Забравени в рая на хамбургерите

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Забравени в рая на хамбургерите

Мира в рая на хамбургерите

Мира в рая на хамбургерите

Февруари, 2014

Спомняте ли си плуващите прасета и колко много им завиждахме, за това, че си живеят безгрижно на малък тропически остров на Бахамите, на плажа, мързелувайки по цели дни; за това, че никой не ги тревожи със сатъри, шишове и скари и най-вече за това, че лодки им доставят безплатна храна всеки ден? Не след дълго и ние опитахме от този луксозен начин на живот: перфектен остров, райски плаж, безплатна храна на корем… Вече знаем точно как се чустват бахамските прасета.

Добър апетит!

Добър апетит!

Храната на Бахамите е проблем. В малките селца из островите има магазинчета в приземните етажи на някои от къщите, където изборът от стоки е доста лимитиран и всичко е 2 до 4 пъти по-скъпо от същите продукти в Америка, тъй като транспортирането по море е сложно. Една ябълка струва 1$. Магазинчетата биват зареждани веднъж седмично и често се налагаше да чакаме до сряда, ако искахме да си купим пресни плодове и зеленчуци.

Затова, преди да потеглим от Флорида за Бахамите, ние се заредихме с хранителни продукти- консерви, сухи храни, макаронени изделия, брашно, ориз и се надявахме, че ще хващаме риба редовно. Но след около месец и половина запасите ни взеха да свършват и оризът ни стана основна храна, със или без риба…

В един момент нашите стари съседи от Канада ни писаха, че пристигат с голям круиз на един от островите на Бахамите. Тъй като бяхме само на 30 мили от мястото, решихме да отидем и да се видим с Браян и Джойс. Само че пристигнахме на уреченото място една седмица преди уговорената среща.

Плажът  на остров Little San Salvador

Плажът на остров Little San Salvador

Little San Salvador е малко частно островче собственост на големите круиз компании Holland-America и Carnival с перфектна плажна ивица- бял пясък, палми и малки разноцветни бунгалца вътре с климатик и джакузи, които курортистите могат да си наемат за няколко часа. Тук няма село, а нещо като малък лагер с фургони, в които живеят около 40 постояни работника обслужващи острова.

Пуснахме котва в единственото заливче от северната страна и се срещнахме с управителя на острова, Антъни, който ни се зарадва и каза, че можем да стоим на котва там колкото си искаме.

Реплика на пиратски кораб- бар и ресторант

Реплика на пиратски кораб- бар и ресторант

На следващата сутрин се появи един огромен круиз кораб и стовари 3 000 розови, дебели, пияни, шумни туристи. Помислихме си: „Ужас! Как ще преживеем тук цяла седмица?“ Но после открихме островният грил-бюфет.

Пасажери от круиза на нашия плаж

Пасажери от круиза на нашия плаж

Дойде време за обяд и пасажерите от круиза, които лениво се припичаха на плажа, се отправиха към бюфета. Ние нехайно ги последвахме, инфилтрирайки се в редиците на изгладнелите туристи. Внезапно пред нас се разкри невероятна гледка- земният рай за всеки гладник.

Раят на хамбургерите

Рая на хамбургерите

Хамбургери и хотдози, пиле на грил, ребърца със сос, риба на скара, 5-6 вида салати и гарнитури (зелена салата, салата от зеле, макаронена салата, салата със скариди, картофена салата с горчица Дижон, печени тиквички, задушени броколи, варена царевица, боб, кус-кус с къри и прочие), сладкиши (няколко вида бисквити и сладки, няколко вида торти) и планини от плодове- цели и нарязани (дини, пъпеши, ананси, манго, грозде, ябълки, портокали, киви, папая, ягоди). Храна за 3 000 пасажера, 50 екипаж и обслужващ персонал и 4 почитни госта (ние).

Иво си пълни чиния за осемнайсти път

Иво си пълни чиния за осемнайсти път

Натъпкахме се докато измършавелите ни кореми се надуха като зрели дини и не можехме да поемем повече, после спряхме да си поемем въздух за няколко минути и после хапнахме още малко. Аз си носех фотоапарата в една малка раничка, която приюти няколко ябълки, портокали и хамбургера за после. Внезапно се пучуствахме не само преяли, но и виновни, че крадем храна от круизовете. До момента, в който видяхме ужасени какво става с неизядената храна в края на обяда. Боклуците- нахапаните хамбургери и недоядените гарнитури на 3 000 човека бяха сложени в чували за боклук и изгорени по-късно във вътрешността на островчето. А храната, която остана в бюфета, понеже бяха приготвили повече отколкото пасажерите можеха да поемат- перфектни кюфтета и пилешки пържоли, ребра, салати и гарнитури, нарязани плодове и десерти, беше изсипана в 80-литрови червени бидони с капаци, които занесоха обратно на кораба и хвърлиха зад борда в открито море щом корабът напусна заливчето. Ние бяхме потресени от това разхищение. Попитахме местните, които обслужваха островчето, дали не може корабите да им оставят неизядената храна, а остатъците да събират и да отглеждат прасета. Не, казаха те, фирмена политика.

Мая и Виктор (като гледате тази снимка слушайте Conquest of Paradisе от Вангелис https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94dY-QxjDiE)

Мая и Виктор (като гледате тази снимка слушайте Conquest of Paradisе от Вангелис https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94dY-QxjDiE)

Толкова много прясна вкусна храна бива изхвърляна зад борда ежедневно, докато хората из околните острови плащат по 1$ за ябълка. А да не говорим за това как самите работници обслужващи корабите- предимно млади хора от Филипините и Източна Европа, много от България, биват експлотирани срещу нищожно заплащае, докато гигантските корпорации Холанд Америка, Карнавал и останалите (регистрирани на места, където да не плащат такси и данъци) печелят милиони, разхищават храна и замърсяват прриродата.

Набързо си сменихме гледната точка. Вече не се чуствахме виновни, че „крадем храна от корабите“ а се чуствахме доволни, че „спасяваме храна от кофите за боклук“ или по-скоро- „от акулите“.

Корабът си замина в ранният следобед и островаът остана само за нас. Отново настана тишина и спокойствие- нито един човек на плажа. Разходихме се из вътрешността, където видяхме поляни с коне и козички и едно магаре наречено Тед. Запознахме се и се сприятелихме с постоянните работници, които обслужват острова и те ни поканиха на вечеря в техният лагер. От тях разбрахме, че и те не одобряват разхищението на големите круизи, но не искаха да коментират много, защото ги беше страх да не си загубят работата.

Тази нощ Иво не можа да заспи. Споменът за бюфета и несигурността за утрешният ден го държаха буден до сутринта. Ще дойде ли отново голям круиз? Ще ни донесе ли пак вкусен обяд? Така Иво си прекара нощта на палубата, загледан в хоризота, в очакване на голям бял кораб.

