Jan. 16: Kingston & Bequia
Breakfast was on board this morning and then the plan was to head to Kingston for a visit to the market and some street food as a mid-morning snack. We hopped on a bus, which run rather frequently past the driveway to the anchorage dock. I am convinced that at some point Dan must have given driving lessons to the St. Vincent bus drivers, the breakneck speed at which they drive the buses is very similar to Dans driving of the dingy which has earned him the nickname of Mario Dandretti. The bus wasn’t crowded until we picked up a load of school children, but it was a short ride and the volume of the dancehall music that was playing provided enough of a distraction to not notice the cramped conditions of the bus. Upon arrival my first mission was to walk over to the main bus terminal where I had found a woman selling salt fish sandwiches on my last trip; the other salt fish aficionados joined in the hunt. We took a slight detour inside the fish market, the plump tuna displayed by the dozens at the various stalls were tempting but we didn’t think carrying one around in the backpack all morning would be a good idea. After a tasty salt fish on whole wheat roll sandwich we then headed off to the wonderful fruit and veg market that we find is one of the most well organized in this part of the Caribbean. I had spent the day in Kingston last month when we were here so I knew my way around pretty well, my first stop was at one of the snack bars for some delicious sorrel juice and then it was off in search of some eggplant to marinate for a snack. While looking around I saw one stall was selling whale oil, something I noticed on my last trip; I thought that perhaps they use it as a liniment, but when I asked the lady she said that it is to be drank as a health tonic, I passed on that one. With eggplants and scotch bonnet peppers in hand or bag really the next item on the agenda was some Captain Bligh rum for the trip and to take home. Between Charles and myself we cleaned out the shelf and I was still short two bottles, I will have to pick them up in Bequia. A quick visit to the ATM was made for spending money, such facilities will be scarce in the coming days, and then we headed down to the pre-designated rendezvous point, which happens to be where the street vendors sell a good variety of St. Vincent street food. I started with a fresh fruit smoothie, mango, banana, and five fingers (starfruit) the seeds added a bit of crunch, but that is what you get when it is made from fresh fruit. We then found a van that gave a whole new meaning to “meals on wheels”; the woman had a full menu of interesting dishes and a pot of pig tail and green pea soup simmering in the back. Since we were taking the bus back to the anchorage I thought it prudent to opt for the pelau rather than the tasty looking soup that was the choice of many of the locals in line ahead of me. Now as a sideline, Keith had purchased a Digicel phone in St. Lucia with a very reasonable calling plan to the UK, however once we arrived in St. Vincent it ceased to work so he headed over to the local Digicel office to sort it out while we were on our sojourn. It turns out that since it is a package it is only valid in St. Lucia, however a similar package was available in St. Vincent, for 35 EC ($14 US) he got a sim card and 120 minutes of calling time to either the UK or US good for a two week period, if you already have the sim card the plan is only 20 EC ($8 US); I wish I would have heard of this before but better late than never. We located a bus to Young Island, spare tire in the back and all, then started our ride back to the boat. Dan and Sarah wanted to get dropped off at the supermarket across from the airport to pick up some wine and yogurt and since our group were the only passengers onboard the driver offered to wait while they went inside; I thought he might ask for a little extra at the end of the ride to compensate for the wait, but no the fare was 2 EC per person, the standard rate. After arriving back some of the others choose to have some more snorkeling while I went back to the French Veranda to do some internet, they distribute the Caribbean Compass tabloid and this month there is a pohot and interview with Em taken after her ARC crossing on Great Escape, she was also interviewed by a couple European sailing magazines prior to leaving Las Palmas. Back on board we set sail for Bequia, the winds were strong and fare and the trip took about an hour. We grabbed a mooring at our usual location, just off the Frangipani, then Dan took us to shore for a walk around. Our first stop was the Gingerbread restaurant for some ice cream and then we continued along the seaside walkway while I pointed out the best places for local food and free internet. We stopped off at the original model boat builders shop for a look at the very fine, almost museum quality boats the craftsmen build using only basic hand tools. One by one people headed off to do their own thing, Keith and I went as far as L’ Auberge des Grenadines to check out the menu as the plan for the evening was to have dinner there, based on Rodger and Alexs recommendation from the last trip; Anthony Bourdain ate here when he did an episode of No Reservations on the Grenadines. It is a beautiful restaurant, open air and tastefully decorated with a magnificent view of the bay. I had a passion fruit mojitos while Keith, more health conscious than me opted for a fresh fruit smoothie. We then walked back towards the dock, I stopped off at Tommy’s for a bushwacker and some wifi. The rum punch I made yesterday was deemed ready to drink, so I gave the safety briefing to those who haven’t experienced my rum punch yet and we all settled in for a pre-dinner glass. Our reservations were set for 7:30 so we made a couple dingy runs since the restaurant is on the other side of the bay and were pleased to find out that Stan and Nora would be playing tonight with their small band. They are well known in these parts, they live in the bay on a lifeboat converted into a sailing yacht and play jazz and blues at the restaurant a few nights a week. Everyone except Em went for the fixed price three courses meal the choices being catch of the day (barracuda or snapper) prepared Mediterranean style or surf and turf curry with callalou or pumpkin soup and choice of dessert, all for 80 EC. I ordered the curry and expected it to be a mix of chopped meat, but instead it consisted of two mussels in the half shell, a piece of chicken (the turf) and half a small lobster served with a light curry sauce. The fixed price menu doesn’t include side dishes so we ordered an assortment of six sides which were more than enough for the eight of us. The only downside was that they were out of most of the items on the menu except for the Panna Cotta and ice cream options. The ambiance provided by the music and the cool breeze blowing off the bay made up for it and all in all I would give this restaurant two thumbs up. Back at the boat everyone was tired from the long busy day so the rum stayed in the liquor cabinet and we called it a night.