Sunday, October 29, 2017

Endless Days Of This

Our old view
Our new view
As I sit here waiting for the sun to rise beyond the stand of palms on the thin spit of sand beyond our bow, it seems the wind never stops here. It blows right off the Atlantic, unimpeded , never ending. It blows melancholy this morning. The sigh of it brings me nostalgia and longing.  For what, I don’t know. There is nowhere else I would rather be. Things I’m nostalgic for can never be, maybe never were. The perfect life with my kids and family at my side.  Would that be complete happiness? What is that really?

Maybe it would be the complete absence of menace from an unknown future. Things have been so good here… such happy days. I know it can’t last. I wish we had done this when we were younger… I wonder how it would have changed me then… 

A small part of what it is to be “from” the islands presents itself to me. These people are accepting of what is. That’s it. All that “is” comes to them and they accept it, good or bad. If it rains, it rains… if they catch a fish, they catch a fish. If they meet a friend, embrace them …and if they meet a foe… avoid them. They live in the moment and don’t worry about what’s past or what’s coming.  

A reef to snorkel just off the stern
I feel as if some of that is rubbing off on me as I have no idea where we will go from here. We’ve spent so many years getting here and now that we’ve arrived, it carries a certain sadness, or maybe that’s just the sighing of the wind.  

Serendipity and the fishing boat
Serendipity now lies off our starboard aft quarter. We moved into the Primo spot our second morning here. Sounds of the “Grands” filter over. BlackBoy and his family are up. He dinghies to the beach and on his way I ask him what’s up. He said he went to the beach to see what was there for him. 

Bruce and I discuss our plans for the day ahead… it’s a slow thing. We will kayak ashore and walk the beach before the sun gets too high. We should have dinner at BlackBoy’s place before we leave here. He’s been so nice to us… He brought us fresh baked bread and we haven’t yet paid him. Yesterday at his bar, we were $3 short of the bill and the girl working there, Debbie’s daughter… she couldn’t make change. We had only a $20 and a $100 EC and our bill was $23EC. She just took the $20. We will add it to what we owe BlackBoy…

It seems that change is rare here… If you don’t have the correct change, they just sell you something else. BlackBoy has taken us as friends which muddies the waters for us… At what point is he doing something as a business… and where is the line between that and helping a friend. It has me thinking a lot about what we can offer to people who have so little, but seem not to mind it. If they need something, it comes to them… and if it doesn’t come, they just seem to stop needing it.  

When I told BlackBoy this morning that we owed him another $3EC… he laughed! Why has he befriended us? Because we, as Cruisers have the luxury of letting go of our American-ness… It’s a slow process and one that has me thinking about a lot of things. We think as Americans that our way is the right way or the best way… But out here, we realize that it isn’t.  

I remember back in our chartering days, how we thought that we were so “in touch” with these islands. How superior we felt to travellers who stay in antiseptic resorts… Still, as charterers we are insulated. Our American-ness keeps us from getting too close. It keeps us from having our world rocked, our foundation shifted. Now, as Cruisers, even though we can never really be a part of these islands like we are a part of being American, we have help letting go of some of our American baggage.  When one of the islanders befriends us we learn things that we never knew we didn’t know! 

The problem with making friends here, for me… is that I don’t want to take advantage of a friendship… I want to give back. For someone who doesn’t have the same needs as I have, this is a difficult thing to do. And it shows my American-ness even more… These Islanders don’t expect to have something in return… if it happens, it happens. How can I get to that place? How can I stop waiting for the other shoe to fall… The “catch”… The true colours to show? Will I ever? I hope so. 

Gazimo came out to take a look at our Yanmar. Remember it acted up on the way to Mayreau and we feared that it could be that “other shoe” that I mentioned… falling. BlackBoy told us to expect Gazimo at about 9:30 in the morning, so we went about our lazy morning rituals and were ready for him. 

 Gazimo arrived at about noon. But you know what? We didn’t care. We were enjoying our morning just watching the world go by. A chartering boat came and took the mooring ball near us. We weren’t concerned… as long as our boats didn’t touch, no loss. And if they did touch? Well it wouldn’t be any big deal… we put out our fenders and welcomed the newcomers. They laughed and enjoyed their day, then moved their boat to a ball further away at the end of the day. It all worked out and everyone was happy. I feel for those who have to leave…

So Gazimo and Moto showed up and came aboard. I asked about his hourly rate… $60 US per hour. OK. He listened to the engine’s symptoms and went right to work. Long story short… we had low oil in the engine and in the transmission… We have a broken dipstick in the transmission, which he had me repair with crazy glue… He adjusted the idle speed and added the oil and we were all set. Disaster averted. We hope. 

Our plan to move today has faded into a distant memory. Since we got off the mooring ball and moved to anchor in the sweetest spot in the Bay, our attitude about this place has somehow shifted. Maybe it’s BlackBoy, whatever it is, we have a whole new vibe here and we’re staying.

