Past Adventures: St Vincent and the Grenadines 2008 & 2009 then Belize 2010

BELIZE 2010

July 5th

We are here and all is well, it was very easy to get here in fact we left Miami at 1:00pm a bit late and arrived at 1:05pm in Belize. There is a 3-hour difference in time. Walked straight from the plane to the airport building, our bags were the 1st off and we went straight through within 5 minutes of arriving we were done!

Across from the airport, which is small, in the middle of like jungle, was Crystal car rental where our jeep was reserved, it was ready for us and off we went. It did take some investigation to find our guesthouse, as there aren’t any road signs, well there are a few but few and far between. Plus only the main roads are paved the rest are dirt tracks with massive craters in them, thus the need for jeeps. So we found D’Nest, which is a 3-roomed guesthouse next to a small river. We spent the afternoon exploring the city. It really is not a place you want to stay in. Absolutely ucky and dangerous. We were told there had been 7 murders/shootings that weekend! We walked around 2 of the nicer hotels, had nachos, which Ethan demolished, tried the local beers, bought travel essentials like more beer for John and snacks for Ethan then had dinner. Drove back to our room, showered and all fell asleep by 8:00pm, YES 8:00pm, but really to us it was 11:00pm. Then around 12:00pm Ethan was asking,  “Papa is it time to get up yet?” Papa says, “No Eman relax we have a long time till the morning” We were up for 6:00am Belize time that’s 9:00 am Bda time. All is well

 July 6th 

We were up around 6 and after an excellent breakfast of fruit, scrambled eggs, bacon with hot salsa and garlic bread toasted we set off. We found the Western Highway and headed to the Belize Zoo. It is more of an animal refuge than a zoo as they have rescued Belizean wild life that is hardly separated from the people. We saw all of the main Belizean wild animals, tapir, different jaguars, red leopard, gray foxes, howler monkeys, spider monkeys and so many others. The different keepers were able to let us see the animals up real close as they were feeding them and in some cases we were able to stroke them. It was an excellent zoo visit, very educational.

Our next stop was Classia Falls

where we were to stay for the 6th, 7th, and 8th I had received directions and it’s a good thing I had them as there is no way we would have found the place. Clasissa Falls was a drive off the Western Highway through rolling hills of green green fields with cows and horses grazing along the way. The main building was where we checked in and had a delicious lunch. Everyone was very friendly. It is run by the family that founded it, a great grandmother, a grandmother, and her son and then we met his daughter too who was 10. The gardens are wide open down to the river where there are rapids and a fast flowing river. Ethan said he felt like it was paradise, he thought the place was wonderful. The cabanas are wooden with thatched roofs and have the essentials inside. Around the grounds are geese, turkeys, chickens and dogs roaming. There are hammocks and swings.

After settling in we set off to walk along the riverside, the dogs followed along. We had a ramble along the riverside looking for wildlife, saw some leaf cutting ants and that was about it. It was a fun walk. Then we drove into San Ignacio and booked a canoe trip for the next day. The town is really a surprise when you come from Bermuda, so different, very 3rd world. (Reminded me of Peru, Ethan was somewhat shocked) Upon returning John and Ethan chatted to the owner, Chana and found out where everything was and all about the “pets”. Dinner was around 6 as the kitchen shuts at 7 every night. That 1st dinner we had fried fish, veggies and rice; Ethan had pasta salad, which is served hot here. That night Ethan had a bit of bother sleeping as all the lights went out and he was very concerned about the creatures of the night. Sooo, Papa traded beds and Ethan slept with me. We were in bed by 8 and asleep soon after.

July 7th

We were up by 6 and saw the archeology students and all their entourage setting off across the river on the floating dock which they pull themselves over on. Breakfast was at 7:00 and was excellent. I had fresh fruit, a cheese omelets and tea, John eggs and bacon and Ethan French toast. Then we were off for the day 1st to the rope bridge where we walked across, there were ladies doing their laundry in the river.

Next to the Blue Morffeo Butterfly farm where we had a tour and saw all the stages of the butterfly. Got some dead ones for Rhianna. Saw some huge iguanas sunning themselves. It was very hot! We ate our oranges that we had bought from the market and then set off to have another look around

San Ignacio. It is a very colourful town, dirty and full of sights to see. There is every type of person imaginable even the local menonites, which Ethan find very strange as they are dressed in their old fashioned clothes with their horse and carriages. We looked through a few shops, very different from home, then a lady on the street managed without much difficulty to sell me a few of her bits and pieces, I just can’t say no as they are so poor. John also got conned into donating to someone’s kidney operation…..Then we had a quick lunch and joined our

canoe trip. We walked down to the river and Ethan and I were with Clifford, he was the guide; me up front, Ethan in the middle and Clifford at the back. John was with another John who was a medical student from Canada; there was another canoe with the main guide Philippe and 2 Australian medical students. It was a challenging paddle up river at some stages out right hard work. Poor John had to really work hard as the other John was pathetic in a canoe. We saw bats at a bat cave and many iguanas in the trees. The whole way there was deep jungle along the side of the river. We saw the occasional fisherman. The rapids were exceptionally hard work, John had some extra excitement as the other John was pathetic and the canoe would turn around and face the wrong direction in the rapids. We pulled over at the side and had to leave the canoes and continue on foot, as the water was too strong the dam had released more water due to flooding up river. So we hiked through the countryside and riverside to some waterfalls that were hidden away. There we jumped in, swam and cooled off as it was damm hot. In fact sweat was streaming off of us all. Then followed the hike back to the river and the paddle downstream, which was somewhat easier as we moved with the current. Ethan loved the rapids and I agree they were the most fun. That evening we stayed at Charisa and had dinner. Again we enjoyed the company of Mark and Gary. Bed was 8ish and very welcomed as we were tired.

July 8th

We were up for the usual time of 6ish; Ethan was sleeping better and not so fearful of the dark. Breakfast was the usual fruit and eggs variety. Then we set off to visit Xunantunich archaeological site. It was a quick drive there; it is closer to the Guatemalan border.

When you arrive you have to drive the jeep onto a floating platform, which is the ferry, and it takes you and the car across the river. A guy cranks a handle and he turns a wheel and the ropes pull you over, really quaint. There weren’t any guides for us but that was fine we did a self-guided tour and were very lucky as we were there early and avoided all the crowds. The site it’s self is quite amazing, there are steps that allow you to climb to the top of the various old plazas and of course the main one the El Castillo which is 135feet high. You can see Guatemala. We spent a good while exploring and enjoyed the site tremendously.

From there we drove to San Ignacio and had lunch, visited the market where there were dozens of stalls open, must have been market day, then set off for 1,000 foot falls.

The drive there was incredible in that the road was un paved, washed out with huge holes, rocks and lumps and bumps. It took us about 2 hours to finally reach 1000 foot falls. Ethan was amazed by the road, he loved it when the jeep skidded all over, I did not! Then he loved the huge lumps and bumps and the fact that Papa was like a racecar driver. Plus the signs that kept changing 1st  it said 2.5 miles more to go, then 5.5 more miles to go, then 2.5 more miles to go. He thought that was hilarious. We finally reached the falls, the keeper there was an older man named Pedro. The falls were very pretty, but you could only see half of them due to the trees. We took a shorter route back, (according to the keeper). Ethan was quite upset by 2 dogs, “papa stop, there are 2 dogs with their tails tied together” We had to explain about dog facts of life to him as he was convinced they were tied together by their tails. We stopped along the way at a sort of bar/supply/store that was at the crossroads. There we had a beer with some of the locals, Ethan bought a water pistol. Then we drove into San Ignacio for dinner at a Shirlancan restaurant. It was too late for dinner at Charisa as it is served at 6:00pm. The curries at the Sirlancan restaurant were excellent. We were back by 8:00pm and showered and in bed not long after.

July 9th

Up for our 7:00am breakfast, which was just as amazing, just love the fruit. Packed our stuff and said our good byes. It was sad leaving as we had made friends. We promised to be back with the family one day.

The drive to Caves Branch was beautiful as it went through the jungle/rainforest and mountains. We found Caves Branch easily. All of us were just amazed by how beautiful the resort was. It is in the middle of the rainforest, surrounded by beautiful flowers and shrubs. There is a main lodge house with a 3-tiered pool that over looks a rivers flowing by. All you can hear are the birds and insects it really is like a Garden of Eden. All of us were just blown away by the beauty of the spot. I didn’t know where to start with the photos.

After checking in we thought we would drive back to Blue Hole and St Hermin’s Cave. There we were disappointed with Blue Hole as due to the recent rain it was now Brown Hole. The hike to St Hermins Cave was pleasant and the Cave was fun to explore. It went quite a ways back and you had to take a torch and follow the florescent taped path.

Back at Caves Branch Ethan was straight to the pool, John and I explored a bit and then I joined him in the pool. By then it was filling up with returning groups from the “Adventures”. Off for a shower, followed by an amazing buffet dinner. They would announce the various courses, 1st would be the salad and soup and bread of the day. 2nd would follow, the fruit, veggies and two meat dishes with a variety of rice, potatoes and plantains. 3rd would be a couple of desserts. Everyone over ate; the food was just amazing, even Ethan loved most of it. Everyone sat together at large tables, so you got to meet different people. Dinner would mean that you would stagger off to read and crash out by 8:30/9:00pm. In the cabanas we had 2 oil lamps and one small light by the bed, when the lights went out it was PITCH dark with just the jungle noises. That night Ethan found it tough to sleep again. He kept asking “Papa turn on the torch I think I see something” Then the next morning he didn’t remember asking……

July 10th

Today was a most amazing day. (Found tics on John’s legs and privates, Ethan was howling with laughter, the tics were huge with blood and burst when I picked them off…moral of the story…wear bug spray!)

We went to breakfast, which was a buffet of all sorts, pancakes, scrambled eggs and different salsas and beans with tortillas, fruit and spicy sausages and more. As we are so close to Mexico there is much Spanish influence so lots of spicy Spanish food, plus everyone speaks Spanish and English.

Our expedition was called 7 waterfalls and was described as difficult. After breakfast we met our guides Alfred and Chico and a Belizean couple Antoinette and Antonio. We set off in the resorts battered bus down the main road the Hummingbird Highway, then turning onto a track that ran along side huge citrus, orange fields. The mountains were in the background. Next thing the bus was crossing a river, no not on a bridge but right through the water and out the other side, crazy. Down some extremely bumpy riverbeds and along more very bumpy tracks when we finally stopped.

Here we had to take our daypack and life vests and attach them together and headed off into the jungle down a pathway. After a fast 45-minute hike through dense jungle that was dripping wet with all sorts of bird and insect sounds, we finally came to the mouth of a cave. It was large with lots of plants at the mouth. We had to put on our hard hats and lights on top of them then we followed Alfred into the cave. Ethan went first, followed by me then Papa and the others. Ethan was just enthralled with it all, I think it blew his mind. Anyway after a 45 minute hike underground which entailed clambering over boulders, wading waist deep through underground rivers climbing massive rocks, balancing around all types of drops and trying not to touch or disturb the limestone formations we had a bit of a break.

Alfred had shown us the different bats living near the mouth we also saw the fresh water crabs and these big bugs that were a type of cricket also spider type creatures. We were also able to use our headlamps to see the massive formations caused by the limestone. Like Crystal Caves but x that by 100. My favourite part was the wading through the cold mountain water my least favourite was crawling through the low spaces, as I got so muddy. Anyway the break was for us to get ready for the climbing, we had to put on harnesses for climbing up the sheer face of the waterfalls. I thought what the —- have I gotten myself into.

Then we went a bit further and were facing the 1st waterfall, I found it the hardest to climb up. Chico went first and secured the ropes then I was picked to go next. Alfred had to shout to explain to me what to do as the sound of the waterfall is just over powering. The first climb was up about 20 feet and it was dam hard as you had to try to stay to one side of the huge waterfall as the water pounded you, then pull yourself and climb up and over. Thank God I had the ropes on as half way up I fell part way down, Alfred shouted to be strong and so I pushed on, made the top and waited behind Chico. Ethan came next; he slipped too and had to be started over again. It’s a good thing he does rock climbing, and then John who agreed those rocks are hard when you hit them. Anyway we repeated the whole process up 6 more waterfalls. One you actually had to climb under the water, up and finally over the waterfall. This entire climb was deep in the underground caverns, in the dark with only a headlamp, miles under the mountains. Apparently if you get swept way you disappear down with the river in the dark to who knows where.

