Published: August 18th 2008August 18th 2008
Greetings from Beautiful Bequia,
I'm sorry I missed a day. I'll try to catch you up today.
Saturday, Aug. 16:
I'm having mixed emotions. I'm missing home, but am sad to think that may days here in paradise are numbered. I miss my family and friends and my "real" life back home, but as soon as I leave I know I'll be missing my Bequia home.
This afternoon there was a wedding reception for a local couple at De Reef down at Low Bay. All the turistas cleared the beach in front of the restaurant and sat back and smiled at the festivities. I felt kind of privileged to be a part (even though in the distance) of their special day.
People from all over the island poured into Low Bay all dressed in their Sunday best. They all waited patiently while the bride and groom had photos taken on the beach. Then the parents of the groom and bride offered up toasts followed by the best man and maid of honor.
Witnessing such a personal island event made me feel all the more like a true "Bequian."
to go back to the Tobago Cays aboard the "Friendship Rose". I just went last Sunday, but I've run out of things to do and its either this or a scuba diving trip. The scuba costs nearly as much and is over in a couple of hours. This trip fills up the whole day and includes breakfast, lunch, and snacks all day.
6:45am: When I arrive at the office to check in, Allen asks me if I would be interested in working today. I try to hold back the goofy smile and say "Sure". They're short-handed and there's 33 passengers already checked in for the day-long trip.
He asks me if I would go along and serve lunch and drinks and generally see that all the passengers were comfortable and having a good time and he hands me a t-shirt with the word "Crew" on the back. I really have to work hard to fight back that goofy smile now.
Trying my best not to look too excited, I tell him that this kind of thing is really my specialty and he could be confident that I was the right person for this kind of job.
On board, I tell Captain Lewis that Allen has asked me to come along and make sure all the passengers are having a good time and to let me know if there is something I need to be doing or not doing along the way. He's a rugged, but friendly 60 something sailor whom I've enjoyed talking to on my previous two sailings.
The crew consists of Job, a 70-something man who can still out-haul me on the heavy sails. He's very quiet and not too interested in the passengers, just the sailing of the ship. He spends most of his day at the bow by himself.
Thadeus and Colin are the other two deck hands. Thadeus looks like a linebacker. He's intimidating with his shaved head, dark sunglasses and goatee. He, too, is a man of few words. Aside from passing out lunch plates, he doesn't care to say anything to the passengers.
Colin is the "voice" of the crew. They all speak English, but with such a strong Caribbean accent that I can hardly understand half of what they say. Colin is the most talkative (an understatement) and the easiest to understand. He shuttles the
passengers to and from the shore in the ship's launch which we tow behind us all day. There are three young attractive British girls that Colin spends most of the day making sure are having an enjoyable trip, which leaves the other 30 passengers in my care.
Once we weigh anchor and motor out of the harbour I go around and introduce myself to all the passengers and give the life-jacket and safety speech I've heard given on my previous two sailings. It's a very European crowd consisting of a German family, a french family, and several Brits as well as a trio of young Canadians. One twenty-something British blond traveling with her "mum" sleeps through the entire 3 1/2 hour passage down. "Mum" says, "she partied a bit too hard last night"
I'm having the time of my life using all my waiter and hosting skills to their fullest. I point out good photo opportunities as we pass by Moonhole and give out bits of Island facts I have acquired in my year-long research of Bequia. The way I recite facts about the passing islands, one would never guess that I'd picked them up from Allen on
the prior week's trip.
We sail through a rain storm on the way down and everyone is wondering if this was such a good idea, but just as we arrive in the Cays, the sun comes out and its a post card day. Colin ferry's part of the passengers to an abandoned island to snorkel with the turtles, then another load to a shallow reef nearby. Colin waits with the reef snorkelers, so once everything is secured on the ship and Thadeus and Job lay down for a nap, I tell Captain Lewis that with his permission I am going to swim ashore and check on our beach passengers.
On the previous week's trip, I and some of the other passengers didn't quite know what to do once we had been dropped off on the beach. We weren't sure what the lunch plan was or when we would be picked back up again.
So, remembering this, I swam ashore and check with all our beach passengers. I asked how they were all doing and if they had seen the turtles in the shallows. I pointed out that the other side of the sandy island had a nice
shallow reef for snorkeling and showed them the best direction to enter from. I pointed out the island used in the filming of "Curse of the Black Pearl", and made sure they were aware that the Tobago Cays were a marine park and that they weren't to take any shells or things.
I made my way around the island checking on each of our ship's guests and telling them that Colin would be back to drop the reef snorkelers on the beach and gather our beach guests to go the the reef, and after that he would ferry them all back to the ship for lunch around 1:30.
After a delicious lunch of Almeda's ginger chicken, its time to weigh anchor and make our way home. I get my one and only rebuke from Job. "You don't want to be serving drinks when we are weighing anchor" I don't know why not, but I don't question, I just do what I'm told.
Since we have a dominantly British crowd on board, afternoon tea is the event of the day. Almeda has to brew an additional pot to satisfy them all. The traditional afternoon banana cake didn't get
made in time to make it on the ship before we sailed, so one of the water taxi captains met us on the southern tip of the island with fresh hot cake. The passengers were impressed that the ship had fresh cake delivered at sea, and so was I.
Back at the harbour office, the crew offers to share the day's tips with me, but I refuse. Allen insists on crediting back my visa card for the day I'd paid. I tell him that I've gotten to go on three trips for the price of two and to me that was a good deal. He persists, so I give in, feeling confident that I had contributed to the enjoyment of the passengers' trip.
Then he hands me a couple of limes with some cash hidden behind them. I tell him that I gave in on the credit card thing, but I refuse to take any money. We settle on the two limes and the "crew" t-shirt as payment for the day's work.
Another fantastic day on Bequia,
There are more photos below