States customs area. The
Virgin Islands are outside.
What does this mean in travel practice? It means that he who
tours the Caribbean and includes Puerto Rico in his itinerary uses


up the hundred-dollar exemption (allowed to United States res-
idents) upon entering that island. If he has only five dollars'
worth of trinkets picked up, for example, in Jamaica or Cuba, he
must waste the remaining ninety-five dollars of his exemption for
he has technically had "one exemption" and cannot claim another
for thirty days. He may be returning to Miami in five days or
fifteen or twenty-nine, stopping en route at other islands, but
every additional item he acquires abroad must be declared with-
out benefit of exemption unless there is a thirty-day interval be-
tween his arrival in Puerto Rico and his ultimate arrival on the
home mainland.
In the case of the Virgin Islands, which constitute a shopper's
paradise because they are nearly a "free port," the regulations
mean that if one flies thither from Puerto Rico-as everyone does
-one cannot bring back, even to Puerto Rico, any purchases en-
titled to the hundred-dollar exemption (a) unless one has remained
away two full days and nights, and (b) unless one has not re-
ceived any exemption at Puerto Rico (or elsewhere) within
thirty days.
The regulations seem to me hard in their effect on tourists.
Politically, and in all matters of national allegiance, Puerto Rico
is certainly a part of the United States and its citizens are as
American as you and I, but the island is one of many in a natural
travel arc swinging around from the tip of Florida to the tip of
Venezuela. Almost all tourists are caught in the technicality of
having to go through the regular American customs when they
are only half-way through their Caribbean tour, and worst of all,
just before entering the Virgin Islands, where they have probably
planned a particularly pleasant shopping spree.
What can be done about the dilemma? Several courses may be
followed. One may forget the whole problem ("after all, what's
a hundred dollars?"), but this solution does not work. Even the
wealthy traveler is usually as keen about exemptions due him as
is the budget-watcher. One may try to plan the itinerary so as to
include Puerto Rico early in the itinerary and buy nothing before


entering that island, or late in the itinerary and buy nothing after
leaving it. This is only a partial solution and an unsatisfactory
one. The best plan is to talk candidly with the customs examiner
when you land in Puerto Rico. He is human and courteous and
is quite as anxious to avoid "sticking" you as you are to avoid
being stuck. Ask him what to do. The chances are that he will
agree to mark your declaration "Deferred Exemption" if you
turn over to his keeping all items declared, and you can pick
them up again upon your departure from the island. Such items
may then be a portion of your regular declaration upon return-
ing to the continental United States. I think this solution will
"work," though I cannot guarantee it. It worked once in my
Seasons, Weathers and Clothes
"Seasonal advice" is simple in Caribbean travel. In the winter
months, broadly speaking, "there isn't any weather" on the
islands. Every day, at almost every point, is straight out of the
book of delight. It very rarely rains during January, February,
March and April. The planner for outdoor jaunts or picnics or
sailing parties may plan with full confidence and he is hereby
permitted to feel indignant, both with this present reporter and
with the weather man himself, if on any single occasion he is
"crossed up" by rain. Trinidad may present some rain in January,
as may also Jamaica and Cuba, but if this happens it will be
"unusual," in the Californian sense. Sometimes the dry season is
slow in getting under way. The noon hours will be hot, except
perhaps in Cuba, but mornings and gloamings will be cool and
the nights will be perfect. On a recent Caribbean trip in mid-
winter I exhumed my raincoat exactly twice in ten weeks. This
was on two successive afternoons in Jamaica when "unusual"
showers proved very wet.
Venezuelan coastal cities, including the capital, Caracas, at an
elevation of about three thousand feet, conform closely to the
weather habits of the islands. The same is true of Colombian


coastal cities but not of Bogota, the very lofty capital of that
country, at an impressive elevation of nearly nine thousand feet.
It can be cold, raw and very wet in Bogota any time. The city is
so near the equator that there is no winter or summer but only
wet and wetter seasons. However, I have found that for stays of
only a few days, even in the most inclement months, one cool-
weather suit and an ordinary raincoat meet all travel needs. The
sweaters and heavy underwear that cautious travelers often load
into their bags are quite unnecessary. It is much better to be
slightly uncomfortable on perhaps one or two exceptionally cold
days than to drag needless weight all around the tropics and to
pay for the same in excess weight charges at every flight.
If winters are perfect summers are considerably less than per-
fect. Then the rains descend and the tropical floods come "and
beat upon those islands." A saving grace, however, is that the
rains are more or less predictable. They often show a marked
preference for certain hours of the day, particularly those of the
middle and late afternoon. They come quickly and with violence,
pour great guns and then depart as swiftly as they came. Often
they give repeat performances and encores with gusto, just as if
there had been insistent applause from citizens and tourists alike.
There is little difference in the heat of the various islands ex-
cept in the case of Cuba, located just "south of Cancer," which is
noticeably cooler than the others. It is altitude, not latitude, that
counts elsewhere. All the islands of any travel importance have
high points where every visitor will notice, with relief, the fresh
coolness of the atmosphere. No thermometer is needed for con-
firmation. Sea-level temperatures, however, are mightily modified
by the blessed and beneficent trade winds straight off the sea. I
have been surprised and resurprised scores of times by the utterly
delightful coolness of breeze-beaten shores on latitudes twenty,
fifteen, even ten degrees from the sizzling equator. The cities may
be roasting hot where the breeze is hindered by closely packed
buildings but given half a chance the trades sweep this furnace
heat into oblivion even during the noon hours. In Tobago and


in Cartagena, to give but two examples, I have been "almost too
cool," and loving it, at high noon on sea level.
Clothes present no problem in the Caribbean, with the single
exception of lofty Bogota, which is not properly a Caribbean
city but which is included in this book because it is a city of ab-
sorbing interest and because the natural approach to it-by plane
-is from Caribbean ports. One should take the clothes of high
summer, wearing the minimum of warm wraps to board train or
plane in cold cities of the United States. It is not even necessary
to take a great deal of this light clothing. The fifty-five-pound
free limit allowed by the various air companies is ample for the
average man or woman. Facilities for quick laundry work are
available at all the chief hotels and even-to the pleasant surprise
of most travelers-facilities for quick dry cleaning.
A raincoat of the feather-light, transparent type is suitable for
the tropics and may likely never leave your bag. A bathing suit
is, of course, essential. Most of the large hotels have sumptuous
swimming pools or else broad beaches at their doors. Beach shoes,
of rope or fiberware, are to be bought almost anywhere in the
Caribbean at next to nothing.
Easy does it in planning the clothes program. I know of no
large holiday area in the world where the matter may be so
simply settled, even for a trip of many weeks.

Some Things to Know
About Food and Drink and Health
Travelers in hot latitudes may perhaps have a touch of "trop-
ical tummy" before they return home but very few have any
serious health difficulties. This book hardly feels equipped to give
sage advice on matters of health, despite the frequent tropical
travels of its author. Some signposts may, however, be erected.
First, go easy on unbottled water unless you have reasonable
assurance from someone you can trust that it is "all right." Hotel
waiters almost everywhere are glib in their assurances but they


are not the most dependable authorities. Watch out especially in
the less sanitary lands, in cities where the water supply is of
dubious character, and in regions where endemic diseases are
known to prevail. In the splendid city of Caracas, to give a single
instance, water is not to be drunk unless it is known to have been
boiled and filtered. In British-managed and American-managed
hotels of quality throughout the Caribbean, whenever the man-
agers have assured me that the drinking water is good, or has been
boiled, I have generally taken their word for it, though even such
assurances may not be one hundred per cent safe. Mineral water
may be had at moderate cost everywhere and many travelers
order it at every meal. I confess that I personally am rather less
careful than I advise others to be, but once in a while I have
wished that I had taken my own advice more seriously.
Second, uncooked fruits and vegetables with their skins on, for
example, plums and tomatoes, and likewise lettuce, should be
looked at askance and avoided except where assurances are be-
yond question. Such foods, carelessly taken and eaten, can cause
much more serious trouble than tropical tummy.
Third, consult someone who knows the tropics and their health
ways and byways if you are venturing on unbeaten paths and
roughing it or "going native." Malaria, typhoid or other scourges
can cost far more than such venturings are worth.
Fourth, don't worry needlessly, as some tourists do, for such
worry is wholly unwarranted and is a disease in itself. Nearly all
who stay on the main paths of tourism complete their trips with
no health troubles whatever unless perhaps a day or two of "in-
ternal discomfort" at some point or other of the tour, perhaps
because of frequent changes in diet or in altitude.

About Luggage Through the Air
The chief air lines grant international passengers a free luggage
allowance of twenty-five kilos, which means fifty-five pounds.
This is enough for any average tourist in warm latitudes, where

clothing is necessarily light. Some of the system timetables, espe-
cially those of Pan American Airways, print suggested lists of
clothing for travelers and it generally astonishes the first-timer to
read how nmch he or she can take without incurring excess-
weight charges. These charges are usually "one per cent of the
normal all-year one-way fare per kilo." (A kilo is 2.2 pounds.)
Local lines within the various islands and countries generally
grant the international weight allowance to those carrying inter-
national tickets. Otherwise the free allowance may be somewhat
lower on local flights.