Caves Branch is the only company in Belize with permission to do these expeditions. The guides are highly trained. Once at the top of the waterfalls we had to return down, we jumped into the dark down the 1st one into the pool below, climbed the next couple down then jumped the last 2. The jumping was just crazy as you are standing at the top of a narrow entrance to a waterfall that is falling 15 – 20 feet and jumping into the dark  pool below. The water was lovely, so fresh. So down we went, and back we hiked through the same huge caverns and underground rivers. About half way back we stopped at a large rock and the guides laid out a tablecloth and then a lunch of cheese, meat, tomatoes boiled eggs, mayo mustard, tortillas and more for us to make lunch. After lunch it was a straight hike back. At the entrance we discovered it was raining, not that it made a difference as we were soaking wet and had been in a cave all day. It was an excellent, excellent day. Back at our cabana we used our outdoor shower to try to clean our clothes and bodies, then the inside one to clean up more, our clothes and we were filthy. Then Ethan headed off to the pool where he  swims till dinner at 6pm

July 11th

We were up early for our excellent breakfast before heading out to do the Actum Tunichil Muknal trip, (ATM). Actun Tunichil Muknal is by far the best tour in Belize, and is considered by the NSS as one of the top ten caves in the world. This amazing tour departed from camp at 8:30am. Again we climbed aboard a camp bus and took a short drive stopping to buy drinks along the way. On the bus we chatted with our guide who told us stories about the mysterious ATM cave and the tales that surround its history.

Arriving at the start we grabbed our helmets and life vests and enjoyed a flat, refreshing jungle hike that lasted 40 minutes. The area that we hiked through is known as the Mountain Tapir Reserve. During our fascinating hike, we crossed several crystal clear streams and rivers. The crystal clear water stemmed from the Mountain Pine Ridge area. The hike was not strenuous, but it was hot in the forest. Ethan enjoyed trying to be at the lead again. We got to the “camp site”, and had a twenty minute lunch, even though it was mid morning. The guides again had cheese, cold meat tomatoes and other bits and pieces for us. We needed to eat, as we would be under ground for many hours.

At this stage, our knowledgeable guides gave us a short briefing regarding the geology of the cave, Mayan culture, and why the Mayan people would go into caves and perform human sacrifices. There were fourteen human sacrifices that were performed in this mystical cave.

We entered the cave by doing a short swim. At this point of the tour we got soaking wet including our footwear. It was quite refreshing. The depth of the water at the entrance of the cave is about 12 feet deep as you swim into the entrance, climbing out onto a ledge. The hike underground then begins. We put on our headlamps and followed the guide’s directions. You really do everything they do even holding on where they do. The guides would turn on powerful torches to show us that the cave has beautiful stalactites/stalagmites formations. We climbed over rocks in the cave and hiked “in” and “out” of water, squeezed around boulders, under ledges. This was the first section of the cave that consisted of a breakdown where huge boulders had collapsed thousand of years ago. We had to maneuver through this boulder section by using our 4 points of contact for leverage and support; four points of contacts meaning our feet and arms.

We departed the wet section of the cave and then enter the “dry chamber”. It is like a cathedral inside. Since it is a very sacred area, we had to take our footwear off and followed along in our wet socks on soft, limestone floor for about an hour and a half. This process is done because our body has oil and bacteria and we had to preserve the cave’s integrity. You are only allowed to walk on the narrow designate “line” in the floor.

We were totally impressed by the vast amount of Mayan potteries, and Mayan skeletal remains that were displayed all over the limestone floor. These priceless artifacts are over a thousand years old, and haven’t been touched or removed. This cave is in fact a “living museum”, we all viewed the “crystal lady”, which is a full skeletal remain at the end of the dry chamber. The guide was explaining every artifact as we went and turned on the torch to show how the shadows recreated the god – like forms on the cavern walls. We did not see all of the 14 sacrificed bodies as much more of the cavern has been sealed off to protect it, but what we saw was absolutely amazing. The whole atmosphere was as if the gods were indeed present. After the Crystal lady we retraced our steps and followed the guide out.

We returned to Caves Branch for around 4:00pm. There are so many adjectives, phrases to describe this tour. It is amazing, breathtaking, invigorating, educational, and thrilling. An amazing journey. Again that evening Ethan spent in the pool. He was playing with some of the other kids and having a grand time. Dinner was once again a buffet and just excellent. We were off to bed early as we were all exhausted, but were awoken by the most stupendous crash of thunder. The gods from the ATM were active in the rainforest that night.

July 12th

Again we were up early and had another fabulous breakfast. We then had to walk down the driveway where our guides met us and transport…..this time a tractor with a trailer attached. We climbed up into the trailer hanging on to the tubes. It was a very bumpy muddy ride. John who was at the front ended up covered in mud that was flicked up by the wheels. We went through rivers sometimes having to get out to allow the tractor to climb up the bank on the other side. Consequently by the time we arrived at the starting point of the cave tubing, all of us were more than eager to get into the river and clean up and cool off. The Caves Branch River is fed by the larger Sibunun River, which flows inside the subterranean river system. The largest cave in these extensive cave systems, we were told, is about seven miles deep/long and is believed to be anywhere from 150,000 to 200,000 years old. Wow! Blows your mind! We were to travel its entire length.

We climbed into the muddy water, then sliding our bottoms into our tubs, we had to hang onto the vegetation till everyone was set and ready. Then we were off. The most exciting part of the river tubing was battling the small rapids that we encountered during our underground journey, but the most impressive was arriving at a huge opening in the middle of the cave system. Here we had to exit the river, as the water was too high for us to pass underground. We did a short trek, getting our blood sucked by millions of mosquitoes. One by one, we got back into the river by climbing down a small cliff trying not to slide in the mud and jumping backwards into our tubes. The refreshing, cool river was a welcomed feeling for our sweat-covered bodies after even a short hike through the jungle. Carlos guided our group through the cave entrance, which had stalactites hanging from the top. We turned on our headlights and headed down slowly into the darkness of the underground river and cave system. Once inside the bowels of the caverns. We started seeing more stalactites and even some resident bats. “You have just finished cave tubing through Caves Branch and had lots of fun, but many years ago, to our Mayan Ancestors, the trek you just undertook was a sacred ritual for them,” said Carlos, “It was a privilege that only the high priests were allowed to experience.”

Climbing out we were way down river at Jaguar Reserve, where we were to be met by the Caves Branch bus, that had our dry clothes. However something had happened to the bus, so no backpack and dry clothes. We waited for about 20 minutes collecting more bites when finally we were able to get inside the facility and have our lunch. It was freezing in the AC with wet clothes on but a welcome relief from the mosquitoes. Finally our backpacks arrived and we changed and covered ourselves in bug spray. Comfortable again.

Off we went to the zip line. Upon arrival, in preparation for zip lining, we were given a safety briefing and outfitted with safety gear that includes a body harness, pulleys, helmet and gloves. After we were fully geared up and checked by our guide, our tour started off with a short educational hike up to the first platform. Here, the fun began with the thrilling opportunity to soar through the jungle treetops high above the forest floor. It involved traversing from one platform to another along a steel cable suspended up to 80 feet above the forest floor and was just amazing. We zipped to over to eight platforms. Along the way we enjoyed a bird’s eye view of beautiful and pristine rain forest. When we arrived on the last platform we rappelled the 100-foot to the ground. Ethan was mainly with his buddy ahead, having a great time. It was awesome!! The zip lining tour took approximately one hour. Then we had an hour’s drive back to Caves Branch. Again Ethan was attached to the pool. In fact he swam between courses at dinner and we let him stay in till he wanted as we were leaving the next morning but we had had a fabulous time!!

July 13th

Up for another early breakfast and ready to drive along Humming Bird highway and Palencia. The drive was very pleasant. The road is beautiful with the rain forest, fruit orchards, farms and a few villages. The road along the Palencia peninsular was a new one. There is a tremendous amount of development and building going on. Not sure if this is a good sign or a sad one??? We arrived in Palencia and checked into the Singing Sands, a small place right on the beach and famous front with the world’s longest sidewalk. We spent the afternoon by walking along the shore/beach, which we found to be full of debris. Ethan went for a swim, I joined him for a while and then John and I relaxed in the beach chairs. There were a number of dogs around and some of them found John to be an attraction. A handsome brindle pit tried to climb in his lap. There were a number of hawkers selling their wares. One of which had a very cute tiny puppy with him. He used it to lure the women and children. Most of these guys wouldn’t approach if you had a male companion, but as soon as they saw women they swooped down. They were harmless enough, just annoying. We walked next door for dinner and had our regular early night.

July 14th   

We found a cute little café for breakfast and who did we find there but one of the dogs from the beach the day before. He was one we nicknamed hound dog and was not in a healthy way. The owners explained that they were caring for him. He was not theirs but they were getting treatment for him. It was a lovely breakfast. We then spent the day exploring Palencia and up to Maya Beach. We were just wandering around, looking in shops and then driving to Maya Beach in time for lunch. We bumped into some people that we were staying with at Caves Branch. They were staying at Maya Beach in one of the large cabanas. After lunch we explored further and returned to our hotel so that Ethan could go swimming. I didn’t go in and just stayed on the beach reading and relaxing with John. Again the same guys were trying to earn a few dollars selling their necklaces and other crafts. That evening we walked till we found a place for dinner. Ethan was happy as we saw a tarantella in the car park outside the restaurant.

July 15th                        

We had booked a trip to Ranguna  Caye the day before and so were up early and eager to get going but the day was gray and raining. Ever hopeful we had breakfast and arrived at the office where we were to meet. The weather started to clear and eventually everyone arrived. We had another family with us, which was fun for Ethan. Their children were much older but he could still relate to them.

It was a half hour run in the launch to reach Ranguna Caye with the sky clearing as we went. On the way we came across a pod of dolphin. They swam around the boat, leapt out of the water, raced the boat, played in the wake and were delightful to watch. I found it very challenging getting a photo of them as they were super fast. One minute here next there.

Arriving to splendid sunshine Ranguna itself was just a small sandy island with a little shack or two, but very scenic; Palm trees, turquoise lagoon, shells on the beach and peaceful. There was a fellow there with his dog. He takes care of the island and the boats that visit. We all were quick to set off snorkeling. Some of the others went fishing on the boat. We snorkeled till lunchtime. The reef was beautiful. Lots of fish, corals and life. There was somewhat of a current so we swam more or less with it, clockwise around the far outside of the reef. Back for lunch we had food supplied. It was a great pasta salad and extras, plus the fish that had been caught. The “boys” from the other family wanted to fish again. This time they were casting from the shore. There was an opportunity to relax before we were off again snorkeling. Ethan only snorkeled for a short spell and headed back to watch the others casting. Again it was a fun snorkel, not as great as the morning one. When we returned there was a bird that was helping to fish too. This bird enthralled Ethan. It was very cute! So after drinks and snacks we were off back to the mainland. Overall it was a great day. The evening was spent relaxing and getting ready to leave the next day.

July 16th

Drive from Palencia  to Hopkins to Dangria to Belize City, Princess Hotel

July 17th

We were up for 7:00 and I finished the bit of packing that was left. Down to breakfast where we had a buffet of fruit, scrambled eggs, toast, pancakes, muffins and much more. Ethan was happy with the pancakes.

After breakfast we drove to Belize airport and checked in to Tropic Air. The airport lounge was small but really very decent with lots of options for the hungry or to souvenir shop. We then boarded a SMALL 12 seater propeller plane, which took off with just us 3 and the pilot. John and Ethan were really made up with the plane. It was really cool to fly over treetops. We touched down in Belize municipal airport to get some more fuel; we waited inside while they fuelled up. Then we were off again for Dangria. The plane flew over the sea for most of the way, there were a few rain clouds so the view was not perfect the whole way, but still it was really thrilling. Ethan and John were just really into the whole experience. In Dangria we were met by Eddie who drove us to the Pelican Resort to wait while he took our bags, loaded and fitted up the boat. At the Pelican we had a small lunch, read walked around and waited. John and I were throwing some coins for these sweet little boys to dive up. It was only 3-4 foot of water and the littlest boy who might have been 6 was the best at getting the coins.

Eddie arrived, we drove to the dock and boarded a large dive boat, they loaded barrels of diesel fuel, propane and lots of supplies. We were off to Isla Marisol. The boat ride lasted about an hour 15mins, the boat moves fairly fast on a plane. I met Mora the dive master and our guide, he was pointing out all the various Cayes and then the barrier reef. There were a few others on board who were visiting friends at the island for a day or so. The island itself is lovely, palm ringed with the beach cabanas and a couple of docks. The bar is at the end of one of the docks. Our beach cabana turned out to be Reef house, for some reason we were upgraded to this virtual palace. It is huge, faces the reef, has 2 bedrooms, a large deck, a central area with kitchen. We were absolutely delighted by the upgrade. It’s because it is low season, not many guests, (2 other than us 3), and there is some work going on in other parts of the island. There are pathway threw the palms to the cabanas that are marked by conch shells. We settled in and the explored around the island and facilities stopping in the bar for a beer. We then went back to the cabana, took showers and headed to dinner. Dinner was at 6:30 in the dinning hall where everyone goes. We had fish with mashed potatoes mixed with cheese, veggies and salad with cake for desert, (it was the cook’s son’s bday) Ethan was not impressed as it was fish. Luckily the cook had some stew, which she gave Ethan. He did like and eat him broccoli and mashed potatoes. Then it was off to the cabana and asleep by 9. There was rain and thunder during the night, but nothing like we’ve had before at Caves Branch.

