February 8, 2015 , Culebra, SVI
Greetings, from Flamenco Beach.
"I'm pretty excited" i told Dave that morning.
"'Cause remember how I said I always wanted to live on an island that uses golf carts for cars?"
"Well, today will be almost like that!"
We left our dinghies at the Dinghy Dock Restaurant,
walked down through town,
and decidedly kept on going past this,
but not without first telling Dave's grumbling tummy that it was still way too early for Lunch !! Although the smells emanating from the open door on the side had my tummy a-grumbling, the sight was a bit less appetizing!
We dodged the cocky roosters having right of way on the streets and walked past the rusted iron grills that fenced in the yards, past the scribbled graffiti on the house walls, until we reached some art-in-the-making,
and not even 15 minutes later had us turning left by the round-a-bout where just across from the airport, was the Jeep Rental office,
where we filled out the paperwork for a Golf-Cart for the day, please and thank you.
Preliminary checks complete, we all clambered aboard.
Life facing outwards and backwards from the backseat revealed Culebra in reverse. A little disconcerting at first, as we zoomed past the airport runway,
noticing the pretty colours of the houses resting on hilly terrains
the landscape full of thorny cactii and brown fields of dry grass on one side, and the green and blue waters of the lagoon,
on the other.
We stopped for a visit of the Museo, a structure dating form 1905, where a $1 fee allowed us entrance,
and informative placards and billboards told of a history complete with Indians and their pottery and arrows carved from shells and bone, and then times of War complete with invading Military and perhaps even promises of tanks on the Beach.
A History that contained perhaps,
some Love Letters in the Typing, and told of a people that relied on fishing for survival, on an island with no rivers or streams of its own.
The smell of charred burned grass hit our nostrils full force,
and later, the beauty of the colours of the fences brought forth a gasp,
as we drove up and down the rolling hills, in true roller-coaster fashion, yelling "wheeee" with our hands up in the air, until we forced Doug the Designated Driver to stop every so often for a photo-op.
A stop at Zoni Beach, and then it was back on the road again. The island is 7 miles by 5 miles, so it didn't take long for us to get back to the airport, where this bar, quite appropriately named,
had an ice-cold Modela beer waiting for us, before we continued
our journey on Highway 251 to the Northern tip of the island where we parked the golf cart,
and walked into the breath-taking colours of Flamenco Beach,
but not without first having ourselves some grub,
from one of the stalls that dotted the boardwalk.
The roosters and cats laying in the shade of the benches kept us company as we waited for our food be ready: Dave and I had the Be Ready in ten minute CheeseBurgers, and Glen waited for his Be Ready in 12 minute Veggie pizza and I'm sure you can guess which was ready first, much to the dismay of the Very Starving Man??
"Oh My, the Spanakopita is delicious" said Dalynn, "I think i'll have another" as Dave continued to wait.
Needing a walk after all that food, we headed left
down the mile long expanse of gorgeous beach,
watching the multitudes of pelicans dive-bombing their splashes into the shallow warm waters,
and came across this piece of history desperately trying to hide in the woods,
and marking the start of the campground area.
And later, around the bend, this laying forlorn on the shore,
"Might there be one of your bullet holes in it Dave?" we teased?
"I was never here" he replied, "but did put plenty of bullet holes in similar targets on the island of Vieques".
A different era that made me wonder what kind of feet imprinted in the sands of time would have used this beautiful island, and others like this, for target practice. Which reminded me of how the Customs Officer, day before yesterday, had solemnly thanked Dave for his Service, as he cleared us into Culebra.
A swim and a snorkel and even a slumber on the beach is how we spent the next couple of hours, laying under the shade of the Palm Trees, until we calculated by a guess that it was best to venture forth and finish our exploring.
The kind lady at the museum had suggested we visit the Pirate Pool and Grill, but like any pirate treasure it was hidden and we did a few in's and out's on forbidden dusty side roads, and up and down's on hot asphalt roads, until Glen said "Stop".
A reverse shuddered the golf cart into gear and we read the very small sign high up on the lamppost that told of the Pirate Pool and Grill, complete with eye patches and ice pops for the kid in us.
We'd passed some villas way back there over hill and over dale, and had noticed a pool, that looked very inviting, but the sign said "Moon Villas" and had no promises of pirates or eye pacthes.