About Air Mail
Air mail is a subject of vast importance to the traveler (what-
ever he may think and say in advance about "getting away from
mail and the telephone") and it used to be a complex and trou-
bling subject. In postwar years, however, matters have been sim-
plified and postage rates impressively lowered. The United
States has taken a drastic lead in both simplification and rate re-
duction and those who travel, or who have friends, relatives or
business contacts abroad, should feel due gratitude for the sub-
stantial relief that has been effected. Air-mail letters from the
States to any part of the Caribbean, and likewise to any part of
Central America and South America, even the most remote lands
like Chile and Argentina, now require only ten cents per half
ounce; but to Cuba it is only eight cents. To Puerto Rico and the
Virgin Islands, both being United States soil, it is but five cents
per full ounce.
In the opposite direction rates from Caribbean lands are some-
what higher but in a general way other countries and colonial
possessions have followed America's lead. It usually costs the
equivalent of about thirteen cents for thin letters and air-mailed
post cards. Colombia's rates are somewhat higher; but Venezuela
put into effect, in the spring of 1947, the most drastic cut yet


seen, reducing the rate for 5-gram letters from 45 centavos to 15
centavos, that is from I3%, cents to 4%/' cents.
Use air mail exclusively for letters and post cards unless you
are willing to let your missives wander about for a month or so
to reach their destinations. Air mail now takes two to five days
from anywhere to anywhere.

About Tips and Service Charges
The tip problem is insoluble in any clear, definite and all-
applicable way. It cannot be solved until human temperaments,
those on the giving and receiving end alike, fall into a uniform
mold, or until all the governments in the world make it a misde-
meanor to give or receive a tip, substituting a service charge for
tips, and establishing stern tariffs for porters and the like. Some
governments, especially those in South America, have gone a
long way in the direction of fixing service charges and tariffs, but
in the Caribbean the matter is strictly "up to you" in almost
every locality.
I wish I could present a dependable set of rules on tipping. I
wish I could read or hear such a presentation, but the thing
simply isn't. Confusion reigns and will reign while people are
people. Tourists continually ask about it in lowered tones. Some
worry about it. Some tip too much, some too little. Some always
have the right change. More find that they rarely have the right
change. Some seem never to have any change at all and furtively
borrow from the nearest fellow-tourist at hand. On the receiving
end, some waiters, chambermaids and porters always accept with
a courteous and cheerful "Thank you" or "Gracias," whatever
is given them. Others look glum and bitter and say nothing un-
less they get two or three times what a normal tip should be. I
recall a porter to whom I gave a quarter for carrying two ordi-
nary-sized bags to my room. Upon receiving the coin he said
nothing. Instead he flipped it contemptuously to the ceiling with
his thumb. He failed to catch it and was forced to spoil his little


act by stooping to pick it up. Then he withdrew "as sour as a
squashbug." I recall another porter to whom I gave the equivalent
of one cent, supposing it to be a silver coin worth twenty cents.
He thanked me gravely and with no trace of discourtesy. Too
late I discovered my error and could do nothing about it except
to hope that he would get a special rating on St. Peter's register.
The best you can hope to do on your travels is to make your
own tipping rules and stick to them, for your own peace of
mind. The best I can do, here, is to offer a few broad "ideas" on
the complex subject for what they may be worth.
i. Try always to have change. One can achieve this by break-
ing bills, where possible, for small transactions.
2. In hotel dining rooms I have usually found it effective to
"pay as I go." If the matter is left until the last meal of a substan-
tial stay the wrong waiter may pocket the whole thing (tempta-
tion is strong) and other waiters who have given good service
may receive nothing. In general it is certainly sufficient to leave a
quarter (or a shilling or a gourde or a bolivar) for each major
meal and ten or fifteen cents for each breakfast. A dollar or two
or three to the head waiter, at the end of a stay, will bring a
smile to his urbane features but many do not tip this dignitary. It
may not be strictly necessary.
3. If you do not see the chambermaid when you leave (plane
travelers often have to depart from hotels before dawn) leave
something marked for her in an envelope, perhaps the equivalent
of a quarter for each day. This will leave a warm glow behind
4. Don't forget the barman, if you have been served by him,
and remember that in British-managed hotels the "boots" may
likely be a separate person. Give him something if you have used
his services and can find him, but the boots is a shadowy creature
in some hotels. In others he is effusively in evidence.
5. At the hotel door, when you depart, you are almost sure to
find an assorted group of lackeys, some of whom you have never
noticed before and who have presumably done little or nothing


for you. A little needless and "morally indefensible" largesse at
this point will vastly brighten and lighten your going. It will be
worth-to yourself-what it costs.
Having said all this-quite gratuitously perhaps-I may say also
that some travelers make it a point to speak in advance to the
management in every hotel, requesting that a service percentage
be added to the bill and that the management distribute the
amount equitably among the staff as tips. In a good many places
this will be done, cheerfully and honestly. In others the guest will
be asked to handle the matter himself. In Venezuela and Co-
lombia a service charge is automatically added to the bill, this
system now prevailing throughout South America and in many
European countries, but by no means in England. Britain and
America are the world's great strongholds of the tip system and
throughout the Caribbean islands British-American tip standards
prevail, even in the French-speaking and Spanish-speaking places.

About Worry and How to Enjoy It
It is possible, and even quite practicable and easy, to worry
about various things beside tips during one's entire trip. Passport
and visas, entrances and exits, with immigration papers, money
declarations, health papers, customs formalities, possible loss of
connections when one's plane is late, doubts as to whether the
night porter will remember to call one for a pre-dawn departure,
doubts about baggage that may get lost and items that may be
stolen, doubts about the firmness of the hotel reservation at the
next halting point, health doubts, expenses, rascally taxi brigands,
what souvenirs and gifts to buy and where, without being
robbed, fears about home folks and concern about home letters
that don't come. These are but a few obvious sources of worry.
The expert can find many more and can savor them day and
night, especially at night. And a good way to enjoy worry to the
full is to assume that anything which goes smoothly and right is


an exception and that next time things will probably be normal,
that is "all fouled up."
A disappointing feature of this program of worry is that things
do, in actual practice, go right very much oftener than they go
wrong, and furthermore, even when they go wrong they have a
disheartening habit of straightening out. Another distressing
thing is that almost all immigration and health and money and
customs officials are merely friendly folks, eager to hustle their
"clients" through the formalities without difficulties, which
would also cause difficulty, and extra work, for them. One may
obviate this frontier smoothness to some extent by being irritable,
cross, nervous, suspicious of everyone, and by arguing heatedly
at the least hint of challenge or at any routine question. Coolness
and patience are fatal. There is almost no chance of serious
trouble if one persists in displaying such qualities.
At hotel reception desks it helps if one can bristle effectively
at the first indication that the clerk is dubious about being able to
provide accommodations. A muttered implication that he is
stupid or dishonest may clinch the matter so that he will not try
at all to work out the problem. And if the mail clerk, in turn, can
be given to understand that he is deliberately holding out on the
guest and that letters "simply must be waiting" he also will be
offended and will do as little as he can to co-operate.
All such attitudes and hostile encounters are born of worry
and can be nurtured into a volume of troubles spelling outright
disaster to the trip. But coolness and patience, those twin enemies
of trouble, can save the day time and time again. A ready smile,
a bit of humorous banter and sustained courtesy, supporting a
quiet pressure for one's rights and desires, will work veritable
miracles. Such tactics must be carefully avoided by the de-
termined tourist who prefers to pursue a tortuous course of
worry from island to island.



THE multitudinous moneys of the world are a prime curse of
travel and I suppose only when the Age of Utopia arrives-and it
did not immediately set in with the coming of the World Bank
and the Monetary Fund-will there be one currency, valid every-
where. The dollar comes nearest to being a Caribbean currency
but it is far from universal even there.
Money is a worrisome thing, consuming endless hours of tour-
ist talk which could well be spent on subtler topics. Advance
thought and foreknowledge may, however, bring it under full
Some things to know in advance are these:
I. Large amounts of currency may cause difficulties, but any-
one may carry amounts up to fifty dollars without worry.
2. Bills in larger denominations than twenty dollars will defi-
nitely cause trouble. In some countries, notably Haiti, they cannot
be legally accepted or changed, even by the banks.
3. Black market operations play no part in your exchange
problems anywhere in the Caribbean. In every place your dollar
will have a definite exchange value. Hotels may have a slightly
less favorable exchange rate than banks but the difference is
negligible on moderate amounts. You will never encounter, as in
so many countries of postwar Europe and Latin America, furtive
"coyotes," as they are called, pursuing you to offer you black-
market money.
4. Travelers checks seem to me by far the simplest form of
money for Caribbean travelers. Letters of credit are slow and
clumsy affairs by comparison. Hotels and some stores accept your


