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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Blissful Bequia

 

A mere dot on the Caribbean charts, beautiful Bequia proved to be one of those islands where it was easy to linger.  And linger we did – for a week.  There’s not a lot here – a handful of low key grocery stores (I can’t bring myself to call them supermarkets), some quaint boutiques, loads of gorgeous waterfront cafes and bars and a colourful produce market run by dreadlocked rastafarians.  Friendly and welcoming,they insist you try the produce first and, through glazed eyes, hand you endless samples. 

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              Buying at the market……….or from the boat boys

On one occasion as David was dropping rubbish (the bins are right beside the market) he was beckoned by a guy snoozing in the shade, waving a massive joint in his hand - “hey captain, how are you?  Want some goods?”.  We assumed it was papaya and mango he was referring to!

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Every day Bandit was besieged by boat boys selling everything from papaya and limes to fresh bread and local lobster.  Another boat sold water and diesel, took rubbish and collected dirty laundry returning it washed, dried and folded.  Needless to say for all these services one pays a premium which our cruising budget doesn’t stretch to.  The boat boys soon learnt to avoid the “cruising” boats and head for the “charter” boats!

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Lobster was the one thing on this island that was cheap and we couldn’t resist.  A lobster that fed us for two nights cost $15NZ.

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Bequia is one of the few places in the world where whaling is permitted.  The International Whaling commission allows the island to kill four humpback whales a year because it is considered a true cultural tradition.  In reality, they usually only take one or two and the entire island celebrates the catch and shares the meat.

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Bequia revolves around the sea which is natural given it was boat access only until a few years ago when the tiny airport opened.  Boatbuilding and fishing are main activities and any tourism is low key which results in the island feeling very unspoiled and uncrowded.  Long may it stay that way.  Even with 150 boats in the bay, the town was always quiet.

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We took a three hour open side truck tour around the island with seven other cruisers.  We went to the wild east coast – open to Atlantic swells and trade winds – and the sheltered south winding our way through lush vegetation past some beautiful island homes.

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Beaches on Bequia are stunning – golden sands and the sea is crystal clear with some great snorkelling on reefs.

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With three other Kiwi boats in the anchorage – Tuatara, Cutty Hunk and Balvenie – it proved to be a very social time.  We had pizza out with the Tuataras and Balvenies, a beach party with all four boats and a wonderful night on Cutty Hunk eating the delicious wahoo they caught en route from St Vincent and kindly shared with us.

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A great night at the music festival and it was time to move on – we’d stayed much longer than we intended and it would have been very easy to just stay on.

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