Разбира се, на следващата сутрин, друг круиз пусна котва в нашето заливче и сцената с бюфета се повтори. Всеки ден нов кораб пристигаше и всеки ден ние се присъединявахме към пасажерите му на обяд. Превърна се в рутина и се почуствахме като на курорт. Обяда беше между 12 и 2. Следобедите се наслаждавахме на тишината и спокойствието, които ни се струваха още по-интензивни, след сутришната навалица и суматоха. А вечерите си правехме малко огънче на плажа, където си претопляхме хамбургерите и пилешките пържолки скатани от бюфета на обяд.

Мая и Виктор строят огън

Мая и Виктор строят огън

Мира си топли пилешка пържолка на огъня

Мира си топли пилешка пържолка на огъня

Мая край огъня

Мая край огъня

И когато Браян и Джойс най-сетне пристигнаха на борда на Carnival Fantasy, ние ги посрещнахме, разведохме ги и им показахме къде какво има на нашият остров и разбира се ги поканихме на обяд в „нашият“ бюфет.

Мира с Браян и Джойс в бара на пиратския кораб

Мира с Браян и Джойс в бара на пиратския кораб

Но когато си тръгнаха на следващия ден осъзнахме, че вече нямаме причина да стоим на този остров. Вдигнахме котва и потеглихме на юг. За първи път чак толкова не ни се тръгваше. Гледахме с носталгия към фалшивият пиртски кораб на плажа и към нашият приятел Крейзи Джордж, един от състава работници на острова, който свиреше и ни махаше от плажа. С натежали сърца (и кореми) ние също му махахме за сбогом. Може би никога повече нямаше да видим това място, което беше така щедро към нас.

Пияни летовници танцуват Макарена на плажа

Пияни летовници танцуват Макарена на плажа

Но щом си подадохме носа извън прикритието на острова, силен вятър с насрещни вълни ни накараха да завием наобратно и да се върнем в любимото заливче 20 миути след като го бяхме напуснали завинаги.

Същата вечер пристигнаха още няколко платноходки и пуснаха котва в нашето заливче. На една от тях забелязахме две момиченца колкото Мая и незабавно отидохме да се запознаем. Райли на 11г. и Рен на 10г. се сприятелиха с Мая (на 10г.), а ние се сприятелихме с родителите им- Скот и Стефани- учители в американски колеж специалност- „туризъм, спорт и приключения“. Стефани е професионален атлет и инструктор по рафтинг. Взели си една година отпуска и се разхождаха с лодка из Бахамите. Невероятно семейство. Останахме още една седмица с идеалното извинение- чакахме подходящ вятър.

Завръщане в рая

Завръщане в рая

Перфектният рай стана още по-перфектен с нашите нови приятели в него.

Мая, Райли и Рен

Мая, Райли и Рен

Показахме им как стоят нещата с бюфета и се оказа, че не само българите сме „прибрани хора“. Нашите нови американски приятели започнаха да прибират не само сандвичи и портокали, но и чинии и за няколко дни се сдобиха с нов сервиз… Ние се задоволихме само със сандвичите.

Новите приятелки изчезваха сутрин и си прекарваха дните във водата на плажа. Прибираха се вечер и даже поканиха Мая на гости с преспиване. Иво и Скот се занимаваха с риболов с хавайски харпуни край рифовете и си организирахме вечеря на риба и омари на борда на Фата Моргана (да разнообразим менюто).

Скот и Райли ни посещават

Скот и Райли ни посещават

Стефани и Рен

Стефани и Рен

Райли, Мая и Рен с огромен омар, който изядохме за вечеря, заедно с половин кофа риба

Райли, Мая и Рен с огромен омар, който изядохме за вечеря, заедно с половин кофа риба

Приятелки

Приятелки

Освен ние и нашите нови приятели, дойдоха още 2 лодки. На едната плаваха възрастна двойка много възпитани англичани, а на другата един образ от Норвегия наречен Бен- стрхотно забавен дядка на 80 години, който си плаваше соло. Те също се присъединиха към нашата компания, щом станеше време за обяд.

След няколко дни тотална идилия, управителят Антъни хвана Бен пиян и чисто гол в джакузито на една от кабаните за туристи на плажа малко преди залез слънце и ни изгони всичките…

"Иска ми се да остана тук завинаги"

„Иска ми се да остана тук завинаги“

Четиринайста глава. Старите и новите заселници на Бахамите

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Мерси от екипажа на Фата Моргана!

 

 

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Welcome to Our Home! Добре дошли у дома!

For the first time since our journey began we have been invited to visit friends who found us thanks to the blog and we did it!

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За първи път откак тръгнахме на това пътешествие бяхме поканени да посетим хора, които ни откриха благодарение на блога ни и ние ги посетихме!

Nettle Bay residential complex, Marigot Lagoon, St Martin

Nettle Bay residential complex, Marigot Lagoon, St Martin

We arrived in St Martin, the French part of the island, and we dropped anchor in the lagoon in front of a charming residential complex. Small beach with palm trees, white houses and a swimming pool.

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Пристигнахме във френската част на Ст Мартен и пуснахме котва в лагуната пред една очарователна резиденция- малко плажче с палми, бели къщички и басейн.

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In one of the houses live our new friends- Maria form Sofia, Bulgaria, her man Gennaro from Italy and their three kids.

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В една от белите къщички живеят Мария от София, България, мъжът и Дженаро от Италия и трите им деца.

View from their balcony. Fata Morgana is anchored just a few meters away from the beach.

View from their balcony. Fata Morgana is anchored just a few meters away from the beach.

Philip, 6, Robert, 5 and Michelle, 3 are the cutest kids ever, and already speak 4 languages: Bulgarian, Italian, English and French! Maya loves playing with them in their house.

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Филип на 6г., Робърт на 5г. и Мишел на 3г. са най-сладките деца на света, които вече говорят на 4 езика- български, италиански, английски и френски! Мая много се забавлява с тях в къщата им.

Philip, Michelle and Maya playing

Philip, Michelle and Maya playing

Maya, Michelle, Robert and Philip

Maya, Michelle, Robert and Philip

 

And they love to visit our boat.

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И те много обичат да ни идват на гости на лодката.

Philip and Michelle aboard Fata Morgana

Philip and Michelle aboard Fata Morgana

Visiting Fata Morgana

Visiting Fata Morgana

Transportation from our home to their home.

Transportation from our home to their home.

 

We are cooking together and sharing meals in their home and aboard Fata Morgana;

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Заедно си готвим и хапваме у тях или на борда на Фата Моргана;

Michelle

Michelle making pizza for us

Diner time aboard Fata Morgana

Dinner time aboard Fata Morgana

 

We do Yoga in the morning (Maria is a Yoga instructor in the local school);

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Сутрин праим йога (Мария е инструктор по йога в местното училище);

Yoga in the morning

Yoga in the morning

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We visit the island with their car;

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Разхождаме се из острова с тяхната кола;

At the beach at Grande Anse

At the beach at Grand Case

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Maya and Robert at the beach, Grand Case

Maya and Robert at the beach, Grand Case

Ivo and Gennaro are fixing stuff (Gennaro found a fishing boat that has sunk in the lagoon who knows how long ago, pulled it out and fixed it up)…

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Иво и Дженаро ремонтират неща (Дженаро намерил една рибарска лодка потънала в лагуната кой знае кога, извадил я от водата и я ремонтирал)…

Ivo and Gennaro cutting holes in the boat...

