Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Grenadines

Early in the Sunday morning (the 8th) we asked two sailors in a dinghy to release our rope tied to the pier, and we went underway at 6:45 for the short passage to Bequia. It is a three hour trip with the most conservative standards, while Bequia is in visual distance at all times. It was the most pleasing passage so far, enough winds and no seas! We covered it in two and half hours, and motored into the bay which we know from our previous visit. However, the sight was much different; the bay was almost full to the rim with sail boats. There were some interesting looking red markers in random places around the bay, and small sail-boats roaming the outside shores, which made us to believe that a regatta was underway. After we found a good spot near the Tony Gibbons/Princess Margaret Beach, we jumped into the water, first time in a while. New boats kept on coming to the already crowded beach area, and filled every spot around us. Apparently the Easter week-end was Bequia’s festival, which explained the concentration of islanders and visitors in the otherwise very tranquil small town. Islanders whizzed by in their wooden boats, and unloaded hundreds of people to a beach a bit further down, where they partied until the small hours of the night. Unfortunately their idea of a festival is drinking hard liquor without eating much, while listening to a high volume music with only one beat, and getting drunk and out of commission in a stupor around 2:00 pm.

We had to visit the Immigration office or the police station, so took the dinghy to shore, under the Gingerbread House Coffee Shop. We know this place from our previous experience with our friends Deniz/Zeynep/Mehmet and Bahadir/Christina, where we had to ask the proprietor lady who had been eating her cake at the side, to make some coffee for us while we waited. She had shown some reluctance, since we were the only customers in sight, but eventually humored us. In the next morning we had breakfast there, which turned out to be quite good.

This time we could not stop there, after taking a turn in the town, we sat at the Frangipani Hotel, hub-nub of people. We decided to wait for the Customs office at the port to open at 3:00 pm, according to the intelligence from a vendor lady across the Revenue Building, enclosing all the government offices, including the Post Office.

At 3:00 pm sharp three young guys opened the doors, and we became their first customer to get the stamps in our passports. In the five minutes that we waited there, other boaters started to fill the waiting area. We were lucky to be the first in. By the time we went back to Ruyam II we were beat.

Next morning we had made arrangements to get water and diesel from a distributor moving from boat to boat in a barge. I think it was an excellent service, expertly executed; however pricing was negotiable. When Al called the day before to arrange it for 9:00 am, he obtained the unit prices; a gallon of diesel 16.00 EC dollars, water .85 cents. A litre of diesel comes to roughly US$1.50 dollars, which is reasonable, considering the lack of effort on our side.

Anyway, when we got what we wanted, the young guy gave Al a receipt asking for 18.50 EC dollars for diesel, but the original price for the water. Al said “I am sorry, but the lady told me 16 yesterday.” Oh really? It should be 16.50 then. I guess Al did not argue, he was prepared to give him a tip anyway. Al’s new style of haggling involves giving a beer to the guys when he reduces the outrageous amounts asked in the St Vincent area. Sometimes the guys are a bit ashamed of themselves, and cannot look Al in the eye, but just whisper what they want. They must think that we are made of money.

Al got into a fit at the Bequia market. As always, I am constantly seeking fresh vegetables and fruits, but my passion is for tomatoes. I found some and asked Al to pay, while I was looking at other stuff. Then I heard Al arguing with the vendors, who were quite aggressive in their sales techniques. Several of them surround the customer and almost hold him/her hostage, then ask a price that could buy their whole inventory. We had been to many markets in St Martin, Nevis and Dominica, but never seen such aggression in the vendors. Al argued and got really angry, and refused to buy half of the stuff that the guys were pushing into my hand, so I got quickly out of that place. What a pity.

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