05/27/2009, The Grenedines: Bequia, Canouan, Tabago Cays, Union, Mayreau and back to
Wow, we are getting some tropical waves barreling thru the Windwards and the satellite pictures are indicating a steady stream of them that are expecting to continue well into July. Nothing anything stronger right now or we'd be boogy woogiin' it to Grenada in a flash. We will check with the weather gurus one last time after we pick up the laundry to see today's weather forecast playing with our destiny. The satellite pics are pretty impressive for a week more of this, but we just got back here to Union Island and signed up for more of the Grenedines. Before we knew about these back to back t waves we were heading back to the Tabago Cays for the third time. Now we don't know what we will do, Cariacou or Tabago Cays? That is the question.
Ok, I'm taking responsibility for my expatiating again. Help, I need helpI!! I started this "Grenedine" blog entry yesterday, one month to the day after we arrived in the Grenedines, and it was five pages without even trying. I'm not kidding about being in love with this place. We've said it before and we're starting to sound redundant but seriously, we are IN LOVE and truly blessed to be on this journey. I know this hard to believe, but we're only scratching the surface in describing all the positive benefits of a trip like this. Emotionally, psychologically, artistically, communicatively, facing fears, etc...are a small peek.
Yes, in LOVE with the Grenedines and with each other. Dudley hasn't thrown me overboard YET...not to say that he hasn't thought of it from time to time, so I guess that's proof positive, right?
So I promise to give you all the abridged version and save the five pages for my journal, so here's another attempt.
We entered Bequia with a blast, love those island hops, and got shot. Photographically speaking of course. [email protected], phtographer extrordinaire sold us some great action (or moving, under sail) shots of Altair with Bequia behind us. This was our first peak at the Grenedines. We were wondering what that crazy person in a rubber dingy, with his bow in the air, in these big seas, off the northwest coast of Bequia, waving something big, was doing out of the protection of the Admiralty Bay. Can't wait to share. We only stayed a few days, but really wanted more. I think we might just find that humble, natural, white crescent beach , lush mountain backdrop, place to choose a wedding spot. We met up with Sea Wings, Interlude and Dream Chaser and then we met two Frenchies, Josee and Michael on S/V Epsilon. We all met daily to check out the great snorkeling, had a wicked beach party and squeezed in a bus ride to the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary on the windward coast. The turtle savior, Orton, "Brother" King, was right at the top of the list for Bequia, for this tree and sea hugger at least, and then we left. Wheennnnn.
Our rapid pace thru Canouan, the next St. Vincentian island south, but not before we enjoyed day two of the three day Whit/Sun/Tide Regatta. Pics should tell the story of a high energy day. Music was filling the air, food was being cooked along the beach, and along the village behind that beach, and racers were immersed in one stage or another in the rigging of these cool sailboats up on the shore. These traditional sloops are fishing and whaling boats of old and fancy new replicas alike getting syked for the day's racing. We got a sweet glimpse of the locals embracing their heritage. Our time there was short, but memorable with pizza on Interlude, by the gourmet 'girls', Cheryl and Karen, to a happy hour dressed like 'proper yachtsmen' at the Tamirand Resort with Lynn and Lew on Sea Wings and then being in the thick of things early in the day of the racers. The resort was showing signs of hurricane season approaching and ghost villages are evident everywhere lately...not to mention the state of cruisers evacuating lastly. We like that anchorage with just a few boats not eager to drop an anchor on top of yours. Hip Hip Horray!
Here we go again, 'cause our goal is to reach the Tabago Cays with plenty of time to enjoy them. We truly feel like we are on vacation here. Nobody lives here. It just yachties, which are fewer now too, immersing ourselves into this plentiful aquatic sea life. That we did, it's so spectacular. We anchored just behind the huge, 2 mile long, Horseshoe Reef where you get all the wind a hot flashing, redheaded, artsy, loud, A-type, Aries woman could want, but no seas. Our batteries were topped off, with the wind generator paying for itself now that we are in the "Windwards", which is a really good feeling anytime. We were mesmerized and I know we've said this before but I'm going to learn Spanish and French better so I can share some different adjectives. The turtle sanctuary is roped off and further protected, so you swim with them off the grassy area at the south side of "Baradel". Thanks for the brilliant folks who work so hard to save our oceans and all they encompass for our children.
