Northern Grenadines: Cabouan, Mustique and Bequia    Click for the chartlet of our first Caribbean trip
Click the photo's in the film to enlarge them; or click the photo banners in the text

 

“Canouan” means “turtles” in Carib-indian language. There are many of them and even ashore turtles seem to have set the pace. A relief after the touristical Tobago Cays where it is full of expensive yachts. Though some arrived after us and on top of that Canouan has a branch of The Moorings (charter boats), a resort (invisible from the village) and a luxury hotel on the beach with internet service for 5 USD per 15 minutes. But village life is still unaffected. No souvenirshops. No grand cafés and posh restaurants. No special prices for tourists as on Union Island. There is all-in-all 1 little restaurant where you can eat local food. We had barracuda with fries and salad, a few rum-and-cokes and coffee with cake and the bill was less than 14 euro's.
On this island tourism and authentical village life is still strictly separated. But it won't take long, we gloomy predict, as the first signs of development (for us downfall) are already visible: a brand new small and expensive supermarket and an airstrip under construction.

Snorkeling is great but diving is the real thing. It gives you the opportunity to float for quite a long time under the surface among fish and corals and this way experience a oneness with the colourful underwater nature. It is a pity that good diving spots are often difficult to reach. But Canouan has a great and easy to reach dive spot in Corbay, a tiny little and very protected bay where Miep exactly fits into. So we dived on the N-point of this bay. Depth 8-10 meters, little current so it was an easy dive to start with after 2 years, as we expected that our practice would have become a little rusty. After the dive we tried to refill the airbottles with our own aircompressor, but this one had become rustier than we were after 2 years.

Mustique is no-go area as it is inhabited by British royalty, popstars such as Mick Jagger, David Bowie and Elton John, filmstars and Arabian sheiks. If you want to stay overnight, you have choice between two hotels: 900 USD per night or only 480 USD; the bathrooms of the last one are probably crowded by cockroaches. Guesthouses and apartments don't exist on Mustique, but you can rent a villa from 3000 USD per day; the most expensive costs 30,000 USD but then you can stay the whole week. If arriving by sailing yacht, you will be obliged to take a mooring (17 USD). In short: enough reasons to skip Mustique and on top of it all the name seems to be derived from the word “mosquito”...

“Bequia” is also Carib-indian language and it means “Island of the Clouds”. Indeed there were some clouds over the island when we sailed in. By the way (it gets boring!) this was another pleasant sailing trip of 18 nm, beam reach, speed over ground more than 8 kts (probably there was a favourable current), marvellous!
You pronounce Bequia as “Beck-way”. Bequia is indeed quite Backway for such a big island, judged by the variety of food in the supermarkets. Euramerican welfare has not yet arrived, although there are many charter boats. But along the beach you will find a link-up of coloured boats on the sand, entertaining beach bars and restaurants, and even the more pretentious (2) are still casual and crowded with local people. Our first impression of Bequia: pleasant. Our favourite beachbar is the Frangipani, lovingly nicknamed Frangi. Delightful benches to sit or hang in and bartenders who come around at exactly the right moment to re-fill our by then just empty glasses. A paved footpath leads along the beach so there is enough to see (and discuss) during happy hour. The favourite drink is Grenadines rumpunch: 1/3 rum, 1/3 mix of grenadine syrup, pineapple and orange juice (or grapefruit), 1/3 icecubes, a dash of Angostura aromatic bitter, a little nutmeg because we are so close to Grenada and if desired a maraschino cherry as this looks so pretty. Delicious, but after 3 rumpunches you are totally smashed.
Bequia is famous for its traditional open double-enders. They are the pride and glory of their owners, neatly polished and they are raced extensively. For the Eastern Regatta (when the whole island is upside down) we were two weeks late but fortunately the double-enders are sailed during the whole season.

In the meantime we have discovered that there is little do do on all those small Caribbean islands. Obviously you already suspected this, but that's mere jealousy. Fact is that watersports are incredible here. Sailing: great. Swimming, snorkeling, diving: splendid. And all through the day as temperatures are pleasant as of early morning until late evening (averaging 30°C). But on the other hand... Bequia is one of the largest of the Grenadines and all in all there are not many shore activities. At a certain moment you have had it with all those T-shirt and handicraft shops; most articles are more of the same in bright colours; the really beautiful things are scarse and show the beauty of the natural materials they are made from: coconut, turtle shield, coral.

There is an interesting architectural project by the name of “Moonhole” and the name refers to the fact that the moon shines right into a certain hole only twice a year. It comprises 18 houses which are built as a unity with the surroundings; in 1970 this was called organical architecture. This gives us the creeps as it reminds us of goat's woolen socks. And it is also not such an original idea, on Gran Canaria cave's dwellings are  perfectly common and created for practical reasons (cool in summer, warm in winter).

The Oldhegg Turtle Sanctuary seemed more interesting. Here Orton G. (Brother) King saves a.o. the Hawksbill turtle. This type of turtle is threatened with extinction and it is Brother King’s goal in life to raise turtle babies (in natural surroundings there are too little who survive until adulthood) and release them when they have grown up, so the population will grow again. In twelve years he already released 838 turtles into the sea. The man is an idealist, for 100% dedicated to his work; and unselfish as the project doesn't bring in any money for himself.
Brother King has a roofed space with several bassins in it. The turtles eat canned tuna and sardines and lettuce. There are separate bassins for each age category, as the bigger turtles try to rule over the smaller ones; and obviously the babies need special care (on 2 weeks old). Hawksbills have a personality. They are curious, especially lively Busybody (11 years old), who is so domesticated that she can't yet be released as she will be caught immediately. On the long term she will be released after all, but only when she is mature enough to lay eggs - at age 25. She then still has a long life to live as turtles can live for 200 years.
Hawksbills are not the sweetest of turtles. They even can be a little bit aggresive, unlike the Green turtle, who is peaceful and quiet. The Hawksbill always dashes away (in the film you can see how fast they swim). His  beak looks like the bill of a hawk, hence the name. The marking of their shield is also louder than the Green turtle's is. We spotted many turtles near Mayreau and the Tobago Cays and P (fond of the animals) already noticed that you can swim quite close to them, dive down and look into their eyes; you can even touch them, as long as you don't scare them.

Movie Hawksbill turtles (1,12 Mb)

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