Ivo and Gennaro cutting holes in the boat…

ivo and Gennaro

ivo and Gennaro

These guys have opened their home to us, and invited us to use their internet, their shower and washing machine, their car, the swimming pool…

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Това семейство отвори вратите нa дома си за нас, все едно сме стари приятели или роднини, поканиха ни да ползваме интернета им, банята и пералнята им, колата им, басейна…

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We are having the best time, thank you guys for inviting us and for sharing these precious moments with us!

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Изкарваме си разкошно! Благодарим ви, невероятно семейство, за поканата, за щедростта и за прекрасните споделени моменти!

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Grenada: Installing Solar Panels

 

Installing Solar Panels

Installing Solar Panels

Time to leave St Lucia and head directly to Grenada where our friends Mel and Caryn are getting two new huge solar panels shipped from Florida for their Island Packet S/V Passages.

We have been cruising together with Mel and Caryn since Guadeloupe, for over two months now, and we have become very close friends. They are both extremely humble cultured sweet people who enjoy travel and adventure very much.

Mel and Caryn at Champagne Reef, Dominica

Mel and Caryn at Champagne Reef, Dominica

Mel was born in Namibia and Caryn in Zimbabwe. They met in South Africa and later moved to Australia where they live since 7 years now. We have spent many evenings sharing meals aboard Fata Morgana and Passages, listening to their incredible stories of Africa. „You have to be very careful with Africa, said Caryn one evening. Once she gets in your blood there is no getting her out of you. You always want to comeback there.“ When she speaks of Africa, of the places in Africa, the sounds of Africa, the animals of Africa, the sunsets of Africa, her voice fills with tenderness and nostalgia.

Caryn with a Rasta Man in St. Lucia

Caryn with a Rasta Man in St. Lucia

Mel is a mechanical engineer but works in business software now, and Caryn is a school teacher, and she must be the best school teacher in the world. They are now in their early fifties and have ventured for work and for fun all over the world in most continents, in hundreds of countries. In 2013 they bought S/V Passages, a beautiful island Packet, and have been sailing through the Bahamas and the Caribbean since then, pretty much n the same rout as us. After a few months, they will be leaving the boat here in Grenada and return to Australia to work for awhile, before continuing with their sailing adventure.

S/V Passages

S/V Passages

Mel is also a professional marathon runner. He is participating in marathons all over the world almost every year. He can run a lot… So Ivo, who likes to go jogging early in the morning found a great companion. They run for about 6 to 10 km every second day and of course talk about all sorts of things while running, like solar panels and lithium batteries, boats, and other important stuff. Thus, the plan to instal more solar on S/V Passages was consolidated and soon put into action.

Ivo and Mel installing solar panels

Ivo and Mel installing solar panels

Ivo is excited to help with the installation. After all, it is his fault Mel and Caryn ordered two panels a lot bigger than they initially wanted. We have 5 big solar panels aboard Fata Mоrgana and two smaller ones, producing a staggering 1,500 Wаtts of pure solar electricity, and often we inspire cruisers to get more solar panels. We also have lithium batteries, instead of AGMs or flooded, which is something very new and innovative in the world of sailing. We think, it’s the future of boat batteries. I have previously posted a very detailed article about our solar installation, which can be found here. So Ivo convinced Mel to go bigger, get double, supersize! We are all about off-grid living and alternative energies, so when friends go solar, we all celebrate.

Viktor and Ivo installing Kyocera solar panels aboard Fata Morgana, November, 2013, Florida

Viktor and Ivo installing Kyocera solar panels aboard Fata Morgana, November, 2013, Florida

We sail 110 NM to Tyrell Bay in Carriacou together with S/V Passages bypassing the big island of St Vincent and the smaller islands of The Grenadines where we are planning to return in due time and explore them thoroughly.

We are getting 18-20 kt east winds between the islands, but when we are behind the island, even though we keep at least 10 miles distance between us and land, the wind just stops and of course we stop too… We wait, Ivo pulls the boat with the kayak and we even try the „new“ used spinnaker we bought in Martinique. But nothing works. After a few hours the wind returns and we sail again.

Flying the Spinnaker

Flying the Spinnaker

We arrive in Carriacou on the second day of our passage and we stay there only a couple of days, just to check-in and to rest a bit.  Then we sail again, to St George’s, Grenada.

St George’s is the capital and biggest city of Grenada and a popular tourist destination. Its big wide horseshoe-shaped harbor is surrounded by a hillside of an old volcano crater crowned by the 1705 Fort George on the northwestern tip. The city is beautiful, old colonial buildings standing guard around the harbor, narrow streets crisscrossing the steep hills, providing glorious vistas of the bay.

St George's Grenada

St George’s Grenada

We drop anchor in the anchorage outside of the harbor, S/V Passages go to Port Louis Marina, ready for some new solar panels. In the next two days Ivo and Mel work hard from dawn till dusk. Looking for parts, which can be tricky in Grenada, building two frames with stainless steel one inch tubing, one over the bimini an one over the davits, and finally mounting the panels.

Mel and Ivo busy with the solar panels

Mel and Ivo at work

The biggest problem they encountered while doing all this was that the fittings which were labelled one inch, where actually smaller, 7/8, and there were no one-inch fittings anywhere on the island. To order them from Martinique would take one month and so Ivo came up with the idea to grind the stainless steel pipes and make them fit in the 7/8 fittings… This took a whole day. But the next day the frame is ready and the new Kyocera 350 watt panels are up on the boat.

Installing the Solar Panels aboard S/V Passages

Installing the Solar Panels aboard S/V Passages

 

While Ivo and Mel are busy with the solar panels, Caryn, Maya and I spend the days at the marina swimming pool, where Maya quickly makes a great new friend, Meagan, another cruising kid.

Maya and Meagan at Port Louis Marina's pool

Maya and Meagan at Port Louis Marina’s pool

And when the job is done, we celebrate with a lovely dinner aboard solar-powered S/V Passages.

Maya aboard S/V Passages

Maya aboard S/V Passages

Installing solar panels aboard S/V Passages has been a great rewarding experience for all. And it is not over. Mel and Caryn are planning to get even more solar panels in the next months and thinking about switching to lithium batteries too. The lithium batteries are lighter, smaller, faster charging, holding their voltage much more, can be discharged at ones, can be discharged completely without damage, and are now very affordable. If you look at our Sponsors Page you will find a link to Balqon, the company with the best lithium batteries prices in the USA. You will also find E-Marine Systems, the best prices and quality for solar panels. After one year of using our lithium batteries, we are extremely satisfied and would recommend them to anyone. Lithium batteries are the future of cruising.