travelers checks in every country and island. American Express
checks are the standard ones, universally known. For small last-
minute amounts Pan American Airways' "clipper air checks"
(actually issued by American Express) may save you substantial
sums in the aggregate. They come in five-dollar and one-dollar
denominations and may be cashed at most of the hotels. The
traveler-and his name is legion-who has been forced to cash a
ten-dollar or twenty-dollar American Express check just before
leaving some country in order to have a few coins for tips or an
extra dollar to settle his hotel account finds the small clipper
checks a comforting insurance against waste. Without them he
may be loaded time and again with foreign money which he can
change back into dollars only at a heavy loss, if at all. Some
countries view darkly the "exporting" or exchange of their
national currency into dollars. (Colombia is especially tough in
such matters.)
A money syllabus of the Caribbean, country by country and
island by island, may well supplement the generalities above.
Cuba has a peso which is the exact equivalent of the United
States dollar and is interchangeable with it. Only in subsidiary
coinage are small differences to be noted. The 20-centavos coin-
which is twenty cents-is much like an American quarter, but
one receives "five of it" for a peso (or dollar) instead of four.
Jamaica's paper money is Jamaican pounds (not British) but
its coins are the familiar silver coins used in England. These lat-
ter, to refresh your memory, are the half crown (2%/ shillings),
the florin (2 shillings), the shilling, the sixpence and the tiny
silver threepence (sometimes a larger brass-alloy coin). Of course
the large, clinkersize copper pennies and halfpennies are also
much in evidence, British style. They choke your pocketbook
and increase your gross weight when clothed and moneyed. Do
not make the mistake of supposing that British pound notes or
five-pound notes may be used in Jamaica. It has not always
proved possible, in my experience, even to exchange them on the
island. But American dollars are easily exchangeable and may be

used even in many shops, usually on a four-to-the-pound basis.
The actual pegged rate is, I believe, $4.0475 to the pound. It will
simplify your Jamaica transactions if, at the outset, you exchange
dollars into pounds, shillings and pence, the loss of about a nickel
to the pound being too slight to consider.
Haiti's currency is gourdes, which word is, of course, French
for gourd or calabash, a fruit whose shell is supposed to have
been a sort of wampum in the island's primitive days. The paper
gourde is exchangeable at exactly five to the dollar. One may use
either gourdes or dollars, interchangeably, for anything anywhere
in the country. I have found the twenty-cent paper gourdes use-
ful chiefly in "tips that fold" in restaurants and bars and for small
services. Remember that in Haiti no American paper bill of larger
denomination than twenty dollars may be legally exchanged. This
regulation is due to former trouble with spurious bills of large
denominations which are said to have plagued the country.
The Dominican Republic uses a peso which is exactly equiv-
alent to the U. S. dollar. It is a "bookkeeping peso" since no
Dominican paper money exists. American paper dollars are used
in all parts of the republic, but the subsidiary coins are Domin-
ican equivalents of the half dollar, quarter, dime, nickel and
Puerto Rico-to state the obvious-uses American currency
since it is part of the United States.
The Virgin Islands, being also American islands, use only
American money.
The Lesser Antilles, British and French, use British-type
moneys and depreciated francs, but-
Trinidad (with Tobago) has a currency system unique in the
world. It uses Trinidad dollars (equal to four shillings and two
pence) with British subsidiary coins. Its arithnnetic is American
even when dealing with half crowns, shillings and sixpences. The
island dollar is pegged at approximately $1.17 (Trinidad) to $1.oo
(U. S.) The shilling is considered and always called "twenty-four
cents," meaning Trinidad cents. The half crown is sixty cents,


the sixpence twelve cents. This is fairly simple arithmetic-two
local cents to the local penny-but in practice it takes a bit of
learning. The Trinidad dollar is a hundred mythical Trinidad
cents, meaning, in coins, four shillings and two pennies. "How
much do I owe you?" you ask at the cigarette counter or stamp
counter of your hotel. "Sixty-five cents, sir." And you, being
quick at figures, pay out two shillings, eightpence halfpenny.
That is thirty-two and a half pence or sixty-five cents. Simple,
isn't it? Or is it?
In any case be sure to acquire Trinidad dollars early in your
stay. That gives you, in effect, a seventeen per cent discount as
against American dollars, which are, of course, eagerly accepted
if you say nothing and do nothing. (Hotels generally give $1.15,
Trinidad currency, in exchange for U. S. dollars. This slight
difference from the bank rate is hardly worth bothering about.)
The Dutch islands (Curagao, Aruba, etc.) are more stringent in
their currency regulations than any country or other island in
the Caribbean area. They guard their guilder-which is now
worth about forty per cent more than the guilder of Mother
Holland-with a sort of tender zeal. The Curacao guilder is 1.85
to the dollar, which means 55 American cents to the guilder.
Upon arrival at the island you must declare all your money,
whether in currency or checks or letter of credit. The amounts
are set down on a vast green declaration paper in duplicate and
you keep one copy while on the island. If you cash travelers
checks the bank or person cashing them must set forth the
amount and also what you spend the money for! If you use cash
which you have brought in you yourself must set down what
you have spent it for. Upon departing from the island you sur-
render your duplicate paper, with this report of what you have
done with your money. Not even in bankrupt postwar Europe
does one encounter such strict currency regulations as in
Curagao; but if you "take it easy" there is nothing at all to worry
about. Expenditures may be lumped under general headings and
no penny-by-penny expense account is asked for. (Before buying


very much on the island-including the wonderful Curacao
liqueur-it would be well to inquire about export regulations.)
On several occasions I have found the courtesy and co-operation
of the petty officials at Curagao's shiny new airport to be of a
very high order indeed. The men are obviously trained to do
their difficult job in a manner to create friendliness rather than ill
will. Some of them even go so far as to display a sense of humor.
Venezuela's currency is the bolivar, named, of course, for the
country's great hero, the Liberator. The bolivar is universally
called the "B"-as in bee-and is worth almost exactly thirty
American cents. Venezuela is a decidedly expensive country in
transient travel costs as well as in articles tempting to shoppers.
This, however, is a special phenomenon and not due, in any great
degree, to inflation. Venezuela, blessed with vast oil deposits
which, for decades past, have brought rivers of wealth to those
in the luckier and smarter brackets, has long been known, and
widely advertised, as one of the most expensive countries in the
world. The public impression is, in general, correct and should
not be dispelled as a myth, yet a visit to Venezuela is by no means
the prohibitive affair which many Americans suppose. Fifteen
dollars a day, American Plan, provides accommodation and ex-
cellent meals in Caracas' Hotel Avila, one of the most luxurious
and tasteful hostelries in the western hemisphere; and I have re-
cently stayed for as little as five dollars a day, also American Plan,
in Maracay's famous Hotel Jardin. In general Caracas may be
considered perhaps fifty per cent more expensive than most other
Caribbean capitals. Smaller Venezuelan towns seem to me no
more expensive than their counterparts elsewhere.
Colombia, with a sixty-cent peso, is almost, if not quite, as ex-
pensive as Venezuela. Its money regulations are stringent but not
very evident to the average traveler, as they are in the case of
Curacao. He merely declares his money upon entering and upon
leaving (but need not give an accounting), signs papers that are
thrust before him and goes his way by air or sea or land.
Caribbean moneys, despite the great variety of sovereignties in


the area, are nothing to view with alarm, as will be seen by a
review of the foregoing paragraphs. In most of the islands the
U. S. dollar is thoroughly at home, if not an actual "resident." On
the expensive Spanish Main the units of currency are at least
simple to understand and figure, being worth thirty and sixty
cents respectively in the two countries with which we are



HOTELS throughout the Caribbean are good but fearfully over-
crowded in the delectable high season of January through Easter.
It is absolutely unsafe for the traveler to "blow in," hoping for
luck. His troubles in getting any sort of a roof over his head will
probably be grim and prolonged. Only the most durable tempers,
and bodies, can absorb the punishment. Secure your reservations
far ahead! And have the evidence of confirmations with you
when you arrive at each place. The pressure on hotel managers
and clerks to release rooms not yet claimed by those with reser-
vations is terrific and a guest at the counter is occasionally "worth
two in the bush," but a confirmed reservation is almost always
held until early evening. If you are to arrive late in the evening
an advance understanding on the subject, or an advance check,
by way of deposit, is strongly advisable.
Few cities or resorts in the Caribbean have more than one
strictly first-class hotel and that one is the cynosure of all travel-
ing eyes. The price of a single room, with meals, is usually about
ten or twelve dollars a day, though some attractive places ask
only seven or eight dollars. In a few places there are rival estab-
lishments of approximately equal merit. In many cases new,
large hotels de luxe are under construction or at least "contem-
plated." We shall let our vision swing around the circle, survey-
ing hotels as it has already surveyed passports and moneys.
Cuba, being long accustomed to tidal waves of tourists, is fairly
well equipped to meet these storms. There are many good hotels,
a few excellent ones, and a single supreme one, the world-famous
Hotel Nacional de Cuba, a palace of tourism located on a bluff


above Havana's Malec6n. Its public rooms and nightclubs, its
swimming pool and lounging lawn, almost hanging over the sea,
its smart shops and travel offices, all proclaim it the sophisticated
focus of a sophisticated metropolis. It is a city in itself. Personally,
though I have enjoyed the amenities and luxuries of the Nacional
on two occasions, I have generally preferred to stay at one of the
downtown hotels, of which the Sevilla-Biltmore is the leader.
This is located directly on the Prado, within a stone's toss of the
Parque Central. The Royal Palm Hotel, on the chief shopping
thoroughfare (Calle San Rafeal) is a recommendable place of
more Cuban atmosphere and considerably lower tariffs. The
beaches and spas of Cuba boast several luxury hotels, of which
the Karwama Club, at Varadero Beach, is the doyen. Others are
springing up at various places, notable examples being the cur-
rent development at Jibacoa Beach, between Havana and Vara-
dero, and the lovely spa of Viiales in the province of Pinar del
Rio. The best hotels of most provincial cities in Cuba are fair to
good, but not outstanding. Even Santiago, Cuba's second city and
one of the most interesting of all Latin-American communities,
boasts only the decaying once-pretentious Casa Grande. Provin-
cial Cuba, however, "talks good hotels" in earnest tones, and some
of the talk is already turning into steel and concrete.

