Saturday, 28 March 2015

What we didn't expect

We've been on the island of Ile à Vache, Haiti, for one week now.  It has been lovely.  The boys continue to come out and offer us things to buy from their dugout canoes daily, and sometimes when we don't want to buy what they are selling, they simply ask outright for a cookie or a soccer ball. We've got to know some on a more regular basis, and even when we refuse all their offers, they are unfailingly polite.

There are three hotels on Ile à Vache, all pretty small, but very quaint.  We've walked to visit them all, and as you can see from the photo, this one has a stunning beach.  (It also has a helicopter landing pad.)

On the way to this beach, I was mobbed by small children who wanted to hold my hand! There were four of them, aged about 2 to 5 and they thought I was a great target.  They only tried once to hold the Captain's hand, but they asked me what his name was and it was fun to watch him turn around suddenly to the shrill call of "Phil" in four high-pitched French accented voices.

On Thursday, it was the Captain's birthday, and also market day in the town of Madame Bernard, a few bays over.  We needed some things, so we decided to go.  Now, you should know, there are no cars on this island, only motorcycles (which they use as taxis), donkeys and horses.  We decided to go there as the locals do - walk.  It was an hour and a half there and an hour and a half back.  The Captain wants it to be noted that he's done it once so he doesn't need to walk it ever again!

The walk itself was very pretty, along cultivated land and through some shady groves of trees.  We had offer of a guide, but we decided his price for the trip was a bit steep, so we paid him a little bit to tell us which way to start walking, and NOT to come along...

Instead, once we found the one possible place that looked like where he said we should turn, we asked someone nearby, who in turn called out to a woman in a green skirt further down the road, who confirmed she was also on her way to the market.  So we just followed Our Lady of the Green Skirt all the way there.

The market was very busy and noisy and full of local food staples.  We found eggs, tomatoes, onions, and some green fruit which we discovered were under-ripe grapefruit when we got back and cut one open. We debated buying meat, although there were plenty of live pigs, cows, and chickens, and you could buy them live, dead, or even cleaned, but we weren't really comfortable carrying raw meat home in the hot sun, and the Captain firmly put his foot down when I suggested he should learn to pluck a chicken!

Another unexpected but delightful birthday surprise was the arrival of S/V Pavo Real, or Tony and Anne.  We spent several months sailing with them in the San Blas and Bocas del Toro, Panama in 2013 so we were so pleased to see them.  We knew they were traveling west and we were heading east, but what d'ya know, here we all were in the same place.  So there was chocolate birthday cake and rum together, and then on Friday we had dinner on their boat. Great fun meeting old friends in new places!

Tomorrow the plan is anchor up and a push through the wrong way on the wind to the Bahia de Las Aguilas anchorage, our first stop in the Dominican Republic. Tony, who just came from there, promised us miles of unspoiled beaches, but no services or people.  Our stay there is likely to be short as the mounds of laundry are piling up in the forepeak and the level of water in our tank is dropping lower. But you know us sailors, plans are made to be changed.

If you'd like to follow along, we are at: N18 6.20 W73 41.73Copy the GPS location above (text in red), click through to and paste the coordinates in the box in the upper left hand corner. Push the 'Convert and map' button and you will see where we are. On the upper right hand side is an option to toggle map vs satellite view.

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