July 18th

Up for 6:30 and breakfast was at 7:30. We had scrambled eggs, pancakes pineapple orange juice and more, it was very good. Then it was ready for an 8:30 dive. They went out beyond the reef and did a drift dive, the other 2: father and so Ed and Eddie from California, 70 and 46; did a deep dive to 100+ for certification with Rebecca, 21 from Sweden. John went in with Mora to recertify, down to 65 feet. Ernesto went with them. Ethan and I snorkeled with the Captain and drifted along with the boat. They all seemed to have a good dive. Ethan lost his snorkel it went over the edge where the wall is that is basically bottomless; so good by snorkel; he was lent another.

Then we came back for Ethan and I to go off the dock and learn the basics. Fill mask and clear it; take out regulator and clear it; toss regulator over shoulder then find it and clear it; then inflate and deflate BC. I found it went well. It did take Ethan a while to get them all but he did it. After that the tanks were ready for dive 2 of the day. We went out to a place along the wall. I went down with Mora no problem; Ethan tried a few times but couldn’t clear his left ear so Rebecca took him up top. Then Rebecca was with John and I while we followed the edge of the wall. It was around 60-65 feet. The reef really is amazing, there are Groupers of all sizes everywhere, we saw large Green Moray; several barracudas; many many fish of all colours and shapes, the blues were just stunning. I was a little preoccupied worrying about what could go wrong, but I really did enjoy it. Only slight problem was I started to come up too fast, too much air in the BC. I ended up with more air left than John.

It was a chilly ride back where we rinsed off, pulled on dry clothes and had lunch. Fish tacos, coleslaw, pineapple, and lemonade with left over Bday cake was our lunch. The cook had made Ethan chicken tacos. Then we had time till the 3:30 dive, which John was doing and I said I would miss and stay with Ethan. We kayaked over to the neighbouring island where we walked around and explored. It actually is even nicer with better beaches. Ethan didn’t want to snorkel or anything, just kick a ball around….so I’m sitting under a palm tree doing my journal, the others are diving and Ethan is playing ball, I think with the cook’s kids. When John returns we might snorkel over the other island, I would really like to go shelling, not found many yet.

The divers returned and had had a great dive. It was around 5 so we went and showered, then headed out to the bar.  We had a few drinks, Ethan his Fantas. Chatted to Ernesto, then headed in for dinner; delicious chicken, beans/rice, veggies, salad and banana pudding pie for dessert, Lime juice to drink, Ethan loves it now drinks 5 or 6 huge glasses. Before bed we went back to the bar where we watched the Tarpon swimming under the bar and dock. They were huge. Bed and asleep by 9:00pm

July 19th

It was up by 6:30 again, breakfast by 7:30 then off on the dive boat at 8:30 to do a double dive. Went off of Long Caye ….off the wall there. Ethan’s ears still didn’t clear so Seth and he snorkeled and jumped off the boat. He seemed to have had fun. Our first dive went well it was pretty, not as many fish but enjoyable. Then we headed into Long Caye to the resort there: Off the Wall Diving. It is a very nice island, they had loads of teens there that stay for a month and dive and explore Belize. $5,000 for a month, have to be 13 or older, lucky kids, like paradise for the summer. We walked around saw some large iguanas. Ethan went out with Seth in the boat to snorkel the reef off shore. We had to be out of the water for 1 hour before we could dive again. We had a snack and water and headed out again. This next dive was lovely. Saw a HUGE Jew Fish, lobster, rays, a speckled moray, a turtle and loads and loads of fish of every type, size and colour…really beautiful. Then it was back for lunch, after which was a rest and then we went Kayaking. We set off to the neighbouring caye where there used to be a resort. It’s for sale for 3 million that’s all. The afternoon we kayaked to the other island and snorkeled off the shallow reef by the lagoon. It was ok, Ethan was happy with it. Again no really good shells. We didn’t get back till after 5 as we kayaked the rest of the way around the Caye.  So it was a quick shower, change and over to the bar for a drink before dinner. We chatted with Ernesto, Ken Kenny and Rebecca about the day, Belize, diving and travel. It’s then dinner, which was excellent again, and bed by 8:30. You get sooooo tired.

July 20th

We awoke to another spectacular day. Another delicious breakfast and off for an 8:30 dive. It was the last day for Ken and Kenny. They were eager to get as many pictures as possible. The dive was great; a shark came right up to me. The others had gone tearing off after it and it turned right around and swam up to me. We saw every type of fish, large rockfish, lionfish clown wrasse by the hundred, angelfish, all types. Ethan still had problems so Seth who stays up top took him snorkeling and they had fun. They jumped off the dive boat; Ethan climbed all over it and seemed happy. We have decided that probably as his ear is only 11 years old it is perhaps too small yet to equalize. It’s just his left ear.  Seth and Ethan rescued a sea bird that was just floating on top of the water. It seemed to be quite ill. They took it back to the lagoon where it would stand a better chance of recovering, they hoped.

It was back for a break, rinsed off, relaxed and the headed out for an 11:00am dive. Again the dive was amazing. The corals and sponges, the fish and all just beautiful. Back we went for lunch, which was fish tacos or enchiladas delicious again. The afternoon we kayaked to the reef that is above the water level. Tied up the kayaks and attempted to walk along it.  It was very difficult to walk along the top as all it is old coral, conchs and other shells. Plus it was hot and the tide was coming in. After about 20 minutes we gave up, climbed back into the kayaks and headed back. John went through the lagoon, we went back the way we had came as we were running aground and it was too hot for me to battle with the kayak. So it was shower and quickly back to the bar for a few drinks, then to the kitchen/dinning room for a wonderful dinner.

July 21st

It was up at 6:30 as usual; breakfast was an omelet, bacon fruit and juice. Then to the boat for a dive at 8:30. They were going to drop an anchor so that Ethan could try to go down again, this time on the anchor rope.

Well all went well and before we knew it he was down with us. Rebecca the 21-year-old Swedish instructor held his hand down to 10, then down to 20 then down down down to 50 and he was off. Rebecca held on to him the whole time as he was all over the place. We saw spotted eagle ray, other rays, lobster, loads and loads of other fish all colours shapes sizes, a lot of blues, a large green moray which was out of its hole, groupers, loads of snappers. Ethan was all smiles and so please with himself! He asks that I email everyone. His bird died last night, which was sad; we figure it had swallowed plastic, as is the fate of so many sea creatures these days. He had a ladybug land on him yesterday so he thinks that was his lucky charm.

The boat had to take Ken and Kenny back so there wasn’t an 11:00 dive. We opted to walk around and explore. We walked to the other end of the island where the fishermen had been camping and where the back-packers go in the high season. It was quite lovely there. We then headed to lunch where it was quiet without Ken and Kenny. The boat never arrived back to do the afternoon dive so we went for a snorkel and relaxed. Headed to the bar for the usual couple of drinks before dinner and off to bed at the usual 8:00pm time.

July 22nd

Another day that started at 6:30 and an excellent breakfast at 7:30. We set off for the 8:00am dive, which Ethan this time was over the side then went down like a stone a straight descent. Before Rebecca even said to. He was funny, all over the place down there. Tried to grab hold of a turtle, swam after it and grabbed hold again, then he was off after something else. He was like a kid in a toyshop. Anyway he was up 15 mins before us as he used up his air.

We had another excellent dive. It was back to the island for an hour break then out again at 11:00 for a second dive. We had explained to Ethan to relax more and stay with Rebecca all of which he did. The dive went well and it was another enjoyable dive. Back for a rinse off and lunch followed by a rest time and then we were set to dive again at 3:30 pm. It was a slightly deeper dive and Ethan was put off he said his ear was bothering him, but it was probably too much the 3rd dive. John and I had a great dive. Rebecca was very upset with Ernesto as he was training too and did not do as told. He went too deep and took off on his own. He was banned indefinitely from diving. We showered when we returned and then headed to the bar for a few drinks before dinner. Then boat had arrived back and we met Trevor and Nina, 2 of the islands’ managers that were on the island for a few weeks to get it ready for the new season.

July 23rd

Our last day of diving and full day on the island, it was sad. We were up for our usual time, had scrambled eggs, bacon, refried beans and juice for breakfast. Then down to the dock for the 8:30 dive. 1st dive was at middle caye, the Aquarium. It was spectacular as usual. Saw just so many fish, Ethan touched a turtle again. There were lobsters, rays and when I first got down another shark was right there. An excellent dive. The 2nd dive was at 11:00am we went to the area just near the channel. This was another excellent dive. John dove the wall as usual, and Ethan just above me with Rebecca, I was with Mora as usual. We saw lobsters, lionfish, every other reef fish of every shape and colour. I ended up exploring over the reef with Mora, we were down for 1 hour 8 minutes, saw a wreck and quite a few live conchs and other shells. I was a great dive to finish with. The afternoon was spent getting packed, organized and taking pictures. We ended the day with a few drinks in the bar, dinner and sitting in the moonlight on the deck of reef house.

July 24th

Up at 6:30 to a gorgeous day, but a sad day, saying goodbye to the island and all those we had met. It was an excellent last breakfast that Patricia gave us. Trevor and Nina were at breakfast and encouraged us to send pictures of Ethan diving as he was the youngest that they had ever had dive there. Then we were back to our Reef house to pack. Dennis was there by 9:10 to take the bags; they were stowed in the boat. We said our goodbyes, which were sad, but we will be back and some of them might visit us. The boat ride back was in the smaller dive boat. The electricians were with us as they had worked over night to finish their work of installing the new air conditioners. We had one shower on the way and one of the men held the cushion to protect me from the rain, very sweet of him, just typical of the lovely people we met.

Eddie met us at the dock and dropped us at Dangria Airport for a 12:20 flight to Belize City. The return flight to Belize City was only notable as it was so hot. No AC in a little plane full of 12 people is hellishly hot. In Belize City we checked into the Princess, Ethan relaxed while John and I went out in search of a grocery store. Along the way we “picked up” 4 boys who were telling us, “mister its not safe to walk these streets. Bad men they rob you, they ride by and snatch what they want………” We got what we wanted from a little store. John gave the boys some money so they could get into the pool the next day. They were very happy with that. Dinner was at the Calypso Restaurant again, it was ok.

July 25th

We were up early, had breakfast and headed via taxi to the Caye Caulker taxi service. Caught the 8:00am taxi to Caye Caulker. It is a really really laid back interesting place to visit. No traffic, just unpaved lanes, very colourful shops, bars, restaurants and stalls selling all sorts of items. We strolled around, had breakfast at a place to change into our bathing suits and headed out to snorkel with Joel from Mario tours.

He took us 1st to see some of the reef, which was again lovely. He had this green moray swim right out of its hole and up to him twice. Then we went to Shark and Ray alley. Here he put this tube with fish in it in the water and about a dozen large rays and up to seven sharks and a large barracuda came. You were then able to swim with them, able to touch and handle them. Ethan was just thrilled. He got to hold, stroke touch large rays and up to 4 sharks, about 4 foot of water, there they feed them, and the rays and sharks hear the engines and turn up for fun. Very cool. I had one large ray take my knee as food and tried to eat it, it was like a giant sucking feeling, which left a double bruise….kinda scary at the time. Joel prepared some fruit for us and we went to a third spot to snorkel. Again the reef was beautiful. We arrived back at the dock in time for lunch, went back to the same restaurant where we had lunch and changed into dry clothes. The afternoon was spent wandering around, checking out all the sights. It is a very colourful place full of interesting characters. Then it was the 45-minute taxi ride back to the mainland. Adrian was there to pick us up. We spent the evening at the hotel packing and dinner at the dreaded Calypso.

July 26th

Our last day was simply spent at the airport. The American Airlines people there gave me a hellish time. They did not believe that we did not have to have an American visa waiver and I had to go to the restaurant and spent close to 2 hours trying to get one. All the time it said we were not viable but the ladies at ticketing would not believe me. Finally they used the passport numbers to check us in and what did they find …..We did not need a visa waiver. American needs to educate its employees. Finally we were through, grabbed some lunch, and were on our way to Miami. The following day we headed home to Bermuda after a quick visit to the Dolphin Mall.

An excellent, incredible, amazing, fantastic holiday!!!!

 

 

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St Vincent and the Grenadines 2009

Thursday 2nd July

We left Bermuda on the 8:30 flight to Miami. The plane to San Juan was late leaving Miami due to a thunderstorm. We arrived late in San Juan and rushed to get our bags. Ethan’s bag was missing! After waiting as long as we dared we rushed to Liat. Our porter was going to hurry back and find the bag for us. He would then deliver it to Liat for us. Then, Liat said we were too late to board! The plane was there and not leaving for 30 minutes but we had to be there 45 minutes ahead not 30. Soooo, we were then booked on a flight to Antigua, where we would spend the night and get an early morning flight to St Vincent and the Grenadines.  AND they, Liat, charged us a penalty.