We want back and sent Dave into the Office for a query and a Recce,
"Yes, sure" replied Tony, when asked if this was the place. "Used to be. It's now called Moon Villa's, and when would you like to come?"
"How about now?" asked Dave, thinking of the 5 weary and hot and patched passengers sitting in the melting black seats of the golf cart.
"Go on down" said Tony, "Make yourselves at home, I'll be down to open the bar in just two minutes".
And that's where we discovered Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey Liqueur on the rocks, with a splash of water. Or Coke.
"But no eye patches" said Tony, "we ran out last week".
We swam and splashed some more hours of the day away, as Tony told us a bit about the island, and the property, and we had another drink, just cause.
Back to the Rental Office with time to spare before our 6 o'clock curfew, and we passed inspection as our golf cart held no new dings or scratches. Jerry the owner had us laughing with tales of this and that as he drove us home, showing us through town first.
"Thanks" we said as were returned to the Dinghy Dock and we climbed out of the golf cart with a smile, a laugh, and a wave.
"What a fantastic day!"
February 5, 2015 , Ensenada Honda
I found it frustrating. Dave found it challenging. What follows is Sail of a Story.
We had a plan to explore the BVI and the USVI but as with all things, plans are made in the sand and ready to be washed away with the incoming or outgoing tides.
Given some commitments coming up later in the month, we opted to head to the USVI for a few days. And then the winds of weather showed up, and our plans changed once again !! This time, they had us eyeing the SVI as the place to go.
"Looks like another Spinnaker Sail" said Dave rather excitedly, and with a hint of surprise in his voice, as he checked the weather and angles that would get us from Brewer's Bay (USVI) to Culebra (SVI).
"That's twice in two weeks, isn't it?" I said. Rather surprised myself. The Spinnaker is not something that one can often use in the habitual Caribbean tradewinds.
Given the bay was so calm, we got everything ready before weighing anchor. Having just recently used our A-Kite we found ourselves faster with its assembly, and before long the pretty colours of the chute had us sailing along at a speedy 6-7 knots.
Just when I thought we could settle into The Sail. You know, put my feet up. Stare at the horizon watching for whales or dolphins. Perhaps read a book? Play some Candy Crush. Clean below decks (UGH), or better yet, prep some dough for some Cinnamon Buns in the making (Mm-mmm) Good !!
Can you guess what happened?
The winds shifted. A bit in direction but mostly in velocity. It was getting rather onerous to keep the Chute trimmed & and beautifully ballooned.
Just as the perfect shape formed that would have me settle into the cushions of the cockpit, it all collapsed and a cajoling swear would escape the Capt'N's lips.
"Just like flying a Kite..." he muttered, on more than one occasion, as he frustratingly trimmed our way along.
It became a game of catch the wind and surf, trim, lose the wind (pop), ease, catch the wind, (pop), breathe, lose the wind, (pop)...
And so on, and so forth, for the three hours that it took to cover roughly 20 nautical miles. With both of us standing at attention, responding to the slightest flutter of the big kite, but mostly we did sail along between 6 and 7 knots, kind of zig-zagging our way to the buoys that mark the entrance into the harbour that is Ensenada Honda.
"Now, that... " said my Capt'N, "that was fun!" as I handed him an arrival beer.
"I don't think I'd quite call that fun" I replied, as we toasted ourselves and Banyan to another safe arrival.
And that dear fans, friends and followers, remains a good question.
I think the Capt'N's point of view is that there's a satisfied type of adrenaline rush that results from challenge in responding to an ever-changing environment. The requirement to trim the lines as you play with the wind, or the waves, and with our Chute? The need to keep the pressure in the Balloon.
And for me, the end result was that I did enjoy the day, the sail, the speed. However, my adrenaline rush came from another place.. From an internal worry that the Spinnaker would pop with the next gust of wind. The kind of worry that change won't allow you to settle calmly into. And there wasn't much fun in that.
Either point of view, his or her's, male of female, an experienced Sailor vs a not-so-experienced but getting there Newbie, a Love to Race Racer, and me?
I'm not sure, but what I do know is that it was fun to be out there in the Big Blue Waters, playing about. I learned a few things, worried a bit, and next time the Chute comes out, I know I'll worry less.
And you know what? The only thing that was missing was the Cinnamon Buns with our Arrival Beers !!