Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dominica and Bequai

January 19, 2010

Caribbean Misadventure #4: The WindSurf Experience.

The biggest misadventure so far today is the excruciatingly slow internet. While it is possible to use the internet on the boat, it is ridiculously expensive, so I had to wait til we were on an island. Monday, Bequai was the first island we stopped at, and I headed straight to a drugstore to pick up something to for the sand flea bites. Then I wandered down to the Frangipani, where I stayed two years ago, through the town, stopped and used the internet to check mail, and back to the boat where i spent the day wallowing in the pool and reading

Tuesday, and we have sailed overnight to Dominica and it is as nice as I remember it. Not everyone would see it as 'nice'. It is cluttered, and noisy and the music is always playing, and the cars are almost wider than the cobblestone streets. It's kinda dingy and dirty, if you are bothered by those things, but the people are really smiley and friendly and wandering the windy streets in the horrendous humidity and heat, I have to smile.

I wandered down to one of my favorite places... the Carnegie Library, down on the beach and sat in the shade of the trees and chatted with a medical stdent from Nigeria. A bucnch of uniformed school girls arrived, and hung over the balcony, flirting with him. Then I wandered down to my favorite cafe...the Cornerstone cafe, and was delighted to find that the waitress remembered 'the painter lady'...

It wasn't the same yesterday in Bequai, a place a really loved. I saw too many changes that didn't settle well with me. Yes, these are small developing countries, and I cannot begrudge them growth and development, but Bequia seems to be going the way of the sleek and fast. Here in Roussea, even the new buildings look old. Some of the shops have changed, and there seems to be a lot more of them. In any case, I wandered around a bit, and went to the bank for MORE money. I do not like dealing in u.s. cash when I travel anywhere but the U.S. It may seem strange, but to me it's kind of disrespectful. And besides, I like the young queen on the EC bills

This whole 'cruising' thing is really weird for me, and i have to admit that is what I am on a CRUISE, something I swore I would never do. I am reasonably sure I am the only single person on the ship. It's all couples or small clumps of women friends. Mostly americans, and quite a few east coast canadians, a smattering of Brits. I am finally finding my way around the boat. The windows in my stateroom have blackout curtains, so I cannot even awake with the sun rising... Tonight I will leave them open. Every night when I return to go to bed, it is laid out, and there are a couple of chocolate mints there for me. There is a stocked bar, a fridge, a fuzzy white bathrobe, always a bucket of ice, tv with cd's in the library as well as books. I am not doing many of the 'land tours', only the ones that include water.

We are ferried to shore by a small boat, and it runs all day, so when it gets too hot, i
I return to the ship, have lunch, change to my bathing suit and have a bit of a wallow in the very small swimming pool. I have talked to a few couples, but typically, they clutch together, and prefer to join up with couples. Today, a woman I have seen before sat down beside me on one of the deck lounges. We got to chatting, and she is travelling with her partner of 35 years (she's gay). we had a nice conversation, and it turned out we were all eating at the seafood deck restaurant that evening, so I joined them there. It was a bit windy, but nice and refeshing to sit and eat outdoors.

Now about the food. People seem to think it is good, but I have to wonder where they usually eat when they are home. The presentation is always wonderful. It LOOKS good, but quite frankly, I find the descriptions tastier than the actual food itself. Its all kinda typical western middle of the road restaraunt fare dressed up to look first class, if you know what I mean. Nothing is made to oreder, so it's all precooked and reheated. The crew appears to be mainly Indonesian, and they are very good, polite, quick to fullfill your every request. It makes me feel like a plantation princess or something. With all the passengers (and I mean ALL) being white, upper middle class couples over 50, and with nearly all the workers of a 'different colour', there is absolutely nothing vaguely carribean on the ship at all. It could be generically anyplace in the world. The only difference between a Windstar boat in Dominica and one in Tahiti would be the land tours. It kinda creeps me out.

After dinner, there is always a show, which tonight was a stand up comedian. He was a British 8th rate, straight out of the fifties, clean as a whistle (except for the occassional poop or fart joke) comedian, balding with a paunch, and a 'comic' wardrobe.(mismatched flourescent socks. He was embarassingly bad, but people seemed to like him.... to bed.

The next morning, I headed to breakfast where I discovered strawberry and cottage cheese crepes - anglo blintzes, I think. There is an overloaded buffet every morning at 6 a. m. and breakfast to order at 7. Buffets always stump me - too many decisions to make that early in the morning. Or at 7 you can order waffles, eggs, pancakes or whatever you want. I will stick with these crepes every day I think. I am trying to get a grip on the experience, but at times i find it all rather frustrating. We only sail at night, so there is no real sailing experience except for the bit in the morning as we pull into yet another port. The summer camp kinda aspect of the activities etc etc reall turns my stomach, and at times I feel very alone, but I am used to that.

Will i ever do anything like this again? I don't think so....Chalk it up to it is a different experience, and - I am resignedly experiencing it...

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