Journey to the Lost Waterfall

Like those in the valley behind us, most people stand in sight of the mountains all their lives and never enter them, being content to listen to others who have been there and thus avoid the hardships. Some travel into the mountain accompanied by experienced guides who know the best and least dangerous routes by which they arrive at their destination. Still others, inexperienced and untrusting, attempt to make their own routes. Few of these are successful, but occasionally some, by sheer will and luck and grace, do make it. Once there they become more aware than any of the others that there’s no single fixed number of routes. There are as many routes as there are individual souls.

 

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsing

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The island of St Kitts is of volcanic origin with tall steep mountain hills covered in tropical rainforest. There, in the mountains, rivers of cool delicious water cascade down carving small canyons among centennial trees, and then through the valleys they reach the sea.

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A waterfall is hidden in these forests, high in the hills home of shy vervet monkeys and spirits, far away from people and towns, at the edge of a river canyon.
There is no path leading to this waterfall and to reach it you have to walk parcour style for three hours up a river, climb over rocks, big and small, and fallen trees, until you are all soaked wet from the river and the sudden rain, and your hair is covered with gentle spider webs full of tiny disoriented spiders.

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It is not a famous, big, roaring waterfall, like the ones that pop up in your imagination when you think about waterfalls. It is rather a very small, very gentle, almost transparent, almost silent trickle of water hidden among green shadows, and many people wouldn’t go through all the trouble to reach it. They would be disappointed. They would say: Is this the waterfall, after three hours of walking inside a river, climbing across boulders and fallen trees?

Oh, but is worth it. Both the journey and the destination.

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We needed someone who knew the way to lead us to the waterfall, and of course our friend Sejah Joseph came along as our guide. He said he knew how to get there, even though he only went once a few years ago.

Sejah Joseph

Sejah Joseph

The first attempt to reach our goal failed. We start unprepared, wearing flip-flops , thinking that the place is not far away and the path to get there is easy. We start up a dry riverbed and soon it becomes not only difficult but dangerous climbing over huge boulders. We don’t know how far away the fall is, and even though Maya wants to continue and not admit failure, we have to turn back.

Maya

Maya

The second time, a few days later, we put on our serious climbing shoes and chose a different path walking inside a river with the water rushing against us.
Chances to find a waterfall up a river are much bigger.

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– Are we almost there, Sejah?, we ask after some time.
– Maybe.

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We walk inside the river which is knee-deep most of the time and the water is cold and refreshing ‘like water from the fridge’, Sejah says.

When it rains we hide under trees and eat the sandwiches I made and the mangos we found along the way.

We drink the water from the river-fridge, it is cool and sweet and precious.

 

Sandwich break under the rain

Sandwich break under the rain

– These trees are four or five hundred years old, Sejah says.
– Oh, so they were here at the time when Columbus found the island?
– The island was never lost…

Evo and Sejah

Evo and Sejah

Nor is our waterfall.

We have reached our destination, the point in time where we stop for a while and turn back. At the end of the river, the end of our journey, from a rock covered with eternal moss: a silent waterfall.

Mira

Mira

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British Virgin Islands. Empire of The Cats

 

British Virgin Islands

The BVI, a British Overseas Territory east of Puerto Rico, consists of over 50 volcanic islands and cays, some big and some small, of which 15 are inhabited. The inhabitants, full British and European Union citizens, are descendants of African slaves brought to work on the sugarcane plantations in the 18th century. Today, the main economy in the BVI is tourism accounting for about half of the national income. The other half is generated by offshore banking.

Sunset Cats in the BVI

Sunset Cats in the BVI

One of the world’s greatest sailing destinations, the anchorages around the islands are crowded with sailboats even off-season, mostly chartered catamarans. We have never seen so many cats in one place. It’s truly phenomenal. Our boat, Fata Morgana, a 38 foot Leopard, was once chartered in these waters too. But now newer and bigger cats rented for a few days’ vacation zoom motoring back and forth between the islands, rarely sailing at all. People chartering boats in the BVI don’t always know how to sail, navigate or even be civilized. (They think a boat is like a car and love to go ‘full-power’.)One boat hit us in one of the anchorages but didn’t cause any damage, and another, ironically named Serenity, with 6 or 7 older folks aboard, drunk and ignorant, kept us and the rest of the anchored boats awake all night with their loud stupid conversations and music.

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We clear in in Jost Van Dike anchoring for a couple of days in the bay near the beach. There are many mooring balls $30 per night, but we have the option to anchor for free instead, and that is what we do. Apart from the $37 entry fee and $2 for 2 slush drinks we don’t spend a dollar more during our two-week stay in the BVI, eating and drinking from our provisions, hiking and hitchhiking to places on land, and sneaking in national parks afterhours.

