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Date: 04 Feb 2011 22:30:04
Title: Beautiful Saba

Eco Lodge, saba, Friday afternoon
 
We've had a wonderful time at the Eco-Lodge and walked ourselves to a standstill so now we're sitting in the restaurant, waiting for a taxi to take us off again so I'm taking the opportunity to catch up with what we've been up to.

On Wednesday morning, we were still at El MoMo. We were awoken by the noisy Rooster at 3am and then he was joined by a jackhammer from about 7am. So much for the sound of silence. There was one other guy having breakfast and it turned out that he wrote the Lonely Planet guide for Saba and Statia. In fact, it turned out that he'd also written Iceland and the Faroes amongst many others and he'd visited Greenland so he knew many of the places we've seen on our voyage. He was particularly smitten with Iceland. We discussed some of the places that we'd visited on his guide's recommendation and found that he had been disappointed on revisiting some of them after a few years. He was holed up at El MoMo finishing the text for the Tokyo guide so he certainly seemed to have his work cut out.
 
Anders, the owner, tried to get us a taxi but they were all busy at the airport so we waited for a while and then he delivered us to the end of the Mountain Road for us to walk the last couple of minutes to the Eco Lodge. We put all our gear in our neat and colourful little chalet and then headed straight up the trail to the top of Mount Scenery, the volcano in the centre of Saba. The walk is up about 1000 steps so it was hard work. Luckily, the temperature drops as you climb so we were able to cool off a bit towards the top.
 
It's amazing how much difference the change of altitude makes on Saba We started out walking through vegetable plots then through a dense rainforest and finally the cloud forest on the summit of the volcano. Up there, the trees are completely blanketed in epiphytes - plants that grow on the outside of others. The moss and other plants are inches thick with Bromeliads everywhere and orchids growing among them. It's sometimes called an Elphin forest and it really does look like something from a fairy tale. We clambered up to one summit only to see the clouds racing past so we went over to another one and had our lunch. Still no break in the cloud. Four women who'd also been waiting gave up and left and a few minutes later, the clouds parted and we were rewarded with a wonderful view down to Windwardside and out to Statia, St Kitts and St Barts.
 
On the way back down, we took a side route through a lot of mud to the greenest, wettest and most magical part of the forest. While were in there, we watched a tiny hummingbird visiting the flowers on the trees. He had a ragged crest and we looked him up to discover that he's an Antillean Crested Hummingbird - obvious, really. The walk back down to the Eco Lodge was harder on the knees but not so bad on the lungs and we had just enough time to take a solar-heated shower which was surprisingly hot and then over to the restaurant for a lecture followed by dinner.
 
The talk was about the natural history of Saba by Tom van't Hof, the co-founder of the Eco Lodge and a leading light in the setting up of the marine park around Saba. It was really good as he described all the different things we'd been looking at for the past two days and put them into context. The cloud forest had been almost destroyed by Hurricane Hugo a few years back so there were only a few of the original Mountain Mahogany trees left - luckily, we'd seen them. Then it was time for a delicious dinner. Once we'd finished that, we went back to the chalet and I got into our outdoor hot-tub. This is heated by gas so I'm not sure what's Eco about it but it was lovely lying in there looking up at the stars before collapsing into bed.
 
Yesterday morning, we decided to head back up the mountain via a different trail to see if we could get any good shots of Andrea as Janeway. We had a great walk and got pretty high up, in the end. It's hard to get the kind of longshot that Andrea likes in the jungle and we ended up filming in torrential rain which should give us an interesting soundtrack, if nothing else. We got back to the Eco Lodge in time for a late lunch and spent the rest of the day lounging around letting our legs recover. I was reading the book which was then made into the Kevin Costner movie "Field of Dreams" about an Iowa farmer who builds a baseball diamond in his field. He hears a voice which says "If you build it, he will come" which I slightly mis-interpreted as "If you build it, they will come" and took as the inspiration for wiggle. I always quote that at anyone who asks about what we did with wiggle. Just do what you can and, if it's good, people will come. It's the opposite of the approach of asking a load of consultants whether something is going to be a success before you embark on it. Especially if it's something new that you're doing, they will always say "no".
 
We had another great meal at the Eco Lodge, this time vegetarian as we asked them to make something with no fish in for us. Tofu curry was just the job. Then it was Andrea's turn to sit in the hot tub contemplating the universe while I flopped in the hammock. We were in bed pretty early as we wanted to get a good start this morning and do another walk. In the event, we weren't quite as prompt departing as we'd wanted as we had a long chat to the guy who owns the Eco Lodge about it. He built it with his dad, Tom who did the talk the other night. They actually dug the cisterns and foundations out themselves while waiting for the Saban's to sort out the planning rules about what they were doing. It's unusual for the people who create a hotel to stay running it for any amount of time so we were very impressed with what they've built.
 
We set off down the steps to Windwardside and tried to find some Saban lace for Andrea but with no luck so we went off to start our walk. This time, we were walking downhill to start with, all the way to the sea. The vegetation started as low scrub with volcanic gravel everywhere. Much drier than even slightly furhter up and much hotter. The path was a bit lethal as well. The gravel just gives way sometimes and I went over twice so I've got a few scrazes to show for the adventure. After a long, hot climb down, we had our packed lunch looking out to sea past the foaming breakers that were determined to wash Saba away. Above us, we watched the Tropic Birds with their long tail-streamers arguing about who was the most attractive
 
Having finished our sandwiches, we climbed back up the other side of the bay. It was like walking with a hairdryer playing on your face. By the time we reached the top, we were both running with sweat. Then it was a brief walk down the road to the airport and get a taxi back to the Eco Lodge to collect our bags and grab a shower. We've got a taxi booked for half an hour's time to take us off to see if we can find some of the fabled lace. We've both loved being on Saba. It's one of the few places we've visited since Canada that we've been sad to leave. We could easily stay here for longer but I'm sure we'll be back on our next Caribbean visit and it's good to leave some things undone.
 
Harvey

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