Mel and Ivo and the solar panels

Mel and Ivo and the solar panels

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Island of Beautiful Waters

Guadeloupe

River in Guadeloupe

River in Guadeloupe

Guadeloupe, one of the biggest and most populated islands of the Lesser Antilles island chain, is an overseas region and an integral department of France. French language only is spoken here, and the euro is its currency. Like pretty much every other Caribbean island, the main industry is tourism, but agriculture is also well developed, with vast banana plantations on fertile volcanic soil.

Guadeloupe consists of two islands in the shape of, most people say a butterfly, but to me they look more like human lungs. Basse-Terre to the west and Grange-Terre to the east are joined, almost like Siamese twins, separated by a narrow strait crossed by bridges. There are two smaller islands also part of Guadeloupe: Marie-Galante and Iles des Saintes.

Evo with dorado

Evo with dorado

Guadeloupe is our next stop after visiting the sovereign state of Antigua and Barbuda. Sailing there on a beam reach in moderate tradewinds from English Harbour is a sheer pleasure, and we even catch a small dorado. Evo has been hoping to catch a dorado for months now and it’s funny that his first one is so tiny and doesn’t fight at all. Small, but fish, one of the tastiest out there, and it feeds us all that evening.

Deshaies

We arrive in Deshaies, a main port of entry to Guadeloupe on the northwest side of Basse-Terre and a charming little fishermen village, and are happy to find s/v Passages already moored in the bay there (mooring balls in the bay are available free of charge, for now).

Desaies

Desaies

We met Caryn and Mel briefly when we were checking out from Nevis, and then again in Montserrat. With them and with the crews of two other boats in the Deshaies anchorage: Bev aboard s/v Aseka and Mark and Tina aboard s/v Rainbow, we organize our first waterfall expedition.

Deshaies Waterfall

Guadeloupe was once named Kerukera, The Island of Beautiful Waters, by its first known inhabitants, the Arawak Indians, for its abundance of rivers, lakes, and waterfalls.

River near Deshaies, Guadeloupe

River near Deshaies, Guadeloupe

Not far from the Deshaies anchorage there is a small river flowing through the forest, and a waterfall. But to reach the waterfall, which has no name (or maybe it does but we don’t know it) we have to walk beside and inside the river, over boulders and fallen trees for what seems an eternity.

Cruisers on a waterfall expedition

Cruisers on a waterfall expedition

Maya

Maya

Evo

Evo

We stop for a short refreshing splash-around in a small pond up river. Everyone is happy to chill before heading up and up again until we reach the place.

Maya and Evo in the river pool

Maya and Evo in the river pool

Cruisiers in the pond

Cruisers in a pond

It’s a beautiful miniature canyon with dark mossy walls dripping with water, a green pool and a small waterfall hidden in the dark behind a huge rock.

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We are really glad we have finally reached it, it was not an easy walk-in-the-park kind of hike. On the way back we pick up a few coconuts and lots of mangoes from the forest.

Mira

Mira

Ecrevisses Waterfall

A few days later we hire a car with our new best friends Caryn and Mel s/v Passages, very sweet people form Australia, and visit another waterfall, this one really popular and very close to the road, Ecrevisse Waterfall. You can park your car on the side of the road, get your towel, enter the forest, and walk 2 minutes to the place.

Ecrevisse Fall

Ecrevisse Fall

It’s full of people even at 6 in the evening, and everyone is cooling down in the pool under the cascade and in the small ponds formed here and there in the shallow wide river.

Maya having fun at the river, Ecrevisse Fall

Maya having fun at the river, Ecrevisse Fall

Most visitors are locals enjoying the refreshing waters in the afternoon, and we join them for a dip.

 

Cabret Falls

Days later we share a rental car again with Caryn and Mel and drive to the Cabret Falls for another expedition. The Cabret Falls are a series of waterfalls in a national park and one of the most popular tourist destinations in Guadeloupe. There is an entrance fee to the park of about 3 euros per person which is well worth the excellent trails with wooden paths and steps in some parts of the path.

Maya

Maya

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Maya on the trail

Maya on the trail

The first cascade is about two hours of uphill walking from the visitor’s center and descends from the Soufriere Volcano’s slopes dropping 125 meters (410 ft) in a deep pool of green waters surrounded by yellow and red rocks.

Cabret First Cascade

Cabret First Cascade

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Mira

Mira

Mel and Caryn

Mel and Caryn

It is not an easy hike to the first cascade and not too many visitors go there. Most people are content with the 15-minute walk from the visitor’s center on a paved wheelchair-accessible path to the second cascade which has a 110 meters (360 ft) drop.

Cabret Second Cascade

Cabret Second Cascade

Evo and Maya

Evo and Maya

The access to the third cascade, the one with most water volume, is currently restricted after an earthquake in 2004 and heavy rains caused landslides and cut off the trail.

Maya

Maya

We spend the day walking up and down the slopes of Soufriere volcano amidst the intense green vegetation of the tropical rainforest, going from one waterfall to another, eating sandwiches, singing and dancing among giant trees, enjoying Guadeloupe’s beautiful nature.

Maya

Maya

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Maya

Maya

Mel and Caryn

Mel and Caryn

Maya

Maya

Maya-elephant

Maya-elephant

Evo

Evo

Mira

Mira

Maya sleeping on a rock

Maya sleeping on a rock

Evo's blond-forest hairstyle

Evo’s blond-forest hairstyle

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Maya dancing and singing: I Will Survive!

Maya dancing and singing: I Will Survive!

The Life Nomadik family in Guadeloupe

The Life Nomadik family in Guadeloupe

 

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Surfing Cabarete

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“My surfboard is a magic carpet”

– Jade Adele

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It is magic, catching a wave and staying on top of it. Like catching flying dragons and riding them. You have to wait. They come all the time, running towards the beach, mad dragons who don’t even notice you. You will hate them and love them, you will talk to them, try to convince them to listen to you, you will drink them and breathe them, and only briefly you will become a part of them. Once this happens, there is no going back.

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Cabarete is a small coastal town less than 100 km east of Luperon, with some of the nicest windiest beaches in the Dominican Republic.

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Thousands of visitors from all over the world come here each year, but these are not regular tourists. The people who come to Cabarete come to surf. The town is the surfing mecca of the Caribbean and life here revolves around surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, and paddle boarding. Surf competitions take place in Cabarete every year. There are surf-shops, surf-hotels, and surf-cafes. The surf vibe is incredible.

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Not surprisingly, there is a large expat community of surf-maniacs who have moved to Cabarete from all corners of the world to make it their permanent home and thus be able to do what they love best all day, every day: surf. Like Jade and Gabriel.

Jade

Jade

We met them thanks to Kendall, a friend from Montreal. “Check out these guys”, Kendall wrote to me a few months ago and sent me a link to their blog.