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In the next days we island-hop to Tortola, Lee Bay in Great Camano, Virgin Gorda and we finally stage our next big passage to St Martin at Saba Rock.

Even though too crowded for our taste, we loved all the places we visited in the BVI, each one for a different reason, but if we have to recommend one it will be The Baths on Virgin Gorda, of course.

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And I have to mention Lee Bay again, a small secluded unpopular bay on the west side of Great Camano island with incredible snorkeling which a young cruising couple we met first in the Dominican Republic and again near Tortola, Stephen and Natasha Smith (skydiving instructors and gravity coaches) told us about. Thank you guys! We loved Lee Bay and we loved meeting you again in the BVI. And (if you are reading this) thank you for the chicken and beef broth-base and seasoning! Hope our paths will cross again someday!

Lee Bay

Lee Bay

Jost Van Dike

The smallest of the four main islands of the BVI, 8 square kilometers or 3 square miles, Jost Van Dike offers a deep protected harbor for boaters on the south side, Great Harbour, with customs and immigration on shore, a nice little beach and various beach bars and restaurants; and a challenging steep hike to its highest point, Majohnny Hill at 321 meters.

View of the anchorage from Majohnny Hill, Jost Van Dike

View of the anchorage from Majohnny Hill, Jost Van Dike

Mira and Maya on Majohnny Hill, Jost Van Dike

Mira and Maya on Majohnny Hill, Jost Van Dike

 

Beach and anchorage, Jost Van Dike

Beach and anchorage, Jost Van Dike

Beach Bar, Jost Van Dike

Beach Bar, Jost Van Dike

 

Beach restaurant and grill, Jost Van Dike

Beach restaurant and grill, Jost Van Dike

Tortola

The largest and most populated of the BVI, Tortola is a volcanic mountainous island with an area of 55 square kilometers or 21 square miles. We anchor on the north side where the best beaches are and spend a day hiking up and down a winding mountain road all the way from Cane Garden Bay to Smuggler’s Cove, the beach where The Old Man and the Sea with Anthony Queen was filmed. On the way we also visit an old rum brewery still working, and the North Shore Shell Museum in Carrot Bay. We hitchhike on the way back.

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Evo and Maya watching the anchorage from the top of the hill.

Evo and Maya watching the anchorage from the top of the hill.

 

The old rum brewery

The old rum brewery

Smugglers Cove

Smugglers Cove

 

Beach at Smugglers Cove, Tortola

Beach at Smugglers Cove, Tortola

The North Shore Shell Museum

The shell museum is a funky old house full of local shells and wisdoms both carefully collected and preserved by the artist for over 25 years. A magical labyrinth, very much like the soul of a black Caribbean  man. Among the thousands, maybe millions of seashells stuck on the floor, hanging from the ceiling, there are signs painted on wood, for sale, quotes given to the artist by friends and family. A heartbreaking collection of authentic local voices. “I ask my friends what do you remember your father or mother said, and they tell me. I just write it down on the board.”

North Shore Shell Museum, Tortola

North Shore Shell Museum, Tortola

A MAN IS LIKE A BIRD. LOOK INSIDE

 

MR JOE WIFE TELL HIM. YOU IS A SICK MAN.BUT O BOY. WHEN JOE SEE A YOUNG GIRL. HE JUMP FOR JOY

 

MR DICK SAID. JUST FOR PEACE SAKE. SOMETIME YOU WALK OUT THE HOUSE LEAVE WIFE AND ALL. O GOD HELP ME

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TWO LADY LIVE IN ONE HOUSE. JANE GO TO CHURCH ON SATURDAY. MARY GO TO CHURCH ON SUNDAY. AND FIGHTING OVER A MAN

 

TELL ALL THE BOYS AND GIRLS COME

 

THE OLD MAN SAY. I AM SO DOWN. HE SAY O GOD HELP THE FALLING BROTHER. HELP COME HIS WAY. MARTER SAY PUT SOME IN MY CUP

The Artist

The Artist

OLD LADY TELL HER SON. DAN WHEN YOU DO GOOD GOD BLESS YOU

 

THE LITTLE BOY SAY. SEA WATER LOOK GOOD BUT I CANT SWIM

 

THE OLD MAN TELL HIS WIFE. I HAD TWO FOOT.SHIT WILL FLY ALL DAY LONG

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COME HOME MARY. YOU DON’T KNOW HOW SWEET LIFE IS ON TILL YOU WALK IN MY HAND. I LOOK UP. I LOOK DOWN

 

