Saturday, November 18, 2017

Roots In Carriacou - SCORE!

Once again we cross paths -literally- with Pura Vida
When we first arrived to Tyrrel Bay, Carriacou, we were a little underwhelmed.  We just couldn't figure out what it could be that kept Cruisers in this bay for weeks!  But our grocery supply was dwindling and there were three new batteries waiting for us at Budget Marine in Grenada, which we hoped to have ferried to us here so we could take our time moving south.

So... we gave Tyrrel Bay another try!


Heading south again along the west coast of Carriacou

The skies were black when we left Anse la Roche, but the rain held off while we motored south.  Our luck ran out the moment we reached the anchorage and a heavy rain began to fall.  Anchoring is best done in good sunlight, especially when the anchorage is mostly weed with patches of sand.

We couldn't see the sand patches at all with the darkened skies, so we motored slowly around until it began to clear off.  In the end, Bruce got soaked but we did find a secure spot to weather the rest of the squalls.  And as an added bonus, we found a strong wi-fi signal!

Since our last visit here, we've been studying the cruising guide in hopes of discovering what it is that lures and retains Cruisers here.  To sustain Cruiser life, basic needs must be met.  Docks for access to shore - provisions - laundry - and garbage disposal are high on the list and the cruising guide promises all of these.

When the rain let up in the afternoon, we went ashore to find all the things we missed before!

There is a big concrete dock at the north end of the bay that serves both commercial boats and us small fry.  At first glance it is very intimidating with a high wall that would be impossible to climb... But around the other side is a tiny landing closer to the water for dinghies.  There is a bit of a surge, even when waters are relatively calm, but we tied up to the dock, tossed out the stern anchor to keep the dinghy from rubbing the concrete, and took off for the shore with our bag of trash!

Garbage disposal is a never ending concern for Cruisers.  It's amazing how quickly it begins to stink so we're always hoping to find a "responsible" place to dump it.  Some islands charge a fee per bag.  Others have boat boys who come out to collect it, again for a fee.  Problem with that is that you never know if they are disposing of it properly.  We try not to use the boat boys unless the guide gives them the thumbs up.  Here in Tyrrel Bay, there is no charge at all and we found trash barrels spaced along the main road that are free for all to use!

We took a stroll along the beach road to see if we could find the laundry.  We suspected they might not be open at this time of day, and even if they were, it was too late to bring laundry in.  But we wanted to verify the location - and the existence - of the laundry service before we lugged the several weeks worth of smelly clothes ashore.  It is no easy task!

Loading up from the lower level of the dock
The village streets were nearly empty.  Not much is open on Friday afternoon, including the laundry.  But we found it and would return in the morning with our bags.  With our pressing business attended to, we decided to enjoy the rest of our afternoon at the little bar up the road!

We zoomed along the shallows and docked at the other end of the beach where all the bars and restaurants line the shore.  There are several small docks spaced conveniently close to the shops and bars.  Some showing recent improvements after the latest storm... but most still bearing the scars.  There isn't a lot of money around these parts for dock repairs.

Rufus Veggie stand.  He told us there would be fresh produce here tomorrow... Not the best marketing ploy! 
The decor seems right.

If you know us, you know that we seldom ever just go ashore for happy hour.  And almost never do we go alone!  But for whatever reason, we decided today was the day to branch out.  We settled on the benches and enjoyed mediocre wifi and whatever random drink this little place could throw together...

Near enough for wifi - far enough for private conversation
Bruce used the wifi to make a long overdue call to his brother back in Kansas.  We chatted with other Cruisers and picked up tips from live-aboard insiders.  I have to admit that by this time, we were feeling a little bit better about Tyrrel Bay... but maybe that's just the rum talking!
Time to go home...
Bright and early the next morning, we rounded up our load of laundry and tossed it into the dingy to retrace our steps from yesterday.

Thankfully it was open and there weren't too many loads in front of ours.  We wheeled our bag in and dumped it.

I have to tell you that although expensive, having our laundry done for us has been really nice.  There aren't many places in the Caribbean that will let you do your own.  This place will... but it's the same price whether you do it, or they do.  For $35 EC per load for wash, dry and fold... it's a trade off.  We anchor here for FREE and splurge on shoreside services that make our lives easier, and help the local economy.  Yes, we CAN do laundry on the boat in a bucket... but sometimes we don't.