Jade and Gabriel are „travel bloggers on an adventure to the most beautiful places on earth.“ In their blog you can read stories of travel and adventure, as reviews of places and food, see and purchase beautiful photography (Gabriel is a photographer), and of course find out all there is about surfing in Cabarete. We started following their journey through their travel diaries at WeTravelAndBlog.com

As soon as we arrived in Dominican Republic they invite us to Cabarete for a couple of days even though they are busy organizing a wedding. Their own wedding. We are thrilled.

Gabriel and Evo

Gabriel and Evo

Surfing is a lot of work: paddling all the way inside, trying to catch a wave and then keeping balance. After about one hour we are totally destroyed. Shoulders hurt from the paddling, ribs hurt from the board, eyes are red from the sun, salt water in the nose, sea urchins in the feet.  But it’s all worth it the few seconds when we manage to stay up on that surf, sliding in front of the wave. We just want to go back in and do it again, longer and better this time.

Maya surfing for the first time.

Maya surfing for the first time.

In the afternoon we visit Kite Beach. We have never seen anything like it. Hundreds of kites and windsurfs riding the constant Trade Winds. It’s spectacular.

Kitesurf Beach, Cabarete

Kitesurf Beach, Cabarete

Then, we eat pollo al carbon, BBQ chicken, at a small local restaurant and go to sleep early, at Jade and Gabriel’s place. It is the coolest place we have ever seen. A big old wooden house with a porch and a huge yard, old trees, palms, and ferns everywhere, an outside shower in the back, and a Dharma Garden with herbs and vegetables populated by strange insects and little lizards.

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Gabriel’s dad built the house years ago. Now a bunch of people live there. Gabriel’s aunt Maru , the coolest aunt in the world, has a room downstairs. She loves tango, artichokes and pear nectar, has 6 dogs, the favorite one is nicknamed Prosti, “Ex prostituta”, Maru explains. There is also a room rented to a friend who is the creator of the Dharma Garden. Jade and Gabby live upstairs.

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The next day the waves are better, surfing is easier, and Maya gets pretty good at it. Alesandro, one of  Jade and Gabriel’s friends and surfing instructor spends over an hour in the water with Maya helping her and teaching her to surf.

Maya and Alesandro

Maya and Alesandro

When Maya finally comes out of the water she announces: “I need a surfboard…”

Maya

Maya

Evo is also badly hooked to surfing and is getting the hang of it pretty quick. I am totally destroyed from the previous day, but would love to surf some more again. Viktor missed the whole thing as he decided to take a couple of days off (us) and stay on the boat by himself.

Evo surfing

Evo surfing

We return to Cabarete after two weeks to celebrate Jade and Gabriel’s wedding. The party is at Seahorse Ranch, a luxurious gated community and beach resort, many acres of prime land, with a restaurant perched on the rocks over the sea. It’s beautiful.  We are absolutely honored and thrilled to be at the wedding party. There is live music, cotton candy, a bonfire near the sea under a full moon… Many of the surfers we met on the beach are there. Alesandro is there, Maru, even Kendall!

At the wedding party

At the wedding party

 

Surfing Cabarete Pictures

Gabriel teaching Maya how to stand up on the board

Gabriel teaching Maya how to stand up on the board

A guy surfing upside-down

A guy surfing upside-down!

 

Kitesurf Beach, Cabarete

Kitesurf Beach, Cabarete

Watching the daily show from the beach

Watching the daily show from the beach

 

Kitesurfer flying

Kitesurfer flying

Same guy doing tricks in the air

Same guy doing tricks in the air

 

Maya and Alesandro

Maya and Alesandro

Maya

Maya

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Evo

Evo

 

Maya

Maya

Jade

Jade

Evo

Evo

 

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Our Friends, The Forbidden Island, David Copperfield, And The Barracudas.

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When our friends came to visit us in the Bahamas for a week they surely didn’t imagine that so many crazy things can happen in just a few days. Ivan, one of our best friends ever, his 16-year-old daughter Nanny, and 18-year-old son Nikola who is also Viktor’s best friend (the mastermind behind Viktor’s Achievement List), landed in George Town and survived a week aboard Fata Morgana sailing in good weather and in bad weather complete with a 35-knot squall and huge waves, entering through a narrow cut between rocks and breakers at night with the current against the boat and both the skipper and the helmsman (Evo and Mira) panicking, discovering a magical island and its enchanted inhabitant, spearfishing in barracuda-infested waters, snorkeling with stingrays and starfishes, swimming with sharks and mermaids, kayaking in a small grotto at night where the only light is from the photoluminescence in the water, almost burning down a palm tree, feeding coconuts to a man-eating dog, and eating barracudas every day.

Evo and Ivan sailing into the sunset.

Evo and Ivan sailing into the sunset.

About 35 miles north of George Town is Rudder Cay. It is a private island with a few remote beaches and beautiful rocks with a small cave owned by the famous illusionist David Copperfield.

Rudder Cay, cave and beach

Rudder Cay, cave and beach

We were told that there are video cameras surveying the shores and a man-eating dog guarding the island’s secrets, so better don’t go ashore, you don’t want to mess with a magician and his rabid dog.

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As we get to the island, first thing’s first, we go ashore. Some of us swim, some of us pile on the kayak and we are all on the private beach in two minutes. We can’t wait to meet David Copperfield; he would be the first famous person we meet in the Bahamas.

Kayaking to the forbidden island.

Kayaking to the forbidden island.

We roam the island, collect coconuts, and explore the cave, but no sign of the magician.

inside the cave

inside the cave

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Mira

Mira

 

Then suddenly, as we are peacefully chopping coconuts on the beach, a dark hungry creature emerges from of the bush. Is it David Copperfield? Is it Robinson Crusoe? Is it Tom Hanks? Is it the man-eating dog? We are seven people. Three say it’s a dog, four say it’s David Copperfield. Finally we agree it is the illusionist who, after a magic-trick-gone-wrong, turned himself into a dog.

Evo getting some coconuts.

Evo getting some coconuts.

Evo opening coconuts

Evo opening coconuts

 

A dog shows up.

David Copperfield

Poor David Copperfield, his fur matted and smelly, his nails overgrown, marooned on his island with no company, no food, and no freshwater.

David Copperfield is our friend

David Copperfield is our friend

He avidly eats about four coconuts, and from then on becomes our good island-friend and guide. We call him David for short.

David eating coconuts

David eating coconuts

The next day, while Ivan and Evo go spearfishing in the reefs, the kids, David, and I go to the other side of the island where we discover another secret beach. We bring leftover chicken bones and give them one by one to David. We have lots of fun. Everyone is happy.

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Maya making weapons, just in case, before the private island exploration

Maya making weapons, just in case, before the private island exploration

 

Viktor and Nick

Viktor and Nick

Viktor, Maya, Mira

Viktor, Maya, Mira

 

same people, in the air

same people, in the air

 

Back on the boat, we organize a jumping competition.

Viktor, Maya, Nick

Viktor, Maya, Nick

Same people, in the air

Same people, in the air

 

Evo doing a halo

Evo doing a halo

Vick and Nick

Vick and Nick

 

Nick and Maya

Nick and Maya

In the evening, we go back to shore with a huge bone we promised David and we make a huge bonfire on the beach with driftwood and dry palm leafs. 