SOME MEN SAY LOVE IS LIKE A TREE

 

THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN IN HIS HAND. HE JUMP WITH JOY. TO SEE HOW MUCH HE HAVE IN HIS HAND. BUT O GOD HE NEVER SHARE. I HAVE SO MUCH BUT MY SOUL IS LOST

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COMING SOON. CAPTAIN COOK. SEAFOOD MARKET

 

THE OLD MAN. WITH THE BUTTY FULL LADY. BUT HE CANOT SLEEP WITH HIS TWO EYES CLOSED. HELL

 

MISS JANE TELL HER HUSBAND. I GOT A ROOM IN HEAVEN FOR YOU. BUT YOU GOT TO PAY ME FIRST NO WAYET ME ON THE OTHER SIDE. WHEN HE COME-A-MAN

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MARRY SAY. JANE YOU IN THE SAME BOAT TOO. HELP ME

 

COLUMBUS LIE. HE TRY TO FOOL THE PEOPLE. THAT HE DID NOT SEE ANYONE. BUT HE HAD TO RUN LIKE HELL

 

HARRY GO TO THE TOP FLOOR. AND GET A DRINK

 

JOHN TELL HIS WIFE JANE LIFE IS SO HARD SHE TELL HIM GET UP YOUR OLD ASS AND LOOK WORK

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Lee Bay, Great Camano

Hidden between rocky shores is a small bay not everyone knows about. There are no mooring balls here and anchoring is tricky as the bay is deep and rocky getting shallow and sandy only too close to the beach. And not many venture this way. It is fun watching the charter boats arriving and trying to anchor unsuccessfully again and again sometimes for hours. But the best part of the bay are its volcanic rock formations covered with corals below water which are like a fish nursery with dense schools of tiny fishes swimming around. We spend two days here snorkeling for hours and kayaking along the rocks and many grottos.  

Rock in Lee Bay

Rock in Lee Bay

Grotto near Lee Bay

Grotto near Lee Bay

 

Snorkeling inside a fish cloud

Snorkeling inside a fish cloud

Viktor hovering above baby fishes

Viktor hovering above baby fishes

 

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The Baths, Virgin Gorda

On the west tip of Virgin Gorda there is a spectacular geological wonder. Huge granite boulders of beautiful shapes and impressive proportions once imbedded in volcanic lava stand near the shore and in the water forming grottos and saltwater ponds. It is a different world above and below water, a world of coral cities and fish citizens, of ancient labyrinths and giants. We have been cruising since almost one year now visiting many places, spending months in Florida, Cuba, Mexico, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas, but we have never seen anything like The Baths: the best snorkeling site hands down.

Maya, Viktor, Evo and Mira. The Nomadik Family

Maya, Viktor, Evo and Mira. The Nomadik Family

The Baths is a park with mooring balls getting filled with boats, 40 to 50, by noon each day, and no overnight mooring permitted. But just a short distance to the east, there is a small bay, Spring Bay where we drop anchor in front of a fabulous beach and spend 3 days kayaking and snorkeling to The Baths every afternoon, when the many boats and tourists have already left.

The Baths, Virgin Gorda

The Baths, Virgin Gorda

 Spring Bay Beach

Spring Bay Beach

 

Fata Morgana anchored in Spring Bay

Fata Morgana anchored in Spring Bay

A short hike in the park, The Baths

A short hike in the park, The Baths

 

The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Mira, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Maya and Viktor, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Maya and Viktor, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

 

Maya, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Maya, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

The Baths, Virgin Gorda

The Baths, Virgin Gorda

 

Viktor, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Viktor, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Viktor, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Viktor, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

 

Viktor, Evo and Maya, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Viktor, Evo and Maya, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

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Mira, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Mira, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Evo, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Evo, The Baths, Virgin Gorda

 

The Baths, Virgin Gorda

The Baths, Virgin Gorda

Maya

Maya

 

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Evo

Evo

 

Mira

Mira

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Viktor

Viktor

 

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Mira

Mira

 

Maya

Maya

Saba Rock

On the east side of Virgin Gorda there is a vast bay among mangroves near Saba Rock where most cruisers heading across the Anegada Passage to St Martin stage their departure. On the east shore there is a marina, luxurious resorts and restaurants, and a few small sand beaches. The village is on the other side. We wait here one day before we start the 90 mile passage to St Martin taking advantage of the incredibly strong Wi-Fi coming from the bar on Saba Rock which everyone in the bay can catch from the boat, to check the weather and update the blog.