Bruce perusing the book exchange.  Many book here are NOT in English!
Doing a little shopping!  This young lady is learning the business from her Mother.  She's all about the money!
Tropical Mockingbird

Thousands of spiders webs spread through the brush

With the rest of the morning now at our disposal, we took a stroll down the road again with purpose.  We had some shopping to do, both from the small grocery stores and the Rufus Veggie Stand.  We almost missed this sign-post... We did a double-take and decided what-the-heck!  Let's check it out!

We followed the signs down an alley into someone's back yard.  A woman greeted us and took us into her store at the back of the property.  It held three deep-freezers full of frozen meat!  There was chicken, pork, beef, lamb and fish!  All fresh and all local.  And by local - I mean inexpensive.  Even the beef prices weren't too bad.  We picked out an assortment and asked her to hold it for us until we were ready to return to the boat.  For about $40 US topped our freezer off with island fresh meat!

Twilight Restaurant and Bar

While all of this shopping was going on, we kept a sharp eye out for anything that looked like a breakfast opportunity.  Most restaurants were closed, even the one mentioned in the Cruising Guide!  We found this one open with a guy sweeping up out front.

I asked him if he served breakfast...  Seems like a simple and straightforward concept, right?  He started to tell us no, then asked us what we would like...

We shrugged and asked what he HAD!  He said he could cook eggs and bread for us.  Good enough!  Taking our seats on the front porch where we could watch the world go slowly by, we saw him pop into the grocery market next door and return carrying three eggs and one small loaf of local bread.

How fun this is!
The wifi was slow, but we had time to kill... We passed it playing tea-party with the coffee service that soon arrived!  The table filled with placemats, plates, juice glasses and the coffee service led us to believe we'd made an excellent choice!

Unfortunately things went south soon after the coffee went cold.  We waited and waited for our food.

Finally the man came out with a plate and set it on the mat in front of Bruce.  It contained the eggs and some lettuce and two tomato slices.  That's it.  The man disappeared.

Thinking he was going to return with the bread and my plate, we waited. And waited.  And WAITED!  Finally I went inside and got his attention... I asked if we would get our bread and my plate.  He looked at me blankly and said that was it.

Oh, wait... he forgot to bring the bread.  Back at the table he soon brought out a plate full of the sliced - cold- bread.  No food for me and nothing to make the bread edible.  When I asked, he produced a container of margarine.  He said that the plate of eggs was for the both of us!!!

Not to beat a dead horse - let's just say that breakfast isn't a strong suit here in the islands... and leave it at that.  Lesson learned.  And all this for just under $20 US!!!

Let me tell you what I look for in a rental apartment...
Looks pretty much the same as yesterday!

Tide came in!  Washing away our walkway to the dock!
After "breakfast" we collected our food from the meat place and returned to the boat to put it all away.  The grocery stores here in this little village are very basic.  But we've found that this is how it is in many of the islands.  If you go shopping with a list, you're bound to be disappointed.  You learn to visit each of the stores, stands and sometimes... back yards!  You buy what they have and figure it out later!  It makes for some creative meals and it's always an adventure!

We had to pick up our laundry in the early afternoon, which gave us time to run a few more errands.  We returned to shore at the far side of the anchorage near Customs & Immigration.  There are a couple of restaurants, a chandlery, another grocery and a small marina and boat yard.

One of the restaurants will give you the password for a signal that reaches our boat for a small charitable donation!  We went up to get that password and the place looked pretty good.  We'll come back for that burger soon!

Then on to the boatyard!  The surprising thing is that the boat yard has the capability to lift our boat, and the staff to do whatever we need done!

The manager, Sandra,  is super accommodating!  We went in to talk about pricing for a haul out and other services... and in passing, mentioned that we needed to get to Grenada to get those batteries.  She offered to take over the arrangements for us and have them brought here!  All we had to do was dock at the fuel dock and pick them up when they arrived on the ferry a couple of days from now!

