Thursday, December 20, 2012

About travelling in circles

Our head gasket is blown.
Sounds so dramatic. I envision cartoon explosions and resulting water fountains. But in reality we’ve lived with this for the past two weeks, making like all was well with our guests on board, filling the water in the one engine for each trip, then switching that engine off right after leaving the bay and back on again to assist with maneuvering on arrival at a new port.
Between this and our bulkhead coming away from the hull, causing an unsettling rubbing motion in a cupboard, (temporarily fixed by my captain with clothes pegs), we decided we had to head back down to Carriacou for the repair work. And due to timing, for Christmas too.
Some say we are going backwards. This makes me wonder about destinations and goals and ‘keeping up with the mariners’ in our newly chosen life of cruising. It is a phenomenon that cruisers congregate in ‘safe zones’ like Grenada in hurricane season, then head either north or west as soon as November rolls around. And they seem to head out FAST – skipping what are, in my opinion, a lot of great islands and adventures therein.
What direction is right, when we are surrounded by a tropical paradise on all sides and we are not living to anyone’s schedule? Is it human nature to set goals and linear directions, so as to strive toward achievement?
We have definitely tread backward over our blue tracks on the radar/GPS. But then we have done this for weeks, taking visiting guests to islands we loved, places we knew were worth sharing. Each time, through the eyes of someone else, we discovered something new and amazing. Is that backwards?
As we pulled around the jutting rock at the north end of Salt Whistle Bay on the quaint island of Mayreau for the third time in as many weeks, JW and I busied ourselves with the anchoring – searching for sandy patches in the clear water below, assessing the swell in the bay. And then I noticed our guest, like the one before her, standing up front, taking in the beauty before running for her camera. She was in awe. We had brought her to paradise. 
Salt Whistle Bay, Mayreau
 And though we booked lobster supper with Black Boy and Debbie on the beach each time, it was a new experience each time. We were seated at the two picnic tables with different diners from far off places – Sweden, France; new locals with quirky personalities and various techniques for their marriage proposals to our visiting single ladies. We were treated to a new musical serenade for our supper each visit. From Dolly Parton to Euro pop, to reggae Christmas numbers. Each time though, the buttery, garlicy lobster was divine – special to be feasting with our toes in the sand below.
In Canouan, an island run almost entirely by a mysterious company ‘CCA’ who’s vehicles line the dusty goat ridden streets, we discovered only on the third visit, a set of beaches on the windward side, and a little gem of a restaurant. Run by some young Italians, with separate menus for tourists and for workers of the omnipotent company, we managed to wedge our way into their hearts and cheaper set of menus. Surrounded by Romanian, Croatian and Italian men with hearty appetites and boisterous pool games underway, we felt transformed to a different galaxy. A glimpse of another world.
These experiences are what make cruising so intriguing. The smells and sounds of the newly discovered. The promise that you will meet someone new, try a different food, swim at a new beach.
Hiking through the centre of the mystical island of Mustique, I was transformed to a Canadian park in the summer. Acres of manicured park lawns, horse stables and children’s playgrounds. There is no other place in the Caribbean like this.

A tortoise we met on the roads of Mustique
 As we headed through the winding roads, met by many slow moving tortoises just roaming freely, we noticed one striking thing. These were our only friends along the way. Mustique was a ghost town of an island, created as a private retreat for the rich and famous, it doesn’t allow anyone residency unless they buy, or are working in one of the 54 mansions or few tiny exclusive hotels. The result is a spooky quiet that permeates. The houses are set far off the road, behind huge imposing gates.
The main strip, with it’s 4 shops – a bakery, 2 boutiques and a gourmet grocery remind me of a cottage town in Canada as well. Manicured and garbage free for the most part, it’s an example of what the Caribbean could look like with a few clean up crews on duty all the time!
The boutiques on Mustique
 We splurged and ate at Firefly at the top of the hill, Shiloh down below in the distance. I felt like a spoiled elitist, spending crazy money on Perrier and cute food, sitting at an opulent table where Tommy Hilfiger (a resident) and Alicia Keys had been dining a few days earlier.

But I had just as much fun in the streets of Union island at a free local festival celebrating the nine mornings before Christmas.

In a Roots shop on Union's main strip during the night festival

Last night, all the way ‘back’ in Carriacou we joined the barefoot gang of cruisers and a few locals, raising funds to build a new little house for ‘Slow’ – a local character who’d had a mishap with a mosquito coil…. We ate ‘oil down’ from a huge cauldron and washed it down with 5EC rum.
And so we’ve come full circle. From south to north and back south, from the exclusive to the down to earth venues, from one spot of paradise to another.
And no doubt we will head further north, but slowly! And if we decide to sail somewhere we’ve already been, I won’t consider it a backward move. Because our need for a new gasket head brought us back to a family of friends and fun for our first Christmas on Shiloh.

1 comment:

  1. Enjoy your circular travels. I'd much rather be doing that than making overnight passages!

    Merry Christmas.