Friday, January 31, 2014

The Pitons to Bequia

This would be a good place to repeat my comment about the boat boys being more persistent but respectful. Meet Michael. His boat is called Greg's Lady and despite telling us his name was Michael, we heard some kids call him Greg. Somewhere along the line we also got the idea that his name was Steven. Regardless, after we turned down an offer from Malcolm, the first boat boy that greeted us a mile or so outside of Soufriere, proclaiming he was THE guide for all of Soufriere, Michael/Greg/Steven approached and wouldn't take no for an answer.

He and his companion Jason followed us silently into the mooring field and guaranteed that we'd have to pay them to tie us to the mooring ball by picking up the mooring line themselves so that we couldn't pick it up. They also took a stern line ashore for us and as it was pretty windy during all this we weren't ungrateful for their help. They asked for 10 EC (less than $4 US) for the mooring line tie up and we gave them 5 EC more for their help with the stern line. For 50 EC more the Greg's Lady crew gave us a ride to and from town the next day too.

Michael/Greg/Steven of Greg's Lady... a man of few words. Very few words.
His equally silent companion Jason... with Petit Piton in the distance.
We'd originally planned to stop at Anse La Raye, a quiet anchorage on the way to Soufriere, but while we were in Marigot Bay, the news of a boarding and burglary that ended in the brutal death of a British yachtsman in Vieux Fort in the south of St Lucia had us on edge about being in lesser visited anchorages here. In fact it had us and everyone else around us concerned about traveling in St Lucia generally.

An entire island cannot and should not be defined by a single crime but there's no question that this random violent crime ultimately impacted our decision about where to travel here right now. I know people that love St Lucia and also people that make a point not to stop here. We're frustrated that we feel swayed by the situation but also can't deny that it's affected us. We've met warm and kind people here as we have on all the islands, but we also felt more hustled here than anywhere we've been so far. We felt this far more in Soufriere and the Pitons than in the artificial environment of Rodney Bay or the insular bay at Marigot. There were both cheerful and sullen vendors that came around to the boat, selling fruit and crafts, but there were also young children paddling out to boats aggressively begging for money and treats. 

We always buy from the fruit and veggie vendors who come around and this time we bought from Ile who was selling produce from his mother's farm. She tends the stand at the market and Ile makes the rounds in the anchorage.  

Ile says hello
Marketplace in Soufriere

Sailing kids swinging in the Pitons
Marine rangers collect mooring fees each evening and warn boaters not to leave cash on board when they're off the boat
In addition to the boat boys and vendors working in the anchorage, there were always fishermen here in the morning and early evening. The vendors mostly paddle out in kayaks, while the boat boys and fishermen all have battered looking pirogues with powerful outboards. Their silhouettes were really striking.

So quiet
I wish I'd gotten more shots of the fishing boats whizzing by.... but they came and went so quickly. They usually had a crew of five men, almost always standing with their hands clasped behind their backs. And like Michael/Greg/Steven and Jason, they were silent. There was no chatter or laughter like the fishermen on other islands, just the occasional shout or direction given when searching for fish or casting their nets. When they'd look our way we'd wave a hello and they'd quietly nod in return, without changing positions or unclasping their hands. 

We snorkeled between the Pitons, the two massive peaks that rise from the sea here but declined to hike either peak this time around. 

The Pitons.... as we depart for Bequia
The nights we spent here were rolly and pretty uncomfortable though we've had much worse nights elsewhere. We could have stayed days longer to watch the fishermen and see what fresh fruits and veggies Ile had each day, but the weather was in our favor after just a few days so we headed south to Bequia.  

Skip's photo of birds in flight... early morning departure from the Pitons
Yellow flag comes down after clearing in to St Vincent and the Grenadines (to which Bequia belongs)
St Vincent/Grenadines flag goes up
Arriving a few days before the Bequia Music Festival gave us time to get oriented before taking in the music. It's an easy place to walk around with shops and restaurants as well as the ubiquitous produce vendors all along the street. Sadly avocado season is over.... but passion fruit season is still in full swing! Mangos are coming in soon and grapefruit, lemons and limes always seem to be in. Ditto bananas, lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes and more. 

Time to face the music!
Musicians at the festival
Saturday at the music festival
Kids getting a sugar high at the music festival
Music festival venue -  Da Reef in Lower Bay

Catching up with Simon and Hilda from s/v Brisa, outside the music festival
The marine police (left) keep an eye on things at the end of the day at the festival. Not to worry.... everyone was well behaved.
We've been in Bequia for over a week now and are settling in to the relaxed pace here and getting some boat projects done. We like it here so we'll stick around for a little longer. We're saying more hellos and goodbyes here too though we've learned at this point that a goodbye isn't really a goodbye out here on the water. We all float around in seemingly aimlessly directions, but we all have plans. Most of those plans change, but still... we have plans. Sort of.

More from Bequia soon....


Miles said...

Looking at the map tonight. Wow you guys are really getting south. Pretty close the south america. An interesting and sobering blog post. And some really nice photos. BTW, I should say for those people that don't really know me, I was harassing skip about the centreboard post with humor in my heart. Rereading it I can see that it might have been interpreted as being less than funny. Not at ALL my intent. That being said! We are preparing for my snow here... Go Broncos!

Miles said...

That should say 'more' snow here...

Andrew said...

Look up my Old pal Andy Michell in Bequia. I think he's turned into quite the real estate mogul there. Good guy and born and raised ther so knows everything and everyone.

Bob & Janice said...

glad to hear that you have been enjoying Bequia - we definitely did. Not sure if you have met "Billy" yet - he paddles around in a foldable dinghy - never seemed to sell anything we wanted but always stopped by just to visit - it worked out well for us to know him as my hat blew off the ferry before we left for St. Vincent & Billy rescued it for us. Hopefully the cruisers net is still functioning there & Cheryl is still leading the reading program for the kids there. Glad to see you were there for the music festival - hope you enjoyed it!