Fire on the beach

Fire on the beach

Nanny and David

Nanny and David

 

Around the fire

Around the fire

Evo, the pyromaniac, is having lots of fun that evening.

Evo burning down the house

Evo burning down the house

no explanation...

no explanation…

 

The next day, we discover another of this enchanted place’ secrets: a mermaid playing a grand piano underwater.

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The life-size sculpture commissioned by Copperfield made of stainless steel is submerged in about ten feet of water, and the trick is to find where exactly it is.

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Nick

Nick

 

Mira

Mira

Best time to see it is at low tide, when the current is not too strong.

Ivan (!?)

Ivan (!?)

We are all sad leaving the island after a couple of days, especially leaving David behind, alone again. Nanny really wants to adopt him.

Please, if anyone ever goes there, bring some food and freshwater to the dog who is not dangerous and is completely abandoned. He survives on spiders and lizards, and drinks seawater… We all thought abandoning a dog alone on an island (to guard the private property from trespassers) is an example of animal cruelty, and whether David Copperfield or someone else is responsible for this, it is not an honorable thing to do.

Next, we spend a few more days sailing from one island to another, spearfishing, snorkeling, exploring, swimming, jumping, and kayaking some more. Everyone has a blast. We even eat the barracudas Ivan catches all the time. People say you can get ciguatera poisoning from barracudas: a bacteria found in big predators who eat smaller fishes who eat corral, but Ivan has come to the Bahamas to fish and eat fish, and nothing could stop him from eating barracudas! Still, we take precautions: we only keep the smaller barracudas which are safer than the bigger ones and we let our guest taste a little piece of the fish first. Then we wait about an hour to see if something unusual will happen to our friend. If he is still alive after an hour, means the barracuda is safe to eat, and we stuff ourselves with the white tender filets. It is one of the best tasting fish we ever had, and is the easiest fish to catch. Yum!

Nick with grunt

Nick with grunt

Nanny with starfish

Nanny with starfish

 

Assorted fishes

Assorted fishes

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Vick and Nick

Vick and Nick

Ivan and Evo with barracuda

Ivan and Evo with barracuda

 

Thus, a week passes way too fast, and when our friends leave it is hard to get used to the boat without them… We surely miss them.

Evo and Ivan

Evo and Ivan

Nick

Nick

 

Nanny

Nanny

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Marooned in Burger Paradise. Part Two

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After a week of unlimited burgers in the private cruise ship resort Half Moon Cay, we decide it is time to go and make a first attempt to sail away to the next Bahamian island south, Cat Island. As we lift anchor we look back at the beach, the fake pirate ship, the cabanas. Our friend ‘Crazy George’, one of the island workers whose job is to clean the beach and even the sand early in the morning before the arrival of the tourists, and whom we befriended, is standing on the shore whistling and waving in our direction with both arms over his head. We are waving back at him, our hearts heavy, we feel like we will never again see this place we enjoyed so much.

"I wish i could stay here forever."

„I wish i could stay here forever.“

But as soon as we are out of the protected anchorage, we are overwhelmed by strong headwind and big waves and the thought that for the first time in a week we will not have a proper lunch. After an hour of banging and too much stress, we turn back. For the first time in our sailing experience (about 7 months now) we change plans, give up, and turn back. With the wind now pushing us from behind, we arrive in the anchorage we have just left in only 20 minutes. There are a bunch of other sailboats which have arrived the evening before and as we drop anchor we spot two little girls, about Maya’s age, watching us from their boat just a few feet away. They have long hairs: one the color of gold, the other the color of fire. Riley (11) and Wren (9) become instant friends with Maya (10).

Wren, Maya, Riley

Wren, Maya, Riley

Thus, in the next few days, the three girls are inseparable. They play together all day rarely getting out of the water having tons of fun.

Maya, Riley, Wren

Maya, Riley, Wren

At the same time, Ivo and me become instant friends with Riley and Wren’s mom and dad. Turns out, they are „professional“ adventurers and teachers on a sabbatical vacation. Scott is teaching Adventure Education and Tourism (and currently writing a manual on the subject) at Washington County Community College. Stephanie, an athlete, is also an instructor in the same collage with many years of experience working as a White-Water Adventure instructor. Avid adventurers, hikers, mountain-climbers, skiers, free-divers, sailors, Scott and Steph are also great parents and friends, great people.

Stephanie

Stephanie

Riley, Scott, Maya, Ivo

Riley, Scott, Maya, Ivo

 

Wren and Stephanie

Wren and Stephanie

The perfect paradise became even perfecter with friends in it. We show them around and invite them to our buffet, and the girls are happy all day long. Scott, a snorkeling and spear-fishing addict, teaches Ivo how to spear-fish with a Hawaiian spear. They disappear and spend pretty much a million years in the water coming back in the evening, just before shark-time, with a bucket of assorted fish and a huge lobster. We improvise a small party on our boat and have fish for super for a change.

Riley, Maya, Wren with lobster

Three little savages and an unlucky lobster.

After a few days, we sail south together with our new friends aboard s/v Kiawah and spend a couple of days more with them at Cat Island, hiking up the tallest hill of the Bahamas where the famous Father Jerome hermitage is, shooting coconuts with rocks (Scott is an unbelievable good shot with those rocks, no coconut has a chance), drinking beers and listening to live music at the small beach shack with Cedell and Poompey, world-famous Rake-and-Scrape musicians, plus an epic sleep-over (Maya had the best time sleeping over at Kiawah with her two friends).

Wren and Maya at Cat Island

Wren and Maya at Cat Island

Riley in Blue, Cat Island

Riley in Blue, Cat Island

 

What the boat-girls play with

What the boat-girls play with

Hiking up Mount Alvernia

Hiking up Mount Alvernia

Inside the Hermitage's small chapel

Inside the Hermitage’s small chapel

 

A hermit-frog inside the hermitage

A hermit-frog inside the hermitage

Shack on the beach

Shack on the beach

 

Maya on the flute, Cedell in the saw, Pompey on the accordion, Scott on the drum

Maya on the flute, Cedell on the saw, Pompey on the accordion, Scott on the drum

And then is time to say goodby… Kiawah continued her journey taking away our friends, and we stayed behind for another week. We had a job to do.

Dear Riley and Wren,

Dear Riley and Wren,

 

Maya, Riley, and Wren BFF

Maya, Riley, and Wren
BFF

Check out S/V Kiawah amazing blog and follow their journey here.

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Great Harbour Cay. East Side

The Berry Islands, Bahamas

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The Berry Islands, which owe their name to the abundance of thatch berry trees found here, is a 55 nm chain of small cays in the form of a crescent on the eastern side of the Great Bahama Bank. The biggest one is Great Harbour Cay and this is the first island after Bimini we explore on our Bahamian journey.