Jamaica is extremely tourist-conscious and yearly growing
more so. In Kingston, the island capital, is the Myrtle Bank Hotel,
once owned by the United Fruit Company but now owned by
local interests. It is of mission style, its predecessor, of brick,
having been shaken down by the earthquake of 1907. In its pres-
ent reincarnation it is one of the most insistently appealing
hotels I know in the tropics. Its bedrooms and public rooms,
while good, are not of a quality or modernity (with the excep-
tion of the cheerful dining room) to wring raptures from the
guest but the whole place has atmosphere. It is built around a
glorious palmy lawn, culminating in a swimming pool, a harbor-


side wharf and the crinkled harbor itself, from which a cool
breeze seems always to blow, sometimes mildly, sometimes
briskly. No one who has loafed here for even an hour, poolside
or harborside, imbibing cool drinks and warm sunshine, looking
across the harbor to the eight-mile arm of land called the Pal-
isadoes which encircles it, the finger-tips being the ghostly pirate
town of Port Royal, ever forgets it. On Sunday mornings the
Jamaica Military Band, gaily caparisonedd," plays on the hotel
lawn and this too one never forgets, as a scene. The Myrtle Bank
is an oasis of charm contiguous to a squalid red-light portion of
central Kingston which abounds in Negro bars and juke-box
"jernts." Let those seamy things cause you no trace of concern.
Within the portals and patio of the hotel you are in a "city of
The hotel of Kingston called the Constant Spring Hotel, some
miles inland, and once almost as familiar to tourists as the Myrtle
Bank, is no more. It is now a Catholic girls' school. The chief
place for tourists in the suburb of Constant Spring is now the
Manor House, and very good. Another very recommendable
place in the environs of Kingston is the Mona Great House in the
suburb of Liguanea.
At Montego Bay, chief resort of Jamaica and connected with
Miami by direct air service, the most conspicuous hotel, directly
adjoining the famous beach called Doctor's Cave, is the Casa
Blanca. It is excellent and has a most alluring seaside terrace, but
for some visitors it is too popular, too noisy nocturnally with gay
and bibulous parties. Failing to get a room here on my first visit
to "Mo Bay" I moved on about half a mile along the shore to the
Chatham and found it delightful. It is quieter, a little simpler, but
a first-class hotel in every way, with a fine stretch of beach which
has long been virtually its own, though not actually private prop-
erty of the hotel. This beach will be shared henceforth by
guests of a shore-front hotel now under construction on the site
of a former villa called Sunset Lodge, the property being more
or less adjacent to the Chatham. Beach View, very near the Casa


Blanca, is another hotel of quality in Montego Bay. Friends of
mine who like the best everywhere, and can afford it, speak well
of the Beach View.
Three other notable hotels of Jamaica are Good Hope Great
House, Shaw Park Hotel at Ocho Rios and the Titchfield at Port
Antonio, but of Jamaica and its resorts more in Chapter I.

Haiti has one excellent and several good hotels in the capital,
Port-au-Prince; and also one first-rate place (Hostellerie du Roi
Christophe) in Cap Haitien, on the north coast, this being the
overnight halting place for visitors to Christophe's Citadel.
The leader of the Port-au-Prince hotels, a new and gleaming
hilltop inn high above the city yet in it and of it, is named Hotel
La Citadelle. A young lady from deepest Texas (and Manhattan),
Mrs. Elizabeth Roy, is its owner and director. Her husband, Cap-
tain Edouard Roy, is the 0. C. of the Haitian Air Force. Their
two little girls, Elizabeth and Rona, are "props" of the hotel, and
so devastating in their affectionate ways with all the guests that
the most determined formalist finds his heart melted within him.
Elizabeth tends toward shyness but Rona is the sociable type. She
makes it her business to shake hands and say good night to every
guest at dinner every night. This is her own idea, a treasured rite,
of which she will not be denied. If the guest is in the least
responsive-and who could fail to be-she sidles closer, waiting to
be patted or petted.
It is hard for me to write of La Citadelle in tame, matter-of-
fact sentences, for it is an Elysium, perched between blue sky and
blue sea. Its terrace, by day or by night, is a dreamer's dream, a
romantic's romance, the answer to a traveler's prayer. The cuisine
of this hotel, to be a bit practical, is as good as the very best any-
where in the Caribbean and the appointments of the place are
modern, including the plumbing, which is something to italicize
in Haiti.

Hotel Splendide is a very good hostelry of Port-au-Prince,
located down in the town. It is Haitian-managed and was once
the luxurious French-style residence of the owner's father, a
wealthy member of the Haitian elite. It is old-style, spacious, well
maintained, and here one is more likely than in La Citadelle to
encounter Haitian aristocrats, of that segment of exclusive society
which wears complexions the color of cream-with-coffee and is
equipped with education and social elegance unsurpassed any-
where. The Haitian elite are unique. No similar society exists in
any other land.
Hotel Sans Souci and Hotel Olofsson are other good city-level
places of Port-au-Prince.
High in the hills above the capital is the village of Kenscoff
(4,500 feet altitude) with acceptable resort hotels, which may,
however, be closed in winter. It is definitely cool and occasionally
cold up aloft in January and February.
Thorland Country Club, some eight miles from Port-au-Prince,
has a pleasant swimming pool which is open to tourists staying
at the hotels. There is talk of the construction of cottages here
for transients but at present they are more rumor than fact. In-
quiry may be addressed to Mr. Hart of the Thorland Club and
perhaps it will be found that the rumors are taking physical form.
This would be a delightful place to stay, though a bit far from
the city.

The Dominican Republic's varied attractions are almost over-
shadowed, touristically speaking, by the Hotel Jaragua (pro-
nounced Harigua) of the capital (Ciudad Trujillo), a veritable
palace for travelers. In folder language it calls itself "a new travel
sensation" and "the West Indies' finest hotel." Both claims are
fair, as any traveler will substantiate. It is a new travel sensation,
a city of thrills in itself, and it is, in physical fact, the West Indies'
finest hotel, with only the Nacional de Cuba and the new Avila
of Caracas to give serious challenge to its supremacy.
The Jaragua, located on the shore boulevard called Avenida

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Washington, is the pride of the president who has rebuilt the
capital since the disastrous earthquake of 1930 and has bestowed
his name upon it. The hotel was opened just before Christmas in
1943 and is already in process of being enlarged by a new wing
and new lawn-cottages, to provide a total of one hundred and
sixty rooms. It has every luxury conceivable, including, of course,
a gambling casino. As if its present congeries of ballrooms, patios,
nightclubs, movie theater, cocktail terraces, solarium, swimming
pool and so forth were not enough it is adding a roof nightclub
of such pretentions that evening dress and tuxedos are de rigueur.
I know of no other night spot in the Caribbean except the Gran
Casino Nacional of Havana which sets such stern sartorial stand-
It is fair to say of the Jaragua that it is not merely pretentious.
Its bedrooms and baths are undeniably "the West Indies' finest"
(again challenged by Caracas' Avila but perhaps not by the older
Nacional de Cuba). And it is fair to say also that its service and
maintenance are superb. On the first day of my first stay there I
broke off the key in the lock of my bedroom door in such a way
that the door could not be closed. I rang for a maid, who called
"one of the mechanics," who appeared within three minutes and
had a new lock in the door within thirty minutes. Can one
imagine such a phenomenon occurring anywhere else in Latin
America? The answer is no.
The Dominican Republic is not content with the Jaragua as its
only show piece. A new commercial hotel is taking shape in the
heart of the capital. Another fine new hotel is nearly ready at the
beach resort of Boca Chica, a few miles along the coast, eastward
from Ciudad Trujillo. Still other new hotels are to be built shortly
at Puerto Plata, on the north coast, and at Costanza, a valley re-
sort some miles south of Jarabacoa in the center of the island.
That town, by the way, attracts attention because of a beautiful
and much-publicized waterfall, the Salto de Jimenoa, which is
engraved on various postage stamps of the republic.