With time on our hands we decided to go to a Wendy’s for a snack. Not a wise choice, it was yucky. John and Ethan ordered the food with the few Spanish words they knew. Ethan thought it was hilarious, as nobody could understand them and they had to point and gesture.  After our snack; which we all shared as we had to settle for what we got due to the limited Spanish; we walked towards baggage claim and our porter friend found us. He had found Ethan’s bag and it was at Liat waiting for us. He was a really helpful fellow and earned his tip, Ethan was much happier.  We then hung out at an even worse restaurant, it was like a trash fat grease trap, that’s what it smelled of and there was a smoky greasy atmosphere in the air. However it worked as it had seats and nobody hassled us.  Finally caught our flight to Antigua. Liat planes had not upgrade from the previous year and were still very noisy, cramped and dirty. We arrived at our hotel for the evening, The Amaryllis Hotel at 11:00ish, – we had chosen it on-line while waiting in the San Juan restaurant –  It was a regular motel, quite nice, we showered and crashed out.

July 3rd

Up at 6:00 and had a breakfast of eggs and bacon in the hotel’s restaurant. Then off to the airport for the 9:45 flight. That’s when Liat tells us we can’t have a seat on the flight – the flight is over booked was the 1st excuse, then it was that they were using a small plane – I thought all their planes were small – We were sent to sit at the side while they thought the problem over!! – not trusting their decision making skills – I got the laptop out, thanked god for a signal and emailed Seth our contact in St Vincent. I had remembered that the Barefoot Company actually owns planes too. I begged Seth for help/rescue. We heard back quite quickly and then lost the signal. Well, he really did rescue us. The Liat employees approached us with apologies and a solution. Seth had called the owner of Barefoot  – who called the owner of Liat and the Tourism Minister in Antigua. We were supplied with the use of the Amaryllis and it’s restaurant for lunch, plus a taxi tour of the island and we were on an evening flight direct to St Vincent. What a relief. Always travel with the laptop was the lesson for the day.

We spent the morning touring Antigua. It is quite a pretty place. The taxi operator was Edward and informative. We headed out to Nelson’s Dockyard where we looked at the view from the cliffs and then walked around the dockyard itself.  There looked to be some lovely beaches and pretty anchorages. Back at the Amaryllis Ethan had chicken soup for lunch – he wasn’t too impressed as it was homemade with whole legs and veggies in it.  John and I had pan-fried snapper which was really good, a whole snapper each.  John then ate Ethan’s soup too. I think Ethan was just beginning to realize that what he was used to eating would not be available for a long time. We had plenty of snacks on hand for him.

The afternoon was spent by the pool. Ethan swam and watched the planes, which were flying just above us when they landed. John and I relaxed, read and John snoozed. We caught the 7:00pm flight to St Vincent. Hurray!! Arriving in time for a drink and a lovely pizza.

July 4th  

Up early, had an excellent breakfast and headed to our chart briefing. We had Philip brief us, he was very good. Ethan thought he was a bossy lady with a mustache, LOL, (as he had long hair). Set off down to Winters Gate and proceeded to unpack the groceries. We were set up and off by 1:00pm. Not long out of Blue Lagoon we were set upon by a tropical wave that moved in. Being in Barefoot the mountains “hide” the approaching weather so we were not as prepared as we could have been. It made quite a first impression on Ethan, with winds in excess of 30Knotts and seas about 8’, it was really rough, plus pouring rain so you couldn’t see a thing. We got SOAKED, Ethan felt sick. As most of the rained passed we stripped down to undies and dried up as best we could. Ethan and John went up the bow and we finally arrived, after several hours 3:00pm, at Mustique, thanks to the wind we actually made good speed. We unpacked as much as necessary then jumped in the water for a swim. The rest of the day was spent swimming. Ethan was very impressed with the bay, the water, the beaches, the birds and said he loved it there. After a relaxing evening we had barbequed steak, with beans and potatoes followed by carrot cake for dinner. In bed around 9:00pm.

July 5th 

Up at 7:00ish for a breakfast of pancakes, mangoes and bananas. We then headed off to explore. There were no mules for hire…. so we hiked along to Lagoon Bay and other beaches in that region. We found a tortoise along the way, paddled along most of the beaches and sheltered under coconut palms when it rained. At the Lagoon area we snorkeled inside the lagoon, walked and climbed the rocks and Ethan and I snorkeled across the bay while John chatted to some men on the beach. They had started a new business in St Vincent…Silver Kiss Rum…..using the local fruit as it is so plentiful and were staying on Mustique. By the time we were ready to head back Ethan had a bad case of chaff, so he had to strip down and just wear a towel. He walked back like a cowboy holding his towel up.

Lunch was hotdogs. After a rest period we set off in the dingy along the shore in the opposite direction. We stopped dropped the anchor and did some snorkeling in deeper water, Ethan loved it. There were lots of fish and it was very pretty. Back at the boat we spent the evening swimming, having a few drinks and snacks. Dinner was barbequed chicken, beans, carrots and potato. Ethan was asleep by 9:00pm and us not long after.

July 6th 

Breakfast was boiled eggs, bread, bananas and mangoes. We had a problem with the boat and had contacted barefoot the day before. 1st we went ashore and purchased our supplies as we hoped to leave for Mayreaux. So we waited for the mechanic while waiting we swam off the boat. Spotted a boat sailing in fast and sure enough it was the men with the parts and they started the work around 11:00.  However due to bad connections and problems the alternator blew and they borrowed bits from the ferryboat mechanic so the job wasn’t finished till 2:00pm.  Ethan and I spent most of this time snorkeling and swimming; there was nowhere to go onboard. I felt well cooked by the sun and water logged by then.

We had a lunch of hot dogs, as they were easy. Decided that we couldn’t make it to Mayraeux and set off to explore Mustique in Bumbum’s taxi. He took us on an hour’s tour, which was really interesting. He has a love of Bob Marley and plays the same song over and over again, good thing we liked the song. He showed us Celine Dion’s, Tommy Hillfigure’s, Mick Jagger’s, Bryan Adam’s and others houses/mansions. Where Prince Charles stays, the Cotton Club Hotel at $1400 per night!  We stopped at Pasture and Macaroni beaches and enjoyed the ride in his open taxi.

The rest of the afternoon we spent snorkeling off the reef in the deep water at the Lagoon end of the bay. It was quite pretty but damaged. The reef must have been beautiful before.  Dinner was barbequed lamb cutlets, potato and salad. Ethan fell asleep at 8:00pm and we had to wake him up, which wasn’t easy, to brush teeth and do his wees. As soon as he neared the bunk he was asleep again…..8:15

July 7th 

Up by 6:30, cereal, banana and yogurt for breakfast. While I stowed everything away John and Ethan got ice. We then set off for Mayreaux at 9:31. The first part of the sail was quite rolly. Ethan sat up the bow looking out hoping to see dolphins. John then played cards with Ethan while I did my log keeping. We had a line over and caught a fish in nearly the same spot as the previous year, a jack again.  After 4/5 hours we arrived at Saline Bay. While John clean our dinner, Ethan and I swam along the bay’s shoreline. We were the only boat there and it was very peaceful. When John had finished we set off to snorkel to the point. We ended up snorkeling  a long way around the point to the other side. It was deep snorkeling, plenty to see.

The evening was spent relaxing and cooking our fish. Ethan had spaghetti and meat sauce which I made from some supplies we had. Then before we had even eaten he was asleep.

July 8th     Up by 6:30 for breakfast. After which we went for a walk to the other shoreline and then around the salt pond – found the island’s dump. We left for Salt Whistle Bay when we thought most of the boats there would have headed for the Cays and we anchored on the left side of the bay. There were many Barbadian fancy fishing boats along the shoreline and within a while more arrived. Their kids and grown kids were racing and playing chicken with the fancy tenders/dinghy’s, drinking and carrying on loud and obnoxious. Then of course 2 crashed and the little kids got hurt. They were told by the rest of the bay to get lost, which they did.  We left in the dingy to snorkel the shoreline in search of a shark where we had seen one the previous year. The snorkel wasn’t as nice but Ethan enjoyed it. We did see a shark and many other fish. Ethan didn’t notice the jellyfish that were around so it was successful. We then walked, I did, John and Ethan jogged the beach and swam at the other end. Poor Ethan got some nasty thorns in his feet, his feet bothered him from then on even though I pulled the thorns out.

Back on board we had sarnies and fruit for lunch. Did our regular rest period then we set off for the other beach/shoreline. We met a most interesting dog, Ethan found him very amusing. He was a crab hunter. He would stick his nose in the hole, then start digging, snatch the crab and kill and eat part of it. These were Ghost Crabs and even if they tried to escape to another hole this crab hunter was right on top of them. We walked the entire length of the beach and then headed up the hill towards the village. It was quite a steep climb. At the top we visited the quaint church that has  shrines to various gods or sacred persons, Jesus, Haile  Selassie  and the Virgin Mary to name a few. Ethan was really quite enthralled by the church, as it was one of the few he had ever visited. Down the hill we stopped at Robert Righteousness’s bar for a cold one. Ethan was shocked that someone was inside in a pair of really small undies.  I told him they were Speedos and lots of Europeans wear then.  He just couldn’t believe someone would walk around like that. He was also quite surprised by the bar with all the Rasta gear.

The evening was very relaxing, as we had arranged for one of the boat boys, Joseph, to bring us dinner. He delivered it, hot, in dishes at 6:30. It was Curried Lambi, (conch) veggies and peas/rice and it was delicious.

July 9th 

When we awoke we could see that the weather was coming in. Walter was around so we spoke with him and purchased banana bread, brown bread and ice.  After a breakfast of cereal and fruit we headed off to the Tobago Cays. Upon arrival we set off to snorkel the reefs. It was as amazing as it always is. The water there is unbelievable. The amount of life is just astounding. Then back to the boat for lunch.  The weather continued to deteriorate, we set off to explore and visited Bataux island. As we walked around we were amazed to find huge hermit crabs. The weather seemed to have brought them out. We also explored Jamesby island  and managed to run aground on the reef, no damage though to the dingy. The rain drove us back to the boat. It rained for much of the evening and night. Ethan and John played cards,  John introduced him to gambling.  Dinner was lamb cutlets and potatoes with salad. It just rained and rained with thunder and lightning all night long. A very windy night gusts up to 42 knots.

July 10th 

Up by 6:30 as usual the weather looked to be clearing. Walter came along so we knew it was getting better. He told us that the previous day he had just gotten back to Union before the weather set in. He chatted for quite a while mainly about the time he spent in Bermuda working on the Oleander and docks. He’s not very impressed with Bermudians’ work habits. We noticed loads and loads of red jellyfish, Walter said they appear every so often and then leave after a few days. They have quite a nasty sting; Ethan and I had been stung the day before. We decided it was best to head out. We took the South Channel and headed to Union Island. After passing Union we sailed to Petit Martinique to pick up fuel and ice. There was a fair wind blowing and we hit the dock for the 1st time ever. It makes quite a thud when a 40-foot boat hits. The boat wasn’t damaged, thank goodness.

After getting what we needed we headed over to Union Island, anchored in Clifton Harbour, went ashore, bought some groceries and ate lunch at Poinciana Restaurant. Ethan enjoyed the restaurant food but was disappointed that they didn’t have burgers. After lunch we headed to Catham Bay. This is one of our favourite bays; it is just huge and beautiful. After anchoring up we went snorkeling and swam from the boat.

That evening we went to Shark Attack a shack on the beach for their barbeque. That was a real experience. We sat at picnic tables with some other people from a boat. They turned out to be charterers with their captain and crew out of Bequia. They were interesting to talk to and because they were getting lobster, which was out of season, we were given a half lobster each too. The poor skinny dogs and puppies sat around watching us and then sneaking food under the table. The guy called Shark Attack, yes that’s his name, cooked along with some other fishermen. They had oil drums cut in half as barbeques. Dinner was delicious, a platter of whole red snappers, the half lobsters, potato salad, a vegetable salad and peas and rice. It really was good, but too much so I fed the dogs the left over’s. We had taken our own drinks plus the others offered us some beers. It ended up being a late night…..9:00pm before we headed back to the boat.

July 11th

Breakfast was pancakes, which Ethan just loved. Then off we went to snorkel around Monkey Point and into the other bay. It is really quite challenging as there are currents, deep drops/depths, swell that threatens to wash you onto the rocks plus many reasons you don’t want to connect with the rocks….long spinned sea urchins everywhere….and Ethan did very well. He had become extremely independent. He would follow John everywhere and try his best to dive down deep to look in all the caves and under rocks. I spent most of my time checking him and taking pictures. It was as lovely as usual.

