Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Beautiful Bequia

We've finally arrived in The Grenadines and while I have thoroughly enjoyed the islands we have recently visited, there is something different about this little corner of the Caribbean.  The water is breathtakingly clear (we can see urchins on the seabed 15' below the boat), the islands are small and just a pleasant sailing distance apart, the people are friendly and completely understand the cruising lifestyle.  In fact, many people on these islands, like the Virgin Islands, depend on the yachting industry (cruising, chartering, entertainment, repairs, supplies) to make their living.  When we arrived in the anchorage we were left to our own devices to drop anchor where we chose as opposed to 'needing' to use the services of a boat boy to hook us up to a suspect mooring or tell us exactly where to drop the hook, and once settled there is really only one guy on a battered paddle board who tries to sell us bread or mangos every morning.  There are loads of boats in the anchorage, the place is safe and the vibe is all about being here on a boat.

Back in Rodney Bay we met up with a bunch of fellow Canadians and a lovely Antiguan, and we have been making the same path south to arrive in Bequia and meet up together again.  Rej & Shaniqua on Migrateur (Montreal), Pierre & Marie on Soukha (Levy), and Blaire & Edie on Kind of Magic (Midland).  What fun we have had the last couple of days exploring and sharing tales into the evening with potluck dinners on the various boats.

With Rej & Shaniqua we set out for Peggy's Rock, high atop the western arm of the island. We were following instructions from Chris Doyle's guide as we headed down the airport road to the south side of the island.  There's really only one road, so this part was fairly easy.

Come on ... Let's Go!!
The little town of Friendship lies on the south shore, replete with colourful homes and little guest houses.  Each year the Bequians are permitted to try to hunt up to four whales (by hand-thrown harpoon) and if successful this is the bay where they land their prize catch.  This year they had their first successful catch in three years and the number of men with the skills required to land such a large whale as a humpback is quickly declining.  Of course there is also much controversy over whether Bequia should be allowed the dispensation to still hunt whales but for the moment the tradition continues.

Friendship Bay with Mustique in the background.  Love Island, just beyond the reef in the bay, is where the whales are brought for processing.
We found the path up the hill as our guide book suggested but were quickly turned around by the landowner who had a beef with cruisers trekking up past his gate.  We were instructed to go further down the road where we would find the way up.  Off we went and found the road as described.

Head up the big road, past the Pepsi shed!
However, once we found what we thought was the correct path leading up through the bush we were once again halted in our progress by a group of four young boys.  The youngest at four years old with just his hand-sewn underwear was proudly displaying a turtle for us.

The turtle stoically hid in its shell as his captor proudly showed it to us.


We asked the young lads the way to Ma Peggy's Rock and they quickly jumped into the role of guide to lead us up the hill to the wonderful lookout.  The two youngest were turned back by the cutlass-weilding 13-year-old but the 8-year-old, like an apprentice was permitted to carry on with us.  These barefoot boys were well-versed in the ways of the bush pointing out all sorts of things to see along the way and even pulled some 'silly-mint' leaves off a tree for us to take home and brew up into a delicious tea.

Gaga, our guide.  Just look at those beautiful eyes.

And Jetman, the apprentice.  Such a serious young fellow.
Our first challenge was to get up the 6' wall of rubble to the actual trail.

Leading us up the hill through a grassy opening in the bush.

Somehow Gaga spotted this fellow on the tree - can you see it?
And then, after winding our way over boulders and through yuccas where Gaga used his cutlas to chop off the pointy scratchy tips, we arrived at the rock where we were spell-bound by the wonderful 360-degree views.

Admiralty Bay where we are anchored down below.  Easy to spot the reef on the point and the sandy bits where we tried to anchor.

Henry, Rej & Shaniqua enjoying the view.

The Bequia airport, built along side the island.  Now that's a lot of backfill!

Looking south to The Pillories, Mustique, and on the far right to
Petit Mustique.
The heat was rising and lunch-time beckoned on our return trip down the hill.  We headed back to Friendship where we passed a number of locally licensed but unfortunately closed establishments, until we arrived at Michael's place with a promise of hot dogs and ice cream.  The exceedingly chatty proprietor from Czech Republic regaled us with his stories as we downed a couple of cold refreshments and munched away happily on his 'double-stuffed' hotdogs and fried fish.

Most places offered 'intoxicating' liquors - here they were already in the state!
 And finally, once back in the little town of Port Elizabeth we perused some of the local establishments.

This colourful fellow kept a keen eye on the comings and goings at the dive shop.

The name had us curious...

Sure enough, there it is!

Papa's, where we enjoyed our arrival beer the other night.  The signs had us curious as to why Mama and Papa would advertise separately...

Look closely and you can see the road leading straight up the hill.  As a Canadian, the first thing that came to mind was, "What a fantastic toboggan run!"

Bequia is well-known for its artisans and model boats are one of the specialties.  These ones were true works of art.

Bequia is in bloom with colourful abundance at every turn.  Yellow Cassia drooping under the weight of it's flowers.

Hmmmm, artist's rendition and reality ... it's no bull, you can play tennis here!
And there we are, with our first overview of Bequia.  We are in love and will return for more!