Puerto Rico hopes soon to be among the best hoteled islands
of the Caribbean. A new, ultra-modern 300-room hotel in San
Juan is under construction and will be one of the Hilton-managed
chain. It will be a combination resort and commercial hotel, with
every modernity, splendidly located near the present Escambr6n
Beach Club. It may be approaching steel and concrete actuality
before this pre-report of it is published. When opened it will
certainly be another challenger for the title of "the West Indies'
The Condado Beach Hotel, in the suburban Condado section
of San Juan, has been for years the leader of Puerto Rico's hotels
and because of its unequaled location it is bound to remain ex-
tremely popular. It is directly on its own wave-washed headland
and beach cove across the bay from the town hotels (including
the large new one) and is so situated, unlike the others, that the
trade winds pile a thunderous surf against its rock base and on
brisk days even fling a delicious cool mist over the very dining
terrace. One would never get wet there except in a hurricane but
the "voice of the sea" is marvelous, vigorous, stimulating, and its
breath is always cool. Never shall I forget my first stay in the
Condado. I even remember the room number-20o-a feat which
I can duplicate in the case of only one other Caribbean hotel
where I have stayed (number 5 in Haiti's La Citadelle). Each
time I entered room 201 the surf-roar literally smote my ears. It
was a sort of "soft thunder" that I loved immoderately and of
which I never tired. All through my sleep it roared to me com-
panionably. And all night, as at high noon, the breeze made my
room and every part of the hotel as cool as a cucumber on ice.
That, I assure the reader who is unfamiliar with tropical latitudes,
is something to consider in selecting your hotel.
The Escambr6n Beach Club is a good hotel, in a small way,
though chiefly it is what its name implies, a seabathers' and sun-
bathers' retreat.
The San Gerdnimno is an excellent "guest house" in San Juan,
maintained by Pan American Airways for its fliers and for its


passengers who may be making only a brief stay, especially over-
nighters awaiting plane connections. It is exceptionally attractive,
in an arty way, with interior decorations by Pamela Drake. And-
the San Ger6nimo is tipless.
The Hotel Normandie, while rating as many stars in some
guidebooks as the places above mentioned, seems to me to be
chiefly a vast swimming pool with tiers of cubicle-bedrooms
above and around it, on five or six floors. It is a place to consider
seriously if the other hotels are full, and perhaps in this I am not
fair to it. It is especially popular with baseball fans, being op-
posite the entrance to San Juan's fine modern ball park.
Resort hotels of down-island and up-island Puerto Rico are
mostly in the dream stage at present, one dream to watch closely
being the Luquillo Beach development near the island's northeast
tip. An important tourist center is planned for this region, though
the lovely beach itself will probably be restricted to villas and
beach clubs. The development of El Yunque, on a lofty and im-
pressive eminence in the National Forest, is a fact rather than a
dream, at least to the extent of overnight cabins and a first-class
restaurant; and Treasure Island is an established camping-type
development at Cidra, south of San Juan. A mellow old spa popu-
lar for many years with fashionable Puerto Ricans is Coamo
Springs, with an old but good hotel serving good food.
Provincial cities of Puerto Rico offer no luxury hotels but the
Melid of Ponce and the Palma of Mayagiiez are good. Colonial
Ponce, on the south coast, is a city of special appeal, and the roads
to it from San Juan offer glorious mountain scenery at every
turn. So remember the Melii.

The Virgin Islands of the United States, but not the Virgins of
Britain, are rapidly developing as goals of tourist travel. So im-
portant is this traffic already that two air lines (PAA and Carib-
bean Atlantic Airlines) maintain each a twice-a-day service from
and to San Juan with excellent, modern planes. Hotels are not yet


sufficiently numerous or large to cope with this growing trade
and they are always crowded in winter. But if you can get res-
ervations you will find their quality good and the atmosphere
exceptionally interesting.
St. Thomas, the capital island, has three good hotels. Hotel
Bluebeard's Castle, on high ground, is the most conspicuous and
its terrace has a very marvelous view of city and harbor, sug-
gesting the terrace view from Haiti's Hotel La Citadelle. The
establishment is excellent in every way. It incorporates Blue-
beard's Castle as a part of its very self but does not seriously pre-
tend that there was ever a Bluebeard on the island, though there
was a gruesomely factual "Blackbeard," the brutal pirate Edward
Teach. The castle of Bluebeard was actually a Danish govern-
ment fort in the seventeenth century.
Hotel 1829, on a slight eminence in the very heart of the cap-
ital town (officially called Charlotte Amalie but commonly
known merely as St. Thomas), is a personality hotel of smaller
type and it surely has a personality name. A young Puerto Rican
immigration man at the San Juan airport once asked me where I
intended to stay in St. Thomas. I replied "Hotel 1829." New at
his job, he asked in puzzlement, "Will you please spell that, sir?"
The name has twenty-eight letters and a hyphen but only four
digits so I wrote out the digits on a scrap of paper. "Oh," he said,
in embarrassed tone.
The place was once a colonial home and the present owner
found the date March 12, 1829, with the initials A. L. carved on
a beam, so he borrowed the date as the name of the hotel. A
French couple named Antoine and Angela Lavalette owned the
home in 1829, as is evidenced by an old deed. It passed later to a
Spanish family and then to a Danish family. The present owner
of it-who bought it for a hotel in 1939-is an American named
Walter Maguire. Together with his wife he runs it as a guest
house, in the basic sense of that phrase. Charm has been added to
charm over a period of at least fourteen decades and not the least
of these charms is the conversation which is a feature at twilight


every evening as the host gathers kindred spirits to himself on a
corner of the veranda. "Dutch drinks" are the order of the dusk,
long cool ones, generally based on Virgins rum, and for some
ninety minutes relaxation reigns supreme. No pleasanter moments
can be spent in the tropics than these of 1829. On the day of the
date carved on the beam, March 12, the sun sets in St. Thomas at
18:29 (6:29) and every year exactly at that moment of that day
drinks to all comers are "on the house." "But not at 18:3o," as-
serts Mr. Maguire. "You have to be here at 18:29 to rate a free
The Grand Hotel, just below the 1829, is well placed at a cor-
ner of Emancipation Park. It is a well-maintained hotel with va-
rious shops and tourist offices on the ground floor, allowing plenty
of room, however, for one of the town's most popular bars.
St. John, connected with St. Thomas by a daily motor-boat
service from the wharf at Red Hook, has exactly one tourist resort
but a most charming, "lost" one. It is Caneel Bay and here com-
pletely up-to-date cabins, with modern kitchens, electric refrig-
erator and even maid service, may be rented by the week. Their
excellence and completeness amazed me but I was only able to visit
friends in one of them for a day. These cabins are in tremendous
demand and a couple or family who can devote a week or a
month to this quiet paradise should write far ahead to Virgin
Islands Tours Inc. (Santiago Ortiz, manager), St. Thomas, Vir-
gin Islands; or to Puerto Rico Tours, Inc., 309 Recinto Sur St.,
San Juan (9), Puerto Rico. One may, alternatively, try Mr.
Cardenas, Manager Caneel Bay Resort, St. John, Virgin Islands,
but I personally would have more faith in receiving a reply from
a tourist agent than from a harried manager in his remote little
island empire.
St. Croix, largest of the U. S. Virgins and the most distant, is
the terminal point of the Caribbean Atlantic Airlines (from
Puerto Rico) but is not touched by PAA services. It has two
hotels, one of which is tourist-conscious and earnest in advertis-
ing. This is Hotel-on-the-Cay (Paul Gillis, manager), located on


its own private islet in the harbor of Christiansted, the small cap-
ital of St. Croix. Hotel-on-the-Cay is rightly proud of the fact
that it was once a retreat-residence for the governors of the Vir-
gin Islands in former Danish days. It has recently added small
separate cottages to the main mansion. The other St. Croix hotel
of interest to travelers is Coulter's, in Frederiksted, the chief
commercial town of the island. In a waterfront warehouse (that of
Nicholas Crujer) in this town Alexander Hamilton, a native of
Nevis, worked as a youngster.

Antigua, the chief halting-place of planes (both PAA and
BWIA) in the Leeward Islands because of its splendid war-built
airport, has a good inn at "The Beach," which, however, is some
two miles distant from the island's little capital, St. John's. In the
capital itself the center of life is the Globe Hotel, whose lounge
and glassed veranda are decidedly convivial, in a folksy and spir-
ituous way. Bedrooms on the tradewindward side of the hotel are
blessed with a fine cool breeze off the sea. Kensington House is a
good place of quieter quality and Happy Acres, a half mile out of
town, is definitely recommendable.

The French Antilles means glamorous Martinique, birthplace
of Napoleon's wife Jos6phine and Louis XIV's wife Madame de
Maintenon, and the double island of Guadeloupe (physically
like a pair of inflated water wings) with its dependencies. At the
moment neither Martinique nor Guadeloupe is served by any air
line but both remain as permanent fixtures on the PAA timetable,
being on the main route from New York to Rio and Buenos
Aires. It may be confidently expected that air service by one or
more systems (perhaps that of Air France) will soon be opened.
Fort-de-France is the capital of Martinique and the chief hotels
here are Hotel de la Paix and Hotel Gallia.


