Thursday, October 27, 2011

You say goodbye, I say hello, hello hello

The one thing about cruising and living in foreign countries and especially about living on a boat is no matter what you do or where you go, you are always going to be saying goodbyes and hellos. Theses last few weeks have been full of them. It has been “hello” Mum and Dad, then “goodbye Mum and Dad. It has been a final “goodbye” to my Nana back at home who passed away and now it is “goodbye” to our good cruising friends Mark and Liesbet on “Irie” who have headed west and off to pastures new. We have spent the last 2 and half seasons sailing with them on and off, arranging to meet at various times and places in different islands along there way. They have been good friends and while I look over at the spot where they are no longer anchored my heart feels heavy and sad. This last year they have hugely influenced where we have visited and shaped our time in the islands. Inevitably the very nature of living on a boat has people moving on and traveling in different directions. And so as one door closes, I hope another opens. I have no doubt that we will see the Irie’s again and I hope they have some wonderful adventures along the way in their new journey. In the mean time life goes on. We look forward to seeing our good friends Sam and Jon on “Imagine” soon, who have just arrived back from a 3 month stint away.

As Sim and I walk this morning to a boat Sim is helping out on in the next bay along I can’t help but marvel at the shear beauty of Grenada, which although I have seen a hundred times before, still keeps me in awe. Trees with huge thorns on, butterflies that flurry on colourful flowers and plants, crested hummingbirds that flutter about and brilliant purple water lilies blooming in an abandoned pond. These things lift my heart and put a smile on my face. The world is such a beautiful place and although I am feeling sad from all the “goodbyes” I am looking forward to all the “hellos”.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Parents in Prickly Bay

Mum and Dad arrived at the lovely cottages in Lance Aux Pines in Prickly Bay. They could look out of their window and see our boat and we could swim to the beach to meet them. The grounds are lush and tropical with leafy palm trees shading the hammock and huge old Almond trees shading the loungers. For the most part M & D were happy chilling on the beach and swimming in the sea. For a days outing we decided to take the boat around to Moliniere Point on Grenada’s southwest coast. We stowed everything away and made sure Alianna was shipshape and ready to go to sea. Despite the short trip, and although only being a couple of miles off shore, it is always prudent to be prepared as we have learnt from past experiences where short choppy seas can have jerry jugs and all sorts flying dangerously across deck.

We picked the parents up at 8am and delivered them to the boat. Once we were sure they were safe and secure we heaved ho on the anchor and got underway. We had a lovely sail around to the south side island and a few miles up the west coast of Grenada to the south side of the sculpture park where we successfully picked up one of the available moorings while under sail. No small feat for the Alianna crew.

The friendly park wardens collected our fees and we were free to see the park. Although we have visited a few times before, it is always interesting, trying to locate the different pieces of art or just looking at all the colourful fish darting around. The sculpture, Jason Taylors aim is to provide an environment for marine life to grow and to provide an alternative for water activities that elsewhere are damaging to the fragile coral reefs. They are set far enough apart that they are never crowded and we have never managed to find them all. Its eerie feeling to swim around the statues of Grace reef where the life like forms lay on the seabed “fallen from Grace”. The circle of children standing holding hands is called “vicissitudes” and represents their lives as the reef changes with marine growth and erodes with ocean currents. We all enjoyed the snorkel very much and returned back to the boat just in time for an impressive thunderstorm to pass by.

The rest of the week whirled by. Sim and I have been enjoying the fresh water showers and the use of electricity and wifi. We even bought ice cream to put in the freezer and had ice in our drinks! What a treat. Friday night we took Mum and Dad to the Tiki bar to see the steel band play and have pizza. Then on Saturday we spent the day at the Aquarium restaurant having a delicious lunch and after relaxing and snorkeling by the beautiful beach that it opens onto. Life has been pretty tough.