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We drop the hook on the eastern side of the island so close to shore we can jump in the water and swim to the beach. And that is exactly what we do. It’s a beautiful seven-mile-long creamy -colored beach, no big hotels and not a single person in view. The only sign of civilization are the luxurious waterfront properties spread evenly along the ocean side. But they are all closed down, with boarded windows, vacant.

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In the evening we see lights coming from one of the houses, the one closest to our boat. It is a charming one-story home, freshly painted, not as big as the others around it but with a nice swimming pool surrounded by yellow flowers and palm trees. The next morning we decide to pay it a visit and meet its inhabitants.

CarriEarl

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As we approach, we start wondering: is it a hotel or a house? There are way too many beach chairs around the pool, a bar loaded with all sorts of bottles and glasses, as well as lots of tables on a terrace prepared for guests, like in a restaurant, so maybe it is a hotel?

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On the other hand, the place is small; there is a cozy living room, a sofa and a Christmas tree in the corner, with paintings and family photographs decorating the walls, souvenirs, little toys, and other memorabilia you only find in private homes.

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Is this a house or a hotel?, I ask the man and the woman we meet in the sunny terrace. They say with a smile and a British accent: it is both.

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Angie and Marty came from England eight years ago and bought the house which they turned into a small hotel with a big personality not too long ago, with only three guestrooms. Hotel CarriEarl, a Bahamian Paradise with a British Twist. And even the rooms are not exactly what you would expect from hotel rooms, each one has its own hue and domestic ambiance.

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I imagine staying at CarriEarl would be like visiting friends or family, an experience much more intimate and secluded than staying in a big hotel. And it is not only the size of CarriEarl (cutest little thing) or its location (waterfront in paradise), or the way it is decorated (homey perfection, makes you want to move in and stay forever), or the food served in the restaurant (homemade freshly baked goodies with vegetables, herbs, and coconuts from the garden in the back), or the bar overlooking the beach (name your poison) which make this place so precious and unique. It is the hosts, Angie and Marty: the most generous, hardworking, open-minded people capable of enlightening a gloomy day, who have endowed CarriEarl with a soul.

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Meeting Angie and Marty that day changed our entire experience on the island. We were welcomed to use their internet and bikes, and we even get invited to a free dinner in exchange for a few pictures I take of their place.

"Dobre Doshal! Dobar Wecher!" A sign on the board welcomes us in Bulgarian!

„Dobre Doshal! Dobar Wecher!“ A sign on the board welcomes us in Bulgarian!

 

We get treated to delicious pizzas Marty makes just for us, juice for the kids, rum punch for me, and Guinness for Ivo. And for desert: vanilla ice cream and a homemade coconut-lime cake Angie has baked with the coconuts from her garden! Maya and Viktor are thrilled; they don’t want to leave CarriEarl. Ever.

Maya and Viktor enjoying drinks at the bar.

Maya and Viktor enjoying drinks at the bar.

 

Our Island Adventures

For the next couple of days we borrow the bikes in the morning, peddle around the island from one end to the other, and return in the afternoon. The island is flat, a car passes on the road every half an hour or so, and there are quite a few things to explore. Biking here is a sheer pleasure. We love it!

Ivo with bike

Ivo with bike

 

We discover the shores, the settlement on the west side, a perfect marina entirely protected from storms, a small cave dug by the sea, and the abandoned derelict once famous Golf Clubhouse. We get to know the island with its big old cedars and tall palm trees tired of the constant winds coming from the Atlantic; its remoteness and tranquility in the tropical Bahamian winter.

Mira standing on the rocks near the cave.

Mira standing on the rocks near the cave.

 

It is “off season” now in the Bahamas, they explain, and so there are not many visitors in Great Harbour Cay. The luxurious vacation homes are all empty. The entire east side of the island with its beautiful sand beaches is deserted. But it is not just the season’s fault.

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Once in the 1960’s, after a $38 million investment, Great Harbor Cay became a private tropical haven for the rich and the famous, a hideaway for a very privileged few. Golf course designer Joe Lee fashioned an 18-hole championship golf course on rises of land overlooking the sea.  A magnificent multi-story clubhouse offered sweeping panoramic views of the island from its wooded hillside. Today, the clubhouse’s carcass is slowly decaying, nature reclaiming what’s hers.

The golf clubhouse in ruins.

The golf clubhouse in ruins.

 

Here Cary Grant, Brigitte Bardot, Jack Nicolson, Ingrid Bergman, and Hugh O’Brian, along with the Rockafeller clan and others from the social elite enjoyed the beaches, the golf course, waterfront mansions, and the unspoiled beauty of the island paradise. But the glory days are over now and with the global economy gone sour, there is not much going on in Great Harbour. Yet, we love it here the way it is, remote and quiet, a seven-mile beach reserved just for us.

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But after a few days, the east winds pick up and it becomes impossible to stay anchored on this side of the island, so we move to the more protected west side and there we discover the other ‘face’ of Great Harbour Cay: the local settlement with its unique tropical vibe.

* If you are planning a vacation in the Bahamas; if you are looking for a secluded perfect paradise experience, and if you still don’t know which island or which hotel to choose, go with CarriEarl, you will not regret it. You can visit Hotel CarriEarl’s website here for more information and to make reservations.

 

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The River Cave Expedition

 

 

The River Cave Expedition is the first of series of expeditions we went on together with our friends, the Friendship crew and the Czechs, on the north and west shores of Lago Izabal where we sailed together for almost two weeks.

 

Fata Morgana, Blizzard, and Friendship crews

Fata Morgana, Blizzard, and Friendship crews

 

The members of the River Cave Expedition are: Josef and Katchka; Daeli, Noial, and Lovam; and Ivo, Mira, Viktor, and Maya. Total of nine people. Meanwhile, Joni with Elan who was born with cerebral paralysis, and Jana with Anichka, spend the day at the Agua Caliente waterfall. They will join us for the next adventure.

 

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We start at the Agua Caliente waterfall going up river. There is no other path but the riverbed. In the beginning it is wide and shallow surrounded by lush jungle vegetation. But soon it gets narrower and the water becomes deeper and faster, cutting a deep canyon through the mountain’s grey rocks. An awe-inspiring view.

 

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Some places are difficult and dangerous to pass; we help the younger kids climb big boulders and swim across deeper waters. Josef has to carry Katchka most of the time. Lovam accepts help very rarely and only if he truly needs it, trying to keep up with Maya and Noial who are jumping from rock to rock with great ease leading the expedition.

 

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After a while we get to a small pool of green water where the river suddenly stops, turns towards the eastern wall of the canyon and enters a dark cave. We follow. The water inside the cave is still, deep, and freezing cold. This is the place where the river sleeps. We only have two submersible flashlights for nine people, so we keep one in front and one in back of the group. We swim in the dark cold water getting deeper and deeper into the cave until we don’t see light from the entrance any longer. The world becomes black. Colors never existed here; the sun has no memory of this place. We are blind.

