Sun 20 Jan 2008 01:43
Just a quick addendum to Annabel's last blog first  .. Most of the afternoon (the day we arrived) was spent clearing customs and immigration .. we deliberately waited till after lunch... so it turned out to be about 3 pm when we got to the customs office.. (his lunch 12 till 1) and had to actually get him off his lunch break!!!   .. you just have to get into the way it works ...  most of the officials are really helpful if you spend time ,talk and just generally be nice to them .. Just one slightly concerning thing .. throughout the whole time we were befriended by a dog.. quite a pleasant one, with flees! but we couldn't`t decide what sex it was it came complete with the dogs bollocks and the finest set of large nipples ever!!!!!!
So Thursday was an easy day of swimming snorkelling etc ... and so to friday ... We went for a bike ride ... We have got the transporting of the bikes in the dinghy to a fine art... They take up all but 1 foot of the length of the dinghy .. which just leaves enough space for me at the back to start and operate the outboard ... Annabel sits to one side holding the bikes upright .. must look very funny .. we effectively disappear behind, and almost under, the bikes ...the low grey dinghy hiding behind its own bow wave... what's left ... just 2 bikes speeding across the bay on their own!
Anyway Annabel decided on the route ...  So happily got on our way at 1 pm .... she reckoned about 15 miles which turned out to be over twenty miles and somewhere between 4 and 5 thousand feet of climbing at least it was mostly on tarmac!!!!  Quite a lot of walking done by A and at times a full half hour went by before she saw me again (at the top of a hill).. So if you look on the Google earth bit of the blog the route was: Charlotteville: Speyside (straight ov er the mountains 1500 to 2000 feet) at the other side of the island .. Down that coast .. well in the bays, down at sea level, then up and over the rocky headlands which varied from a couple of hundred feet to halfway back up the mountains! we got as far as Roxborough.. back through the rain forest and over the mountains to  Bloody bay ... By which time it was coming dark (6 pm ish (we had set off at 1pm)) and the route from there described in the guide books just passable using a four by four ... Not looking good .. Shared a Snicker bar to keep others in reserve for the hard slog back .. Would you believe this was the best bit of road we had seen all day ... white line down the middle (that meant there was actually enough room for two cars to pass without much blowing of horns and gesticulation!) AND white lines down each side, with enough tarmac on the outside to bike on... and it was like that until the final descent into Charlotteville!  All the way we went through one village .. shared another Snickers .. climbed a few times .. just one big one (my estimate 500 foot+ mainly granny granny for me) everything lit by a bright half moon and thousands of fire flies .. at one stage they were so bright I was convinced there was a car coming!!   The biggest danger came from the cows sitting on the warm tarmac.. always just round a blind corner! ... Cars just one in the two hours it took us to go up the coast road... (so even the locals haven`t learnt yet what a good road this now is!)  Of course by this time Annabel is knackered, so I am stopping every couple of hundred yards on the climbs so I don`t lose sight of her (ouch on the hot and cold muscle effect) and on the downs likewise .. after I had learnt that Hope Minis don`t like to be half on all the time for a 500 foot descent .. like the brake fluid heats up to the point where the pressure build up applies the brakes the brakes for you ..regardless ... So an enforced stop at the bottom whilst waiting for the wheels to unlock!!! No problem though with fast descent,  hit brakes corner and off again! and some of those corners (even on tarmac ) 5 mph jobs!  Hope Google earth can also give you some idea of the altitude gains and losses!   Anyway got back to Charlotteville at 8 pm, whereupon A decided Lucozade was required.. So stopped and got two at the local store (ridiculously expensive at 75 pence each (in comparison 2 beers and main meal costs £5!) Then take pedals off the bikes (so don`t make holes in the dinghy or scratch the boat when lifting them back on ..and a recovery dinner back on board .. 4 eggs on toast and beans.. (and that was just for me!)
Oh and I forgot to say each cow had its own personal attendant, in the form of a white heron shaped bird, but with shorter neck ... That was silently eating the ticks, fleas off the cows back!
And the dusk chorus was something out of a Hitchcock movie ... The paraqueets, and the chicaders (spelling?) (louder crickets) , punctuated by  cows bellowing at each other and the odd dog howling inthe background adding to the menagerie ... surreal or what! 
Today a day of rest and recovery (ie normal) .. starts with shopping .. supermarket .. ie large wooden shed with a till and then on to the fruit and veg huts with full shuttering that lifts up so you and the fruit are in shade whilst performing (no till ) and  then back to the boat for washing (VERY smelly bike kit .. remember even in the shade it is 28 to 30 degrees c! Annabels job ... whilst I dismantle the heads (yet again) and then have another fight with the generator cos a vital switch has vibrated loose and disappeared into the bowels of the thing... then round it all off with a vacuum pack of three portions of lamb bought in Las Palmas for dinner  .. pan licked clean!!!    Tomorrow .. off fishing with a local in the morning ... I really must try and find out how to catch a PROPER fish (i.e. big and meaty!)
Cheers for now  Syd
ps Speyside sounds like a full blown town .. well it is bigger than Charlotteville, but apart from a posh school... consists of even more wooden sheds (shops) and a few more two storey abodes (all wood and lots of electric cables and roof water collectors) ... BIG!!!!