We spent the afternoon snorkelling off the boat! Just behind us is a rocky reef.  There was mostly greasy seabed inside the cove, but if you look closely, you can see the rocks and grass are teeming with small fish. 

The best part was another pod of squid! This time they seemed more aggressive and even more creepy! I moved in to take photos of two that seemed to be swimming together. One of them began to act in a protective manner toward the other. He (I’m assuming it was a he protecting his woman) began to dart around her and flash colours! It was amazing! I wasn’t more than three feet from them and here he was flashing me the finger! I love my life!

Rare Grouper pic!
Sea Egg Urchin
Banded Butterflyfish
Caribbean Reef Squid
Flamingo Tongue snail on coral whips

Blue Tang Juvenile

Bluehead Wrasse
Sea Cucumber
Later, while sitting in the cockpit watching the sun go down after a full day of fun… my thoughts returned to earlier in the day. The fact that our engine problems were simple oil levels brought to mind the more sinister truth at we’ve ignored… Bruce is getting older. He forgets things. I must be vigilant. And we must depend upon the kindness and resourcefulness of these Island people for as long as we can afford it.  

This morning we talked about it. He wants me to remember him how he once was… and I fear that the closer we get, the worse it will be in the end. It's just he and I.  Out.  In the world.  Together. I have to learn to think like the Islanders and live in the moment. We have been among those most fortunate to have the opportunity to experience this life. We appreciate it every day… I wish we could have endless days of this. 

After a brief rain, the sun is getting higher… We dressed in swimsuits and kayaked ashore. Bruce and I walked the beach on the north side of Mayreau. It is a long perfect white sand stretch with waves coming in relentlessly. We couldn’t believe that all of this was ours… not a soul on our beach… Once, a long time ago, we walked the beach back home… something we did often… We wondered if we would ever tire of beach walks… The answer is still no. We could have endless days of this.


A HUGE tree has floated up from across the sea

We found an awesome piece of driftwood!

We paddled down the beach and wandered up to BlackBoy's & Debbie's Bar for a drink.  The place is Carribbean Beach Eclectic!  

Returning home to the boat, we relaxed and appreciate another amazing sunset.

With a relaxed schedule due to decreased tradewinds, we decided to stay another day.  We would take the LONG walk on the beach and have that dinner with BlackBoy we talked about.

BlackBoy's boat, Serendipity

Another day, another trip to the beach.  We followed the path worn in the grass to the western end of the north side where there is only rock, no sand.  There is some sort of ruin there.  It's crumbled and has graffiti but it's still a wild and lonely place. 

There are also trails that look intriguing... 

We followed the trail back to the Bay side.  The palm lined sandy strip connects to a hill with rocky cliffs on the north and windward sides.  

The ruins of some structure still remain and provide a path along the Bay right at the water's edge for a distance. 

The path is scrabbly and we had to work for it in spots.  Cactus lie just off the path, and in some cases - across it!  Must watch our step!

We made the gradual incline with stops to check the status of our view.  Not bad!

One final scramble and we reached the trail summit.

The reward!

Wow the view made me feel dizzy!  These photos do not show the depth of field but let me tell you.  It's a long way down.  Falling now would really hurt!

The rocks are jagged and crumbling.  I inched my way as close to the edge as I dared so that I could see the water crashing the shore below.  

Now and then there would be the sound of the swell filling an underwater cave with a whomp!  Oh the snorkelling that could be had down there if only it wouldn't cost you your life!

Crystal running through the rock.  
It's a long way down!
I'm fascinated by these formations.  They're in many places in these islands. 
Back down we go
We've worked up a sweat and now our thoughts are returning to that long lonely beach and a nice swim at the end. 

Besos en la playa

Wind sculpted trees
I found it this way.  See the brown shimmer on top of the fan?

At the far end of the beach, maybe half a mile or more from where we tied the kayak… the beach ends with a rocky point covered in trees. I think they’re Manchineel trees… Bruce hung our sun shirts on a branch (not the manchineel) while I walked down the sloping sand and into the cool water.  The waves here were coming in swells, filtered by shallows and rocks offshore. It was a sandy bottom and the water was perfect! I floated, insulted by how buoyant I am… But taking full advantage of it just the same. 

OK maybe he did hang them on the manchineel...
Someone had left a pair of shoes together on a rock halfway out to the point. Bruce crept out there and retrieved them. They looked like they’d been there a while so he brought them to the beach… He tried them on… too small. Leaving them on the rocks for the next treasure seeker, he joined me in the water and we marvelled once again that no other person was here enjoying this beach!

I KNOW, right???

We frolicked! I made sand angels. We could have endless days of this!  
Making a snow angel!

Oh noooooo!  A wave ate my angel!


This is the beach in the anchorage.  Not too shabby!

There's a restaurant on the beach that has these wonderful tables!  

