January 22, 2003
As always, we went ashore with no real plans.
Is this the way most cruisers do this? Or do they write agendas,
bring their highlighted cruising guide, and check off items
on a list? We just head in looking to see what we stumble
We docked the dinghy at Neptune's Treasure,
directly off our beam to port, and headed off to find a road.
What we found wasn't much more than a long, sandy dirt drive.
Really long. The good news was the highest point of the island
is only 28' feet high, so how hard could this walk be, right?
I wore flip-flops today (little piggy tightly bound in waterproof
tape), and we walked along in the sharply biting sun, and
passed houses here and there, abandoned cars, and the occasional
souvenir shop. Of course, I took pictures and Curt laughed
at me. "But," I said, "someday you'll be talking
about this road I dragged you down and you'll say, 'remember?'
and you'll be glad I took the pictures."
"I'll be glad you took the pictures
if something happens. Like a giant snake jumps out at us or
we're attacked by an iguana or something."
"Oh you mean, like if a donkey busts
through the bushes and charges out to smell your penis?"
(Backtrack, see photo:
Saba where this actually happened.)
We chuckled awhile and settled into a quiet
walk along the arid landscape. And then we saw a bull lying
in the shade of a tree. It jumped to its feet and stared intently
at us while flaring its nostrils. We stopped in our tracks.
"Would being charged by a bull in the
middle of nowhere without even a tree to run to make the pictures
of the road worthwhile? Just keep walking- but don't look
at it." I couldn't remember if you're supposed to stand
still for dogs or bulls- so I was improvising.
"What do we do if it charges us?"
He asks. (like I'm the resident expert on bulls because I
used to work for a cowboy boot company) "Damn- I'm wearing
a red shirt!"
"They're color blind for God's sake.
Just ignore him and walk slow."
"Will you at least hold my hand?"
I considered stopping to take a picture
of the bull, but then thought better of it. Great photo opp,
but not worth the "X" factor. The bull watched us
walk by with his ears tuned-in to our footsteps.
We kept walking and walking. We passed a
salt pond and saw a flock of flamingos. Not the plastic pink
ones in people's front yards in mobile home parks- these were
the real deal (sorry- no picture
too small on the horizon
to be worthwhile).
The dirt road met a paved, cement one. I
noted a 30MPH road sign and a big pile of cow dung so we'd
know where to turn on the way back. And then, wouldn't you
know- a car pulled over and asked us if we were headed toward
the Settlement and wanted a ride? My how our attitudes have
changed. We accepted. You see, once we realized we weren't
braving the streets of New York City
and rapists, we've become much more open to this kind of adventure.
The driver (
of course being in the
Caribbean, he's a black dude), asked us where we were from
in an accent I couldn't quite place. "San Francisco.
How 'bout you?"
"New York City," he said with
a now distinctive New York accent. I couldn't help but laugh
out loud, but resisted the urge to look back at Curt.
Turns out Lionel has family on the island.
Wanted to get out of the rat race of New York where he had
lived with the rest of his family. So he came down here to
start a landscaping business. I looked out the window at the
landscape. It looked like Arizona desert to me. What's there
to landscape? I thought it, but didn't say it.
Anyway, Lionel was super great. Really nice.
He told us the island's reputed to have about 240 people on
it, but he's never met anything close to that in the four
years he's been here. I got the feeling he wanted to show
us around the town, but there wasn't really anything to show.
We got to the main town (the Settlement) and he said, "Well,
this is it. There's a store, and another little store. And
well- that's kind of it. Where do you guys want me to drop
"Is there a spot to get a cold drink?"
"Either little store's got cold stuff."
"This is fine. Thanks dude." Curt
Lionel shook our hands and said "No
worries man. My pleasure."
We opted for the nearer store: pink with
bright yellow shutters. Kids hanging around eating popsicles
in what must be their school uniforms. We walked in to a one
room shop that was packed with a no more than a handful of
everything. One wall was filled with what looked to be home
taped VHS videos. A small glass door fridge stood in the corner
with cold drinks inside. Seemed like your typical Caribbean
store to me. We got some drinks and headed to the counter.
A big girl, maybe thirteen or so, rang us up while other kids
heckled her and heckled each other. They stared at us curiously
out of the corners' of their eyes. We went outside and sat
in the shade of an umbrella.
We had no more than chugged our first swallow
of Coke when a young girl of, "27" (but she looked
like she was about 5 to us) marched directly up and said,
"You look pretty." I thanked her and said she looked
pretty too. That we have the same curly hair, but hers was
better behaved than mine. Without boring you with the details,
within five minutes Kia had hopped in my lap to show me up
close and personal how she can eat a chicken bone. "SEE?!"
As she opened her mouth to disclose the crunched up marrow.
"You've gotta have really strong teeth to eat that part."
"I can see that."
We got to talking with some of the young
girls (or I did anyway) and I asked about their school. The
bigger girl that sold us the sodas said there are 43 kids
between elementary and high school ages. Of those, only 13
are boys and half of them she's related to. She said most
of the girls have to "go with" boys on other islands.
I wondered how they "go" anywhere together when
separated by so much water.
As you can imagine, Kia can't stand to be
out of the action for long and so she works her way back in
to our little chat. Turns out she lives in the pink house
behind Neptune's Treasure. Her aunt owns Pam's Kitchen- who
came by the boat last night and sold us muffins we'd had for
breakfast this morning. In the end, we had to decline Kia's
pleading to stay and have one more Coke while she was on a
lunch break from school. We needed to start heading back along
the road to where we were anchored. All along the way, kids
waved and said, "Good afternoon," as they raced
by on their bikes. One boy asked if we were on vacation. Other
passersby also greeted us with, "Good afternoon"
and a smile.
We walked back along the hot road and were
glad we weren't part of the packs of tourists that sat in
the canopied trucks that zipped by us on the road. They were
wearing matching t-shirts and holding beach balls and floating
noodle toys- must have gone to the beach. On the way back,
we felt more like travelers than tourists. Perhaps we hadn't
accomplished much today, but we felt much more like we got
a slice of life in Anegada than if we had gone careening on
through in the back of a taxi. Which is not to say that half
way back, when one of the canopied trucks stopped to offer
us a lift, we didn't accept. He said he'd seen us when we
had set off back in town. We looked hot and he wanted to show
us a little island hospitality.
He brought us back to the other end of the
island near where we were anchored: to the Anegada Reef Hotel
where we sat at the bar in the shade to have a beer and see
what else might happen. Curt watched a group of drunk bareboaters-
the male half of the boat- downing 'em like no tomorrow. When
the female half showed up at the dock, they begged off that
it was time to go. I thought they must be kidding, but they
weren't. When the women showed up, they made themselves scarce.
Curt and I exchanged a look and said we'd never be like that.
And clearly we wouldn't be, since
when we looked at the menu where they'd made dinner reservations
for lobster, we saw the forty dollar price tag. In more ways
then one, we weren't in Kansas anymore.