Most everybody we've been traveling with since Antiqua are doing the insurance racing! Depending on your latitude and the price you paid to insure your 'home' is why every is rushing to Grenada, Trinidad or Venezuela. Then you pay less the earlier you get out of the hurricane 'box'. We stopped trying to keep up with the 'Jones' and we're not doing the insurance two step, so we're going back to Tabago Cays if we can.
It was everything we could do to tear ourselves from this water wonderworld. But we did, twice. We saw Union, loved the island, loved, Janti's Happy Island, built and operated by him when he wanted to clean up the village of Clifton and help bring back the tourists. He removed all the conch shells littering the town and started the foundation for "Happy Island"...It's now a bar and restaurant just inside Newlands Reef with the rest of us. We met the wife of Enrique, Elaina, the husband and wife kitesurfers team. They liked kitesurfing here behind Newlands Reef for the same reason they loved it in the TC's. They have a lots of wind, no waves.These fun folks also have a 'guest house' biz called LaCigala in Las Roques, Venezuela. We went to thier site and it's gorgeous so maybe we can go there on our way to Central America next year. They like to entertain us 'flying' about the anchorages because they can. They are in great shape and we hate them...hehe.
We also made a tiny visit to Mayreau. It's the only island in the marine park where people live. Not that many mind ya, but we managed to meet Robert, at Righteous & de Youths. Robert is a well known Rastafarian who can up the groove with some Bob Marley and other Raggae. The restaurant is an ongoing artform of add ons and design who has earned him "the character and spot of the island". We sat for a couple of hours, after our one and only hike to the top of the windward side at the really old church. The really old graveyard sweeping into the lee bay was truly beautiful too. There was a young french couple that joined us at Robert's place and we were privy to the constant stream of his daugters and granddaughters. The granddaughter, Vera, at the congo drums with her little shy friend was demonstrative and humorously entertaining for such a youngan. We did get violated there when someone, cruiser or local, don't know, stole the fuel out of our dink tank. Shit happens, and it was only 4-5 US gallons, a violation none the less.
Our second week is up, fini, kaput at the Tabago Cays...we have in fact purchased another month of which we were realistically going to use 2 weeks at most. We still want to go back, but this weather is going to keep us here in Union for possibly a week! You'll know when we know!
Do we go back north (only 2.5 nm in reef painted trails) or south to Cariacou? Stay tuned...
Hugs, Dudley and Bec, S/V Altair
Hey, Hey Hey...Just thought I'd start adding these wishes each month so everybody knows that we're thinking about ya! It's been hard getting wifi on the boat since Antiqua, so when we do we'll send our wishes. Happy Birthday John Clark. Happy Birthday Caroleena, Grace and your daughater Miranda a Happy Happy Birthday. Happy Anniversary Elaine and Jim. Love you lots!
05/09/2009, St. Lucia in the Windward Islands
Not only is the wind and sailing great in the Windwards, the activities have been a whirlwind. We spent a month in Martinique and it flew by. Now here we are, St Lucia, Rodney Bay, with our dear old Miami friends Olga and Don on Richard Cory, Lynn and Lew on Sea Wings, Karen and Sheryl on Interlude and our new Friend Neal and his Dad on Dream Chaser for the St. Lucia Jazz Festival. We're all going to Grenada or Trinidad for Hurricane season and it's been a blast traveling together. Everyone that we speak of here are seasoned cruisers, with many years just here in the Windwards. Interlude, Dreamchaser and most lovingly, Richard Cory have been so willing to take us by the hand and share their island knowledge and lore. Thanks everybody! We love you!
Everybody we mentioned signed up for the four day pass at the Pidgeon Island Event except us. We boohooed when they shared some pics, some Amy Winehouse stories, and all the accolades of the great musicans they heard before we arrived. The whole island was covered with various venues participating in this18th annual Jazz event which started May 2.. At the next festival, if there is one in our future, I want to check out those local artists at the clubs 'round town to contrast the mega event on Pidgeon Island. Mo' personal, ya think?
How's this for a tease, and I'm only naming a few acts and star performers from the 4 day event on the main stage at Pidgeon Island...Kassav, Angelique Kidjo, Junior Marvin, Amy Winehouse, KC and the Sunshine Band, Jeffrey Osborne, Bebe Winans and Michael McDonald to name a few!