Basse Terre is the capital of Guadeloupe but it is oddly inac-
cessible for an island capital. The chief city, actually, is Pointe-d-
Pitre, near the curious Riviere Sal6e, a salt-water strait that cuts
Guadeloupe into two nearly equal sections. The hotels here are
Hotel des Antilles and Hotel Astoria.
Trinidad has one outstanding hotel in the large island capital,
Port-of-Spain. It is the widely known Queen's Park Hotel, lo-
cated directly on the famous Savannah, or Queen's Park, most
extensive and gloriously verdant town park in the West Indies
and one of the major sights of Trinidad. The hotel is the un-
challenged nucleus of the island's life, permanent, transient, com-
mercial, tourist, but despite all the activity, the busy coming and
going of guests and parties at all hours, the general air of trop-
ical beauty and relaxation is so pervasive that no one who is not
himself hard pressed by an itinerary ever feels that there is any
such boresome thing as time. One wing of the hotel is in obvious
need of renovation and modernization, as are some of the public
rooms, but big and very costly plans for general rejuvenation are
now afoot. The Queen's Park will emerge from its long-tenanted
chrysalis like an emperor moth-or his empress-as soon as the
necessary materials can be secured.
The Saddle House, a more modest but thoroughly attractive
little hotel near the beginning of the scenic Saddle Road, is a
place to know and to recommend. I have been delighted with its
garden patio and its homelikeness.
The Mount Saint Benedict Guest House (or Rest House),
some nine miles from Port-of-Spain, is a marvelously located hill-
top hostelry run by Benedictine monks but open to all comers,
regardless of religion or the lack of it. Charges are almost ridic-
ulously cheap in this mountain retreat, the rate now being three
dollars or four dollars a day all told, for room and three meals.
There is exactly one luxury room, with private bath, and the rate
here (American Plan) is all of seven dollars. The other rooms have
no private bathrooms (the house can accommodate but twenty-
four guests in all) but the public bathrooms, like every part of


the establishment, are kept in a state of cleanliness so perfect that
one would think a corps of Dutch housewives was constantly at
work in the establishment. The Guest House has no bar but the
management is not straitlaced in its beverage views. Beer and
wine, at any rate, may be brought up by the guests. This idyllic
place, eight hundred feet above sea level, offers a stupendous
view over half of Trinidad and its adjacent seas. It is a place not
so much for the transient as for the honeymoon couple or rest-
seeker who can stay a week or more.
In the chain of small islands outside the harbor of Port-of-
Spain (reached by frequent services of government launches)
there are numerous coveside villas obtainable by the month, the
week, or even the day. Typical of them is the villa called Avalon,
on Monos Island, a completely equipped place where the tenant
is monarch of all he surveys. He may dive from its private wharf
in the costume of Adam before the fall, unless he is embarrassed
by the gaze of yellow-breasted sugar birds, who have a sweet
tooth, or a sweet bill, and flit about in flocks hoping to pick up
some succulent picnic tidbits. Avalon can be rented for four
dollars a day (five when the owner gets the Delco refrigerator
he is after) but the trick is to get it at any price, for these island
villas are in urgent demand and most of them are booked for
months ahead. One may at least try. The owner of Avalon is R.
de Verteuil, Arima, Trinidad; but the Trinidad Tourist Board
(27 Henry St., Port-of-Spain) will be of great help in any at-
tempt to locate an islet-paradise of that type.
Tobago, lovely satellite of Trinidad and as different from the
major island as a hummingbird is different from a gull, has two
excellent and easily accessible shorefront inns on either side of
Scarborough, the island capital. Hotel Robinson Crusoe is the
first one reached from the airport and its very broad and breezy
porch is so invitationally perfect that it takes a determined trav-
eler to look up the other place at all, that being the Bacolet (pro-
nounced "Bacolette"), beyond Scarborough. The Robinson
Crusoe has its own beach and bathing pavilion, its own sea breeze,


for it is located at exactly the spot where the trade winds are un-
obstructed by town or headland, and-like La Citadelle and Hotel
1829-its own charm of personality, sparked in this case by the
Nothnagel family which owns and runs it.
Speyside-on-Sea Hotel is another place of special interest, at
the far northeastern end of the island, opposite the islet of Little
Tobago, which is a sanctuary for birds of paradise unique in the
western hemisphere.

Barbados, reached by daily plane services of BWIA, is surely
the most pleasure-developed island, per square mile, of the British
West Indies. Hastings, about two and a half miles from the cap-
ital, Bridgetown, is by far the chief resort, with numerous good
hotels, of which the Marine, the Windsor, the Royal and the
Ocean View are all well known to tourism. The Marine is the
largest, with a hundred rooms, all with bath. Other good places
are located at St. Philip, St. Lawrence and Bathsheba. We are
not given to suppose that at the latter resort Bathsheba herself,
Uriah, the Hittite's beauteous wife, who so stirred King David,
may be seen on the local beach but perhaps other ladies quite as
dangerously beautiful as she will challenge the visitor's eye. In
such case the name of the strand may prove to be an effective
antidote. It is Cattlewash Beach.

Curafao has, in its interesting capital, Willemstad, one of the
most excitingly located hotels with which I am acquainted any-
where. I refer to the Americano. The establishment is old-
fashioned and even downright old, with furniture and appoint-
ments dating from the red-plush era, but its caf6 veranda (given
"moral support" by a new bar) offers such an incredible view
that one could easily forgive and condone a much more inade-
quate hotel than is this. The view, mentioned in an earlier chap-
ter, includes no mountains but it does include the open sea, the


bottleneck harbor mouth and ships. Big tankers and assorted sail-
ing craft, mostly Venezuelan market boats, go in and out in al-
most endless procession and the pontoon bridge is open about-
half the time to permit their passage. It is thrilling to look out at
almost any hour of day or evening and see ships in motion, and
very near.
A large, new hotel, of latest design, is being very vigorously
"talked" for Willemstad and doubtless it will soon be under con-
struction. It is planned that this too shall have a close-up sea-and-
harbor view.

Venezuela is surprisingly developed in its handsome capital,
Caracas, but it is not yet touristically developed as a whole. Ca-
racas boasts one of Latin America's very finest hotels, the new
Avila, as already mentioned several times, this being located on a
residential hillside above the city, and in 1947 a still newer lux-
ury hotel of ten stories, the Nacional, was opened in the heart of
the city. (A still newer and costlier tourist palace is being
"talked.") A little less central than the Nacional yet handy to
everything, is the first-class Waldorf, and in the section called
Los Caobos is a doubletonn," the two Ambassador Hotels, also
of good quality. A brand-new Gran Ambassador, modern and
streamlined, was opened in 1947, while an older but good Ambas-
sador, more of the pension type, under the same management, is
a stone's throw distant. Caracas is fairly seething with activity
in all lines of construction and its hotels are actually one of the
major attractions of this attractive metropolis. They are expensive
(ten to fifteen dollars a day, American Plan), as is the whole city,
but their price levels are not more than twenty-five to fifty per
cent higher than those prevailing in other capitals of the Carib-
bean area.
Maracay, a Venezuelan resort made famous by the millions that
the late tyrant G6mez lavished upon it, maintains astonishingly
low price levels in its two best hotels, the Jardin and the Maracay.
The former, which was Dictator G6mez' own creation and his


great pride, asks less than five dollars a day, with meals, on its
street floor, and little over five dollars on the delectable second
floor, with patio terrace and private balconies giving on the
wooded plaza.
Valencia, an interesting and historic city only thirty miles west
of Maracay, has a fairly good hotel, the Juana de Arco, which,
however, is being superseded by a very ambitious new luxury
hotel, now under construction. Great things are promised for it.
Maracaibo, Venezuela's second city, located on the steamy-hot
littoral, in the oil-richest region of the country, is visited by those
who have to go there, but seldom by pleasure travelers. The
Scandia is among its better hotels.

Colombia, like its neighbor country, is advancing at a great
pace in the matter of new construction, including new hotels.
Bogotd, the venerable and erudite capital, has not yet kept
pace, in the matter of hotels, with lesser Colombian cities, but
this has been due only to shortages of materials and the difficulties
of bringing certain types of material to so lofty and physically
inaccessible a metropolis. Hotel Granada is the dean of existing
hotels in Bogoti and by far the leader, as it has been for some
decades. A new Granada is already at least at the blueprint stage
and the site for it, adjoining the present hotel on Parque San-
tander, is ready and waiting. A de luxe hotel of very impressive
size and grandeur will rise here as soon as its promoters can
possibly achieve it. This will serve to focus the social and travel
life of Bogoti as the present Granada has long done. Geograph-
ically both are in the capital's center of centers.
Cali, a large and lively city of I50,000 which has grown in
twenty-five years from a primitive little town, centers the luxu-
riant Cauca Valley and ties in the trade of all upland Colombia
with the Pacific port of Buenaventura. Hotel Alferez Real is its
chief, and excellent, hostelry, situated beside the River Cali,
which sings soothingly to the guests all night long.


