Getting out and about
13th Feb, Prickly Bay, at anchor without an engine.
Monday 13th Feb, Prickly Bay, at anchor without an engine.
While we are effectively immobilized, waiting for our replacement throttle cable to arrive, we have been getting out and about. Brian is being active and has become involved with a group of volunteers that organize swimming lessons for local people. It is surprising given the amazing beaches and warm water here, that the local people do not have a culture of enjoying the water. Brian is also doing a free-diving course which I thought was like snorkelling but, apparently, is more akin to yoga, but in water, with breath control and relaxation to maximize time underwater.
I am being less active but did join Dennis and Martha (Fishcake) on a tour to a waterfall at Mount Carmel with a picnic lunch; Peter and Linda (Koka Chin) came too. First a local minibus to town to change busses and then a second bus northeast towards the middle of the island. These busses are an experience in themselves – some of the driving is atrocious: break-neck speeds on winding and busy roads. The intense acceleration and breaking are accompanied by lots of hooting and shouting as they collect passengers with a conductor (lookout) scouting for potential pedestrians to convert into passengers while also opening and closing the sliding side door and collecting fares.
The walk down a jungle valley to the river and waterfall was spectacular. The path was clean and easy and the vegetation incredibly varied with coconut palms amongst the trees and enormous bamboo along the river in places. There were orange trees but the windfalls were very sour and, a first for me: brightly coloured cocoa pods growing directly off the trunk of the tree. In amongst all the greenery, a myriad of coloured flowers and leaves made it seem more like a garden. The falls were about 60 or 80 feet high and some of our group were determined to stand under the falling water but I declined as the approach looked slippery to me and not a good place to break a leg.
Our second ‘outing’ was to the Independence Day parade at the National Stadium in St Georges. Lots of marching and drill by groups of military, police, coastguards, scouts and St Johns Ambulance. Flags were raised and lowered, anthems played and dignitaries welcomed. The Prime Minister was greeted with a rapturous welcome from the crowd and surprisingly, despite independence, a Governor General, the British Representative, (muted welcome) attended and inspected the various military units who were standing to attention in the heat. Not my thing but interesting to see how enthusiastic and patriotic the locals were in the stadium with most of them dressed in national colours of red, yellow and green. The military band was entertaining, and different, in that at intervals the uniformed band leader would break into a dance routine rather like a New Orleans Mardi Gras. Afterwards there were various steel bands and singers but, for me, the most dramatic display was a group of dancers on 2- and 3-metre-high stilts just attached to their feet. After a while it seemed that you were watching incredibly tall, stylised, stick-people dancing and forgot the stilts. There were also exhibits of local food and products around the stadium and rum and nutmeg featured strongly. The take away food and national dish is called ‘oil-down’ and comprises a very thick stew of chicken with pork pieces and plantain, plus kalloo (like spinnage).
The Fishcakes have now left to head north. We have been socializing and had supper on Koka Chin one evening and Peter and Linda ate with us on Thursday evening; Brian did his signature pasta dish.
I’m also getting on with some minor jobs on the boat: I have scraped the peeling vanish off some handrails on the coach roof. The new water pump stopped randomly but that turned out to be just a loose negative deep inside the labyrinth of wiring behind the switch board.
I heard yesterday, Friday, that my cable had arrived at DHL on Grenada from St Marten. Nothing will happen over the weekend and the lady that deals with the paper work at Budget Marine doesn’t work on Mondays so I might get my hands on the cable on Tuesday afternoon. The ship from Portsmouth with my replacement Hydrovane rudder arrives on Wednesday but, it seems, it will take two or three days to unload the container and then I have to collect paperwork from the shipping agent and take it to the port to get the package released.
In between times we shop for basic commodities to keep our food stocks going. I bought two tuna steaks this morning from a lady in the fish market who deftly sliced the steaks from a big piece of tuna with a machete.
I’ll update you when I have extracted my replacement Hydrovane rudder from the docks. Our plan, if time allows, is to do a quick round trip to Tobago before the end of February. It is only 80 miles and an overnight passage would allow us to arrive early morning with first light.
All best, Tony and Brian