Port Elizabeth (Bequia), St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Perhaps it's the lifestyle contrast from living aboard a boat, but my time in Bequia has been pleasantly enjoyable.
Thanks to running around the first half of the week asking about inexpensive room rentals and places to stay, I'm getting recognized and greeted (by name) by a surprising number of locals and visitors. Perhaps facilitating this might be the experiment of placing a photo in my crew advertisement. At this level, I feel more like a local than a guest, which is a nice sensation.
My Bequia days have found me moving at an exploratory and inquisitive pace. It's fun to say/think that I've strolled across the island, and back. Staying at Julie's Guesthouse with me is a group of 12 chiropractors (10 students and two faculty doctors) from the U.S.-based Palmer College of Chiropractic. Every year students pay upwards of $4,000 USD to participate in the week-long free clinic abroad (open to all).
The entire group, including myself, is having a fun and educational time (especially with the entertaining clinic setup at the primary school). I've even taken the opportunity to have my first "adjustment," as well as adding a little chiropractic trivia to my general knowledge. It's not surprising that many have never encountered the physical ailments found in less prosperous countries—not to say that Bequia is poor, in fact, I find it to be quite developed and comfortable here.
During my encounters with folks, I've happened upon more than a few interesting individuals. I had nice lunch with Diana Kinoy, a professional photographer from the Massachusetts/New York area, on her sixth, six-month trip to the island. On a walk past Spring Bay I came across Dr. Margaret Bradford, a delightful Caribbean archaeologist. Margaret and her husband built a home here 35 years ago (constructed by Mr. Julie, of Julie's Guesthouse), and live here for a handful of weeks out of the year (the rest spent in Iowa). I've observed a pair of young Finnish chefs (23 and 25 years old), cooking multi-star meals in the kitchen of a fine restaurant, and had an entertaining conversation with an elderly, outspoken, proprietor of a local bar who claims I look exactly like the people of Petite St. Vincent (a small island to the south near Carriacou).
Not unlike Tobago's relationship with Trinidad, Bequia is very reliant upon the capital island of St. Vincent for many needs. All the fruits and veggies sold at the market here come from St. Vincent, and when the rains fail to bring enough water to this river-less island, it too must be hauled over on the ferry for the population to purchase.
The beaches here are nothing to write home about (not that many would immediately after the Tobago Cays), and everyone tells me to stay away from Moonhole, a complex of privately created and owned stone dwellings (requiring a paid tour).
There are plenty of yachts and other ships stopping briefly here in Port Elizabeth, including Club Med 2 (a cruise ship with a sailboat identity crisis), a huge old-fashioned square sail ship used to train teenagers how to sail, and even the Mirabella V (competing for the largest mast in the world) made an appearance (for a sunset sail photo-op for a gang of hired German photographers). I'm told the Mirabella V is 250 feet long, has a paid crew of 15, and costs $300,000 USD a week to charter. It was an impressive sight to see the massive sails up; with a mast so tall you could see it sailing north, behind a nearby mountain hill.
When I'm not roaming about the city/island, I've been spending my time enjoying conversations with one of the coordinating chiropractic faculty members, and hanging out with Ben, the 25-year-old basket man. Ben is a good guy, trying his hardest to find me a place to stay, and has to be the first Caribbean native I've found who doesn't drink or smoke marijuana.
With an incredibly expensive FedEx package finally arriving today (dad has graciously donated a retired PDA to the cause), I'm free to continue on my travels. I haven't had much success finding a boat or a house rental (that I'm happy with the price of), so tomorrow morning I'll be checking out of the guesthouse, taking the 6:30 ferry over to St. Vincent with Ben (who has offered me accommodations at his home in the remote Cariab village of Sandy Bay). Ben's wife will be meeting us at the pier when we arrive, followed by a cheap bus ride up the windward (eastern) coast to his place, where there's all the bananas and coconuts one could eat!