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Dominican Republic Conclusions

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The Dominican Republic is a small tropical country occupying two thirds of the island of Hispaniola. It is the most visited destination of all other Caribbean nations attracting tourists with its natural beauty and geographical and biological diversity, luxurious beach resorts, small mountain villages, cities, rainforests, high mountains, caves, rivers, waterfalls. Here is the highest mountain peak in the Caribbean, the biggest lake with the lowest elevation, some of the best surfing beaches in the region and the first cathedral, castle, monastery, fortress, and university in all of the Americas. There is so much to see and do! Not surprisingly, we met many people from different corners of the world who have moved here permanently after visiting the country making the Dominican Republic their home. Even whales come here for their honeymoon.

We spent one month in the Dominican Republic travelling inland and visiting many of its historical sites and natural monuments. The further we explored the more we fell in love with this country and its nature and we promised ourselves, one day we will return.

The Best Hurricane Hole in The Caribbean

Anchorage in Luperon, Dominican Republic

Anchorage in Luperon, Dominican Republic

The anchorage in the small rural town of Luperon on the north shore of the Dominican Republic is a notorious hurricane hole surrounded by hills and cow pastures. Deep inside a channel among mangroves, with excellent holding, the bay harbors a community of sailboats, some staying here for years. It is a safe anchorage protected by the National Guard against theft where we left our boat at anchor for days and went to explore the interior of the island not worrying for the boat’s safety. 

Read full article The Hills of Luperon

The Highest Caribbean Mountain

Early morning on Pico Duarte

Early morning on Pico Duarte

Climbing the 3087 meters-high Pico Duarte was the best part of our visit to the Dominican Republic. It is an adventure that requires physical strength and endurance, provisions and gear for at least two days, a guide and mules. Walking through rainforests, inside dry riverbeds, through high-altitude meadows, pine forests, and mists was the most beautiful experience of our lives so far. And it’s not the summit but the journey to the summit that we so much enjoyed. We would do it again and again, once or twice every year if we had the chance.

Read full article Pico Duarte. Journey Beyond the Clouds

Most Extreme Waterfall Adventure

Evo

Evo

The Damajaqua Cascades is an extreme waterfall adventure that we all absolutely loved, more than we expected. The tour includes hiking up river for about 30-40 min and then swimming, sliding, cliff-jumping and diving downriver for about one hour. Young children are not permitted, and only physically fit adults can do all 27 waterfalls and cascades.

Read full article Swimming, Sliding, Jumping, Diving Down Damajaqua Cascades

The Oldest New World Capital

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Santo Domingo and its Colonial Zone, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, should be on every visitor’s list. This is the oldest New World capital with some of the oldest colonial buildings, museums, and ruins. To us, it seemed much more impressive and preserved than the colonial zone in Havana, Cuba. In and around Santo Domingo there are many other tourist attractions. We only had time to visit the National Botanical Garden.

Read full article Santo Domingo. History, Culture, Nature

The Biggest and Lowest Caribbean Lake

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Lake Enriquillo in the southwestern part of the DR near the border with Haiti is one curious place. It is the biggest and saltiest Caribbean lake lying some 30 meters below sea level, populate by the densest in the world population of American crocodiles. On its arid shores, among dry spiky trees and cactus plants, we also met lots and lots of friendly lazy Rhinoceros Iguanas. Near the lake, in the town of Descubierta, we slept in the best hostel ever, an old house once belonging to a high-ranked official in Trujillo’s government, one of most terrible dictators the world has seen.

Read full article Lake Enriquillo. Crocodiles, Iguana, and Other Predators

The Surfing Mecca of The Caribbean

Kitesurf Beach, Cabarete

Kitesurf Beach, Cabarete

Cabarete near Puerto Plata on the north shore of the island became our favorite small town in the Dominican Republic. It is a very touristy, artsy, and laid-back place with a large community of expats who, together with locals and tourists, spend their entire time mostly surfing. Or kite-surfing. Or wind-surfing. Or paddle-boarding. Or chilling. We spent two memorable days in Cabarete with our friends Jade and Gabriel, surfing-maniacs and traveling junkies like us, who started us surfing a bit. Read about Jade&Gabby’s adventures and follow them at We Travel And Blog.

Read full article Surfing Cabarete

Oldest New World Settlement

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The ruins in Isabela Historica, a National Monument, are from the oldest settlement in the Americas constructed by Columbus and his settlers. Not much is left of the buildings but the place itself, a site up on the rocky cliffs facing the Atlantic Ocean near a snug little harbor is a beautiful place to see and hang around for a bit. There is a small museum with artifacts and historical information, as well as gift shops with hand-carved wooden Taino figurines, extremely cheap. Not too far is Montecristi, a small coastal town with very relaxed atmosphere and beautiful seascapes. One day was enough fo us to visit obth, Isabela and Montecristi.