Don and Olga continued to share their inside skinny on getting around and suggested we take a water taxi to keep our dingies at our boats for safety and conjestion reasons. Good idea so they called "Orgasm", a memorable water taxi name, right? James was the character of that boat and was howling entertainment to the park! We had a full day from l pm til midnight of dance groups, custumed parades, food and drinks everywhere and MUSIC, wonderful, glorious music all day long .
We picked a good day to come. The rainstorms reeked havoc on the entire festival since the beginning, but we got lucky! The monsoons stopped for 'mother's day', the l0th, and we got a day full of sunshine and entertainment. Yippee. George Duke presented Patty Labelle, Chaka Kahn and a hot new St. Lucian artist, Nicole David who was thunderously entertaining. We just could not stop dancing. What a blast. This, our one and only day, we were treated to the Jazz ensemble of Eclectic Pan Jazz with Allison Marquis, CHICAGO had us up on our feet early in the evening and just when we thought we couldn't go on we were reinvigorated with the finale of Beres Hammond and his original reggae. What an electrifying day! It was literally sizzling when the fireworks lit up the sky for the close of a great festival . We were tired can't imagine doing 4 or 5 days of this in a row. Old foggies, or 9pm is now 'cruiser's midnight!!!
We managed to hang around in Rodney Bay after the festival for about 10 days, with bus trips, shopping, duty free shops, yatta yatta, and to visit with our friends from home, but they got sick! Rumor had it that a flu had circulated the Jazz Festival and Don on RC, Sheryl on IL, and Dudley with his sinus infection were all suffering with a crud! Since VHF eavesdropping is a pastime, we found out lots of other folks picked up the bug at the festival too. Olga had a few symptons but was one of the luckier ones as was I. Neal and his Dad were spared too, because Adrian, Neal's Dad wouldn't socialize with anyone for fear of having to fly back to England with the FLU. We got to be in close proximity with RC, check on them daily and help where we could, but that's it. We didn't get to socialize very much, with the exception of hanging off their boat and they had to leave quickly it turned out. Don's mom's health meant that they were cutting this year's crusing season short, we're SAD. They will shoot for Grenada when Don recovers...Very sad.
Our next stop in St. Lucia was Marigot, not just because it was where the original "Dr. Doolittle" was filmed, way back when Rex Harrison played the lead, or "Water" starring Michael Caine or how about Fire Power with Sophia Loren. This place is unbelievably picturesque, or to quote James Michener, "the most beautiful bay in the Caribbean". We had three peaceful days while at a dock, yes, we bellied up to a hose and fuel dock where we got a half price deal. Seriously folks, watching kids swinging from rope swings or speaking to local vendors as they weave 'lava beads" on sparkling necklaces is why we're here. Thanks Universe.
"Moses" took us on a half day trip in the Soufriere area of the lee coast to see La Sikwi Sugar Mill, the River Rock Waterfall; a sweet sleepy fishing village called Anse La Raye where we had lunch at Moses' friend's restaurant and a another distillery.
Are you beginning to see a pattern? All these verdant islands seem to have'sugar' in their agricultural history. We've seen more distilleries than we can even remember! You can only visit one per island tour 'cause you'd be pissed before lunch...not to mention an alcholic. The grounds, the architecture and the personal estates of these rum families are quite majestic, so I guess we'll keep visiting them and tastin'...hehe.
One last delectible meal at Chateau Mygo, here in Marigot, where some of the best restaurants are anchored, reeping success, was pure torture. We were actually trying to find the "reasonably priced local haunt" but stumbled on this gem. We were serendipidously joined by the Marigot Marina manager, Bob and his wife Melinda! Both were Brits who sailed here and bought land. The home they described with solar, wind power, cisterns and indigenous flora on top of a nearby mountain seemed just too good to be true! We didn't stay long enough to wiggle an invitation out of them before we admitted we've dreamed of a similar surrounding...only closer to home where family and friends are. I think the islands are full of characters and the characters in the cruising community are becoming more prevelant too. What an anthropological ride we're on.
Last but not least are the Pitons! Oh my God!
