Wednesday July 3 - I did not sleep that well last night, maybe because I knew I had to get up early today. I still wasn’t sure exactly how long it would take me to get to the police station by 8:00 to check in for the boat to Saba this morning, so I ended up getting up at 5am and catching a bus at 6:45. I got there just after 7:00. So, too early indeed.
There was nowhere to sit and very little shade, so I took a quick walk to try to see the marina, but the view I found was poor. I came back and just stood in some shade and read my book. A little after 7:30 someone else arrived, and we started talking. He is retired and was going to Saba for a dive trip for the day. Everything he talked about linked back to God and missionaries, which was a bit much, but he was nice. A friend of his works at a religious school in Germany near where I live, so he was familiar with Basel. Eventually, more and more people arrived, and we were only checked in around 8:30 or so, when
they had said the check-in closes. Guess not. We had to go through immigration, but I’m unclear as to why. St. Maarten and Saba are both the Netherlands, so it seems redundant. Once everyone was processed we got on the boat and got going. There were not that many people - less than 20. The crew handed out drinks and then I settled in to read my book. I took some seasickness meds earlier so the ride would not be an issue. I vividly remember being sick on the ferry last summer on the way to Dominica from Martinique, so I was prepared.
The journey lasted about 90 minutes, and on Saba we then had to go through immigration and this time they stamped our passports. A flight in would have been super fast and kind of cool, because it has the shortest runway in the world, but the flight was double the cost of the ferry and the ferry was already $100. For another $30 I added on the “Solo Hiker” package, which got me a taxi ride to Windwardside, one of the only towns on the tiny island, as well as a bagged lunch. I think I
would have paid the same for a taxi, so it worked out. The trailhead for the Mt. Scenery hike begins in Windwardside at the Trail Shop, and this is where we were dropped off. There was also an American family doing the hike, and they went to buy water while I started the trail.
The trail was very steep, and it is mostly steps. 1064 steps, to be exact. It was a hard climb due to the steepness, but it was also hot and I was sweating up a storm. At one point I came across a Dutch couple from the boat who were also doing the hike. She was having some trouble with her knee, but he was super fast. She did not go all the way to the top. It was supposed to take about 90 minutes, but I finished in an hour. I had been a little worried about time, since I started the hike at 11:30 and we had to be back to the taxi at 2:50pm for the ferry that left at 3:30pm. Such a short time on the island, but it was worth it.
Saba is a volcanic island, dormant now, and
the top is a cloud forest, so most of the time it is actually in a cloud. This made it breezy and much cooler. There were two scenic viewpoints from the top. The one near the tower was easier and had more room to sit/stand at the end. The other was muddier, had only enough room for two people at the top, and even had a rope to help you up to the top if needed. Both had good views, but the views were often completely enveloped in a cloud, so you could see nothing. If you were patient, you could eventually see the views as the cloud kept blowing away before more mist came in. I ate my lunch up there - my first lunch of the trip - and then started to walk down a little before 1:30pm. I knew it was going to be a hard descent due to the ascent, though for different reasons. On the way up, my heart was racing and it was hard. On the way down, I knew it was hard on the knees, but mostly on the leg muscles, to keep myself from falling down. Luckily there was railing a lot
of the way, and I used it to pull myself up and prevent myself from falling down.
It took me about 40 minutes to get down, and on my way down I passed a woman from the boat who’d had a tour of the island and lunch with her husband, and now she was practically running up the thing to get there and back in time. And she did. When I got back to the start, I chatted with her husband a bit and then wandered around Windwardside, a cute little town. Fewer than 2000 people live on the island, it’s that cute. When I was done, I bought an ice pop for me and the guy waiting for his wife. The price came to $3.50 and when I gave the cashier a $20, she asked if I had the 50 cents. I did not, but the guy behind me did and he gave it to her, since they always need change. Very sweet.
The ice pop was quite sugary, but so amazingly cold it was perfect. Eventually everyone was back and we left for the boat. Immigration then settling into the boat ride. I had taken another
seasickness pill and was quite tired. I read a bit, tried to sleep a bit, and finally we arrived in St. Maarten. After one more immigration check, I got a lift all the way home with the Dutch couple. She used to live her - her mom still does - and she offered to drive me back. Very sweet again.
I washed the clothes I wore today, took a shower and made dinner. It was supposed to last two nights, but I was quite hungry. And now I’m exhausted.
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