Back to Blue Lagoon

Walking the Volcano SVG

We were welcomed back at Blue Lagoon like old friends. Razmike met us in his dinghy, came aboard and steered us through the reef. Desmond took our lines and then Raymond came over for a chat. We took the boys to the garden for their walk and to check on the lizards.

We’d planned to stay for a day or two and this turned into a week.  It’s hard to uproot yourself when you’re having fun. 

We arranged to export the cats from here and even managed to persuade the vet to come and inspect them onboard again. We were supposed to take the boys by taxi into Kingstown as there was a charge involved but they kindly let us take the paperwork there, make the payment and then do the inspection separately.

We hired a car for a couple of days to go exploring the island and we did the left side (leeward) on the first day.  The road North was awful and full of potholes and we went through some very tiny towns before finally reaching Dark View Falls. Another stunning, unspoilt location with some magnificent waterfalls and absolutely no sign of health and safety as we walked up the steep steps to the top water falls. We were the only people there and bizarrely there was a girl in a reception hut who hand wrote us our entrance ticket when we arrived.

On the drive back we stopped at Wallilabou for lunch. This was one of the locations used during the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean. Some of it was recognisable but mostly the buildings were tired and run down and most of the wooden pontoon had fallen away. Another tourist opportunity missed as we were the only people there as well!

On the second day with the hire car we were going hiking up the volcano with Raymond and so had an early start. We picked him up from his house just after 7am and headed up the right side (windward) of the island.  We’d read that it was a 2 hour climb so were prepared for some exercise but we weren’t prepared for how steep it was. We managed to do the climb in 1 hour 30 minutes but it was quite a slog. The narrow track crossed 2 river beds and meandered before turning into uneven steps made from bamboo. We walked between massive bamboo trees, up above palm trees and then into the cloud where the ground became volcanic rock and stone. Some young lads ran down the track passed us in their bare feet and Raymond said that they’d probably be carrying drugs from one side of the island to the other. At the top we had to crouch to see into the crater as it was windy and a long way down. Between the gusts of cloud we could see the centre of the crater that had a hill smoking with sulphur on one side.

On the way down we passed several groups of people making their way up and asking how long they had left to the top.  Some of them looked on their last legs so when we told them they had another 45 minutes to go they were distraught. We felt very smug that we’d got up early and were on the way back down!

We drove up the coast until the road literally ran out. It came to an abrupt end with a goat grazing on the side. We turned around and headed back down through the town.

We went to Owia Salt Water pond, a collection of pools filled by the Atlantic crashing either side of some steep rocks that provided natural protection. Beautiful.

Village Cricket St Vincent

Raymond then took us to see Blackwood Tunnel. This is a large manmade tunnel cutting through a hillside, created by a sugar trader to save having to transport all his sugar cane around the hill for loading onto ships.

We then had the excitement of actually driving onto the runway of Argyle International Airport that is under construction. There were huge machines flattening the track in preparation for the tarmac so Clive and Raymond just had to stand right in the centre of the runway for pictures.  

The day ended with a cricket match in Raymond’s village, Stubbs. I have no idea what cricket is about but it was the most hilarious experience. It seemed that everyone from the village had descended there and there was so much heckling and banter, all done in good humour.  They weren’t very good so the game was over fairly quickly.  One of the bowlers was the local policeman and if he managed to throw a good ball the place erupted with cheering and an old drunken man, beer in hand, ran over to shake his hand.  He was probably one of the locals best know to the police.  There was plenty of arm waving and cursing on the field and everyone watching was having the time of their lives. This was a memorable way to end a very energetic and enjoyable day.

Easter Regatta Bequia

Easter Regatta Bequia

We hired one of the taxi drivers, Budzy, to take us on a tour of the island, covering every single road on Bequia within about 2 hours. He took us to the turtle sanctuary where we saw all sizes of an endangered species and I even go to hold a cute little one. The eggs are collected from the nearby islands and then when hatched and old enough to survive the turtles are taken back to the same spot for release. So cute!

We went to a boat building workshop where the craftsmen make detailed model replicas of yachts. In the Whale Museum there is one of the original open boats that they used to go out to sea in and a range of the harpoons and equipment used to catch and kill the whales. Bequia is one of the few islands left that is allowed to catch up to 4 whales every year but there hasn’t been a catch so far this year and whaling season is nearly over. 