If you look up St. Lucia, you will probably see these two magestic peaks that rise from ocean floor for the most magnificent wonder! Whether you are anchored at the base of either Gros Piton or Petite Piton you can only imagine from our photos a tiny glimpse of the beauty! I'm just going to share the pictures of the walks we attempted up the Pitons but even my excessive expatiating can't describe their beauty. We got a taxi to rescuse us on day two, when we left too late and it was too hot. That was Peter D and we secured him for another tour, the Diamond Waterfall which is joined by an incredibly maintained botanical garden that tickled my love of nature, the drive thru volcano, steadily hissing steam and ash, the beautiful village of Soufriere to clear customs and the lunch were the highlights of our Peter D tour until...Dasheens. We were advised to lunch at Dasheens, because we probably couldn't afford dinner. The panaramic view is what they were encouraging even more than the award winning menu. This should be the # ???? world wonder of the world, whatever number it's up to now.
Check out the shot of Altair, that itty bitty speck, framed by the historical Pitons, Gros Piton @ 2619' and Petite Piton @ 2460'. Breathtaking and Altair even looks good at this distance.
The two things we planned to check out in St. Lucia were the Jazz Festival and the Pitons. Thanks to the folks who protect and earn a living from the assets of this beautiful island we were treated to many more surprises. My favorite to photograph and hike are the rain forests. What a magnifique ecosystem, RAINFORESTS. Then you meet the locals and they beam with pride that they were raised on the vegitarian bounty. I would love to photograph the marine park which is remarkable from what we hear. Someday maybe a waterproof, underwater camera or housing is in my future.
We are on cloud nine, what a whirlwind! Hope you enjoy, hope you join us!
Moving on to the next group of islands which are the Grenedines. We can't wait.
Hugs, Dudley and Bec, S/V Altair
05/08/2009, Martinique, Island of Frenchies and Love!
Our first stop in Martinique was St. Pierre. An anthropologist's dream to join us along our journey from the first Bahamian Island thru these Windwards. From our first step on the pier at St. Pierre, being hugged by farm vendors in the outdoor market at the end of the dock, to the Frenchie, Valerie, at the Escapades Cyber Cafe who warmed up by the second day of us squatting at her place for wifi. I think it was our feeble attempts at French that won her over. The tiny thrills of exploring the way on shore to find the customs and immigration services in all these teeny island countries has been mandatory yet marvelously exciting. From the usually athletic efforts with ladders and docks of varying degree of repair to struggling with a foreign language to get directions is truly an experience we will treasure always. Laughter always follows the pantomime with a very few words thrown in. The French are a very proud people and they only want to speak French... go figure, crazy Americans we are.
St. Pierre is impressive! This idyllic seaside port town was everything it was written up to be. Not just another quaint French town complete with red roofs, narrow streets, great bread being baked on every corner and did I mention great wine too? In 1902 Mt. Pelee, the volcanic mountain, was active, ripe and it erupted with such great force it destroyed the entire town of St. Pierre along with it's 30,000 residents! When we walked thru this historic town we found it had been rebuilt on top of the residue and rubble left by that tragic event. So many new buildings share at least one wall with the past.
We soaked up the waterfront and St. Pierre had me uncontrollably snapping shots of all the historical sights, the architechture and the melding of the old with the modern. We finally figured out what that special something is when we arrive at these wee island countries. It's the individuality each island makes of it's heritage. They've embraced all the hardships or blessings of their respective cultures and molded their version into the landscape of the island. We are wide eyed with joy. That's what's endearing.
Then....the NIKON died! OHHHHHH NOOOOOO!!!!!! OH YES...SHEISA!!!!
I contacted Nikon and their suggestions were two-fold. One, take batteries out for 24 hours and try again...or two, send it to Nikon for repair! We're in the Caribbean for crying out loud! The shipping, duty and agent's fees would be more than the camera is worth and then we'd have to figure out where to ship it back to us. Another challenge before us. We HAVE to have a camera for a journey of this magnitude. YEIKS!!!!
One last open air market visit, a goodbye to our new French friend Vallerie, and we left St. Pierre and took off for Le Marin to find our dear, long time friends Olga and Don. We are always looking for the best angle to sail, only this is one waypoint where you just drop those big canvas 'propellers' and motor. We did enjoy a relaxing 20 mile sail until we reached Diamond Rock. That's where we made a 90 degree to the east and where the wind on the nose met us. I got my last shot with the Nikonof that huge rock, and it's called HMS Diamond Rock for this amusing reason. During one of the many battles between the French and English, the English climbed this huge boulder and equipped it as they did a war ship with men and cannons for a big boom surprise when the French arrived. Very cool. We had the pleasure of meeting a Brit in Antigua, Jol Byerley, owner of Lord Jim's Locker, well known yacht racer, humorist and author. What a character! Dudley sat with him one morning and Jol told him is own story of Diamond Rock. He was a mountain climber in his younger days and climbed to the top of Diamond Rock where he placed the Union Jack. This 'rock' is in French Territory, Martinique, so needless to say the frenchman got in an uproar when they found out. Jol is rollicking in his success, still telling that story at 80+ years old! Not one frenchman could scale that enormous 'rock' to remove it so they had to send to France for a professional mountain climber to get get that darned British flag off the top of Diamond Rock.
