Saturday, May 14, 2011

May in the Tropics

See Pictures on other link

Here the flowers are blooming, the rain is falling, the sun is shining, and the humidity is building to match the temperatures of 85-90--normal conditions in this part of the world. Yet unlike home in Oregon, things are winding down rather than up. This is the end of the season, when the businesses and shop clear stock and prepare for a slow summer. Dave took his boat repair lists and shopped like it was Christmas; the boat is one lucky lady and we are a few thousand dollars poorer. The to-do list is now 3 pages long. No, Dave is not ready to go to work…it is mostly for his return in November.
So what’s been happening since the last up-date?
We were lucky enough to meet up with Shirley and John from Solstice in St. John, USVI and spent some time getting jazzed up to follow their path and cruise in Europe in a few years. We had not seen them since 2007 in Mexico. After that we waited in St. Thomas, USVI to rendezvous
With Joan and Ted on Panchita. We had not seen them in 17 months. They arrived with Joan’s brother Craig and his wife Mary. Both visits were too short yet our paths will cross again.
What great timing—it was Carnival in St. Thomas and we made it to two of the parades. The first was the Children’s Parade with the dancers, twirlers, marching bands, and trucks loaded with super sized speakers preceding each group. We are talking 14-20 2 feet by 4 feet and bigger! The next day was the Adult Parade which started at 11 and ended at 5 PM. People parked and camped out on the parade route, bringing their grills and chairs. Some backed their truck beds up to the path and had coolers of beer and soft drinks to sell with food hot off their grills…no permits needed.
We took pictures of the participants who came in all sizes, shapes, and ages. The colorful costumes reminded us of exotic birds and the brilliant colors used in the Caribbean were everywhere. The elaborate head gear and rolling skirts were the leaders in most case announcing the arrival of groups or in some case following…perhaps they were returning from the “refreshment trucks” (that followed each group)loaded with ice, juice, booze, wine and water. Most participants were well infused with their favorite drink by the first ¼ mile as they had been waiting to start for hours in some cases. One refreshment truck was decorated as a Tiki Bar—how appropriate.
Steel drum bands performed being towed by one single truck pulling 3-4 trailers of double decked musicians—OSHA would have had a fit! Bands from other islands (that have cut CD’s) performed on truck beds and local fan club members dressed up in costumes followed the bands while dancing to the music and “refreshing” themselves. The Zulu tribe is always a crowd favorite and fierce warriors they were. Dave’s favorite is the stilt people who had to keep moving in order to not fall. It was a great day and Dave saw it all.
At 9 PM the firework show started and we were moved by the elaborate display. Some of the rockets sent our showers of light that we had never seen elsewhere. A local, named Karen, had given us special glasses that broke the lights into prisms of colors and that enhanced our experience 10 fold. Following the light show was a band festival of Calypso music that went until early in the morning. The night before was the Battle of the Contemporary Bands that went until 3 AM, and the day before that was the 4 AM to 9 ish Jump Up Music Parade of thousands grooving and singing down the waterfront—that one we missed.
With Carnival over, it was time to make our goodbyes and head out to sea. So we bit the chain, raised the anchor and traveled 105 miles to St. Martin, the French side of the island. And a miracle occurred…nothing broke or failed, a first in two years.
Today we ate French pastries, last night Happy Hour at the Sint Maarten Yacht Club, dinner on the waterfront (a four course French dinner with a Banana Rum liqueur after dessert), and tonight we are raiding the freezer to balance the food budget. A weather event arrived at 5 PM and the dark clouds gave the boat a nice bath just as Happy Hour was starting in the lagoon. So instead of socializing we are hunkered down listening to Time Life Legend Ultimate Rock Collection of 300 songs and just limin’ the evening away. Life her is a blend of French and Dutch, depending on the side of the island you are on at the time.
So where are we headed next?
We might end up stopping in Antigua, Guadeloupe, The Saints, and Martinique before landing in Grenada. We will be by passing many islands that we plan to catch on the way back up next January. Ultimately though, we will end the season in Trinidad with a haul out date of June 10th and plane reservations for June 15th back to the states. We are looking forward to seeing friends, family and solid land this summer and fall.
Hope to see you all!
Until later our best thoughts and prayers to all of you out there.


Crew of the Solstice said...

Antigua, Guadaloupe, Ile des Saintes and Martinique are easy to catch on the way north. We would suggest St. Lucia, Bequia, and Carriacou on the way south. On the other hand, you're used to sailing into the wind. ;) (Hi, Mike.)

Joan said...

It was soooo good to catch up with you in St. Thomas. Thanks for making that happen. What a great time we had. Looking forward to catching up with you along the way or at least in Trinidad.
Ted and Joan