Playing tourist in St Vincent

Sanitas is safely tucked into Admiralty Bay on the island of Bequia in St Vincent and the Grenadines, greatly looking forward to an island Christmas. 🎄 Yesterday, we went on a grand adventure to the nearby big island of St Vincent to explore its west coast and to visit waterfalls, and the REAL Pirates of the Carribean 🏴‍☠️

Have I admitted our greatest fault as a cruising couple? We ALWAYS run a bit late. This time, I blame the Rum Shack Tour we attended the night before. Our cruising friends on SV Sonder must have been a little worried, because they called us “Are you awake? Are you on your way to the ferry? Should we just buy our tickets and go aboard?” No worries, mon. We made it just in time and found great seats on the upper deck to watch the world go by for the 1-hour ferry trip to the big island.

Fraser (the best tour guide in St Vincent!) met us at the ferry terminal, waving wildly to get our attention amid the hustle and bustle of Kingstown on one of the last full shopping days before Christmas. The six of us settled into his pristine white van and set off through the capital city traffic and soon onto the quieter, winding, motion-sickness-inducing west coast “highway”. After stops at stunning viewpoints of Kingstown and several black sand beaches, we made it to gorgeous DarkView Falls. We set off on an intrepid hike through the jungle, crossing a swaying bamboo bridge over a raging river to find the falls. Just kidding! We all did the walk in flip flops. The falls are impressive and beautiful, but today the pool was a bit too shallow for swimming. Fraser did jump in long enough to find us some cute little freshwater crayfish to cuddle.

Next stop, Walliabou Bay where Disney built an entire small city to play the part of Port Royal in the first Pirates of the Carribean movie. Much of it has faded over the years, but the jetty and a few buildings have been preserved as a museum. And of course there’s a bar/restaurant whose walls are covered with photos of the stars Johnny Depp and Keira Knightly smiling and mugging for the camera with local kids. Fraser told us a few stories about the filming and how it completely took over the island – there were no hotel rooms anywhere on the island, with some crew staying on yachts and even a boat ride away on Bequia. It’s kind of fun – by now we’ve sailed Sanitas into many of the most beautiful spots where the franchise was filmed. We’re going to have to watch all of the movies again!

Fraser’s own house is just down the road from Pirates of the Caribbean Bay. He was kind enough to take us there to meet his family and see his backyard garden. He taught us the island method of picking mangos. Did you ever think about how they get all 800-1000 ripe mangos off a mature tree before they fall to the ground or get eaten by birds? Apparently, you cut the longest bamboo stalk you can find, tie a bag to the end, and hoist the whole massive thing into the air grabbing one mango at a time with the bag. No mango is safe from Fraser’s skill. If I were in charge, only the birds would be fed.

Part of the fun of a Fraser tour is listening the Fraser’s stories – he’s the same tour guide we hired last year for a tour of the east coast of the island just days before the Soufriere volcano erupted! He’s lived and worked his entire life in St Vincent and is clearly a brilliant mind for business and a respected member of the community – proved by how many people stopped to wave and talk to him as we drove through each small town. We learned about Fraser’s childhood of walking 5 miles each way to school when the buses broke down. And his long career as a math teacher and accountant before a layoff inspired him to start his own tour and taxi business. And about his two very smart kids studying accounting and law in Trinidad. Maybe a future prime minister of St Vincent? After a lovely lunch on a black sand beach, we headed back to the hustle and bustle of Kingstown for a bit of veggie shopping before the return ferry. We honestly didn’t need much, because Fraser sent each couple home with three massive mangos from his tree, a huge papaya, and a hand of sweet red bananas.

When our ferry arrived safely back in Bequia after an extremely rough ride, I picked up my Christmas present to myself – a massive bouquet of ginger and birds-of-paradise flowers that arrived on the same ferry. I knew it was going to be big, but was still slightly shocked by the size of the bunch I received for about $15usd. I kept about half of the bouquet and turned it into my tropical Christmas “tree” while Capt. Mike played Santa and delivered extra flowers to three of our buddy boats. It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas on Sanitas!

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