West Indies 2007
Richard P. Johns
Hi Friends and Family,
I didn’t manage to get my travelblog up and running for my vacation this year but so many of you have asked me for photos and a description of the West Indies that I decided to post a belated blog.
I left from Vancouver, Canada on June 22. I went straight from work to the airport with my small knapsack in tow. It’s a very free feeling not to have to lug a backpack or suitcases around (I guess that’s why they call them luggage). I had three legs of my flight to the West Indies. I stopped in Calgary, then Toronto and finally in Trinidad. I got of the plane in the early evening and went about checking that the guesthouse in my Lonely Planet guide had a space left. I got a taxi to Port of Spain which is some distance from the airport and found my guesthouse bolted up with chains and bars, etc. Looked like quite the disreputable district to be staying in but once I checked out the rest of the city I realised they were all disreputable districts. I didn’t think too much of the room I stayed
in at the time but was thankful it had AC, a private bathroom, a single bed and no bugs. I would later come to realise that this was the finest budget accommodation I would come across.
The next day I set out with all my worldly possessions on my back to explore the city and ended up hiking up into the hills behind the city as it was so much greener and found a great lookout point. I planned to get a ferry across to Tobago so see some of the coastline and such but was disappointed to find it was all booked up for several days. Fortunately I had a back up plan to go out to the Asa Wright Nature Reserve. I found a taxi who said he knew where he was going, haggled for a price and set off. Actually the taxi driver had no clue where he was going and got lost several times on the way until we hit a northbound road that headed up into the jungle and found the nature reserve. More disappointment as I discovered that they only took 20 guests per tour and there were no more tours after 1pm.
Oh well, I snuck a look around then came back to the taxi driver who was pleased not to have to wait several hours for me to return. His complete lack of a sense of direction worked to my advantage when I managed to get him to take me across the mountains to the north shore of the island so I could see some of the famous beaches. He still thought we were going back the same direction until he saw the ocean. It all worked out and I stayed in the same guesthouse in Port of Spain that night.
The next day I had an early flight to Grenada. I got lots of puzzled looks when I told the taxi drivers I was going to walk to town. I guess they weren’t used to tourists doing that kind of thing. I walked about 12 km to St. Georges. I got to see some of the rural communities, the main thoroughfare, and came upon Grand Anse beach. Golden sand, small hotels dotted along, and barely a soul about in the ‘rainy season’. It only rained one day of my trip. Travelling during the low tourism season really helped reduce
the costs and helped with room availability. I stopped at a bar on the beach to try my first local beer ‘Carib’. Not as tasty as I hoped. Then I continued on to St George. A quaint fishing port and sail boat hotspot. They’ve really done up some of the old buildings. It has the feel of port right out of Pirates of the Caribbean. A fort up on the hill, lots of old churches and some good hiking. I stayed in a great guesthouse that would have been perfect if it had AC.
The next day I hiked over some hills to catch a Reggae bus to Grand Etang National Park. These buses are an adventure all by themselves. We squeezed up to 22 people in one bus about the size of a VW van with music blaring and speeding around corners where everyone leans one way so we don’t tip over. Lots of fun! The park was awesome with some great views of the luscious jungle. I heard one of the best hikes was to the seven sisters waterfalls. I met up with an official guide and we hiked several kms and saw the first two waterfalls.
At this point he tells me that if I want to see the rest I have to go cliff diving over each waterfall. SO after some persuading, I leave all my gear, strip down to my boxers and plunge over four waterfalls. Or rather I carefully jump to the precise spots where hew tells me to so I don’t hit the bottom. That waterfall in the photo looks small from the bottom - only 35 feet. But from the top it looks a long way down. I wrapped up my day returning to Grand Anse Beach then took an early flight the following morning to St Vincent and the Grenadines. I’ll finish off my story in the next blog.
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