Mojitos Calabash and Honesty
After nearly being flattened by our nemesis, the barge and tug, to say it’s a relief to be out of the way of the action is somewhat of an understatement. Safely tied to a tree outside the Mojito restaurant under the watchful gaze of Kenny and the rest of the Cumberland community feels very safe. And it’s a great place to be.
Over the week of being here, we have taken a stroll (feels like a climb) up to Coulls Hill, dined at Mojito twice, had cocktails there many times, got to know the Cumberland people, and contributed a little cash to the community. One such contribution was to a local artist who stopped by to show us his collection of calabash creations. James A Sam (Gola) paints incredible designs on the shells of the calabash fruit. I thought they were so good that we struck a deal on three.
And here’s a measure of the honesty we have found here: We agreed a price of $90 EC, but Gola didn’t have any change for the $100 EC note I gave him; he insisted he would bring it to us later. I’m embarrassed to say that I thought he wouldn’t (although I didn’t mind). But two days later there was a tap on our hull and there, on our starboard side, was Gola on his little boat holding out the $10 EC he owed. A firm lesson learned.
Dark View Falls
On 22nd February we took a trip with Mojito’s Maurice and Glenroy, the taxi driver, to Dark View Falls – a series of waterfalls near to La Soufrière.
On the way to the waterfalls, Glenroy and Maurice explained a little about the area, where the wealth comes from for some people (the marijuana growers association has extensive farmland on the west of La Soufrière) and something of the history of the island, which is worth a read on Wikipedia. Maurice seemed to know everyone we passed on the roadside all the way up to the waterfalls. Occasionally we would slow down for him to have a very brief but unintelligible chat with someone, and this process would repeat until we reached the car park for the waterfalls. Even there he knew people. I guess this is a measure of the closeness of the community.
A bamboo rope bridge stands between the carpark and the falls. Contrary to the comments in our guidebook, this rickety looking construction is quite sturdy. And the steel ropes suspending the bamboo floor can stand the weight of more than one person. We know, we tried it with three. Besides, if any bridge can hold the load of a gaggle of cruise ship passengers, it’s strong.
The waterfalls here are stunningly beautiful. Unfortunately, the lower waterfall was undergoing maintenance at the time, so it wasn’t possible to swim there. But the one at the top, reached by climbing a series of leg-burning steep steps followed by a clamber across some boulders, hosts a perfect place to swim. The falls also give you a free massage from the water roaring down from about 30 metres above. And the water here is incredibly pure and refreshing.
Dodging the cruise ship passengers barrelling towards the bridge, we made our way back to the carpark, where we bought some bananas and mango from a fruit seller with a small stand just near the rope bridge. He’s a friend of Maurice.
Rodeo Ride to Customs
We spent the rest of the week watching the comings and goings of other yachts, sometimes with anticipation, sometimes with dread if they came too close. For much of the time though we spent an enjoyable time just sheltering from the rain. For dry season, it has been very wet, and the wind has been far from benign. But the weather forecasters promised that all would return to normal on Sunday. So, at 0900 on Saturday 24th February, Kenny arrived in his dinghy to take me over to Chateaubelair to clear out.
For a rubber dinghy with a 15 HP motor, his dinghy can shift. I was holding on to the dinghy painter like you would hold the rope on a rodeo bull, and spent half the time airborne in the lumpy sea outside Cumberland.
Chateaubelair isn’t the best of places to arrive by dinghy, especially with any swell running. Kenny managed to get the dinghy alongside a jetty long enough for me to get off with the help of a local guy who also took me to the customs office. Customs clearance was easy, but unfortunately, immigration was closed (this wasn’t in our guidebook). The customs guy didn’t know what to suggest, but Kenny knew there to be a police station open in Barrouallie which is south of Cumberland. So, off we went on another frenetic ride.
Detour to Immigration
Barrouallie bay isn’t as bad as Chateaubelair for wildness, but the sea isn’t exactly flat. A beach landing here would be very wet. Fortunately, there’s a small jetty near the middle of the bay. So, Kenny moved alongside it, I climbed out and tied us on, and we both walked over to the police station on the main street. I’m not sure if Kenny came with me to show me where the station is, or for my protection. The town feels a bit edgy.
The police station, with it’s all wood interior and sparse furniture, is everything you might imagine a Caribbean cop shop to look like. It could be off the set of the TV programme Death in Paradise. And the constable, immaculately dressed in his white tunic and black trousers, dealt with the immigration formalities efficiently and effortlessly.
Kenny and I made our way back to the dinghy and bumped our way back to Cumberland. When we arrived back at Lady Jane I asked him how much he wanted; his response was something like, whatever you give I will be grateful.
That’s laid back.