We’re stuck in Bequia. We were supposed to be in Martinique by now, heading to Guadeloupe for the French Carnaval. The waves and the wind have been less than agreeable to our plan. So we’re stuck here.
I know you are feeling it. Your pity is palpable even through the distance between us. The sentiment is appreciated and certainly bolsters my own flagging……ok, I can’t keep this up. While we are stuck here, we are so very happy about it, and we are spending our time finding nooks and crannies of everyday life in Bequia that, had the weather been amenable to our plans, we likely would have missed.
Bequia’s history may be a bit distasteful to those of us from The Great White West. The blood of the people here is that of whalers of old. They have a proud history of boat building and whaling which is on display in their museum and still venerated in their art. These days, the island, as with many Caribbean islands, gears itself nearly completely toward tourism. To weather the recent ocean swell, we have been nestled into the major harbor called Admiralty Bay, though our particular position is in front of Princess Margaret Beach. (That’s how we roll. We need that name recognition and royal star power. She came over for dinner just last night.)
When we stopped here last year we found Bequia to be not just quiet but nearly silent. The town seemed almost bothered to have boaters here as it meant at least some of the businesses had to open for a short while most days. This time around we have found the island remarkably changed by the presence of cruise ships anchored just outside the harbor. This influx of tourists eager to lounge on the beach or stroll along the one short section of street with stores and stalls acceptable to European and American tastes has created an entirely different feel to this place. The days are spent dodging water taxis delivering the people from behemoth to shore and back again; the nights are scented with herb-laced marinades from the local grills. Sunday morning, usually when Caribbean island are shut down for family, worship, and rest, Bequia was still open for business. So the MarVyn crew decided on a hike to try to find a new perspective.
Though we have been flat- and low-landers for years, Clint and I consider our family born of the Utah mountains. It’s where he and I met and it’s where our children joined the family. Elevation and hiking are a big part of our history. We have hiked various trails throughout our time in the Caribbean. We’ve seen volcanoes from the outside and the inside, the bottom and the top. We’ve hiked with dogs, cats, goats, sheep, tortoises, lizards, crabs, beetles, snakes, birds, and clouds. Our favorite hiking stop is Saba, and, to be fair, it remains our favorite today, but as of last Sunday it’s been given a good challenge for the title. Bequia came through in a big way!
From the stern of MarVyn we look out along a steep volcanic ridge which forms the western finger of Bequia. I’m seeing it reflected in the computer screen as I type this. It’s beautiful. It gracefully drops the sun into the ocean from its fingertip each night.
This ridge contains the highest point on the island, Mt. Peggy, a whopping 880 feet above sea level. I found the hike mentioned online and the description left me thinking it would be a modest hike with a nice view at the top and it might take us about 90 minutes to complete. Instead what we found was a slow and long climb up the steepest road we’ve been on throughout all these islands. That road led to a trail of volcanic rock stepping its way straight up the hillside until it reached a near knife edge saddle. (The most amazing thing was that I only had to answer a single “How much farther?” from Marley through this section of the hike!) From there the trail followed a more gentle rise to a boulder peak which put 360 degrees of land and seascape on breath-taking display.
At the top we found a sticker from our friends Mark and Jen on Luna Sea on the stub of a pole in the rocks. Those dastardly sailors foiled our hopes for a first ascent yet again! But then it’s nice to know we are stepping in the footprints of friends.
The trail ends in a sleepy little village known as Lower Bay. Here we found a large collection of European and American ex-pats mingling with locals in tiny beachside cafes serving fruits from the trees behind the buildings and seafood from the waters in front of them. It was a calm and welcoming atmosphere for lunch while we let the sweat dry from our clothes and our quivering leg muscles recover.
Today we find ourselves looking at Bequia with new eyes. Viewing it from above, taking in the entire island and its surroundings, and feeling completely physically schooled by this tiny beast, we feel as if we have a new friend. And so we keep finding more surprises. Every time we slow down and let life unfold we discover more beauty and joy. So today, with my sore calves, thighs, and yes, butt, I’m happily enduring the blustery anchorage and the lack of physical forward progress. I’m letting my soul catch up.