Le Marin's big open bay welcomed us and so did Richard Cory. We had such a good time with our Miami friends at last. Olga and Don were our very own quintessential tour guides. Olga was the loving translator being fluent in French, they both love good food and they loved sharing their knowledge of these islands with us! Olga is a gourmet chef and they are always on the lookout for that culinary star whereever they go. When they were not with us for the car rental part of the island tour with Lynn and Lew, they even provided us with lists of their favorite gastronomic hot spots or their favorite rum distillery and cannot forget the p'ce de resistance of architecture... the copy of the Sacracour! This cathedral was spectacular and we can't wait to see the original in Paris. We will forever remember their favorite patisseries and boulangeries and I have the pottbelly to prove it. Thanks to you both, "we love Richard Cory"! Thanks for donating your spare camera to the documentary cause. We are forever grateful.
Good friends for life are worth living for! What would our lives be without each and every one of you!
Everybody left us! The rain only stopped for a couple of days, long enough for everybody who was invested in the St. Lucia Jazz Festival to take advantage of this weather window! We were only going to the last day of the festival on May 10th so we decided to take our chances and stick around Martinique, TO COLLECT MORE WATER! This really was the most rain we had seen and for such a long stretch of time at that. We managed to keep our water tanks full and we WILL be replacing the pot and pan water catchment system with RC's water catching system very soon on Altair. We had this kind of rain last May 1st after we crossed the Mona Passage and arrived in Puerto Rico. The custom's guy said "if it rains the first of May you will have a year of good luck" and indeed we have.
Dudley and I rented another car to get the Nikon fixed or find a new camera. We thought we'd get some big provisioning done with a car also. It turned out that our biggest delight that day was not exploring Martinique's historical districts, which we did too, but the Galleria Mall...you heard it! A shopping Mall was celebrating their 25th anniversary. They had ballroom dancers that were obviously professionals. The entertainers wore sexy costumes reminding us of the "Dancing with the Stars" program and the familiarity and the verve they've clearly practiced all their lives was enjoyed too. This was no hokey performance. The live music to complement them was as entertaining as the dance performers themselves. At the end of day when we came back to this mall to shop, there was a full blown production of the musical and theatrical history of Martinique. The performers were excellent, the music electric and we had all we could do to squeeze thru the crowds to find a good vantage point. Wish I had brought the camera that Don and Olga donated to Altair, but I came to buy a new camera...not be entertained, SURPRISE. The costumes were fantastic. How they could dance with such fervor and choreographic perfection in those elaborate get-ups was pure talent! The hour we stood mezmerized they must've had 6 or more acts all with full costume changes. Who knew mallratting could be so fun?
Just before we left Martinique for St. Lucia, we got a going away present. A neurotic french new boat owner, Paul, kept trying to describe his concern that we were anchored too close to his week-old brand new sloop when we first arrived in Le Marin. We happily invited him onboard Altair to settle this over a cup of tea and he proceeded to sketch out a new anchor plan for us with his 'drawings' (no English) to convince us to move further away from his new boat. In the name of peace we moved! Not to happily for sure (remember we still don't have a working windlass).
Our going away present was the largest papaya we've ever seen and it was from his yard. He was very happy with himself, but it was the size of a large watermelon! He informed us it would take a couple of weeks for this to ripen, but where will we put that enormous bequest on our little sloop Altair?
Goodbye Martinique... the journey continues!
Love Dudley and Bec,
04/11/2009, Town of Portsmouth, Dominica
Just before our departure from this gorgeous verdant shangrila, we needed to get water. The options were one, take Altair to the cruise ship dock and get beat up with the surge pounding us up against a gargantuan super structure and pay for water, NOT... or (2) take the dingy to shore and carry the jerry cans up the beach to the road where we could get all the fresh mountain stream water we wanted for free.
