Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Saba - Part Two

During our stay in Saba we booked into The Cottage Club Hotel. This 'hotel' is really a Great House (old heritage Saban home) surrounded by ten little private cottages, each with a kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and balcony. The freshwater pool and surrounding gardens create a peaceful tropical atmosphere and this place could definitely become home for a while. Not to be hedonistic but I made sure that I fully enjoyed the hot shower, guiltily not turning off the water while lathering up and scrubbing off the mud. After a few months of boat showers this was pure heaven!
Pretty gardens and pathways wind their way up to the Great House.

Our little cottage on the right, Windwardside village in the background
Breakfast was cooked and served up in the Great House.
Eggs, cheese, bacon, toast, yoghurt and fruit grown on the island. A great breakfast before a hike.
Catching up on Jim's photos from yesterday, he captured some awesome moments that I wanted to share.

Takeoff from SXM overlooking the lagoon and Marigot Harbour. We can actually see Mowzer down there.
The pilot (and Jim) has Saba airport in his sights - on the only relatively flat piece of land on the island.
Did I mention the mud at the top of the mountain?
We all made it, surrounded by Elephant Ear plants and the clouds.
Hanging on for dear life in the wind as the cloud magically clears.
Almost lost my hat! Windwardside is just a mere 500 meters below.

This was Jim's mantra pretty much at each corner we turned as we took in more and more views such as these.

On to day two... The day dawned with more cloud and rain than sun and we were so happy that we had made it to the top of the mountain with the sun yesterday. Nothing daunted we decided to tackle The Ladder that would take us all the way down to sea level on the west coast and I think we were quite thankful for the cooling mist on this more parched side of the island.

When Saba was first settled (these people had to have a cog or two loose I think) some enterprising person looked at the sheer cliffs rising from the sea and said, "Yeah, let's carve steps in that cliff and every single item and person that comes ashore can be carried up there." That's of course if they survive the landing on the rocky 'beach' in the surge of the swell. Saban pride tells stories of 12 men carrying a Steinway grand piano and a visiting bishop up these steps, but I just think it is the remoteness and inaccessibility that in many ways has preserved so much of what we love of Saba. One huge advantage of this difficult access is that there is no way any 18th century pirate was going to be bothered with all that effort to raid a few fishermen and farmers who lived high up above the sea. The Ladder leads to a village called The Bottom which for many years was connected to Windwardside by donkey tracks. Only beginning in the 1930s did further developments by other crazy Sabans include "the road that couldn't be built" and then the airport in the 1960s. The only way to truly understand the tenacity and fortitude of the people who undertook these feats is to see it yourself but perhaps these pictures will help to give the idea.

Old track, now a hiking trail on the way from Windwardside to The Bottom
Along the way was this pristine garden gate leading to an idyllic cottage in the cloud forest.
The sheltered ravine below is home to banana and other fruit.
Don't know this one, anyone?
This one I know, young bananas just starting to ripen above the flower pod.
And here we go...
The cliffs of the western coast - I see what Jim means by friggin' ridiculous!
The 3-masted sailing ship was redolent of past eras just off the 'beach'.
All the way down at sea level, just look at the rocks on that landing zone.
At least they built rest stops on the way up.
Round and round you go as you climb the concrete steps.
Even above the actual ladder, the way is not easy.
Respite at the top, once again surrounded by the peace and tranquility of the village.
We arrived back at The Bottom, which seems rather ironic after the hard work to climb back up from sea level. The Bottom Bean, a little cafe served us up some lunch of panninis and made-on-the-premises gelato and as a fitting end to our visit, some truly Saban hospitality. I asked the owner if he could call us a taxi since I was pretty sure my legs couldn't make it back up to Windwardside and his response was that if we were willing to wait until he'd just closed up the shop, he'd drive us up there himself! We never did get his name but were very thankful for the ride.

Neat and tidy, not a spec of litter anywhere, but tons of concrete prevent the whole place just sliding down to the sea.
Our time on Saba was finally winding down, as did the road back to the airport where we boarded the last WinAir flight of the day back to St. Martin. Other than on an aircraft carrier, I can't imagine a more exciting takeoff as the pilot takes every inch of runway he can get, revs the two prop engines to their absolute max and then slingshots down the runway to lift off at the very last moment before the cliffs plummet into the sea.

Not even going to try to pronounce the name of the airport.
Farewell Saba, until next time.


  1. Wow, Jim is correct in his comments! And the answer is Soursop, do we win a prize?

    1. Yay Peter! Here's what our cruising guide has to say about Soursop: "A very unlikely looking delicacy this fruit is large (often weighing several pounds), with a green, spiny exterior. The shape is like that of a large green pine cone irregularly formed. Only very few are eaten fresh, as most are used in flavoring other dishes with it's sweet fragrance, like soursop ice cream, or in tropical fruit drinks with a healthy measure of rum!"
      ... Sounds like my kind of fruit!
      What's the prize for quickest Google?? :-)