Seems we have a problem with this site. We are working on repairing it and should be back up to posting weekly. in the meantime, please be patient.
Seems we have a problem with this site. We are working on repairing it and should be back up to posting weekly. in the meantime, please be patient.
For a small town, this city packs a lot of punch. Known as the outdoor capital of Colombia and place to visit for extreme sports. The area is best known for white-water rafting, but other popular pastimes include paragliding, caving, rappelling and trekking. In the middle of town, there is a Park and a 300 year old town square where everyone meets in the evenings. Looking for more lively fun, we were picked up at our hostel, loaded in a van and taken to Macondo Guesthouse.. Here they play a game which goes back to pre-Colombian times which involves the dream mix of gunpowder, lead weights , and alcohol. It’s perfectly legal. Called Tejo, a rural tradition, it is a loud and rambunctious game where a 2kg puck like weights (once made of solid gold, nowadays made of lead) are tossed to a clay pit to hit a metal ring known as a bocin, which is surrounded by ready to explode gunpowder-filled triangle pieces of wax paper. After buying drinks we were explained the rules by our guide , before trying this loud game .
After surviving the fun night of Tejo, we hopped a bus and went 22kms to the Cascadas de Juan Curi ( waterfalls). There is a small ecological park where there are two 20 minute trails leading to the base of the 180 meter high waterfall.
Another one of our day trips out of San Gil was to the to the colonial town of Barichara, it boasts cobblestone streets and whitewashed buildings with red tiled roofs that look almost as new as the day they were created some 300 years ago. It is, with out a doubt, one of the most beautiful small colonial towns in Colombia.
Of Colombia’s culinary traditions, perhaps none is as peculiar as this areas delicacy, hormigas culonas- literally, fat bottom ants. The tradition dates back more than 500 years when indigenous Guane people cultivated and devoured ants for their supposed aphrodisiac and healing properties. The giant dark brown coloured ants are fried, or roasted, and eaten whole or ground into powder. Containers of fried ant snacks are sold on just about every corner shop. They taste like, well, crunchy dirt mixed with old coffee grounds. It’s definitely an acquired taste, but one you must attempt to acquire.
With lots of the day still left, we hiked along side El CaminoReal, the ancient stoned –paved road built by the indigenous people and rebuilt continuously over the centuries. It was declared a national monument in 1988. This spectacular hike leads to the sleepy small hamlet of Guane. We chose to walk the road which gave us a great view of the canyon alongside.
It is summer here in Aruba, the cruise ships are arriving less frequent, the tourist season is coming to a close, the beaches are deserted except for the pigeons. The temperatures are climbing, fishing season is starting, it is an exciting time of year.
We will be storing Mistress on the hard while we fly home to visit family and friends. We’ve never used this type of equipment , a tractor and cradle, but everything went smoothly. The staff here at Varadero Marina, are very knowledgeable, they did a great job.
Putting a boat away, and packing things is hard work, so we treated ourselves, rented a car and set off to see the windward side of the island. The landscape is much like a dessert, but absolutely stunning. The waves pound on to the shore, so there are no big hotels, yet it is the most beautiful part of the island. People from all over the world visit and build a small cairn out of the rocks they find to mark their time spent here.
The Natural Bridge
Cairns along the shore
Old Gold Mining Smelter with a modern day Canteen
Almost every morning has a red sky, but it very seldom rains
Our dinghy got the best of us, leaking air and having to pump it up every 4 hours or so, became one big pain in the butt. We would go to town worrying the whole time that by the time we got back, the dinghy and motor would be on the bottom and we would have no way to get home. We gave in and moved to the marina. It has been almost 4 years since we’ve tied up to a dock, so we were a bit nervous going in. We did a scouting run in the dinghy, stopping in to the office to get details about depth, so all worked out well. One of the crew members fell off the bow sprit attempting to step onto the dock, causing a few minutes of excitement but other than that…..Piece of Cake. The person at the helm was not blamed for incident, crew member who fell had a sore back with numerous bruises ( could have been worse), but got the promise of a massage.
Seems all you do when in a marina is clean, fix things, and then clean some more. Mistress has never been this clean in 4 years. Water is just a tap that you turn on, and like magic, out it flows. We’ve cleaned the boat stem to stern, top to bottom.
We have toured the island, going to see the national park and the caves which they are famous for. The countryside is barren, much like a dessert but absolutely amazing, everywhere you look it’s beautiful. Even the creatures seemed to be as curious about us as we are of them.