Back at the boat we had crackers and cheese for lunch. Relaxed for the usual hour and then set off to hike. The hike turned out to be the best one of the whole trip! We cut in behind one of the fisherman’s huts and followed a steep track to the top. The view was beautiful. We then followed the road, if you can call it that, around the hillside until we could see over Clifton on the other side. Again the view was stunning. There were just a few houses in the distance, but we never saw another person. Then we followed the roadway back and climbed up higher over the hillside above the bay. For me it was like a scene from The Sound of Music. There was this quaint cottage farm below that the bay spread out and on the hill dozens of goats. To the other side another bay opened up. The space was amazing! Being above those bays was very tranquil, peaceful and with such a wonderful view. John and Ethan sat and seemed to meditate; I headed out to the far end of the head of land. The bay below that we had never seen before looked very interesting with a ruin of some sort. Definitely a bay that was worth a visit.

Once we hiked down we visited the beach bar as we had promised the fishermen we would, had to visit both to be fair. We chatted to the Canadians we had met. They were 2 young couples, late 20s and both females turned out to be teachers. It was interesting comparing schools. Finally back at the boat we had sausages, potatoes and salad for dinner.

July 12th 

Breakfast of cereal and fruit and then off we went to explore the bay I had spied the day before. There was a fair swell getting there, Ethan trawled his rod, no bites though. The bay opened up before us and it was just amazing.  We did see a man and 2 children as we approached but they disappeared into the trees. The bay was then completely empty. There was a derelict building and some other structures in the trees. A swell was running ashore so we anchored and swam ashore. It was a fun morning. I photographed while looking for shells, which I found piles of. Ethan jogged the beach with John, they played and both of them body surfed.

Then we explored the ruin, Ethan didn’t want to so he stayed on the beach. It turned out to be some sort of hotel that nature was reclaiming. Some days later when we met with Walter again he told us that no good ever came from the place. Everyone associated with it was involved with some sort of dubious business and one by one they were murdered. One was murdered as far away as China. They had also been warned that it was a fool hardy set up as it was the windward side and would never stand the test of nature, sea, wind and rain. So there it is a monument to foolishness. And he said we were lucky with the swell, as usually you can never approach the bay from the sea.

After our wonderful morning we pulled the anchor and moved to Frigate Island off of Ashton.  Anchored and had tuna sarnis for lunch. We had the usual rest period, and over we went, snorkeling. It was quite interesting, not anything special but interesting. Snorkeled to the point of Frigate Island and then back along the shore. Climbed out along the long bar/reef that half way attaches the island to the shore and looked around. I would have like to have gone further but in bare feet it’s not that smart to walk too far.

Back at the boat we showered and set off to explore the bay in the dingy. It really is a very large bay and quite diverse. Many shallow areas and grass beds surrounded by mangroves. The pelicans were roosting on the old washed out pier. The town of Ashton is very pretty from the water and so we thought we would get some dingy fuel and explore. Well that was a real challenge. The guy who volunteered to sell us the fuel went to the town of Clifton to fill a can to sell to us. John had dropped Ethan and I at the only dock available while he hung on to the side of a floating bar to wait for the fuel. Anyway Ethan and I are looking around the dock when along comes this fellow who was in very poor shape. Skinny, nearly naked, very drunk, quite old and scary.  Sooo he starts to ask for god knows what….I figure it’s money. All I had were some EC coins in total about $5.00EC that’s about $1.50 US, well he seemed happy with that and mumbled about getting some food and headed for the floating bar. Then there was a lady who proceeded to wash her kids in the public bathroom that was by the dock, that would have been ok, but, the wall had fallen out so we had clear view. Ethan was well and truly shocked. They then washed their clothes they had had on in a bucket by the steps. I explained to him that that was what poverty was.  Finally John had received his fuel, and not much of that. So we set out to explore the town of Ashton, down the road came the drunk after some more food money. We walked the only street there really was not much to see and we headed back to the boat for the evening, bed around 8:30 as usual Ethan was already asleep.

July 13th 

Boiled eggs for breakfast. Off we went to check out of Clifton.  Anchored in Clifton harbour in the same area as usual. Dingied ashore and walked to the airport. That took awhile to check out through customs and all. Walked back, checked email, as Clifton is one of the only places we were able to do this. Tried to send pictures but it proved too much for the email to cope with.

Then we up anchored and all hell broke loose.  We had caught an anchor in our anchor chain and as I had the windless pull the chain in this anchor was being pulled up. The wind is always blowing hard and you are surrounded by boats and the reef in Clifton Harbour. Then the person whose anchor we had caught started shouting. She was NAKED and old, like 70, a notorious local eccentric French woman who lived on her boat and never went off of it. She was waving her arms, shouting, “You should be ashamed of yourself” a few choice curses, “You should be ashamed of yourselves” Luckily a boat boy came racing over and took the anchor off the chain and dropped it in so we were freed! She was still cursing us and  naked on her little boat. Ethan was beside himself laughing and hiding. I would have felt terrible but she had 11 anchor lines over. The boat boy asked for payment of $100EC, like $30, to set her anchor and for helping us out. We paid him and decided to high tail it outta there. Sailing to Carrioucou.

We sailed to Carrioucau, dropped anchor and checked in at Hillsbourgh. It was a chore. The people were eating lunch and were somewhat moody. We/John also had to return to the boat and Ethan and I sort of hung around. After we had a chocolate popsicle and a bag of chips for lunch. Back at the boat we set out for Tyrell Bay, arriving there at 4:00ish. It was a long day, the wind was blowing quite hard and the sea was quite rough. Tyrell Bay was huge and full of cruisers. We swam and then dingied about. Dinner was at The Lazy Turtle. John and I had a really lovely pizza – salmon, cream cheese and capers. Ethan had some pasta, it was a great meal

July 14th  

The weather was ok, so we walked along the shore and through the boatyard. We bought some souvenirs and then dingied around the mangrove swamp. It too was huge. You could get lost in there. After a quick lunch we went to meet Simon. He was one of the boat boys who propositioned us the previous evening. Anyway we met him at the boatyard to go on a taxi tour of the island. Well his taxi was a very small car that the back windows didn’t work and it didn’t even have back doors.  He showed us the Old Lime Factory, where they used to make Lime juice, we saw some of the beaches and stopped at some boat building. The boat builders were not really very friendly, kinda a bad atmosphere. Simon was full of political info about Grenada. The whole tour lasted from 1 – 4pm. Poor Ethan was not impressed!! Then back to the boat for a swim. Dinner was at Twilight Rest. We had chicken curry which was ok.

July 15th 

Usual breakfast and then off to explore Saline island and Sandy Island.  However we discovered that outside of Tyrell Bay it was VERY rough and windy, so we aborted our plans. Off we went and checked out of Grenada customs and headed to Union island. We slowly drifted on the current most of the way as the wind was not in the best sailing direction and John did not want to motor. It was too late for lunch by then so we ate crackers and drank pineapple pina colata soft drink while we walked to the airport to check in to the Grenadines. (I saw a poor kitty that had been killedL)  We cut through the boat club on our way back and saw the shark pool, Ethan was most impressed. Sailed off to Petit St Vincent where we swam, walked the shore shelling and had barbequed chicken for dinner.

July 16th

Up at 6:30ish and headed off to Petit Martinique for water and fuel. We anchored up and went ashore for supplies. Again getting different foods is really just by chance, if they have them in, if the boat has been. We skipped Mopian again this year, as it was just too rough to stop and enjoy it safely. So we sailed to Tobago Cays via the Mayreaux route. Dropped anchored and we were over board.  After a late lunch we set off to explore the reefs. It is amazingly beautiful there. We snorkeled and then watched a kite boarder and explored Petit Rameau island. Ethan and I lost John on the island, he was quite annoyed with us, but we saved the dinghy as it was being washed up on the rocks. Back at the boat it was pasta and meat sauce for dinner….barbeque is hard work after a long day.

July 17th

Up at the usual time to the usual breakfast. Then off to explore Petit Tabac. It is the island outside of the protection of the reefs and the first challenge was getting through the cut in the reefs. There was a strong current as usual then we were faced with rolling seas while in the dingy. Ethan and John didn’t seem worried; I was as I had my camera. Anyway we were out and then there was no choice but to cross to Petit Tabac. There was nobody there! It really is the perfect tropical island. It is where the pirate Captain Jack Sparrow  was abandoned with his rum. We started by walking/exploring around the island, taking pictures and shelling at the same time. My idea of near perfect fun/bliss. We discovered a grave where a boat’s cat had been buried and a little memorial set up, bitterly sweet. It was mid morning by then and the first signs of others arriving could be seen on the horizon. We next snorkeled in the lagoon area, which was tame.

Then John wanted to snorkel on the rough side, as he was sure there would be reef sharks to be seen. I wasn’t too keen as just getting in looked tricky. So off John goes, then followed by Ethan so I decided to give it a shot. The first thing I see is a black tipped reef shark, granted it was a small one. Found that there wasn’t really much to be seen and conditions were not comfortable, so I “surfed’ in avoiding the rocks. John came back safely, poor Ethan knocked his knee on approach, and it must have really hurt, as he was very upset.  He was soon off again messing around on the beach and in the water. By this time a small local boat/taxi had made its way out to the island and also a luxury yacht had also anchored in the deep. Off of the luxury yacht a couple was driven ashore by their crew. The couple made their way along the beach towards where we were enjoying ourselves. The lady was topless with just a thong on and the guy had the Speedo type trunks. Ethan was shocked; he didn’t know where to look. It was very amusing.

John went for a snorkel off of the other end of the island in search for reef sharks; to no avail there weren’t any waiting to see him. Ethan and I continued to explore the shallows. We made our way back around the whole outside of Tobago Cays. It wasn’t really an option as finding the cut would be a lucky shot at best. I think we all agreed it was the best half-day! After lunch we explored the reefs again. Snorkeling around patches that we hadn’t been to before.

July 18th

Another day in paradise.  We arose as usual and headed out to explore the separate islands and to snorkel the reefs. Each island is very unique and quite beautiful. Ethan hoped to see iguanas but we were out of luck. They are very shy and quite rare. The locals still eat them….uck!!

July 19th

The day started with getting the boat ready for the long sail to Bequia. The day was spent sailing the 40 odd miles to Bequia. It was a steady sail to start with just a few squalls rolling in. One particular squall we clocked a 41knot gust. The boat was heeled right over to starboard; Ethan was sheltering in the hatchway I was hanging on by him when he said, “Nana are we going to be wrecked?” Yes it was quite dramatic for him.  John of course was hanging on to/by the wheel, (as it was on auto pilot but it can get knocked off when the wind really comes up) and he was howling like a mad sea dog. Quite freaked Ethan out. Anyway the squalls passed and we neared Bequia, we saw a pod of dolphins and I tried calling to them to come closer but they kept on playing and getting further away.

The first houses you see are built into caves on the cliffs, these unusual foreigners have a community there where they “worship” the natural energy that shines in or something like that. They really do look creepy but are supposed to be quite luxurious. We entered Queen Elizabeth bay, dropped anchor and went for a swim. The evening we walked along the shoreline of the “town” and had dinner at the Mexican restaurant, “Tommy’s Cantina”.

July 20th 

It really didn’t look like a very nice day. There was wind gusting strongly down from the hills, rain pouring and believe it or not but it felt cool with out the sun. We had a leisurely morning. Dingied over to Port Elizabeth and walked along to the market. Had to buy fruit from every single Rasta, as they put a guilt trip on you. The fruit is just amazing so we enjoy it when we can. There are fruits I’d never even heard of like “sour sap’ a small round brown hairy fruit that tastes like an unusual guava taste. Then there are “wax apples”, small red waxy with a white inside that is crisp. The taste is sort of like a mild apple or even a pear. We made our way through the various shops buying odds and ends as gifts and for ourselves. Had a wonderful home made ice cream at “The Gingerbread House”, Ethan actually had 2. Then wandered more, had lunch at The Gingerbread House, which was excellent. Then back to the boat. The showers were still on and off. Later in the afternoon the sun did start to shine and we explored the beaches that are right there in the harbour. Swam and walked them. It was quite enjoyable. Dinner was on board trying to use up our stocks.

July 21st  

Up around 6:30 to sail to St Vincent, Petit Byahaut  The sail across was quite peaceful. The tropical wave having passed there are usually a few good days that follow. We arrived around 11:00 and sailed down the coast a bit further then back to the bay. Here we dropped anchor. Again this year there was no sign of anyone living there or running the eco lodge. It really is the most beautiful bay, but very quiet as you are well away from any houses or habitants.

After a swim we had a quick lunch and then set off to explore the shore and show Ethan Bat Cave.  We anchored off of the Bat Cave area and snorkeled to the cave. The cave itself is one you have to swim into and once you are in it starts off around 3 foot deep at the entrance with about 3 foot above you then it opens up to a cavern that gets deeper and joins a crack that you swim through towards the light of the other side. The bats are all roosting on the roof. To see them is not easy as it is dark and you are in the water with a mask and all on. They do make quite a lot of noise and some are flying around. I took a few pictures and then glided out the other side. My favourite part is going out the other side as it is so deep and there are loads of little colourful fish. This time there were hundreds of baby crustations, almost like baby lobsters. They were swimming everywhere, it was thick with them. They were getting in our bathing suits and just everywhere plus they would bite.  It was not as pleasant as usual. We swam through the cave twice and then started off along the shoreline.

