Saturday, April 17, 2010

Up and Into the Volcano

We requested taxi driver Eddie from our previous visit to Saba - he's from one of the old families on the island. He was waiting for us on the dock early the next morning. We were all blurry eyed a bit due to the increasingly rough seas during the night. After the morning's weather report we knew conditions were deteriorating and we would have to leave by 1 PM. This unhappily would cut short our plans for the day. We would still climb the volcano but couldn't do more sightseeing and have lunch there.
The drive was beautiful and rather hair raising. Hair pin turns, a very narrow road that drops off a thousand feet straight down, all contributed to a carnival ride experience at times.
Eddie left us at the start of the trail and we were quickly off. Unlike the more barren hills near the sea we were now in the rain forest and jungle. Vegetation crowded up to the edge of the mostly concrete path or in most cases steps straight up. Up and back should take us three hours we were told, so we'd have a little time afterwards for seeing Windwardside, the small village near there. Eddie would pick us up at noon for the trip back.
The kids were off like a shot but I'm going to admit that I was comparitively slow. In fact I had a hard time. I've been having health problems and haven't been eating much. More on this in a separate blog later. The scenery however both distant and close up was spectacular. We didn't see the kids until the top of the mountain by which time they'd already explored the three different paths that lead to view points from the edge of the old crater.
Two covered benches allow for a civilized rest on the way up but there are lots of boulders for a quick stop. At the top the views are outstanding. You can judge this yourself in some of the photos here but take my word for it, the reality is much better. And, everything is so green and sparkling. Last time we did this hike it was more mysterious as there was fog which parted now and then to reveal the views but this time the air was crystal clear. Shadows from the few clouds created darker patches of soft blue on the ocean. We hated to leave the top but our chariot awaited below!
After a quick walk around the picturesque village (oh we wish we could have spent more time!) it was back to the boat. The wind and waves had increased considerably and our little dinghy managed to get us back (but not keep us dry). Now our problem was where to go. Or rather where we could go in any degree of comfort. We all wanted to head for St. Bart's or at least Iles Forchue and we started out pointed in that direction, but the wind, waves and current didn't agree. It was clear we'd be bashing up against all three and unable to use our sails if we went that direction. So we changed our heading reluctantly to port and went back to St. Martin. After one night there we were able to sail with a better angle up to the Isles Forchue - more to come in the next blog entry!

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