Stone ovens and bar!  I can't wait to see this place open!
Yes, places with this view do exist!

These spiders are all over the place on the islands! But they're easy to avoid.

Seriously...  I'm ashamed!
The sun was high when we returned to the boat! Time to get back to reality… We’ve got an alarming crop of very green seaweed growing on our waterline and even worse down below on the keel. Visibility here is wonderful but the growth rate is phenomenal! We can practically SEE the grass growing on our bottom!  

Bruce got the hookah going while I settled onto my float with the the scraper. I had some serious conversations with crabs the size of my little fingernail, about their need to relocate! Just don’t do it inside my ear! We worked independently, Bruce underwater and I up top… It seemed like HOURS! I really wanted to quit half way but we need to stay on top of this growth!  

When we were done I couldn’t believe it was only 3:00! Wonderful! Time to relax and recover before we had to “dress” for dinner! We told BlackBoy we would come ashore for dinner at 6pm! 

Did I mention that we haven’t splashed the dinghy in days? Well we haven’t. We’ve been using the kayak to get around… really just to the beach and snorkelling, so it’s been great! Well tonight we dressed for dinner with that in mind. Our ride to the restaurant would be via kayak! Just before sunset we took off with minimal splashing and really made it quite nicely. Shoes aren’t required anywhere here so we easily ran up on the beach and jumped out! Both of us made sure that we were wearing something short and quick drying!  

The boys on the beach quickly learned that we had a dinner reservation with BlackBoy… It’s like a cloak of invisibility… just say his name and they leave you alone! It’s always about who ya know, isn’t it?

This cat immediately took over Bruce's lap!
There weren’t any other foreigners on the beach, a fact which was a little disappointing. It would have been nice to have others to chat with… But we made due with the sweetest little kitty boy named SandBeach… He climbed right up into Bruce’s lap and began loving him up while I wandered around talking to the guys starting the pit and getting things going. We were the early seating evidently…

I wandered around checking out activities in the "kitchen"
Just look at the love in those eyes.  
When I sat down, Bruce relinquished the baby to me and I proceeded to fall in love. This little guy really knows how to lay it on thick! He snuggled down in my lap and gazed lovingly into my eyes… he put his little paws in my hand and kneaded the biscuits… Then he dug his claws into my chest trying to get kisses! Oh shit! I’m busted… might as well have a hickey! Jezabelle will know I’ve been with another cat!!!


There was supposed to be wifi here… I might have known that was a pipe dream… There was no power at all in the bar until BlackBoy arrived and started up the generator… Then he said the internet was down… Oh well. We’ve gone this long without contact with the outside world and it’s really been very nice… Sort of like being lost on a deserted island… Very much like that in fact… I might could have endless days of this!

We sipped our rum punch and beer while BlackBoy’s little Grands ran around naked as the day they were born. They were adorable! Little skinny black tots that might as well have been chocolate bunnies as sweet as they were! Two boys and one little girl… Oh my gosh! I so wanted to snap their picture but refrained… Can’t be taking pics of little naked kids now, can I? How wonderful it must be to grow up so free. Eventually the Grands were clothed but they continued to run around. What a life!  

A young man came over and sat with us for a while… I think he’d been hitting the ganja and he was full of bravado typical of a 22 year old boy out on a grand adventure sailing the Caribbean with daddy still paying his cellphone bill… It was fun hearing his stories.  

Cat miraculously appeared with the food!
Soon dinner was served. We were the only ones eating but there was a table for 10 being set up. The old mismatched plastic dishes and placemats were set out for us. We were served a cabbage and carrot salad, plantains, vegetable rice and the chicken and rib-lets we ordered earlier in the day. It was all very wholesome and good and I didn’t have to cook it! BlackBoy sat with us the entire time and I plied him with questions about life on the island.  

It’s really very interesting. He employs three people during the season and their pay is $2,400 EC per month, which is considered a living wage here. That’s less than $900 US per MONTH! But they do get tips so hopefully that brings them up a good bit. I could have sat there asking questions indefinitely but those two rum punches were starting to put me to sleep… 
What a spread!  ALL for us!

We asked for our check and prepared to leave! BlackBoy (also hitting the ganja) took me into his arms and danced me out onto the sand while Bruce packed his things to leave! I think BlackBoy might have said something inappropriate, me being a married woman and all… but Bruce isn’t the jealous type and I’m not looking to settle down to be somebody’s second wife… so no harm no foul… When Bruce caught up to us he too was swept into the dancing embrace there under the stars with the music playing and gentle Caribbean waters lapping at our feet! Life is grand!

BlackBoy insisted that we climb into his dinghy with his girlfriend and kids and the Grands… he tied our kayak onto the back and away we went beneath a canopy of stars and the sprinkling of anchor lights… I threw my head back and felt the warm, moist air slide past my flushed cheeks… and I thought to myself… I could have endless days of this…

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