 

Luckily for us we were there for the Bequai Easter Regatta and managed to watch some of the races from either a hilltop viewpoint or from the shore.  The little wooden double ended boats that they raced were launched from the beach and this was great fun to watch.

Just to enter into the spirit of the regatta we put all the dress flags up on Sephina and this was a reminder for us of the ARC preparations in Las Palmas.

Raymond (from Blue Lagoon) was over with his wife Nicky and 2 gorgeous little girls, Shakira and Shriah. They came over to see us (well, more likely the cats) and we went off to watch a race together followed by lunch.

Turtle Farm Bequia

There was a carnival atmosphere in the town and the small car park became a dance floor surrounded by Mount Gay Rum and Hairoun (the local beer) stands. They certainly know how to have a good time and even though there was an abundance of alcohol and familiar smell of drugs, there was no unpleasantness or aggravation. Needless to say, the following day the place was like a ghost town as everyone was recovering.

 

We had to go to the Immigration Office to have our passports extended. We had initially been granted 1 month stay but needed to extend this until 1st June when we were booked in at Grenada. This process involved plenty of form filling and the purchase of revenue stamps to go in our passports.

 

We spent a few more relaxing days before deciding we’d like to head back to Blue Lagoon and see everyone there again before the journey south to Grenada.

 

Arriving St Vincent

We sailed down to Marigot Bay where we’d spent Christmas and cleared out of customs there. I had to take the cats to the vet in a taxi to get their export certificate. This also involved a dinghy ride as we were moored out in the bay but they were so well behaved and completely at ease.

In order to travel around St Vincent and the Grenadine Islands we had to check in with customs and import the cats so we moored at Long Island near Kingstown where Sam’s Taxis dealt with all the paperwork for customs, saving us from going through the lengthy process ourselves. I’d emailed the vet and arranged for her to come and inspect the cats on the boat. This was a free service which seemed unreal.

We weren’t planning on staying in St Vincent but there was a local marina called Blue Lagoon nearby that looked quiet and we thought we’d stay there for a couple of nights. We fell in love with the place and ended up staying for 2 weeks.

The people in the marina were so friendly. We were greeted initially by Razmike who spends his time zapping about in his dinghy, helping boats navigate through the coral reef that surrounds the bay. Raymond is the sailmaker in the marina, such a pleasant guy who would come over to chat and offered to take us hiking up the volcano when we arrived. The dockmaster is a guy called Desmond who is always around somewhere to help take lines. Sunsail used to have a base in the marina but for some reason they left  and now the place is quiet with just a few charter catamarans that are there a couple of days each week. There’s a lovely bar on the beach called Flowt where you can wiggle your toes in the sand while having a drink and the Black Pearl restaurant which has the best views of sunset.(And the Black Pearl pizza is to die for!) The marina building itself is undergoing a complete renovation to provide some accommodation and rooms to let which should bring life and activity back for the locals who were badly hit when Sunsail pulled out. There’s a beach to one side of the marina and and a rocky area for snorkelling on the other side.  Behind the marina is an overgrown garden that became the cats’ favourite place to go for their walks. So many different smells and places to sniff with little lizards darting about.

Kingstown is a 20 minute bus ride from the marina and the journeys became our highlight of the day. Every one was different and such a blast. They play very, very loud music and you can hear them in the distance before you can see them. Each one has a ‘conductor’, a guy who hangs out of the window shouting at people on the side of the road and then cramming as many into the bus as possible. Just when you think the bus is full he’ll manage to get another one, two or even three in. When all the seats are used up he’ll produce a cushion from under a seat and sit someone on that. You know that the bus is full when the conduct has to crouch by the door almost sitting on someone’s lap. The bus ride is 2EC each which is about 50p and I could spend all day just driving around watching all the goings on. It’s hilarious!

Kingston itself is a busy, bustling town, especially on Saturday when it’s market day. Once again, loud music seems to blast out from everywhere. One guy walks around with a ghetto blaster on a wooden trolley and even the hardware shop has a massive music system on it’s doorstep. We loved it and went there nearly every day.

