Saturday, March 06, 2010

Bequia and St. Vincent

Bequia is the largest island in the SVG after St. Vincent and a big change from our previous destinations. There appears to be a lot of money here, big fancy homes and more sophisticated restaurants and shops. Admiralty Bay is huge and lined with restaurants, beaches and lovely pastel houses. There is even a good sized Book Shop, but still no real supermarkets.

The fresh veggie market is fun and there are some nice bakeries, but the general merchandise is scanty. It's also filled with big handsome boats (oh wait, that really nice one here is ours). We anchored off Princess Margaret Beach (she used to spend a lot of time here) and Scott went in to complete the easy check out. This is our third or fourth time here and we've always enjoyed it.

See our previous entry in April, 2007 describing a visit to the Moonhole Community designed and built by the late Tom Johnson, a well known American architect.
But until now we hadn't walked over to the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary out in Industry (that's the name of the community) so the next morning we headed off. This organization was founded by Orton "Brother" King, a retired native fisherman who has dedicated his life to saving the hawksbill turtles. His organization monitors beaches, checks nests, tries to protect mother turtles and eggs from poachers, collects hatchlings, and rears them until they are around 3 years old. Local youth education is part of their mission.

We should have started earlier because it was a hot trip over the hills and down to the waterfront sanctuary, but very pretty. We passed the bustling high school with hundreds of uniformed handsome teenagers. Away from the waterfront and the hill crests with views, this is a more rural peaceful place. We passed through Spring, the site of several beautiful plantations, now expensive hotels.
There are still some livestock roaming the manicured palm tree pastures lining the beach. We walked through one of them to the reef surrounded bay on the windward side. Several fishing boats testified to the local's ability to make their way through. That's a view of the bay from a bluff and one of the fishing boats with their nets neatly drying.

We had a tour of the facility and were able to get to know the turtles up close and personal. Scott petted several of the big ones and they obviously enjoyed it. These are permenant residents, many with lost flippers. The baby ones are really fun to watch - they really interact with each other.

There are no public buses or jitneys on the island and the taxis are expensive, so we decided to walk back. It was noon so as we walked up the hill, I believe I must have looked tired, as two women in a taxi picked us up for free!
One place we didn't get to visit is to the home of the late Athneal Ollivierre, the island's head whale harpooner, where there is a small

whaling museum. Bequia has an active whaling station and by IWC agreement can take up to 4 whales a year, although I believe they rarely get that many, sometimes none. It's done in an open sailing boat using hand thrown harpoons!

The next day after checking out with Customs & Immigration, we walked around Port Elizabeth, the main village, late in the afternoon checking out the happy hours, comparing rum punches both for quality and price. An excellent fruity one with lots of rum costs 5 or 6 EC at happy hour, about $2 to $2.50. The narrow road along the water has a pretty flower divider separating the directions, but it stops quickly. Then a cement pathway continues along the shore in front of the bars and restaurants. People stroll along this watching the action on shore and off. This proud Bequian father was showing off his baby boy. He loved our drink straw!

While watching the sunset there we met a charming couple from the U.S., Joe and Mary Lee. They were on their last day of a one week charter and after some conversation we all adjourned to our boat for a last minute put together dinner. One unexpected difficulty was finding their boat - hundreds of them and it was very dark! But it was a fun ending for the day.

The next morning however we didn't feel up to the dawn departure so we changed the schedule. Instead of the long trip directly to the Pitons in St. Lucia we decided to spend the night at Wallilabou Anchorage in St. Vincent, only about 3 hours away. A separate posting will talk about this event.

No comments: