Friday, April 16, 2010

Saba, a Caribbean Shangrala

Scott and I spent two nights at Saba our first trip through the Eastern Caribbean and it has remained one of our favorite islands. It is unlike any other island! See our previous blog entry for a lot more historical information about the island. But I will add or repeat a few facts here. Saba has 5 sq. miles of land and it's volcano Mt. Scenery is the highest point in the Kingdown of the Netherlands. It has 1350 residents and 300 medical students when the Saba University of Medicine is in session. There is a lot of new home construction on the island, possibly second homes for off islanders. As a result there appear to be a lot of new residents, mostly young couples with children. Many of them were playing and swimming down at the landing when we arrived.
Our first afternoon we checked into the country (pretty easy as they are associated with St. Martin, part of the Netherlands Antilles as is St. Eustatious (Stacia), Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba. Saba has chosen to become part of the Netherlands and is scheduled to do so this October. Some of their leaders have been trying to have it both ways recently but I believe that due to their hesitancy to give up power. Eighty six percent of the population voted to join Holland.
We first organized our trip the following day. As we planned to hike the volcano we arranged a taxi to take us up to the trail head and back. Scott and I were familiar with the steep roads and trails from our last trip. The volcano is over 3,000 feet high and feels pretty much straight up so starting higher up is GOOD. After that we started out up the road to the first community of Bottom. Pink flowers cascaded down the hills in the protected valley where the road climbs, but above that they appear desolate where they are exposed to the ocean wind. Goats, chickens and roosters scramble all over.
The road is an engineering marvel all built by islanders and designed by a local man. It corkscrews up the hill with lots of tight turns. After only about 20 minutes a car stopped to offer us a ride. Scott and I took it and the kids were then able to run up (well not quite but they were moving a lot faster than us). Once they joined us we wandered all over looking at the charming homes, streets and alleys. Farther from the ocean the hills are covered with vegetation and short trees. It's a jungle up there!
A beautiful Catholic church was decorated with murals around the alter featuring obviously local people depicted along with religious scenes. For example in the picture on the left look for the two charming children taking their first communion on the right above the arched door. All three of the villages are hobbit like cute. Most of the homes are white with red roofs and many with green trim. Everyone has a garden. All too soon the sun started to set and we walked down the road. Again in two groups we dinghied back to our boat for dinner.
The next day we'll be climbing the volcano, but for that, check out the next blog!

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