Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Hiking Saba and then on to St. Eustatius or Statia

The next morning, still at Saba, we arranged for taxi driver Eddie to pick us up at 8:30 AM at the dinghy landing. We started the hike up the old volcano, Scenery Mt., at 9:30 and visited all three viewing spots at the top and in the crater. The clouds parted long enough at each one - great luck. The flowers and vegetation were worth the trip alone. Some sections required ropes to help you climb up! In the pictures here you can see how spectacular the scenery is! Happily the dense vegetation and the clouds which hang over the summit most of the time kept the temperature down and our walk was very pleasantly cool. Pictures here show the trail with Scott and I, plus the views down to a boat traveling by and to Bottom,
one of the small villages on the island. Later we visited the charming museum detailing their history. Men on this island have sailed all over the world and many rose to captain their own ships. The women then and now made lace! Their beautiful lace pieces are famous and they're still tatting on today.

Our next island, Statia, was very attractive but not in the same league. It's a quiet rather sweet place and the walk up the volcano, called The Quill, was nice but very hot. It is drier and has less variety in it's vegetation until you get in the volcano itself and there are only a few distant views. This island has a big history however During the mid to late 1700s Statia was the
trade capital of the Indies. From one to two hundred sailing ships lay at anchor off the shore where a sea wall protected a long street of shops and warehouses. All this is gone now, destroyed by war and hurricanes. The beautifully paved roads leading down to the shore are still in perfect shape however and many of the walls higher up in the now existing town center. The snorkeling over the old sea wall, now under water, was excellent. The moorings at the town are rather open and we had lots of swells. This sets the boat rocking - an uncomfortable feeling. We set a stern anchor to face us into them and that really helped.
Several years ago rogue waves from a storm way across the Atlantic came suddenly in the middle of the night here and several boats out on these very moorings were thrown up onto the rocks in just minutes - a scary thought! We try not to dwell on stories like these and those of pirate incidents. The chances of this happening to us are about the same as an uncoming car on the highway crossing the medium strip and hitting you head on. What's the sense of worrying about that? Besides, see that rainbow over the island below - always a good sign!

Both these islands are Dutch and pictures of the royal family decorate many homes. They are part of the Netherlands Antilles, part of a commenwealth group with Holland, Curacao, Bonaire and Saba. Recent votes were held in all of these countries and Statia, Saba and Bonaire decided to become part of Holland. Curacao voted to become independent like Aruba. Recently they've been reconsidering that opinion and may have another vote.

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