John was messing around diving down and swimming through a cave and out the other side when he grazed himself  so it was out of the water for a while for us.  We explored the bay and snorkeled the shoreline.  Then it was off back to the boat as John’s wound on his back was still bleeding. As the edge was right there who knows what might have come to explore the smell of blood in the water.  Back at the boat we hosed off and went ashore to explore. The eco-resort was deserted and had been for sometime. It really is a beautiful location but very isolated. The facilities had started to go back to nature. It’s a place that I could live despite the isolation and lack of electricity. (it’s for sale) From there we cruised the shoreline all the way up to where some people had been attached a month previously. It is safe enough in the daytime but at night you are very vulnerable. The shore is wild between small settlements and fishing villages. Where there were mainly Rasta’s fishing and children playing, very rough and poor.  Dinner was some of our left over supplies that we needed to get rid of…tinned this and that.

July 22nd  

We decided to cruise up the shore and explore and then to anchor in the bay where they had shot “Pirates of the Caribbean”. As said the shoreline is very lovely, wild and mysterious. We ventured as far as we felt it was safe and then returned to Walillabou Bay. It was very amusing as when we returned already there was a boat boy awaiting us. Bit like having a vulture circling. He was in a rowboat and as we actually decided to go to a mooring in the adjoining bay. (It seemed safer as there were houses and a small restaurant ashore) Anyway he started to row after us. He was able to row so fast that he actually caught up with us. He must have had a lot of practice I reckon. So he wanted to be our protector for the night. It turned out that we had met him the year before while on a tour to the falls. He explained that there were many bad people ashore and we needed protection and that he was our man. All we had to do was pay $25 and give him all our left over supplies. We agreed and bargained down to all the left over supplies which included beer. He then introduced us to the owner of the restaurant ashore, booked us in for dinner and said that he would take us to the falls later. Then off he paddles.  The bay where we were moored was full of children playing and fishermen on the beach and with our protector we felt reasonably comfortable. Well we decided that we would do our own exploring. So off we set in the dingy into the neighboring bay. The previous year we had explored the set of Pirates of the Caribbean so we were able to show Ethan around. Told the guys there that we were fine to look around ourselves, even so they called our watch keeper.  He seemed a bit concerned letting us wander off on our own, which we did anyway. John felt it wasn’t a big deal. So relying on my guidebook and map we set off to track down the Falls of Baleine. We walked around the bay and up a track, came to a road on a hill, which we started to follow. I guess we walked a mile or more when we finally found the falls next to a small local bar. There was a guy washing in it, but with our appearance he packed up and left.  The falls were only very small but there was a pool that you could dip in. Ethan was absolutely blown away with the experience. He had never seen waterfalls let alone swam in them. He just loved it. John took up the soap the guy had left behind and set to having a wash. The water was soooo cool and refreshing it was wonderful. Ethan was most upset when it came time to leave. He really wanted to stay. We walked back down the hill. Down the track and around the bay to the dingy. The guys there had kept an eye on it for us. Back at the boat we set about having lunch. Well we hadn’t really started when a head appears; some guy in a dugout was at the side of the boat with all this fruit for sale.  He was basically begging for money for his fruit, which we explained we did not need. Feeling sorry for him we did give him a some change. He then persuaded Ethan to go for a ride in the dug out. Which made both John and I somewhat nervous. Meanwhile all the kids had started heading towards the boat. I went and sat in the dug out for a photo and a short paddle. By then adults were calling/yelling from the shore.  He started to head off when he saw our protection heading out towards us. Anyway it turned out that …..He had stolen all the fruit from the gardens, taken/stolen a dugout from the beach and he was a known cracker called Poor Dog by everyone. Plus everyone ashore was angry with him. Well when he got back to the shore the kids and fishermen had a go at him and he was driven off. Meanwhile we had every kid from the beach swimming around the boat chatting to us. Anyway the owner of the restaurant came out and chatted to us, sent the kids away and said we wouldn’t be hassled again. Plus he set the time for dinner and told us about the expected meal. Got to admit we did feel kinda dumb for entertaining the village idiot/crack head.

The rest of the afternoon was spent snorkeling around the reef, mainly in the area where the famous rock on the film Pirate of the Caribbean was filmed. It was interesting but nothing special. Back at the boat I had to clear all the food out and along came our “protection” for the night. He was most grateful for all the supplies. Meanwhile on the shore Poor Dog was causing more of a raucous, as he wanted some of the supplies and a way to get them. He ended up being chased off by the fishermen. Everything was packed away ready for the next day. We headed to shore for dinner around 6:30. Dinner was very nice and the couple that owned the place was very sweet. It was an enjoyable time.

July 23rd       The next morning we were up early as usual. Then it was the last sail back to Blue Lagoon. The guys there meet you off shore and before you know it they have the boat at the dock and secured. We were more or less ready so everything came off the boat was checked and by 10:30 we were in our room. Neither John nor Ethan wanted to do much so we just hung out at the apartment. Later we went for a walk across the bay and then dinner and an early night.

July 24th       We flew into San Juan and were booked into the Marriot. Ethan thought he had gone to heaven with the AC, big TV and a Queen size bed. He really did not want to explore the city. However with some coaxing we headed out. It is a very interesting city. We were in the older part. We started by walking along some of the streets and checking out some of the shops. The prices were amazing and the craft items were beautiful. Tiny alleys link the roads and there are plazas/courtyards that are in-between. The architecture is very Spanish European and quite lovely. You do have to be careful not to leave the main roads, as it would be so easy to be mugged. There were quite a number of addicts in appalling condition. Ethan was really shocked by their state. Huge sores that were open and weeping, they were eating like dogs out of the trash. Really unpleasant.  There were also a number of performers in the different plazas. We took the tram/street car to the fort and went inside for a quick look around. As forts go it is huge and very interesting. We all would like to go back. You would need at least half a day to see it.  Ethan had by then had enough so we took him for an ice cream and back to the luxury of the room. John and I went and walked along the shore to the end where the fortifications started. It was a lovely walk. Along there were dozens and dozens of stray cats. This is where the city’s cats are to be found. They are fed and cared for and are very healthy. There are cats of all ages, sizes and colours. They were sunning them selves in the evening sun. We returned with a take out dinner for Ethan.  John and I had dinner and we all crashed out.

July 25th      We returned home.

St Vincent and the Grenadines 2008

June 30th Usual hassles at the airport – thinking we have time we nearly miss the flight by sitting down the end and not paying attention, last on the plane.  Night at Holiday Inn Newark Airport hotel, steak for dinner, (my Kindle still won’t work)

July 1st   Early morning off to the airport (buy books as Kindle won’t work), just under a 5 hr flight to San Juan. Arrived early, waited for St Vincent flight, right next to gate so we don’t nearly miss it, it left 45 minutes late. Sooo noisy in the propeller plane, 2 hr flight, bumpy landing from the turbulence and screaming kids.

– Picked up by K’Sean and driven to Barefoot Yachts. We were the only ones staying there. The restaurant and Bar were closed, K’ Sean took us to the French Verandah for dinner. It was very “posh” food was great. John had shrimp and I had grilled tuna, dessert was fresh local fruit heated with vanilla ice-cream…excellent! Back to Barefoot for the night. Our apartment was unusual but very nice, open plan with lovely green parrots on the porch…… they were very chatty. It overlooked the moorings and the bay. Across the bay was an old building that they say “is a bad place”. It certainly looked very ominous/spooky.

July 2nd  We were up at 6:30 and had tea on the porch, tidied up and walked to Sunsail for breakfast. Excellent omelette, with cheese and bacon. Walked back and ready to meet K’Sean at 10:30 – he was late by nearly an hour. John was ticked off. He did however have wax apples for us to try, they are an interesting local fruit. We drove up the East Coast road, (windward side) stopping to look at scenery. Saw the site for the new airport. Everyone has been moved from the area to make way for progress. There were black sandy beaches, the surf was large and it was picturesque. Then we drove inland, the roads were narrow and steep, tracks really. We drove into the farmland. There is much poverty with many living in shacks, no plumbing and little electricity. We went to Montreal Gardens. Here a Brit has developed a large, beautiful garden with all the native plants. It really was a lovely peaceful place. K’Sean knows his plants, was naming them all for us with useful info about their medicinal uses. He caught a lizard for me to see, a stunning, green, lizard. We followed the paths to the river and down the river path to a bridge and back up. The plant life was so lush, colourful, and absolutely beautiful. Oh and there was the cutest puppy. The drive continued to the Mesopatainian Valley. This is the bread-basket of St Vincent. Very, fertile farmland. They use every available area on the slopes, terraced down the sides. We stopped by a roadside stand and had a freshly cut coconut to drink and roasted breadfruit. It was delicious, tasted just like warm bread, but it was a fruit . Then we stopped for mangoes which were divine, washed our hands in at communal spigot and continued to Kingston. On the way there we got plum apples from a tree. Another unusual local fruit, sweet, quite nice. In Kingston we were able to get some local cash from a cash machine and went to the market. There was every type of fruit, veg and West Indian spices and foods that you could want. We wandered around but didn’t buy as we had provisions ordered. We visited a few tourist type of shops, but again didn’t buy, it was just too early in the holiday. K’Sean then drove us to see the Anglican church and Cathedral….well he drove right into the grounds, right in the graveyard, not on a driveway or pathway just right in the middle. It really was bizarre. Back to Barefoot for a cup of tea, it had been an excellent day. We spent the evening exploring the peninsular that we could see across the harbour, with the spooky building. We walked along the shoreline, thousands of crabs were in the mangroves. The haunted building was really quite disgusting, so we stuck to the beach. (no shells) Back to Sunsail for a drink followed by dinner at Xcape. It was the local graduation night for the secondary school children, everywhere was busy with teens and their dates having dinner. The food at Xcape was delicious, I had spicy creole chicken and house salad, John had the Chicken curry and house salad. Harold the taxi driver for the night drove us back to Barefoot.

July 3rd   Off to Sunsail for breakfast, cheese and bacon omelette with toast. Back to Barefoot to do the final preparations before setting sail. We had the chart briefing with Vincent, who was very knowledgeable and gave us great tips. Moved everything down to the dock and onto “Winter’s Gate” but noticed that we were missing most of the provisions that we had ordered. Where was the food??? Only to find out that Seth never placed, (he says received), the order. There were several minutes of panic!! Sooo, Phyllis, who is K’Sean’s auntie, also a taxi driver, came to the rescue. She drove us to a grocery store, (remember it’s Sunday only 1 store open), to purchase all our provisions. We had less than an hour to do this or we would not be able to sail out that day and make Mustique. We zoomed around the store, found most of what we would need to survive. Stopped on the way back to buy mangoes, soursop and sugar apples from a roadside stand. Phyllis helped here too as she was able to barter for us. Ended up with bags of lovely fruit. Back at Barefoot the supplies were chucked on board, it had been packed in boxes which could not go on incase there were roaches. So Charkie stood on the dock, chucked the food to John who chucked it to me. (Next time I am taking my reusable green bags) Anyway all was well, nothing went over. I personally did not understand as we had our bags on board and I had seen roaches in our room at Barefoot so they could easily had stowed away in them. We grabbed 3 bags of ice and before they were below we were cast off. Charkie and another fellow took us out, they like keep and eye to make sure you really do know what you are doing and then jump on a whaler that takes them back. Charkie was a really helpful guy, set us up by reefing the sails, (we were not familiar with the reefing on a Jeaneau), he and John got talking and he said he would catch up to us down the islands. We were on our way to Mustique.

It was rough, rough, rough, but between St. Vincent and Bequia there are vicious currents and terrible wind shifts. So you have conflicting seas and winds. Compared to what we had seen across the channel earlier…the day before… it actually was not bad.  It’s just always uncomfortable apparently. Seas were 10 – 12 feet and wind 15 – 18 knots. We took two and a half hours to travel 18 miles, (2:30 – 5:00pm) we both admitted to feeling queasy, nauseous. I found a bit of sugared ginger really helped.

We pick up a mooring buoy in Brittany Bay, at Mustique, you can’t anchor as the whole area around Mustique is protected. The island and the waters around are highly protected.  We swam, hosed off and set up for dinner. It was a pre cooked curry, which was excellent, and drinks on board. It was a rolly anchorage so sleep was not perfect; John found he didn’t get much.

