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Bequia re-visited

    

When we were sailing from Trinidad the wind was of course coming from the wrong direction and we left at springs as well, so there was no possibility to sail directly to Grenada. That is why, after 32 hours of plugging away we covered only 120 nm and anchored off Mayreau. From there we tacked on to Bequia. During the next days the wind backed even further, which is very exceptional at this time of year, so we decided to wait for a windwindow.

Port Elizabeth is Bequia's “capital”; cheerful and attractive but we have been there so often (the anchor bay is perfect) that boredom has struck since long. Sailor’s pubs, delishops and arts & crafts; it is a tourist's paradise and now suddenly a center of religious fanatism as well. The rasta’s are not bothering anyone, but now a screaming reverent is yelling over the bay every evening; we can hear him on our boat and we are far away from the crowds.

So what can you do when you are in Bequia for the umpteenth time? We took a bus (designed for 9 persons but it accommodated 18) to Paget Farm, a sleepy fishing village on the south coast where tourists don't go. and

Pity for them but for us a relief, as Toko serves in “Step Down” (you literally step down to the sea) not only icecold beer but also delicious fish, lobster and shellfish that are caught almost on his property. Toko also knows how to tell interesting stories, for example about whaling. Bequia is historically a whaling island and still the men go out in a 20-foot sail/rowing boat, to harpoon whales that are 3x the length of the boat. The number of whales they are allowed to catch, is limited and manual work is obligotory. Every time it is a true fight and when the animal eventually is harpooned, they drill a vertical hole through its nose and chin. Then they tie the mouth closed with a rope, to prevent that water comes into the belly thus letting the whale sink to the sea bottom. When finished they call for assistance of a bigger boat to pick the animal up, as no way a 6 meter rowing boat can drag all these tons of whale meat ashore. When the catch is safe, the barbecues are fired up because the best steak doesn't even come close to fresh whale meat, Toko says. By the way, the cell phone is an indispensible item in furthermore traditional whaling: when Toko (in his kitchen) spots a whale, he calls his pals in their sail/rowing boat so they can hurry there as quickly as possible.

Together with friends we went to “Step Down” again, this time to have dinner and now the small bus took 20 people. Toko would have loved to serve us whale, but even he can't make everything happen as that day the whalers lost three whales. But he treated us with shark, lambi (lives in a giant pink shell) and... sea turtle. Texture and taste are close to a fine kind of beef, and it is delicious. But turtle and whale will never be part of our daily menu because in our opinion this is historically local food and we, as tourists, do not have the right to eat these animals (same as in Suriname iguana, monkey and land turtle).

We also took the ferry to St.Vincent as Friday is market day in the center of Kingstown, characterised by arches that should give the town some magnificence, but alas. Anyway we bought fresh vegetables and fruit, and went for a roti or sandwich to Mr.Mac, with his shiny American Mac Snack-car and his neat presentation. We had a roti AND a sandwich, and very respectable a lime juice, but when we noticed that the snackcar contained all kinds of drinks... a gin & tonic with ice. After all we are in paradise and this should be enjoyed to the full.

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