Medellin, as famous for its civic and business energies as for its
innumerable types of orchids, boasts a really spectacular new hotel
of superlative quality, the Nutibara, commonly and deservedly.
called "the best in Colombia."
Cartagena, fabulous old stronghold of the Spanish Main and
one of the world's great cities of tourism, blossomed late in 1945
with a new de luxe hotel named del Caribe, the beach-resort
counterpart of Medellin's new Nutibara. Hotel del Caribe is a
source of glowing pride to Colombians and justly so. Located
directly on its own fine beach at the end of the peninsula called
Boca Grande, about a mile from the center, it is a holiday city in
its own right. Powerful breezes leap from the sea to blow straight
through its lobbies, lounges, bar, dining room, bedrooms, res-
olutely searching out every nook to cool and condition it. The
bedrooms have tiled floors, as all tropical bedrooms should have,
and are the last word in furniture and fittings, as are the sumptu-
ous private baths attached to every room. I have liked this hotel
quite as much as any beach hotel where I have ever stayed in any
country. It is marvelous both in its complete modernity and its
lack of those stuffy splendors which sometimes spoil pretentious
Barranquilla, like Cartagena and Medellin, has a great and luxu-
rious and prideful hotel. It is Hotel del Prado, located in the like-
named section of the city, which was originally developed by a
mining engineer from Des Moines, Iowa. The hotel is, in fact,
exactly where this American's prado (pasture) once served as
grazing meadow for his cattle. Of impressively huge dimensions,
the Prado is built around an exceptionally handsome patio, beau-
tified by many trees, enlivened by tennis courts and a large swim-
ming pool and made festive every evening by strings of colored
lights which manage to be gay without being garish. The Prado
is cool by day and cooler by night, though it is not especially
close to the sea, and that is something of a feat in this steaming
city. The trade winds seem to have been especially engaged, for


a consideration, to sweep all the torpid and torrid atmosphere out
of the hotel and its patio-park.

It will be seen from the foregoing review, a swift and partial
one, that there is a great deal going on in the field of hotel con-
struction throughout the Caribbean, all this being fostered by the
new Caribbean Tourist Development Association. In almost
every important locality new and luxurious places have recently
been opened or are under construction or, at the very least, are
"planned." Existing hotels are being renewed and enlarged. These
undertakings can hardly hope to keep up with the demand but
they are gradually relieving the strong pressure, so that in the
early future fewer travelers will encounter the polite rebuff,
"Sorry. We're booked solid for the next four weeks."



EVERY island and national government in the Caribbean main-
tains some sort of tourist information board or bureau or com-
mission and some of them are extremely active, accessible, help-
ful. I shall list these informants hereinafter, but first a word about
printed informants, by which I mean guidebooks, pamphlets,
folders and so on.
The New World Guides to the Latin-American Republics
(Duell, Sloan and Pearce) cover-in the second volume, sepa-
rately and inadequately entitled Mexico and Central America-the
following portions of the Caribbean: Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican
Republic, Puerto Rico. The inclusion of these four is over and
above the call of the title, and the inclusion of Puerto Rico is a
pure gift since that island is neither in "Mexico and Central
America" nor is it a "Latin-American Republic." The coverage,
in all cases, is good, clear, readable, with island and city maps, but
revision is much needed.
The Pocket Guide to the West Indies (Methuen & Co.), by
Sir Algernon Aspinall, needs a substantial pocket to contain its
five hundred and twenty-five pages. This guide is exceedingly
full on British possessions and is generous in including chapters
on Venezuela and Colombia and even the Panama Canal, but it
is a bit meager on Haiti, the Dominican Republic and Puerto
Rico. It is in rather desperate need of revision, having been first
published in 1907 and last revised in 1939. Another book that is
still of considerable practical value, though now outdated, is the
late George W. Seaton's Let's Go to the West Indies (Prentice-
Hall). It was first published in 1938.


The South American Handbook is a hardy annual, intended
especially for businessmen but decidedly useful also to tourists,
and purchasable for $1.25, which seems nearly nothing for such
a tome. Its eight hundred pages take up less room in one's pocket
than the Pocket Guide's five hundred. In an "On the Way" chap-
ter the Handbook covers Jamaica, the Dominican Republic,
Haiti, Curacao, Barbados, Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago. It
strives mightily, and with good success, to keep up to date.
Special guidebooks are published by local tourist boards on
Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, and innumerable brochures are in
evidence on most of the other places.

Tourist boards and bureaus, where easily found and co-opera-
tive, are wonderful friends in court. Unlike travel agencies, which
may also be potent friends, they have nothing to sell except the
attractions of their respective localities, in other words goodwill
and information. In this last field they are of course invaluable.
The Cuban Tourist Commission (Corporacidn Nacional del
Turismo) is located in brand-new offices at Number io9 Calle
Capdevila, Havana, just off the Prado. The president is Alberto
Crusellas, the Commissioner is Eusebio L. Dardet and the direc-
tor of promotion and publicity is Miguel Santiago Valencia. This
organization, a branch of the Cuban government, is one of the
ablest and most active tourist bodies in the whole of Latin
America. It has won the recognition and gratitude of a generation
of tourists for really tireless efforts in their behalf.
The Jamaica Tourist Bureau is very handily located in its own
handsome new building at 80 Harbour St., Kingston, two min-
utes distant from the Myrtle Bank Hotel. Its commissioner is F.
H. Robertson, its secretary Philip P. Olley, who is also the com-
piler and editor of the Guide to Jamaica, a 300-page guide which
is of actual pocket size. (This is now in process of revision.) The
board has a tremendous task to perform, for the tourist popular-
ity of Jamaica is enormous and constantly growing. The board's


quarters are so cheerful, its staff so ready with aid, that goodwill
is generated as information is dispensed. This, however, is no.
phenomenon, as in the case of Cuba's Commission, for the British
are a traveling race themselves and have been ever since an Earl
of Bristol gallivanted splendidly around Europe in early tourist
times, leaving his name to half the smart hotels on the Continent.
In any British possession where a tourist board exists it may be
counted upon to be alert and efficient. Jamaica is a notable case
in point.
The Haitian Tourist Bureau, located in the lower part of Port-
au-Prince on rue Am6ricaine at the foot of rue Ferou, is man-
aged by a remarkable Haitian Negro named Sylvio P. Cator. He
is a highly educated man speaking several languages fluently,
including English, and has long been familiar with Europe's cap-
itals. He is also-or was-one of the world's leading athletes. In
1928, at the Paris Olympics, he broke the world's record for the
broad jump with a leap of twenty-six feet and one-eighth of an
inch and this record he held for many years. He is the only
Haitian ever to achieve world fame in international athletic com-
petition and his Olympian frame is still a treat to the eyes, yet
he is more interested in music, literature and travel than in sports.
He knows Haiti inside out and very frequently accompanies
tourist parties to Kenscoff, to Christophe's Citadel and to other
points of interest. Tours operated by his bureau are advertised in
the local press of Port-au-Prince.
The Dominican Republic maintains a lively tourist office called
Direccidn General de Turismo, in the gleaming white building of
the Partido Dominicano on Avenida Washington, Ciudad
Trujillo, near Hotel Jaragua. (Information is obtainable also from
the Harry Klenfuss Associates, 507 Fifth Ave., New York City.)
The director of the turismo bureau is an energetic American
named H. W. Goeggel. The Partido Dominicano is President
Trujillo's official party and quite naturally this tourist bureau is
ready, willing and able to dispense pamphlets of fulsome prop-
aganda but it does not thrust them down one's throat, nor even

mention politics. It does offer needed aid in the matter of local
sightseeing, island trips, hotel accommodations, and it offers all
sorts of specific information about local touring.
The Office of Information for Puerto Rico is located in the
glamorous Fortaleza, charming residence and office building of
the governor of Puerto Rico, at the "far end" of San Juan. (A
Puerto Rican girl who is too pretty to be also so intelligent is the
expert on the Fortaleza itself and shows its wonders to tourists.)
The director of the Information Office is Max A. Egloff and here
one may secure an armful of attractive brochures and detailed in-
formation about San Juan and about island tours by motor or
plane. (Advance information is available at the New York office,
2 Park Ave.) One of the men most often assigned by Mr. Egloff
to accompany tourists about the island is Eugenio Veiga, whose
interests are as broad as the world. He shows Puerto Rico so
subtly that one never realizes one is being guided at all. One
acquires the island by indirection, which is, after all, the most
effective way to sightsee anywhere.
(A wide-awake tourist agency in San Juan is Puerto Rico
Tours, with an office down town (309 Recinto Sur St.) and an-
other in Hotel Condado. This office is agent for all Virgin Island
resorts as well as Puerto Rico.)
Virgin Island Tours is the name of the office in St. Thomas (on
the street floor of the Grand Hotel) best equipped to give in-
formation about St. Thomas, St. John and St. Croix. It is a tour-
ist agency rather than a government bureau. Its manager, pre-
viously mentioned, is Santiago Ortiz. If you happen to be staying
at Hotel 1829 the son of the owner (Walter J. Maguire) will be
your guide on a trip around the island. He will convoy you in the
hotel's beachwagon, leaving you ultimately, upon request, at
the hotel's private beach (Brewer's Bay), two or three miles
distant from the town.
The Trinidad and Tobago Tourist Board, located in new
quarters at 27 Henry St., Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, is quite as well
organized as one would expect of such an office in an important


British colony. (A New York office, at 25 Broadway, is under
the charge of Clifford E. Green.) Its guidebooks, folders and
maps are quite as numerous as those of Jamaica and its staff is
quite as friendly and zealous. Wilson Minshall, the secretary of
the board, is its active head, so far as the traveler is concerned,
and the guide most frequently delegated to accompany tourists
is a young widow named Mrs. Lloyd. If I were to tell you she is
as pretty as the Puerto Rican girl who shows the Fortaleza you
would accuse me of susceptibility so I shall leave the (masculine)
reader to determine this for himself.
The Trinidad touring-taxi king, as impressive in bearing as in
name, is J. Gaston de Gannes, managing director of Hub Taxi-
cabs Ltd., 30 Borde Street, Port-of-Spain. I have found his ser-
vice dependable and his prices fair.
The Barbados Publicity Comzittee, long used to handling
perennial tourist waves, maintains a very active Information
Bureau at the Pier Head in the island capital (Bridgetown). The
secretary of this government-supported organization is Miss Joan
Kvsh and there is a New York office, consolidated with that of
the Trinidad and Tobago Tourist Board (see above) under the
direction of C. E. Green.