(California Lighthouse, northern end)
The only downfall of staying in the marina, is there is only 2 ways to town, 3 miles away. There is a bus which means you have to get up early to catch the 6:15am or the 7:15am run, or use Shanks’ Mare ( walk ), which we do quite often. We follow the fence for the airport all the way around, then along the beach to town. We then usually catch the afternoon bus back loaded down with groceries. The other day we got to town, found out it was a holiday, The Kings Birthday so just watched the festivities.
This is a long week-end here, so residents are setting up tents on the beach so their families can spend time together.
If we ever think of settling down some where, and become “ Dirt Dwellers” again, there are a few fixer uppers to consider. This one not a 1/4 mile from the ocean.
Willemstad, on the Island of Curacao, is said to be the most cosmopolitan city in the Caribbean, it is the most populated. We have sailed to in four years. We visited here many years ago while on vacation, it sure has changed. Sometimes, two cruise ships dock early in the morning, their passengers here for one thing ….Shopping.
We are anchored in an area known as Spaanse(Spanish) Waters, in the southern part about 10km from town. There is a bus which comes by every hour except for 2 hours at noon. The coaches are large modern vehicles with a capacity of 50 persons. they are equipped with comfortable seating and on board free Wi-Fi. What a great way to see the island. The bus fare is about 1.50 Canadian.
Jan Thiel beach, a place we have dived at on our trip here 20 years ago when we were here was proposed to be a park. When we now visited we were surprised to find a new upscale residential area. This European style beach is situated beside a large open Bay. The beach is relatively small, compared to what we have come accustomed to. Those days of walking for an hour from town back to our anchorage seems so long ago. A number of resorts back onto the bay,where their guest have a view of the water and the setting sun to the west. Servers, deliver food and drinks to the loungers so not a minute is lost sunbathing. For those with fears of creatures in the ocean, there is a infinity pool. A raised area with a concrete floor co covered with sand where the water flows through before cascading over the rocks back to the bay.The sun warm the water to the point where to the point where algae grows around the edges, with the colour of the water in the pool, we passed on a dip.
An area we preferred is further south, used by the locals on weekends and even has a fort from the 1700s. Instead of white sand the shore is covered with rock, but the water is the same aquamarine colour, with good snorkeling.
(Available in cans)
Getting ready to leave an island entails numerous chores before the boat is ready for the upcoming passage. Our next stop, Curacao, the “C” of the ABC islands, is situated only 32 nm away, but it still took us all day. Remember, we’re on island time. Afterwards, we walked to our favourite bar, The Diver’s Diner, owned by 2 brothers from Dominican Republic, who serve up great meals for only $10. The large portions can fill both of us, along with Happy Hour 2 for 1 beers made us a regular. On our walk over, just behind the sailing club, we would stop to talk to a senior, Ismael Soliano, who was working on his 90 year old boat, Eihiene, sitting in his front yard. I don’t know how much work gets done but he was a very interesting man to talk to.
The main activity on Bonaire, is scuba diving but this island has many things to see and do. During the high season, at least 2 cruise ships visit every week, sometime 2 in the harbour together. From our anchorage we were either watching ships, or listening to the bubbles of divers under our boat, sometimes late in to the evening.
Starting out from the motorcycle club on our island Harley (150cc Moped) we headed to the southern tip. We had completed the northern portion previously, with the shoe tree at our back off we went.
When we arrived at the eastern and windward side we stopped for lunch at Jibe City, known for it’s superb windsurfing. Many people come to take lessons or if experienced to sail across the clear shallow bay.
If you ever visit Bonaire, you will see donkeys wandering around the streets. Donkeys have been living on this tropical island for hundreds of years. The animals were originally brought over in the 17th century by the Spaniards to use for hard labour. In modern times they were left to their own devices. Unfortunately, the donkeys did not fare well with their “new found” freedom.
Many donkeys die from starvation, dehydration, or as a result of illness. More over the donkeys on Bonaire regularly fall victim to human abuse. An even greater danger is the traffic
In 1933, two Dutch nationals established a sanctuary here. Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire does not only give help to donkeys in distress, but strives to offer a protected life to all the donkeys on Bonaire.
Sick and wounded animals are nursed in the sanctuary with love, care, and great knowledge. Orphaned foals are raised with a baby bottle, fed every 4 hours. Bags of carrots can be bought at the gate before entering the park by car, but was not recommended since were on a moped, cause you could be overwhelmed very quickly.I kind of thought it would be fun being chased by the 650 resident animals.
Bonaire has been a dry dessert like oasis, we have really enjoyed our stay here. The underwater scenery has been fantastic.
There is no public transportation system here on Bonaire, something we got so used to on the small island of Carriacou. With a population of 16,000, we are amazed how everyone get around. There really are not a lot of cars.
