Day 78, Year 1: Trek Across the Island
Date: Tuesday, January 3, 2006
Weather: Back to Sunshine
Location: Admiralty Bay, Port Elizabeth, Bequia
Latitude: N 13 degrees 00.62 minutes
Longitude: W 61 degrees 14.52 minutes
Location: Admiralty Bay, Port Elizabeth, Bequia

We awoke to a beautiful morning. I always go up into the cockpit to comb my hair and when I went up this morning, I saw Martha’s boat pulling up anchor. It certainly was gray as the young men in the tender had told us last night and it looked like a small US Navy ship—except that it was flying a Grand Cayman flag. I took a picture and will include that when the photos from today are logged.

Shortly after 1000, we got ready to head to town. I just realized this morning that this town has a name—Port Elizabeth. How I missed that I have no idea. I donned my turtle earrings for the day’s two mile trek to the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary. For those of you who know me as “Judy, the first grade teacher”, you know my love of turtles. I always looked forward to having New Hampshire naturalist David Carroll visit with my first graders helping them to understand the importance of treating turtles with care. It takes most species of turtles 20 to 25 years to lay their first eggs, and of the eggs that hatch, very few of the hatchlings survive. Bequian Ortin G. King, known as Brother King, knows this very well, and has dedicated the last 10 years of his life to establishing the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary. He searches out the nesting sites of endangered Hawksbill and Greenback turtles. He then watches the sites carefully, and when the hatchlings emerge, he captures them and brings them to the sanctuary where he raises them in tanks until they are 4 to 5 years old. At this age, they are a good 12 to 16 inches in width and at least 18 to 22 inches long. He then reintroduces them to the wild, but he does so knowing that they have a much better chance of survival than when they were hatchlings the size of a quarter. Brother King was the son of a Bequia fisherman that captained his own boat that he built himself. Brother King was a professional skin diving fisherman, and learned the hard way the impact he was having on the environment. He told us that as a young man in Bequia, sea life was plentiful. No one needed to worry about conservation. But as he continued his career as a diving fisherman, the kind of fisherman that he says does the most damage to the environment, he began to realize that his children and grandchildren were not going to enjoy the same abundance. That’s when he decided to retire and establish the sanctuary. We learned some of this during the tour of the turtle tanks at the Sanctuary, but as we walked back to town, Brother King picked us up on his way to his home in Port Elizabeth for lunch. It was during the truck ride that we learned most of the personal information. He also shared the history of the surrounding countryside.

As we walked out of Port Elizabeth headed to Park Bay and the Sanctuary, we passed the temporary elementary school in town, the secondary school with a football (soccer) stadium next to it and goats grazing in the school yard, the houses on the fringes of town, and then we were out in the country. It looked very much like southern West Virginia as we passed the 200 year-old Spring Plantation, except that when we looked to the right through the trees, we could see the Atlantic Ocean splashing against a rocky shore. Brother King told us later in the day that the Spring Plantation had once been owned by a man named MacIntosh from Trinidad who married a Bequian woman named Wallace. One was of Scottish descent and the other African. They owned the whole end of the island, but when they died, their children slowly sold off parts of the land. There is still the working plantation, but I didn’t get whether or not it is still owned by the same family. As we traveled on, we passed Industry Bay where I found my dream home. The estate was on the left side of the road and to the right side there were coconut trees and the ocean. Again Brother King was able to give us the history of this place. If we remember correctly, a very wealthy man from England married a woman from St. Vincent and built the house—probably not many years ago. The man died and now the woman and her 3 daughters own the place. They have to rent it out from time to time in order to afford keeping it. Believe me, if I were a wealthy person, I would find the woman and make her an offer she couldn’t refuse. What a perfect place!

But it goes on. We next came to the Crescent Beach Inn which was literally hidden from us until we saw a taxi stop and drop someone off. We followed and found ourselves in the bar/dining area, so we stopped for lunch. Just outside was the beach. What a nice place for a “family retreat” and the prices weren’t bad. On up the road there were villas on the hillside above the road and the Atlantic Ocean crashing on the rocks below the road. These villas are called Allawash and I saw a sign saying to contact Allawash.co.uk to rent. We were now on top of the world and as we looked down we saw the ocean and the Hegg Turtle Sanctuary. It is in a truly magical location.

We are thinking of moving Windbird around to Friendship Bay tomorrow, but there is still so much to see on this side of the island that we’ll just have to see what tomorrow brings.

060103 Day 78 Bequia Trek
Day 79, Year 1: Friendship Bay, Bequia ( The Lazy Man’s Way)
Day 77, Year 1: Martha’s Here