Leaving St. Vincent, Garden of Eden

Posted on: Wednesday, January 7th, 2009
Posted in: Travelog, In Transit, Latest Trip | Leave a comment

Sometimes when you travel (if you’re lucky), you land somewhere that you don’t want to leave.  And maybe you’re not even sure why you ended up there in the first place.  So it was with St. Vincent…

SV made our itinerary purely due to transit connections.  And as the plans got super-sized, a 3-day recovery layover seemed only fair.  An opportunity to see another island…  A chance it might be a Garden of Eden…  Off most people’s radar… Better check it out!
How fortunate that we did.  Because when you’re on a BreakAway, a secret aspiration is bliss, in some form, on some day.  Bliss comes and goes.  It might be a common payoff of a family cabin, favorite hike, or hidden beach.  But never always.  There are no guarantees—and it’s more moving when it sneaks up from behind and surprises you.
It did here.  Over and over.  In flowering yards and from the window of a taxi.  Under a pummeling waterfall and beneath giant bamboos.  Inside a funky restaurant and alone on a beach at sunrise.  Watching the children harmoniously playing in a pool and later reading to each other in a shared bed (!). 

Sometimes, you find what you’re looking for.  Even when you’re not sure where you are. Perhaps that’s a good time to move on—like leaving a feast when you’re not quite stuffed, and still sober enough to savor it.
So Mr. Andrew, our favorite, faithful taxi driver and tour guide in pressed white linen, arrived 10 minutes early and helped us schlep our luggage into the back.  He shepherded us like floating bobbers through the bureaucracy of getting on board (a security gate here; a tax to pay there; a hidden ticket stand; a labyrinth for luggage storage). 

He then suggested he call a friend on Bequia to pick us up—great idea.  And with a smile and a handshake, suggested we return when we have more time.  Another great idea. 

The ferry ride was dramatic, not only because SV and Kingstown slowly receded into the memory bank, but because the swells were huge.  The massive ferry (laden with trucks and cars) bobbed up and down like a merry-go-round pony.  Walking across the deck was an adventure in itself.  But only a few sorry souls got sick. 

We raced a stunning Windjammer with myriad sails.  The ship won, and had her sails coming down before we headed into the main harbor town of Bequia, also known as Port Elizabeth (because she once took a short dip there). 

Our home for some 18 days, eh?  Oh my, it looks so tiny.  SV has only 90,000 residents, but suddenly seemed massive.  This little island (pronounced BECK-way, by the way) has about 5,000, and suddenly looks too small. 
Suffice it to say that if you blow out your flip-flops or step on a pop top here, you’re probably SOL if you need new sandals or a good doctor. 
“Bequia is like St. John was about 40 years ago,” sailors and Caribbeanheads told me.  Upon first impression, I’m thinking they should have said 55.  Or more.  But our ferry pulled up, and we disembarked, aiming to find out. 
Two taxi drivers awaited—one called by Mr. Andrew, and one arranged weeks ago by our rental agency.  They were father and son, 3rd and 4th generation Bequians.  Now, some folks might have been pissed that only one fare was awaiting, and we’d screwed up by arranging two cabs. 
But these two?  They thought it was hilarious.  What a small world!?!  And to think Andrew JUST called!?!  Can’t believe you’re the same family!  We all laughed.  They answered some questions and gave us cards.  And assured us we’d be seeing them more, and they’d be available for anything, any time.  (And they have.) 
We lugged our luggage and selves into the back of an old Nissan pick-up (that’s a first-class taxi down here), and enjoyed a picturesque 10-minute ride to Friendship Bay, where our next home (and chapter) was waiting. 
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