July 4th     Breakfast was mango, melon, cereal and tea. After which we set off snorkeling around the bay…..not too much there, reef had been bleached. We walked the beaches in Brittany Bay. They were very beautiful and very well kept. Showered off and took the dingy ashore to hire a mule. These are glorified golf carts. We had to go to the airport to get a driver’s license and pick up our mule. The airport is a landing strip, looked about the size of a cricket run. Had a half hour exploration before lunch at Basils. Which was a Chicken Caesar salad that was quite nice. Then we drove around the island. The bays were very beautiful, palm trees everywhere. The houses, what we saw of them were impressive. Mustique is where Princess Margaret had a home and where all the celebs have homes or rent them for crazy amounts. So its very manicured and very well maintained. The island is very beautiful, the beaches are numerous and most of them were deserted.  Ended up snorkeling at the bays around the south. It was very pretty but shallow. Saw lots of little fish, lobsters and plenty of sea-eggs. Again there was surge damage and bleaching. On the drive back we encountered tortoises everywhere, all sizes. They are wild and come out after the heat of the day to feed. They were really very cute. Handed back our mule and back to the boat for barbecued steak, potatoes with corn and tomato salads. Relaxed, phoned Chrissie and Kate then off to bed at about 8:30/9:00pm.

July 5th  I slept well, guess the rolling suits me. John still had problems due to rolling seas, heat and noises. We rose at 6:30 again, had tea, tidied up, had breakfast. Took a trip to the small grocery store ashore for odds and ends then picked up some ice at Basils. Set off at 10:30 for Mayreaux. Smooth sailing to Mayreaux, we had the line over and caught a 20lb tuna on the way. Where we had intended to go…Saltwhistle Bay, there were around 10 boats so we headed to Saline Bay and were the only boat there. John cleaned the fish at the stern of the boat. We had lunch and then locked up and headed ashore. We locked the dingy up and walked the beach then snorkeled around Monkey Point. It was quite nice with huge barrel shaped corals. There was lots of drift washed up in the bay. We spent time exploring then headed back to the boat to prepare dinner. A bread boat visited us, said his name was Walter and that he would deliver fresh bread and ice if we wished. Dinner was the fish with green salad. Other boats had arrived by that time, we swam from the boat showered and relaxed.

July 6th Sunday   Up at 6:30 Walter delivered the ice and a fresh baguette. He was on his way to the Tobago Cays to deliver to the boats there. A number of the locals make their living this way. We had the baguette with guava jelly for breakfast.

Set off in the dingy to explore. We went to Saltwhistle bay, walked the entire length of the exterior bay, beach combing and swimming. Then we walked the interior bay too. No shells to speak of, guess the conditions aren’t right? Took the dingy to Trois Anse Bay and snorkeled the shore to Nord D’Quest point. John spotted a large shark. He was diving down and as it was half under a ledge, trying to rest, he was touching its tail. Think it was a Nurse shark. There were lots and lots of fish and corals, some shells. Walk along the beach there to Grand Col Point, it was hot! Back at the boat we had salad, ham and cheese rolls for lunch. An after lunch nap for John then we were off to take the dingy to the other side of Mayreaux…..windward side. It was just too rough, so we locked the dingy to the dock in the bay and headed off on foot. Headed across the island past a salt marsh along a pathway, through to the other side. The vegetation was really thorny, with cactus and prickly bushes and trees, not the type of vegetation to take a short cut across. We came out at a fishing camp, where boats and such had been left, walked as far as we could along the shoreline, would like to go back and swim there next time. It was very beautiful with old fisherman’s huts and derelict boats; someone must have lived there at one time??  When we returned we walked up the steep hill towards the “village” It was Carnival time and so the locals were out having fun. Some were playing cricket, some drinking and partying others just relaxing. They definitely have a challenging life. There are a couple of little grocery stores, a few bars a school and not much else. There was a lovely view at the top. The locals are poor but happy. We visited the Catholic Church; it had a black Madonna and Jesus, one of the few in the world. Beautiful church, very small but just lovely. Back at the boat we prepared and had a dinner of salad and barbecued chicken. Relaxed had drinks and off to bed….around 8:30, just so tired.

July 7th    Breakfast of sour sap, mango and cereal and then we set sail to the Tobago Cays. John used his software for navigation, he found it very useful. It took about half an hour to get there. Very, very beautiful place. Basically several island that are uninhabited, on there own surrounded by reefs and sand flats. It is a National Park and one of the World heritage Sites. The only way to get there is via boat.

“The Tobago Cays are a group of small deserted islands protected from the sea by Horseshoe Reef. The water and reef colors are a kaleidoscope of gold, brown, blue, turquoise, and green. There are small sand beaches and clear water. On cloudless nights, the stars are cast across the sky like wedding confetti thrown in an excessive gesture of bonhomie. Even squalls can be dramatically beautiful as they approach from afar. The anchorage is, however, open to the full force of the ocean winds, which are occasionally strong. The water here is so beautiful you will almost certainly want to jump right in and maybe snorkel to the nearest reef.” 

We took the dingy to near the reef, in the middle of Horseshoe Reef, and snorkeled. It is very beautiful, every type of fish and coral and the water is so clear it seems like you are suspended in nothingness. The currents are noticeable. Next we stopped at Jamesby Island, pulled the dingy onto the beach out of the surf and explored. The views were spectacular. Saw the wild iguanas, they were much larger that I expected. Back to the boat for lunch and then tied off the deep reef by the small cut in the reef. The outside reef was amazing, absolutely amazing. There is a fair current running and so you need to be a good swimmer and keep your wits about you as the surf rolls up onto the exposed reef. Saw another shark, fish of every type and size and every coral in many different colours. It was beyond expectations. Our next stop was Baradal Island. Here we followed the pathways and explored. Again the views were so lovely. We saw tortoises coming out for their evening meal, the bird life is rich too, on all of the islands. Back at the boat we prepared a dinner of Fish, potato salad and green salad, watched the turtles swimming around the boat, relaxed and had drinks.

July 8th   Walter delivered ice and half a baguette. The other half got wet. After breakfast we set off and explored Petit Bateau. We hiked to the top and enjoyed the view. Walked along the beaches. Chatted to a American, he was the first person other than Walter that we had had any contact with. Then it was out to the outer reef to snorkel. It was wonderful, really exhilarating as it’s so wild. There was another dingy with several French couples from anther charter boat, a few of them got into troubles due to the currents/swell, they got caught and so got cut up on the reef. Shortly after we moved and snorkeled the inside of the reef, it was just wonderful. The fish, corals, colours and “wildness” as you glide along. Back at the boat it was lunch and a nap for John. We finally solved my camera “problem” live and learn the correct settings I guess. (was very stressed) Off again for a snorkel of the inside reef. Followed by exploring Petit Rameau. We came across iguanas, our presence surprised them and they got up on their hind legs and ran off. They looked like little cartoon dinosaurs – very amusing – they can really move! We dingied around, swam off the boat, saw rays feeding below the boat. Dinner barbecued chicken, potato salad and mixed salad. We fell asleep up top and then went down to bed.

July 9th    Our usual breakfast of cereal and fruit, tidied up and set sail for Clifton Harbour, Union Island. The currents between the islands off of Mayreaux caught us and had us way off course. Very easy to do with out even noticing. What was happening was the sea was moving with more force than the 18 – 20 knots of wind. So we had to motor sail back on course and in. We were the only cruising boat in. Dropped anchor and headed ashore. Tried to pick up some groceries, not an easy task. 1st shop was Lambis. There was nothing there and it was really filthy. Guy at the till was Lambi, he was eating his lunch and it only added to the whole gruesome atmosphere. 2nd shop available on the island was shut. 3rd and last grocery shop was open, fresh, clean and the place to shop. There never is much to select from but we got most of what we needed and headed back to the boat. Then back to the island fruit market. It was very hot ashore. We had lunch at Poinciana and shared a pepperoni pizza. It was very good. Back at the boat we stowed the shopping and set out to visit Happy Island. It is an island made from conch shells all stuck together, really quite different. Once there we had drinks with Janis. It was again a very unusual set up. Don’t know if I would recommend it or not, guess it’s a once in a lifetime experience. Back at the boat we swam, tidied up, cleaned up and then set out for dinner ashore. We found the Harbour Hotel and had drinks and dinner there. Didn’t want to go back to Poinciana as I had been bitten by either fleas from the stray dogs or mosquitoes at lunch. We had a nice dinner, starters were vegetable samosas, then I had chicken and coconut and John had chicken and pineapple.

July 10th     It was a bad weather night. That meant rough seas and higher than usual winds with showers. Breakfast was cereal and bananas from the market. We made a trip ashore to buy souvenirs for the family. It was a good time to do it while we waited for the weather to settle. There really isn’t much in the way of shops so that makes buying easy. Set sail, through rough seas, for Chatham Bay around the other side of Union Island. Once again we caught a fish so as soon as we arrived John cleaned it for dinner. Chatham bay is a wonderful bay……I could live there…….it is large, with a long sandy beach, a few fishermen live on the dunes and a single beach house that is incomplete and unoccupied. There were very few boats there. After lunch we took the dingy along the shoreline and then tied it up to a tree and snorkeled. It was quite deep in places and pretty. Not many shells. Returning to the boat we relaxed, had an evening swim, shower, drinks and then the barbecued fish for dinner. It was a lovely evening.

July 11th     Another windy night. The wind just howls through the bay from the high land surrounding. The boat then swings and rolls with violent jerks. I slept most of the night, not John. After breakfast we decided to snorkel around Monkey point. I was excited to find a helmet shell. We did some exploring of the bays around the point by climbing over the rocks. It was interesting and I did find pieces of many types of shells. Guess this is what happens to them. The snorkeling was lovely, the water deep and crystal clear, lots of large corals of many different types and plenty of fish life. But of course it was wilder. Back at the boat we decided to climb/hike the “mountain” to try to find telephone reception to call Kate. Needed to check on her progress with college residence payment as the deadline was looming. We dingied ashore and walked the beach and spoke to an old fisherman that was squatting and cleaning some fish in a bucket. We were chatting to him for quite a while about the changing environment, the depletion of the fish and then he told us about the “house” at the end of the beach and how there were smugglers operating out of it. He showed us the way to a short cut up the mountain and advised us on the way to head towards Ashton village, when we found the road/track. The climb up was steep, rough and hot. John didn’t feel too good which was a bit of a worry as he usually finds those challenges easy. We followed the road towards Ashton, finally found reception on the side above the village. Called Kate and also spoke to Chrissie who was there too…they were at the pool. Then we walked back along the longer route. Saw iguanas up a tree, John thought they were monkeys at first. Also saw lots of feral goats, they were very shy but sweet especially the kids. Never saw one person, no dwellings. Once we were down we did hear a truck heading down the track towards the smugglers and later saw them walking the beach. Maybe another shipment was due?? Back at the boat we had a late lunch after which John napped and I snorkeled. I saw many star fish that were large, red and with bumpy skin. Also these large fish with wings that they opened like a butterfly, that were beautiful colours. We later had a dingy ride around the bay, (it’s huge) and then an evening swim followed by drinks, dinner of barbecued chicken and bed.

July 12th     Another rolly, windy night. Set off early towards Clifton, but then changed course towards Petit Martinique. Arrived and tied up at the fuel and water dock, got ice and water which were badly needed. Found the prices to be very reasonable, maybe because we are now in Grenadian waters? We then dropped anchor off the island and went ashore to explore and get further supplies. Found the island to be delightful. It was really clean with friendly people. There was boat building going on at the shore line which was fascinating. The local designed boat being built, it’s the main industry there and its all done by hand. Found 2 grocery stores and got the basics that we needed, mainly fruit and veg. We then headed across the channel for Petit St Vincent. After lunch and the usual relaxation period we headed ashore to walk the shore and snorkel. The walk was great as I found some very nice shells, but the snorkel was disappointing as it was too shallow and much of the reef was suffering form bleaching or surge. The sunset was fantastic that night, again relaxing with drinks we really had time to reflect together. Dinner was vegetable curry from Seth’s few stocks. It was excellent.

July 13th     Quite a rainy night, up at 6:30 as usual, we had breakfast and set sail to Canouan. Great sailing for the 1st hour. We did a close by-pass of Cliffton to quickly take advantage of the free internet we had found and to download and send emails. Got quite tense with so much activity and having to think for a change, but did manage to send and receive emails while sailing by. After that was all down hill with the weather. A tropical wave moved in rather quickly. In fact it was the one that turned into the 1st hurricane for the Caribbean, hit Florida too. It came in fast, very windy, up to 41 knots and rough, rough, rough with the rollers and the swell plus the waves on top. John was howling wildly at the wheel like a madman, he thought it all great fun. I was trying to keep the lap top from getting wet and sliding off the seat, (it was used for all the navigation). We kept heading as we were as we couldn’t do much else. The squall lasted for about half an hour. We then decided to head to the Tobago Cays as the new wind direction was not favourable for the sail that John had planned on. At the Tobago Cays we ended up anchoring in nearly the same spot as before. The weather was still windy and cloudy with squalls on the horizon. We found out later that really two tropical waves passed over one after the other. We went out to the reef to snorkel but it was nearly impossible. The current running was wild, just ridiculous. Like swimming up stream in a fast moving river. It was all the weather coming in from the ocean over the reef. There is no other land between there and the African coast. We dingied over to Jamesby Island where we swam in the rain as the squalls came in and then attempted to snorkel around the island between squalls. Again the current was crazy. Back at the boat we had lunch and relaxed.  The afternoon was spent dingying around, we hiked Petit Bateau and sat on the large out crop of rock over looking the Cays just watching the weather. The squalls kept arriving one after the other. We walked the beaches and headed back to the boat where we had fish for dinner and a rough, rainy night. Sat below for a change and chatted till bedtime.