This island is known as “ Diver’s Paradise”, and it really is. The shoreline is dotted with dive sites,marked with yellow stones. Divers and snorkelers, don their gear, then slip into the calm, clear blue water. Bonaire is a dream true of great visibility, lack of current, and, warm water temperature, the lush reefs and dazzling marine life are found right at the shoreline.
We rented mopeds to explore and see some of the sites. High on the list, was to find the mascot, the pink flamingos. In the north, there is a national park, and a lake, where they are supposed to hang out, so off we went. The flamingos get their colour from the red carotenes in their diet, the rosy brine shrimp are abundant on the salt flats where they live.
The road travelled along the water overlooking the shore then through the small town of Rincon before along the east side to the main town of Kralendijk, and back to our mooring. We finished off by stopping by Bachelor’s Beach, just south of Flamingo International Airport and having lunch. We will leave the southern section for another time.
Honeycomb Cowfish French Angelfish
Yellowtail Damsel BlueTang
Four eyed Butterflyfish
Stoplight Parrotfish Spotted Filefish
Spotted Moray Eel Porcupine fish
Spotted Scorpion fish ( venomous)
We enrolled in a Fish Identification Program, every Monday night, so these are a sample of some of Muriel’s photo’s so far.
Location, Location, Location
Bonaire is just fifty miles north of Venezuela and is one of the Dutch ABC islands- Aruba, Bonaire , and Curacao. this prime location in the southern Caribbean places Bonaire far below the hurricane belt, and 365 days of sunny skies are almost guaranteed. To add to this perfection, Bonaire is blessed with cooling tropical trade winds that balance the warm, arid climate. A visit to Bonaire at any time of the year is delightful. With a population of almost 16,000 friendly inhabitants and only 112 square miles, sun drenched Bonaire is an uncrowded and peaceful island. Not a single stoplight disturbs the tranquility of Bonaire’s charming colonial atmosphere. Bonaire has emerged as an internationally known top diving and wind surfing destination, and through the years, has become more and more easily accessible by direct flights from the United states, Europe, and South America.
Muriel and I both grew up in the heart of downtown Toronto. We chose to move away to another large city, Mississauga to raise our children. Our jobs were again back in the big city, seemed like we couldn’t get away from large urban centers.
When we retired, and set off to go sailing, we both had a vision of what the ideal spot would look like, to spend some time relaxing in the sun. Never did we imagine that we would enjoy the places we found to be so comfortable to live.
We have spent almost 2 years here in Carriacou, and we have never locked the boat. Our boarding ladder has hung on the side of Mistress since we arrived. It helps us get in and out of the dinghy, but could also help thieves board us, if there were any. We have never had any problems in this safe, friendly community.
It took us a while to adapt to the slow island life, known as “Island Time”, and to accept the way things are done. Almost everyone here has a name which they are known by, other than their given name. One of the first friends that we met was man who calls himself, Warrior. He paddles around the bay in his small slowly sinking boat. Even though, as he says, “ I’m in a rush” he always has time to stop bye for a chat. For pocket change he takes our garbage ashore to dump. He provides a great service, but only come out when he doesn’t have rum at home. He always has a good story,so we’ve sat many times on the side of the boat , listening to him over beers. A treat for him, the price of 2 beers could buy a whole bottle of rum.
One evening, he came to visit wearing one of my old TTC shirts, I told him I had worked there for 25 years, he said, he had never had a job in his life. “A job is a place where you go to expect to be paid, I’m only trying to make a living”. He then asked me if I knew who Kenny Rogers was, he says he’s like the Gambler.
We are sure going to miss Carriacou, and all the friends we have here. It is time to move on, so we are heading west towards the ABC islands. At 405nm, we will be at sea for approximately 4 days. We look forward to new adventures, Mistress is leaving Grenada for now, but we will return.
We have survived Kayak Mas, 2016 the Carriacou carnival.
Some places are perfect just the way they are, and Pure Grenada’s Sister Isle Carriacou lights the way for the traveller seeking an excursion off the beaten track. Thirteen square miles and six thousand people with no traffic lights, no fast food, no pollution, no tall buildings – the beauty of Carriacou is in all the things it is not.
Pure Carriacou highlights a culture where life is bound by community, nature and elegant simplicity. Filmed during the annual Carriacou Regatta, the creative team was inspired to use this unique maritime festival to capture the authenticity and beauty of the Caribbean’s hidden gem – the Isle of Reefs.
For more information visit: http://www.gopuregrenada.com
Goodbye Carriacou, we will return…………