Curafao has no tourist board in evidence but the publicity and
press offices of KLM, whose headquarters (Caribbean Division)
are in Willemstad, will furnish information and aid. On two or
three occasions I have been thus assisted by a keen Dutch young-
ster, with a sense of humor, named Jan de Bondt.

The Venezuela and Colombia governments maintain respec-
tively an Oficina Nacional de Turismo (in the Ministerio de
Fomento, or Ministry of Development, in Caracas) and a
Direccidn Nacional de Turisno (in the Ministry of National
Economy, Bogota) but neither of these bureaus is easy to find or

use. In Caracas the Venezuelan Touring Club (Club de Turismo
Venezolano) will be more accessible and hence more helpful; and
in Bogota and other Colombian cities the Ribdn tourist offices,
under government control, are of considerable aid.
A special note on Cartagena should find a place here. In that
much visited city the Direcci6n Nacional de Turismo is of real
aid. (Your taxi man can take you to it.) Through it I have used
a guide who seemed to me far above the average. His name is
Rafael F. Ortiz and his post-office box is Number 461. He can be
most easily secured through the Hotel del Caribe. He is a grad-
uate of the government-sponsored National School of Guides
and speaks good English. Best of all he loves old Cartagena, and
knows it. In my experience he has never allowed himself to give
"colorful" information merely to entertain tourists. He is a zealot
for historical truth and will not dress up his accounts by a single
false yarn in the attempt to make them more interesting. For-
tunately the truth about Cartagena is so utterly thrilling that it
could only be damaged by that labored embroidery which is so
common in the parlance of guides the world over.




A Plan for the Sea of Babel

THE individual histories of the different Caribbean countries
and islands are so numerous and complex, with background colors
so conflicting, that any endeavor to paint them as one picture
would require a lengthy treatment far beyond the scope of a
travel book. The initial period of Spanish exploration, conquest
and colonization will, however, be presented in briefest outline,
followed by a personalized bibliography and then by selected
history highlights (not histories) of the regions covered in the
subsequent text. Such selective treatment will, I believe, be much
more useful to the reader than a mass of scrambled records and
dates pressed into one small container.

Columbus, of course, first discovered this sea and first explored
many of its islands, including Cuba, Hispaniola, Jamaica, Trini-
dad and nearly all of the Lesser Antilles. A born enthusiast who
could not write of any pretty island except in the most burbling
prose, he was clearly the "first tourist" and he submits to that
label on the tourist literature of a dozen islands. He established
his brother, Bartolome Col6n (Columbus is the anglicized form
of the Spanish name Col6n), as governor of Hispaniola. Bar-
tolom6, in turn, founded the city of Santo Domingo (in 1496)
almost on the site of the present capital of the Dominican Re-
public (now self-consciously named Ciudad Trujillo for the
strong-man president). This city became the cradle of New-


World exploration and it is justly proud of being the oldest per-
manent Caucasian settlement in the Americas. From Santo Do-
mingo went out an exceedingly impressive procession of ex-
plorers, conquerors, colonizers, missionaries. Consider these
names from the glittering roster:
Diego Veldzquez de Ledn set out to colonize Cuba, and won
eventual success. He founded Santiago in 1514 and maintained it
as his Cuban headquarters.
Hernando (or Hernmn) Cortis went from Santo Domingo to
Cuba and thence to Mexico, which he conquered by a brilliant
campaign and plenty of treachery.
Juan Ponce de Ledn set out for Puerto Rico, which he colo-
nized; and thence for Cuba and ultimately Florida, which he dis-
covered as he sought the Fountain of Youth. A poisoned arrow
from an Indian of Florida brought about his subsequent death in
Fray Bartolomni de las Casas, able and devoted "Protector of
the Indians," was an early resident of Santo Domingo but voy-
aged endlessly and spent his whole life in courageous efforts to
improve the lot of the brutally oppressed Indians. In the end he
won a partial success.
Alonso de Ojeda, using Santo Domingo as his base, explored
prodigiously along the coasts of the Spanish Main and the lofty
sabana regions. He also discovered Curacao (in company with
Amerigo Vespucci).
Vasco Nufiez de Balboa, sailing from Santo Domingo, reached
Panama and crossed the isthmus to discover the "Peaceful Sea."
Francisco Pizarro sailed from the same base to Panama and
made his way thence down to Peru where he conquered the Inca
Empire in a campaign quite as brilliant-and quite as cruelly
treacherous-as that of Cortes in Mexico.
The Indians of the Caribbean islands were of two main races,
the Arawaks, mild and easily "wiped" out of existence by the
ruthless Spaniards, and the Caribs, a fierce and fighting people
who have not even yet been quite destroyed. Two notable col-


onies of Caribs exist on the British islands of Dominica and St.
Vincent. An American friend of mine who lives on Dominica is
married to a pure Carib girl, and justly proud of it. The Caribs,
to state the obvious, gave their name to the Caribbean Sea.
The very early period of Spanish conquest and colonization
can be viewed as an area-wide background of history but this was
roiled within a quarter of a century by the appearance of pirates,
first English, then French and Dutch and whatnot, a motley of
picturesque sea-villains who came to be called boucaniers, or
buccaneers, from the boucans (racks) on which they dried and
smoked their meat. During more than half of the sixteenth cen-
tury and almost the whole of the seventeenth these bloodthirsty
scoundrels, recognizing no laws but those of their own lusts
(though they often chose to represent themselves as patriotic
"privateers") brought ruin to all Caribbean lands and tore to
pieces the fabric of what could have been an effective tapestry
of developing civilization. They delayed history rather than
making any, yet today's traveler readily admits that the Carib-
bean is more exciting because of them. The wounds they left on
many an island and many a coastal town of the Spanish Main
seem interesting and even exciting, as viewed through the lens of
retrospect. The long, lacerated decades of the Pirate Age came
virtually to an end with Henry Morgan's curious rise to respect-
ability. He was perhaps the most utterly savage killer of them all,
and the foxiest cheat as well, but in the end he was knighted and
made deputy-governor of Jamaica (1674), to die, ultimately, in
the "odor of dignity."
The endless wars, fights, raids and mere squabbles of the
greedy European powers, each of which wanted its choice cut of
Caribbean meat, filled the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries,
but this era of struggle came virtually to an end with two devel-
opments of the early nineteenth century, the proclamation of the
Monroe Doctrine and the winning of independence by the South
American nations, that whole movement being sparked, sustained
and carried to climactic success by Sim6n Bolivar of Venezuela.


After these two great clarifications in the Western World the
Caribbean lived a much quieter life. A further cataclysm at the
very end of the nineteenth century brought independence to
Cuba and established the United States as one of the Caribbean
powers (through the cession of Puerto Rico by Spain). The ac-
quisition, by purchase, of three of the Virgin Islands (1917) was,
of course, achieved through fair and peaceful processes, as the
culmination of many years of patient dickering by the govern-
ments of the United States and Denmark. Our intervention in
Haiti and Santo Domingo in 1915 and 1916 accomplished a
good deal in the material advancement of those countries, and in
sanitation, but both occupations were of dubious political moral-
ity and they left scars that have healed slowly. The era of inter-
ventions now seems happily to have passed into limbo along with
the era of pirates and that of great-power wars. The Caribbean
is a pacific sea today, with a minimum of strife and a maximum
of invitational relaxation.

And the Spanish Main

The Spanish Main contained El Dorado, that mythical region
of pure gold that fevered all Europe for nearly a century, lur-
ing many gullible explorers, including Raleigh, to waste substance
and health on the vain search. It contained more practical lures in
the form of coastal cities so rich that they fairly cried to be
plundered yet so strong that they could put up a stout resistance
against each marauder in turn. Cartagena, richest and strongest
of all, was a perpetual temptation and endured endless pirate raids
and hostile sieges with a bravery that made her name legendary.
Sometimes she was beaten and mercilessly robbed. Sometimes
she was able to beat off her attackers at great cost in men and
money, but after every catastrophic event in her dramatic career
she recovered and soared to new heights of tempting opulence.
On a relatively late occasion she made a historic fool of Britain's
Admiral Edward Vernon, who was repulsed with enormous loss

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