It is a completely new and bizarre feeling swimming in a cave, in total darkness. We hear the tiny sounds of bats above our heads. We are trying to hold on to the wet slippery rock-walls covered with guano. Everything is mysterious. Who knows what  thing without eyes is lurking in the waters beneath. Who knows what thing without soul is listening from the cave’s ceiling some 30-40 feet above our heads.

Only if you abandon yourself to the cave and its secrets you will be able to feel and appreciate it. Fear should not enter the river-cave.

Everyone is silent. At places there are big rocks we have to go over one by one helping each other. I am expecting some of the kids to start panicking in the darkness, but it seems they all are truly enjoying the ride, even Katchka, she is so brave! And Viktor tells me later this was his favorite of all expeditions so far.

 

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Then, gradually, the silence gets filled with the muffled sound of water booming in the distance: an underground waterfall. The roar trapped in the cavern gets louder as we go further and soon we cannot hear each other anymore. We now feel the strong current against us. The waterfall is about fifteen feet tall and the only way to continue would be to climb over it. So we turn back. The journey back to the cave exit is a lot faster, going with the current.

Exiting the cave is a happy moment. I think of Plato’s caveman and his amazement at the outside world. The trees, the river, the clouds, the rocks. We look at each other and we lough. Wow, what an experience!

We have reached the end of one more unforgettable journey.

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The Cave’s Exit

 

 

* All photos were taken by Daeli with his GoPro camera

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Beyond the last thing you see in the distance. The story of the Czech family.

 

 

Katchka and Anichka aboard Blizzard

Katchka and Anichka aboard Blizzard

Another great family we met and befriended here in Rio Dulce Guatemala are Jana, Josef, Kachka, and Anichka, living and cruising aboard Blizzard, a 1982 32 feet Beneteau. They are from the Czech Republic and that is why we call them the Czechs.

 

Together with the Czechs and with the FriendShip family (read about the extraordinary story of the FriendShip family here) we spent over a week sailing around Lago Izabal, Guatemala’s biggest lake. We visited a mining village, explored a cave-river, went for a swim in a canyon, climbed a mountain, and took a dinghy ride down the Polochik River with howler monkeys in the trees around us.

 

Friendship, Fata Morgana and Blizzard sailing in Lago Izabal

Friendship, Fata Morgana and Blizzard sailing in Lago Izabal

The Czechs captivating stories of most unusual travels and adventures invigorated us and gave us a new charge for living. Here is a fraction of their journey; the entire story would take many pages to write.

 

Josef 37, and Jana 30, are the sweetest most humble ever-smiling people, as if surrounded by a transparent cloud of serenity. Truly Zen. Kachka 4, and Anichka 2, on the other hand, are two wild water creatures who will scream and cry and throw things to the ground out of sheer boredom, but are thrilled when it comes to swimming inside a completely dark cave-river or a freezing canyon. You won’t believe what these two little girls have been through during that memorable week I mentioned. Heroes. But you wouldn’t be surprised that Katchka and Anichka are such adventurous brave little kids if you knew their parents.

 

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Josef and Jana share an extreme passion for heights.

 

Jana studied Economics and Operational Air Transport and worked in Aircraft Maintenance back in the Czech Republic. In her pastime she flew glider planes, the ones without engines, solo. „Nothing serious, it was just a hobby, she says. Up there, you look for the hot currents, not so much the wind. Once I flew 300 kilometers and the trick is that you always have to come back to where you started from.“

 

Jana

Jana

 

Josef, as tall and as strong as a pine tree, is a professional arborist and his specialty is high-rise work. It means, he is a professional tree-climber. His favorite job is picking pinecones from tall needle trees, the taller the better. The highest job he has done was installing ground lines for lightning on an atomic power station. So, when we saw him climb up the mast of their boat without ropes or harness in order to photograph Blizzard, Fata Morgana and Friendship sailing together, we just smiled and posed for the picture.

 

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Josef and Jana also share a passion for traveling and adventure.

 

“ I have this urge to go and see what lies beyond the last thing that I see in the distance“, says Josef. He first left the Czech Republic when he was 16, heading east. He went to Romania. He kept a travel journal and painted the landscapes on the way as he didn’t have a photo camera back then. Since, he has been traveling in many different places of the world.

 

Josef

Josef

He toured Turkey and Bulgaria on a bicycle. In Greece, he worked picking olives.

He helped a friend sailing his 15 feet boat from Italy to the Caribbean. This was his first time sailing.

 

Josef didn’t comeback from that sailing trip, he stayed in Capes Verde. When he finished the money he started working with Senegalese people polishing wooden sculptures. Thus, he became interested in Senegal. So, as soon as he earned enough money for airplane ticket he flew to Senegal. But he had no visa, no passport, and no documents of any sort. It was a huge problem at the airport, they wanted to arrest him. But he somehow managed to escape. Josef never felt freer once he was out of that airport, even though he had no money, no luggage, and no papers. Hard times followed: he was homeless in Senegal, slept on the streets, worked on farms for food.

 

Then he had the idea to walk back to the Czech Republic. From Dakar he went to the border of Mauritania. There he was “offered” to go to prison because he had no papers. In prisons in Mauritania food is not included in the services; friends and family are expected to bring food to inmates. But Josef’s friends and family were too far away. When he was very hungry he would bang on the walls of his cell until the guards or others prisoners would give him something to eat. Finally, after 10 days, the Czech ambassador got him out and he was sent back to the Czech Republic.

 

Free again, Josef went on another trip, this time to South America. He started in Venezuela and finished in Bolivia on a bicycle he bought for 2 dollars and sold for 20. In Bolivia he worked for a bit shining shoes on the street. But he was much better off this time, he remembers. He had not only a bike but also a comfortable tent to sleep in and a sleeping bag.

 

Josef with his bike somewhere in Africa?

Josef with his bike somewhere in Africa?

 

Next, he went back in Africa this time with a tent, a bicycle and papers traveling from Morocco to Mali. There he built his first boat in a very slow river in Niger. “It was not moving much”, he remembers. The boat was two meters long made from plastic water tanks. When it was time to leave again, he bestowed the plastic boat, as well as his 90 years old bike which was very heavy, to the local people and he hitchhiked back to the Czech Republic.

 

Josef's first boat

Josef’s first boat

 

There he made another boat, this time a catamaran. It was about two meters long, made from two old surfboards and a sail. Yea, it was a boat!

 

Josef's catamaran

Josef’s catamaran

 

Jana’s travels before meeting Josef were mostly within the Czech Republic’s skies.

“Once I finished in a field with my plane near a very small village. I got out and started walking to the village. On the way there I met this lady and asked her where I could find a phone. In a hurry, she told me which way to go and where to find the phone. ‘And I’ll go look at the dead pilot’, the lady added and she kept going in the direction of my crashed plane.”

 

Jana's sky misadventures

Jana’s sky misadventures

 

When Jana met Josef their travels together began. Today they sail around the world and raise their two little girls aboard Blizzard, inspiring people everywhere they go.

 

Katchka, Josef Jana, and Anichka

Katchka, Josef Jana, and Anichka

 

 

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