Dudley and I began the chore of gathering water, carrying our empty, full of air, jugs to the spigot on the street! I was ahead of my honey when I was approached by a very determined guy wanting to sell me a carved coconut! Well, the face on the shrivelled up coconut reminded me of the face 'Wilson', Tom Hank's 'buddy', the soccer ball, in the film Castaway. This 'sculpture' was very juvenile and very SILLY looking and the guy was pretty scary too! He was in my personal 3' comfort zone, grunting, cryptic and a tad too pushy with this coconut in my face. Dudley showed up about this time and I pleaded for his rescue and proceeded to leave him where the 'sales' pitch had commenced! I'm filling the jugs, soaking up the culture all around me, looking at the sights Here the two of them come, Mr. Coconut Man is carrying our jerry jugs and my honey is carrying the "artwork". They both appeared to be pretty satisfied, and I assumed Dudley bought the coconut and got the guy's help with the water gathering also. He handed me the coconut and I thought he said..."We need to get rid of this", both of us agreeing that neither of us want it on the boat and don't have room for it either. They took off down the street to the beach and I run into a cruising couple who I implore to embrace this 'gift'! After realizing I wasn't as crazy as Mr. Coconut Man, they finally agree to take this off my hands once and for all and I now feel I have done a good dead! The artist made some money, fellow cruisers now have a memento and we got more help with water carrying thru the sand.
On my way back to the dock Dudley and Mr. Coconut Man sees that I don't have the masterpiece in my possession and Mr. Artiste starts to panick! He's really grunting now, eyes are bugged out, running around in circles holding his head in dispair and 'whining' so to speak. Dudley cries out, "where's the coconut?"...I told him, "I did as you suggested, and gave it away". He said "Nooooooooooooo, I didn't say that... you have to go get it!" and I exclaim..."What?"!!!! Now I start after the couple to retrieve this piece of art which will confirm their suspicions that I'm crazy too. Mr. Coconut Man, unbeknownst to me is running after me flailing his arms and is still bugeyed and grunting! I looked north, looked south, asked some locals lounging in the shade, now I'm a teeny bit frantic, "did they see some elder white folks with hats, carrying some masterpiece?" After much too much time passed trying to understand their 'patois' dialect, I learned that the couple ducked between some buildings toward the beach. I'm now jogging after them, calling outloud for the attention, with Mr. Coconut Man chasing after me! When I reached the end of the foundation of some buildings along the beach, I was stuck and I had no where to go except back track for a way to the beach. MCM is now face to face with me and I still don't have his coconut. He is clearly upset now as this, his current means of income, has disappeared before his eyes! Some other young local guys piped up to inform me that MCM is not harmful, but just a harmless, local deaf mute! Now that explains a lot. I hate when I assume the worst.
We, MCM and I, managed to catch up with the cruising couple, now joyfully splashing their way up the beach toward their dingy when I pleaded my case and humbly requested they give MCM back that coconut! They eagerly gave the masterpiece back to MCM and all ended well.
As I made my way back past the lounging guys who helped in this caper, I beamed and thanked them perfusely for their help! The guy that was most horizontal in this little group siesta, perked up, took his nipples in his hands and made a twisting motion and said "Missy, I love your teeny ta tas". I almost exploded with laughter but I meakly said "thanks" and me and my ta tas returned to Dudley and water gathering, with a happy ending to "MCM".
Dudley and Bec, S/V Altair
04/01/2009, Les Saints to Dominica, West Indies
Wow, we left Les Saintes early this perfect morning with the wind and the seas out of the east. The seas were very mild and finally clocked around from the relentless north swells we had last week on anchor in Terre d'en Haut. We were really glad to be done with those because they wear you out just trying to stand, let alone catching everything that isn't stowed as if for a crossing. It's a short leg to "Dominica" with only 18nm to go... then WHAM! A squall hit us broadside when we were idylically moving along at 5.5 knots and not paying attention. We thought the rig camedown with that thunderous crack and bomb like sound from the port beam reach to a jibe! Scared the crap outta of us! It took us a while to see if we were still in one piece....
APRIL FOOLS... SYKE! It was a memorable sail and then we arrive here... in Shangrila!
