Canouan and Bequia - 13.00N, 61.15W

Island Wanderer
Peter and Avril Brookes
Thu 19 Jan 2012 00:41
Heavy seas and strong winds dissuaded us from visiting Tobago Cays, despite being billed as possibly the most stunningly beautiful anchorages in the world. We still have some regrets at not having visited, but the crowded anchorages we could see on the way to Canouan went a small way to making us feel better about the decision.
Our next island was Canouan, a short distance from Mayreau, but very different in it’s feel. Life seemed to be lived out on the streets, which made you feel quite visible as you went exploring. The locals were all very friendly though. After walking round the main town we decided to walk up to the highest point on the south side of the island. The northern end is privately owned by an Italian company who run it as a resort, and the entrances are all guarded.
As we ambled off the road up the short grassy track to the summit, our way was suddenly barred by a fierce looking tortoise emerging from the shrubby bush. Not to be deterred, we stepped over it bravely and continued our climb. The path, though narrow, was well defined and covered in goat droppings. A short way on we came to a small clearing, not far from the top, where we had hoped to be able to get some good views of the surrounding islands.  Yet again our progress was hampered, but this time more successfully. A large cow was tethered where the path exited the clearing above us. The cow was being taunted by two dogs, egged on by a young girl who spoke no English. It was an unusual situation and rather than explain our desire to continue to the girl in sign language, risk being bitten by the dogs and avoid being slobbered on by the cow which had drool dripping from its lips, we decided to retrace our steps and continue our walk in another direction. As we approached the road, a sizable local guy came up and asked if we had been to visit the fort at the top of the hill. Unaware that there had been a fort up there, we explained why we had come down before reaching the top. “That’s where I’m heading now”, he told us, proceeding up the path, brandishing a two foot long machete in his hand.
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The next day we sailed to Bequia. As with all recent journeys it was into the wind and we had to tack our way towards the harbour, which we reached shortly after lunch.
Again the island had it’s own feel about it. Bequia is very popular and the anchorage quite crowded. We chose a spot well away from the town quay, giving us plenty of space, but becoming increasingly rolly as the time has gone by. We have really enjoyed looking round the town, eating locally made icecream: nutmeg flavour was the best, and snorkelling off the back of the boat. We have also continued with the varnish work, which is progressing very slowly.
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Fresh food like meat and fish has been very hard to come by recently, unless you want to pay a premium. Very few food shops have any fresh produce at all. Fruit and vegetable markets have been great in Bequia, but hard to find else where. If you wished to live on bananas and rum (84% proof), you could easily do so for about 50p a day. A packet of cornflake is three times as expensive as a bottle of ginger wine. Eggs are available, but you have to come prepared with your own egg box, or risk it as they bounce around in the bottom of your shopping bag. It is, however, the middle of the lobster season, and almost daily we are approached on the boat by fishermen offering to sell us one. They reassure us that they are fresh. Therein lies the problem. They are so fresh they are still wriggling.  In theory we could just pop one in a pan of boiling water and soon be treated to a delicious meal of lobster in garlic butter, rather than tinned spam and baked beans. Confoundedly though, the lobsters look at us with pleading eyes from the back of the fishing boats and we tell the fisherman that no, we don't want one today thank you.