The cost for shipping was minimal and the marina staff even helped us transfer the batteries off (old ones) and placed the new batteries in their places.  We weren't charged a cent for the nearly two hours we spent on their fuel dock while shuffling batteries!  We tipped the guys for lifting the heavy things, of course, but there was never a request for money from them!
Carriacou Marine earned a customer that day and we will return for our haul out and bottom job when we're ready in the new year!

Oh, and another thing.  They offer laundry service for $5EC less than we're paying at the other place today!

We made it back to the laundry just in time!  Our stuff was waiting for us!  No, not all of that is ours!  Just the two on the left!

Three loads for $40 US.

We noticed a new produce stand had sprung up on our way to the laundry.  We stopped by and found her produce to be not only more fresh, but less pricey as Rufus' stand.  She was a very proud woman. She looked haughtily on as I looked through the vegetables.  She hustled when I picked up an avocado - taking it from me and laying it gently in its place.

I asked her how much and agreed to take two.  She asked me when I would eat them.  She hand picked two avocados for me.  One would be ready tomorrow and the other would be ready the following day.  Pretty impressive service!  The woman earned her right to be haughty... and those avocados turned out to be perfect!

The days passed pleasantly while we waited for our batteries.  We got back to that restaurant for one of their burgers at their Sunday Brunch.  For $25 EC you get a fresh baked bun and a huge hunk of local meat!  Funny thing though - they will NOT put cheese on them.  It's all about the meat!

The entertainment was fishermen with nets in the anchorage
Once we got our new batteries onboard and hooked up, we were free to roam once again.  The village in Tyrrel Bay was now more familiar and comfortable to us, but we wanted to take a second look at the only town on the island - Hillsborough.  We opted to move the boat instead of taking the bus.  So... back around the point we went and this time, found the anchorage to be a good bit less rolly than before.


Busy dinghy dock at Hillsborough
Our experience here was much more pleasant as well.  Maybe we were too rushed last time, but for whatever reason, we relaxed and explored a bit more of this bustling little town and felt an overall positive vibe!

Greeting Nigel at the dinghy dock, I could see confusion in his face as he failed to recognize us.  But we recognised him, and I was thrilled to see that this time he had several of his wood carvings available for sale.  I picked out one - $25 US - and asked him to hold it until we returned with the correct change.

The very talented Nigel and his work

Stunning view!
I love the pop up art!  
Can you picture yourself here?

The Bus Terminal
We walked the coast road until it began to head out of town, then turned up to the next street in and found the bus terminal and many tiny shops.

Always in search of new shoes, we entered this one that proclaimed itself as the "Best in fashion - Best in prices".  Hmmm  - they must not have "truth in advertising" laws here.  No shoes were found.

We carried on.

The very upscale Patty's Deli!

Ahhh THERE it is!  Snagg's place!  
You have to look closely to see how awesome this place is!
Friends on Cream Puff wrote about this place and we were hot to try it out.  Unfortunately they weren't serving lunch today, so after a brief conversation with Snagg, we left hungry to find food elsewhere.

Our lunch view!
We backtracked to The Reef Restaurant and found a sort of buffet laid out.  We picked out our meal which included LASAGNA as a side dish!

Limited seating inside forced us to go back out to the beach park where we claimed one of the palapa covered tables in the sand.

Birds came and begged for scraps while we enjoyed our meal with an amazing view.

With full tummies, we stopped back by one of the larger grocery stores and loaded our backpacks down.

Then we popped into Patty's Deli to get some sandwich meat and more of their delicious garlic cheddar cheese!

Back at the boat, we somehow found space for all the food we bought, and relaxed to watch the golden evening unfold.

You may have noticed the very calm waters in the previous photos... Well, that calm weather we've been enjoying was coming to an end.

We've grown to love Carriacou and still have many places we would like to visit here, but the lure of an easy passage between Carriacou and Grenada is strong for us.  So we will save those plans for our next visit to this beautiful island.

Carriacou is the quintessential Caribbean island.  It is exactly what I envisioned when we contemplated our cruising life for all of these years.  Life here is simple and slow. The people are lovely and although you have to work a bit to find what you need here, this island has it all... or can get it for you!  We can now see why so many Cruisers put down roots here.  Life on Carriacou is easy.

The next morning we pulled up our anchor and said goodbye to this welcoming and beautiful island.  We will be back to the protected waters of Carriacou!

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