Now we get ready to say goodbye as they leave tomorrow. We will go out for one last meal tonight at De Big Fish with live music and buckets of beer. We will make sure that Mum and Dad leave in style! (probably hungover!)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Parental Unit Arrive In Paradise

My parents arrived a week last Wednesday to the Island of Spice. Grenada – The Spice Island as it is fondly referred to, is our home for the time being while we wait for hurricane season to pass us by. We couldn’t ask for a more beautiful or hospitable island to hang out in. As we are not in sailing mode Mum and Dad are staying in hotels rather than the hot and rather rolly joys of staying on board Alianna in Prickly Bay for 3 weeks. This gives them (and us) the opportunity to spend some time exploring parts of the island we otherwise would not get to see. Their first port of call is La Sargesse on the south east corner of the island. It calls itself a nature centre which is a bit of a misnomer as apart from the resident cat and dog, the only nature you are going to see is the odd hummingbird, a number of land and sea crabs in varying sizes scuttling about the place and a family of cows on the beach – all of which you would expect of your average hotel on the beach in the Caribbean – right? But this doesn’t detract from the simple beauty of the place. Everything is very low key and the restaurant and rooms blend in to the natural background of the dark sand beach and shady palm trees. The sound of the waves crashing on the beach is so noisy that you have to raise your voice a few decibels in order to be heard. The food there is wonderful. Although the menu is not very varied, it is superb. For the most part Mum and Dad didn’t venture far – instead enjoying the time to relax.

We did take a visit to a food fest at the north of the island in an area called Victoria. A bit like the Fish Fry Friday that is held in Gouyave, The Victoria Food Fest shuts down a street and local vendors and street sellers offer an array of local delicacies. From old favourites like baked or fried chicken with a side of provisions (starchy vegetables) like white sweet potato, bread fruit or Cou Cou which is made from cornmeal or polenta to the more obscure, like goat curry (ok even that’s not too bad) to Manitou (which they call wild animal and is like a giant rat like rabbit) and turtle. They serve Mannish Waters (ram goat soup) and Cock soup (work it out for yourself). I won’t mention what the others ate but I stuck with the safe baked chicken and later, salt fish fritters. It was a long drive from the north of the island back to La Sargesse to take Mum and Dad home and then back to Prickly Bay by around 11pm for us. We got the fright of our lives when we arrived back and found a group of people sitting in our cockpit. It turned out to be our friends from SV “Irie” and SV “Peter Pan” waiting with their own drinks for us to get back and join them!

The rest of the week at La Sargesse drifted by. We visited Laura’s Spice Garden nearby where they showed us the herbs and spices and their uses as we walked around. A few days later Geoffrey, the gardener at La Sargesse walked us to the end of the road to show us the Chinese nursery with all its wonderful fruit trees and plants.

On Wednesday Mum and Dad changed hotels and we had a day to ourselves. We took the kitty to the vets in the morning for her annual injections. In the afternoon we drove to the centre of the Island to Grand Etang and then on a little further. The air was cooler in the lush tropical forest. Lofty bamboo plants and palm trees rustled in the breeze. We found a walk down to a river and walked down through it until it was deep enough to bath in. It would have been a lovely walk had it not been for the entourage of mosquitoes that followed us everywhere! On the way home we stopped of at Morne Rouge bay where we can’t take Alianna into as it is too shallow. Our friends on Irie where there with their shallow draft catamaran, but when we arrived, there was no one at onboard. We took advantage of the car and filled it with grocery shopping for the next 3 months as it’s not always easy to get on a glorified chicken bus with your arms laden with shoppimg bags.

The following day we drove up to see Mum and Dad at Petite Anse; a gorgeous little hotel right on the northern tip of the island. It has amazing views out across the Caribbean Sea to the island of Carriacou. The hotel, dotted with palm trees has a Mediterranean feel to it and with only 11 rooms its pretty intermit. The only problem, is to decide if you should spend your time by the pool or the beach?

We left Mum and Dad to have a day by themselves before they arrive down in Lance Aux Pines in Prickly Bay where we are for the remainder of their holiday.