No kidding, we've been on a green tour like no other. We haven't stopped since we arrived here in Dominica. It's everything and more than we've ever heard or read about this verdant wonderland. As soon as we arrived we were scooped up by a super "boat boy". He's 42 years old and looks like a boy too. We were warned that 'boatboys' were overwhelming, obnoxiously persistent and desperate for busness. We were told to ask for Martin, but we decided to go with Alexis, the first to approach us, and he's been a perfect guide. The people love their country, are extremely healthy and it oozes out of their pores with love. We have been on a nature-go-round for 10 days and will have to be torn form here for sure.
We also rented a car with Laura and Gary on S/VLucille. We had a blast covering every green inch of this island we could possibly squeeze into two days!S/V Lucille took off south on a time schedule and, darn it, more new friends to catch up with later. Since we've been here in Dominica (pronounced domineeeka), we've made it to the magnificent farmer's market which is held every Saturday; we were guided up the Indian River by Alexis and Kevin, then we entered the Syndicate Nature trail and we couldn't believe the size and scale of the vegetation here. We got a steam, sauna and facial as added perks. We also visited the Kalinago Barana Aute, (Carib Cultural Village by the Sea) where an indian guide shared how things were done long ago and are still being done today!
As if that were not enough, we drove through the Carib Indian Territory, where we met lots of proud artisans eager to sell their wares. We watched in awe as they still make canoes by hand, the jewelry made with all varieties of nature and the locals are able to create a wide array of island fare from crops galore!
For a country that is poverty striken, we were blessed to be surrounded by industrious people everywhere! It's hard to imagine that anyone could starve here! Simply AMAZING!!!!
Both the windward and leeward coasts are drop dead gorgeous! The drama is the height of the incredibly lush cliffs that drop off into these amazing shores! The islanders here are incredibly beautiful and generous as well. We've met so many wonderful Dominicans that just dropped what they were doing to help us. A 75 year old man (who looked 50) helped us carry our jerry cans full of water thru the sand to our dock, wanting nothing in return. They don't think twice about walking you to the bakery or the market because you asked for directions. Irma told me she was forty four and didn't look a day over 23. When I asked where she was going all dressed up, she said "every Saturday the young people do things for the elderly to show respect and thanks. It's a shame if they see an elder mistreated or neglected". Every 50-60 year old looks to be 35. It's a fountain of youth here! The oldest woman died at 128 years old recently and three or four people have beamed relaying the health statistics here in Shangrila. We will hold these gentle people in a special place in our hearts and do hope to return here some day!
We are heading to Martinique next! It looks like we could spend a whole lot of time there, but the Jazz Festival in St. Lucia starts early May. We want to get a good spot before all the boats arrive from all over the Caribbean for this ever growing musical event! We'll keep ya posted for sure.
More soon, Dudley and Bec
03/27/2009, Iles Saintes, Guadeloupe Archipelago
We've been here a week and the wind has been pretty strong out of the NE with a relentless north swell! We had to get off the boat! We've seen a lot of Bourg des Saintes by foot but when we get back on board, it's a roller coaster ride. We took a ferry to Terre d'en Bas for the day and it was an idyllic, Gallic, charmingly irresistible treat. It's love at first sight.
It's small, dry (hence all the flowering plants in abundance for our personal pleasure), steep with red and brown cliffs up to l000' with perfect white beaches everywhere. These two islands are really fairytale adorable, sparkling clean and can we say 'picturesque'?
The Saintes have been French ever since they were colonized and it's long supported a small community which used to rely almost entirely on fishing. I think it's baking now...ok tourism for sure. There were fishing villages everywhere like eye candy and even now you're convinced of a big fishing community by the activity on the waterfront.
It's really, REALLY FRENCH! We're laughing a lot, but we're managing quite well actually.
We walked the entire southcoast, with a detour at the immaculately preserved pottery factory, with a number of stops after climbing the mountain for a couple of hours! We wanted to find a restaurant we were told about and it sounded close to the ferry station. After we were just about to the western edge of the island we hitched a ride and got in the back of his open jeep with a couple of kids. He was conveniently able to deliver us to Chez Eugenette's, after dropping everyone else off, lucky us. We went WAY outta of our way, but we would never have seen the sights we saw today nor found Chez Eugenettes for lunch without that teacher on "siesta" nice enough to stop and scoop us up.
We had a fabulous lunch after which we needed to walk! We didn't think it could get any better than the south coast but we're here to share our photo bounty! When we couldn't possibly believe it could get any better, we had a most extravagant sunset to end our perfect day of being a tourist. Thanks Universe.
Dudley and Bec