Sailing Cielo: Moving On Down

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Moving On Down

Herewith, highlights from the last week, spent in St. Lucia and in Bequia (pronounced beck-way), part of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (don't feel bad, a year ago we didn't know where it was either).

St. Lucia - Rodney Bay

To be quite honest, we weren't big fans of St. Lucia overall - of course to be fair, we spent the majority of our time there at one anchorage - Rodney Bay - which can't accurately be used to assess the entire island. Rodney Bay was touristy (a Sandals Resort and cruise ships galore), it was under construction (both the dredging of the channel and the building of cookie-cutter vacation "dream homes"), and there were apparent tensions between locals and visitors (the first island where we really felt that vibe). The bottom line is that after 5 days, we were anxious to move on. Luckily, we decided to anchor for a night at the Pitons, two monstrous peaks at the south end of the island before we sailed on to Bequia.

St Lucia - The Pitons

We could use every explicative in the book to describe how steep and tall these peaks were, and how sore our butts were the days after we hiked them, but hopefully the pictures will do them justice. We actually only hiked about 3/4 of the way up Petite Piton (ironically, the taller of the two peaks) as we only had enough $EC in our pockets to pay our guide for a portion of the trip - but we still managed about 600 of the 750 meters of the climb (for those of you not on metric...silly Americans...that's about 1950 out of 2450 ft). Our guide for this trek was a local St. Lucian who had the distinction of being the first to accost us when we arrived at the start of the trail. Keyston stood a whopping 5' and minus his dreadlocks, may have been outweighed by our basset hound Annabelle. As we started the climb, we were a bit unsure about our decision to hire a guide at all (we hadn't used one for any of our hikes to date) and to hire this guide in particular, what with his pungent odor and frequent stops to call out "BLESSING", which he did anytime we got anything from a view to a mild breeze. As we scrambled higher grabbing roots and rocks, it became clear that a guide for this particular hike was well warranted. Keyston also turned out to be super nice and much less gnarley than the shoeless and toothless guides we encountered with other groups on our way up. Honestly, who, other than a mountain goat, climbs a 2500 foot mountain with NO SHOES??

Can we eat it? (or...Food, glorious food)

Since arriving in the Caribbean, we've been seeking out opportunities to try new foods--most of which we've really enjoyed. In the last few days, three instances of something new stand out: the first was the eating of the first loaf of bread ever baked by Cielo's captain and first-mate. I know it doesn't sound that daunting, but considering that the dough of the first loaf resembled wallpaper paste in color and consistency, we were pleased that the second attempt was edible, and some may even say, tasty. Next, we sampled what I like to refer to as snot-fruit, since that's sort of its consistency. Other people in the Caribbean call it Sour sop or Guanabana and despite its off putting appearance (the outside looks like green spiky alien spawn) and consistency (snotty), it's actually rather yummy...sort of like a sour apple Jolly Rancher. Finally, on the trip from St. Lucia to Bequia, we ended our fish-catching cold streak and landed a nice-sized barracuda. We've heard from others that barracuda has deliciously firm white flesh, but have read that barracuda can carry the neurotoxin ciguatera, which can cause attractive side-effects like numbness and debilitating gastrointestinal problems. We decided that since the potential for a good dinner was high and the potential for poisoning low, we'd go ahead and eat it. Minus the post-consumption fear, it was really, really good and neither of us was the least bit sick.

Blame it on the rain

Though the rainy season doesn't start officially down in the Caribbean until June, it seems that "April showers" are the norm down here. We've been increasingly below decks or inside bars watching hours of rain drench the islands. This rain has been a great excuse to catch up on our movie collection and attend to our taxes, which is another sad reality heralded by April.


From here we'll head further down the Grenadines chain, and will decide in the next week how far south we'll go before turning around and sailing north.

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