One day we decided to go and see the island’s number one attraction which is the Montreal Gardens up in the Mesopotamian Valley. This involved 2 bus rides and we went equipped with a  basic map from the Tourist Office. The bus weaved up and up and we eventually got off in a little town and stood looking at our map. The bus driver stopped, reversed to ask us where we were going and looked at the map with us. He told us to get back in and then took a diversion to get us a bit nearer.  After a 10 minute ride he told us to hike up a track and then turned the bus around and went bouncing off down the road with all the other passengers. It certainly was a hike, 40 minutes of wondering where we were going and if we’d ever find the gardens. Eventually we saw the sign “Montreal Gardens”.  They are quite stunning but sadly are getting neglected as the government won’t put any money into them. There used to be a workforce of about 20 but now there are just 4.

We wandered around beautiful flowering lilies, prehistoric looking trees and shrubs and had the whole place to ourselves. Taxi drivers don’t like going up there because the road is full of pot holes. On our walk back to catch the bus we passed a few men walking back from the fields carrying machetes and an old lady carrying a huge basket on her head.

We also had a trip to the Botanical Gardens in Kingstown, another beautiful place within walking distance of the town.

After chilling out for a couple of weeks we were joined by our friends Gren and Elaine who were expecting a week’s sailing, so it was time to move on for a whistle stop tour of the Grenadine islands.

 

Abandoned?

Peri  It’s been so long since I checked in with everyone but I’ve been through quite a lot of trauma and even thought my life had come to an end at one point. One of the owners went missing for a long time and then the other one disappeared as well leaving us in a horrible room where we sat for days and days wondering what we’d done wrong. Thornton and I decided to put our differences behind us and tried a bit of bonding. It was hell. No cuddles, no familiar smells, no one even talked to us and they treated us like we were dumb animals. It was horrendous!.  Just when I was about to give up all hope I heard familiar voices and we were whisked away back to our beloved home with all our familiar smells and lots and lots and lots of cuddles. My purr box nearly exploded and I forgave them instantly. Thornton and I couldn’t work our why all this had happened but we were just so relieved to be back. The owners must’ve felt sorry for us as they gave us a new scratching box and a new mouse that smelt of my favourite catnip. Life was now back on track.

 

Whistle stop tour of the Grenadines

Mystique

From St.Vincent we sailed over to Mustique for our first night but most of the island was closed off as someone ‘important’ was there at the time. We moored just off Basil’s Bar and had a wander along the beach as far as we were allowed to go, closely watched by  security guards dotted about behind trees. The shore line was sprinkled with brightly coloured wooden boats and just behind them were a few pastel pink and blue shops. We had a look around the shops (expensive) and Gren was over the moon with his purchase of a tin of corned beef! 

Next stop was Tobago Cays, a group of small uninhabited islands protected by a horseshoe shaped coral reef.  The picture perfect scene of white sand, palm trees and crystal clear water. We had barbecued lobster on the beach as the sun set and it was the best lobster I’ve ever tasted.  In the morning we went for a snorkel in an area where you can swim with turtles, but have to keep your distance and not scare them. I found 4 gently grazing on the greenery beneath us and managed to get a video of them. It was magical. Every so often one would swim to the surface and take a gulp of air before swimming back down to resume munching.

Canouan was an hour’s sailing away and we were greeted by a little lad called Marky who helped us moor and then shot off to get us a big bag of ice. In the evening we wandered down the single track road that went through the ‘town’.  A few houses and shops that lined the road, the owners sitting outside listening to their music. We ended up in a restaurant on the beach where there was a DJ and some energetic local men who were nodding their heads in time to the music, progressing to jumping about enthusiastically.  We had a great evening dancing with them all before heading through the town and back to the boat.

Sunset Bequia

Our final port of call with our friends was Bequia.  Another stunning little island that had us hooked as soon as we arrived.  The guy we had to radio for a mooring was called ‘Phat Shag’, a name that seemed fitting as his taxi boat cruised towards us. A noble belly that he seemed proud of under his voluminous T-shirt.  Not to be distracted by Phat Shag, the town itself is colourful and charming. There’s a waterfront path at one end of the town that meanders around the bay and has bars and restaurants right at the water’s edge. We found several good places to eat but our favourite became the Gingerbread Hotel which had table outside under the shade of a huge tree, sand under foot and little hens pecking around. More importantly, they had wifi!  Many an idle morning has been spent under that tree, watching the world go by and reading Daily Mail online.

The beach in front of the town is shaded by palm trees and underneath these the locals tend to congregate to work on the little wooden boats that are pulled up onto the beach or just to have a snooze in a hammock.

Our friends got one of the island ferries from Bequia back to St.Vincent, leaving us alone again with no plans and in no rush to do anything