July 14th      Up early, 6ish, had our regular cereal and fruit for breakfast the set off to Charlestown Bay, Cannoun Island. The wind was in a favourable direction and the weather had cleared. Just after arriving and anchoring we saw Charkie sail in on another Barefoot boat, Mustard Seed, he was the skipper onboard. He came over to say hello, then came back with bananas that they had an abundance of and John gave him a crate of extra beer. We owed him as he had been so helpful when we needed to leave St Vincent originally. We dingied ashore, dumped the trash in the dumpster at the ferry dock and set off to explore. We were not very impressed. It is an island that half of it was bought by Donald Trump for a mega development that he is building. That half of the island is now lost to normal human life….fenced off/divided. The locals seem to have used the money they received from the land sale to establish many bars where they appeared to spend a good bit of their day. They were very friendly, as drunks tend to be but as it was hardly lunchtime it didn’t leave a good impression. There was also trash everywhere despite the signs that threatened $200,000 fines and imprisonment for littering.

We visited the Tamarind Club for lunch which was delicious, huge burgers. We returned to the boat and went off in the dingy to explore. Dingied around to a bay and explored the rocky shore line. It was really very, lovely, but could see survey posts in the trees so soon it all will be lost. Snorkeling was good but rough. It was a deep snorkel but as it was exposed it was quite unspoiled. The dingy ride back was rough as the weather was coming in and it started to rain, in fact it was cold with out the hot sunshine that we were used to. It was a barbecue chicken dinner night.

July 15th     We set sail right after breakfast and headed to Bequia. We sailed the entire way to Port Elizabeth, John’s best sail ever….so he said. It took 3 and a half hours averaging 7 knots. Dropped anchor at Lower Bay. It was very beautiful, with long palm fringed beaches and the lush, slopes behind…..(see photos). We dingied ashore to explore, started by walking the shoreline which was quite unique as the main walkway was the shoreline. Further inland were the lanes that connected the town of Port Elizabeth with the island. We found Sam’s taxi service so that we could subscribe for internet use, a priority. The town looked to be quite lovely, saw the market, which is run by rastas who we had to promise that we would be back. Arranged for a taxi tour the following day and had an ice cream at Gingerbread, it was delicious. I bought a necklace for Chrissie from a rasta girl, she had made it from bits of shell and fishing line. On returning to the boat we swam and dressed for dinner ashore at a Mexican restaurant called Tony’s. The stray dogs really bothered me as they are treated so badly and are skinny and flea bitten. Wish I could save them…

July 16th     We had breakfast and it started to rain. We decided to go for the taxi tour regardless. We had hired “Cream Coloured Taxi”. The taxis are like small truck where you sit in the back, there is a covered top and the sides have tarps which drop down when it rains. We started the tour at, The Fort and Point Bay then traveled the east coast to Paget Farm. Paget Farm is a fishing community. The fishermen were hauling their boats out of the water having started early they were finished for the day. There is a small processing plant there for the fish. Our taxi driver was given a bag of Doctor fish which in Bermuda we don’t eat plus they are protected as they are reef cleaners…similar to Parrot fish. Anyway Taxi man said they were highly sort after as they made men more virile. We then looked at the airport, don’t know why, after which we visited the Whaler Museum. There was one of the oldest inhabitants there, a whaler himself. Mr Oliveira, he gave us a tour and explained the whaling process, the tools and weapons used to kill the whales. Bequia takes a quota of 2 whales a year. It was gruesome but for them is a way of life that is accepted the whole island takes part. We looked across at the new whaling station that is only used once or twice a year but to these people is still essential. Leaving there we traveled back along the east shore and north to the Turtle Sanctuary. There we visited and spoke to Father William, his real name is Orton. He explained how he used to be a fisherman, one who is a free diver that uses a spear. We had seen locals in the waters off of Union Island doing this. They dive down to depths, spear the fish, large ones, put them in pots at the bottom then move on to the next spot. They free dive to incredible depths wearing only undies. Anyway Father William had nearly died….long story but very interesting…had had a vision and had decided to dedicate his life to saving the turtles. He had gradually built the sanctuary from his own money and donations. He was trying to educate the population about the importance of saving the turtle….the locals still kill them for food and consider the eggs a delicacy. There is a world wide ban but that has no effect on local fishermen. We saw the turtles he had there and got to touch them. He keeps them till they are large enough, like 5 – 7 years then he releases them. They have to live separately as they are not social and will bit each other. When they get sick he tries to doctor them and says he is quite successful. But I still felt sorry for them stuck in tanks. He had one that he has kept as a pet. Swims with it too, he ties a leash to it and it pulls him around in the water. We then returned to Port Elizabeth and had lunch at the Mexican restaurant.  After lunch we visited the fruit market and bought fruit from the rastas. Lovely fruit, types I had never seen or heard of that tasted amazing. Back at the boat we went for a swim then dingied ashore to walk along the Lower bay, John reluctantly, he had had enough of walking along beaches he said. We then moved the boat further into the bay to Princess Margaret’s Beach as the swell was increasing. Dinner was on board that night.

July 17th     Up as usual around 6:30. We received a phone call from Barefoot warning that another Tropical Wave was expected, this one was to be more severe. We set out to Devil’s Table in the dingy to snorkel. It was very good snorkeling there. We snorkeled a good way down the shoreline. Back at the boat we decided to hike to Mount Pleasant, 399 feet above the harbour. It turned out to be a hot but very enjoyable hike. We were picking mangoes on the way, John ate 2 on the way up. The view was beautiful as we could see across the harbour and right down the Grenadines. After hiking down we stopped at Gingerbread and ate an ice-cream which was delicious! Found a great grocery store for the last of our supplies that we would need and spent the afternoon relaxing and swimming from the boat. That evening we again went to the Mexican restaurant for dinner. The charm had worn off and it wasn’t as good as previously. There was a steel band playing along the shoreline and we stopped to watch. I fed as many starving dogs as I could find all our left over supplies. The thing is they are so used to being abused they run off and are fearful so you have to pretend not to see them and drop the food in the ditch where they will sneak out and get it. Next time I’m flying in boxes of dog treats…John doesn’t know that yet…

July 18th      Up early as usual, had breakfast and set sail for St Vincent. We had mixed feelings about where we should go along the St Vincent coast as during our chart briefing we had been warned that it was not safe towards the northern end where we wanted to go. There had been attaches by men with cutlasses in the middle of the night. They robbed most boats and had wounded some people. We did however decide to make for Buccament Bay where there was a small ecolodge, like 4 cabins, run by a couple. We arrived and it was exceptionally beautiful, we phoned the number for the lodge and I spoke to the owner, who was not at home. She gave us permission to use a mooring, asked that we pay her worker, who was the only one there, as they were away in Kingstown. It was time for a snorkel and the under water proved to be as beautiful as above. The bay was lovely but at the mouth there were coral cliffs that went straight down that were exceptional. The variety of coral and fish life was amazing. No shells mind you. After lunch we set off in the dingy for “Bat Cave” The shore along the way was untouched and beautiful. Bat Cave was unreal, you snorkel through so you have the cave below and above you. Below there are all varieties of coral and fish then when you look above it is very dark and the walls are covered with bats. They are flying and squealing. We swam through 3 times. It is more of a tunnel system rather than a cave so you go in one end and out the other ending up in the adjacent bay. It was amazing! We explored the shoreline and had an excellent time. It is a very lonely area as there are no houses, roads or anyone around. There was a feeling of being vulnerable. Dinner that night was our left overs: beans, bacon and bread.

July 19th     Up at 6:30, breakfast and packed, that was a real downer. We motored back as the wind direction was not favourable and managed to arrive at Barefoot for 10:30 and got off the boat just in time before an unexpected squall moved in. Wind was up to 40 knots just like that! We watched as other boats got hammered trying to get in…NOT nice. We were back in the apartment and we asked for K’shawn, he took us to try to buy some jewelry and sarongs for the girls. Not a very successful trip as the market shuts at midday and with it most of the few shops. For dinner we walked down the hill to a new restaurant run by Barefoot. We spent the evening chatting to some South Africans and Canadians that we had seen from afar on the trip. They own their boats and lease them out to people like us. They were there enjoying their 6th holiday of the year on their boat…..very lucky!

July 20th     We breakfasted off of our left over’s from the boat: Cornflakes and apricots. K’shawn picked us up at 9:30 – took the Leeward coast to Trinity Falls. We passed through Kingston, Oakley – the industry is centered there, then we saw the area where we had moored near Buccament Bay. Passed through Layon and then through the villages high up on the slopes. We stopped for photos and to see different plants and fruits. For example the leaf on one tree that you boil for treating colds and a ripe coca fruit. He cut it opened and it was full of fresh pulp and large beans. The beans are used for coca butter and the pulp for caramel. We ate the pulp and it was very yummy. Along through Barrouallic to Wallilabou, stopping to see the site for the film “Pirates of the Caribbean”. We walked around the old film site…..it has seen better days. Met Speedy and Wallace, both had been used in the film, now they make and sell jewelry there. We left and went through Cumberland and Troumaca to Chateaubeair where we stopped. We waited in the car while he bought us a drink. He bought us a Hairnoun Gold beer, a local beer which he swears improves your sex machine and which turned out to be an excellent beer….and I don’t usually drink it. Then we were off to Richmond, we saw the Richmond Vale Center, where we were supposed to have been to climb the volcano, next time we will. They farm all kinds of crops, just everything, bananas being one. They have all the bunches covered with blue bags, those are the ones that are exported to the UK. The blue bags keep the bananas perfect apparently and bug free. We were then off the road as such it was and onto a track that headed upward through the farmland. The most popular crop seemed to be ganja/weed. The plants are planted everywhere and are an important crop as K’shawn explained: The regular farmers cannot make enough money to support themselves so they need to grow marijuana as a cash crop. The big growers are on the sides of the mountains. The sides are very steep and they use rope ladders to get up. When they see the police they pull up the ladders and protect their crops. Sometimes the authorities arrive in helicopters, this is only when the US has put pressure on the Government and supplies the choppers. Then they swoop down and make a big deal of burning the fields. The farmers from the mountains have donkeys at the bottom of the slopes which they strap their dope crop to and take it the rest of the way, they carry cutlasses and guns and are dangerous men. We saw a small group of them. Many of the farmers in this area had “Fair Trade” signs by the side of the fields. I thought that was great as the Fair Trade organization really do ensure the regular farmers get a fair shake, however they still had dope growing amongst the other crops of say sweet potato. Life is hard there.

Further on the track became unpassable, so K’shawn managed somehow to turn and wedge the car in the bushes at the side of the track. We then waited while he walked up to a farm shack, really a shack, that’s all they have to live in. He asked the farmer if he could leave the car there and I’m sure he paid him to watch it. Right there among the dope/veggies. It was surreal. We set out on foot for Trinity Waterfalls. The track deteriorated till it was a narrow path through the jungle. It was very beautiful, lush but hot, hot, hot . I really missed the sea breeze which makes it bearably normally. Climbing the volcano, which we could see, would have been extremely challenging….saved it for next time:) It took about 1 and a half hours to walk uphill and down hill, through rivers, over stepping stones, balancing across log bridges and climbing down boulders to the water falls. It was so worth it, the falls were just wonderful, so beautiful. We all stripped to bathing suits, (I actually changed behind boulders, left my clothes there and they fell in the river:). We swam, it was K’shawn’s first time in the falls, he had visited but had never swam there. John at one point was swept away and had to literally climb out the far side and fight his way back as the current was too strong. John then climbed to the top falls, K’shawn followed and so did I. It was not an easy climb as everything was wet and slippery. We had a wonderful time climbing and exploring. When we left I left wet as my clothes had fallen in but it kept me cooler. The hike back was arduous/hard! On reaching the taxi we picked mangoes from the trees and ate them as a lunch, washing up in the stream. We followed the same route back except K’shawn stopped at a different place to buy a snack and beer, same variety and plantain chips, which were divine. A great day out! Charkie came to say goodbye. He drank a few beers with John while I packed. We later went down the hill to have dinner in the same place as the previous night and shared a pizza with Charkie. John and he chatted about sailing. Then it was back to bed…we were shattered from a full day.

July 21st and 22nd      Traveled back via San Juan, Miami, where we over nighted, then New York. We were happy to be home but very sad for our freedom to be over for another year.

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