Read full article Isabela Historica and Montecristi

Sailing Dominican Republic

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Cruising by sailboat around the Dominican Republic, especially on the north coast and especially going east, is not a joke. These are considered some of the most dangerous and difficult  waters for sailing due to unfavorable strong Trade winds, North Atlantic swell, strong Equatorial current and rocky shores with very little possibility for anchoring and sheltering, especially in bad weather coming from the north. A hook that helped us get from Luperon to Puerto Rico across the infamous Mona Passage safely is a must-read for anyone attempting the passage: The Gentelmen’s Guide to Passage South by Bruce Van Sand.

Read full article The Murderous Mona Passage

Our Biggest Regret

Cabo Samana, DR

Cabo Samana, DR

Not visiting Samana and the national park Los Haitises is our greatest regret. We were planning to stop there with the boat on our way from Luperon to Puerto Rico, but we had such a nice weather window that we ended up sailing all the way non-stop taking advantage of the favorable sea conditions. Samana and the park Los Haitises with their gigantic rocky cliffs looming over the sea and caves where the Taino Indians used to hide form the conquistadors provide the most impressive owe inspiring Jurassic vistas. The deep bay is also humpback wales breeding ground in the winter months. We hope to return to Dominican Republic some day and visit Samana. This time, we just sailed by the cape early in the morning absolutely stunned by the size and beauty of the cliffs.

Dominican Republic Facts

Entry Procedures for Sailors: The entry procedures are somewhat lengthy but not necessary unpleasant. You will have El Comandante from the National Army come aboard and inspect the boat, but chances are he is a really good guy. On shore you will go through customs and immigration and you need a dispacho when leaving a port.

Currency: They spend pessos in the DR. One USD is about 43 DR Pesos.

Language: Spanish is the language here and not many speak English or any other language. Moreover, the Dominican speak a very fast and muffled sort of Spanish, hard to hear and understand them even for Spanish-speaking people.

Security: Be vigilant, theft even gun shots are not uncommon occurrence in this part of the world. We didn’t have any problem, but it does not mean it is totally safe. Lock your boat/car/room and guard your stuff. Don’t get in trouble and respect everyone.

Music: If you don’t like merengue tipico you will be in hell here. Loud music is everywhere all the time booming from huge loudspeakers from restaurants, shops and cars parked at some street corner.

Food: Food is not expensive even in the restaurants. You can have a grilled chicken with french fries and beers for four people for less than 20 USD. Plantaines are everywhere and often they will serve you fried plantains instead of french fries, so make sure to make it clear what you order.

Shopping: mostly everything is available in the DR but only in the big cities. In the small ones like Luperon shopping is limited. For groceries there is a big chain store like WalMart in the big cities called La Sirena. Food is not expensive (especially after the Bahamas).

Water: Fresh water is a problem. There is no such thing as drinkable tap water and everyone buys huge water jugs. Not expensive.

Electricity: Electricity is a problem too. Many places have electricity for six hours and then don’t have electricity for the next 6 hours… Some people install generators.

Transportation: Getting from place to place is a hustle for visitors and locals. Fuel prices are high and there is no pubic buss. Instead, there are public guanchas, normal cars where 7 strangers get squeezed and the driver is usually crazy. The big highways are in excellent conditions but the small roads between cities are all broken up and sometimes not passable. The motoconcha, a motorbike, is another option to travel cheaply, but it is even more precarious than the guancha. Renting a car is a good option to travel independently and visit the country. You can rent a car for about 1000-1500 DR Pesos

Climate: the best of the tropics, always sunny and hot, windy near the shores, but rainy and very cold even freezing in the mountains. Bring a jacket if you plan to climb Pico Duarte.

Nature: Diverse, abundant, mostly unspoiled green nature virtually everywhere. Mountains, lakes, rivers and waterfalls, pastures, forests, beaches, banana plantations, paradise on earth.

 

 

* Other similar articles from the blog: Bahamas Conclusions

 

 

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Swimming, Sliding, Jumping, Diving Down Damajaqua Cascades

On the 7th day of our Road Trip we visit the Dmajaqua Cascades, a national monument and one of the most thrilling tourist destinations in the Dominican Republic.

Our nomadik family with helmets and life jackets ready for action, Damajaqua Cascades

Our nomadik family with helmets and life jackets ready for action, Damajaqua Cascades

The tour starts with a 30-40 minutes hike along a trail from the visitors’ center through a lush rainforest to the top of the waterfalls where the extreme adventure begins.

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Visitors can choose to tackle 7, 12, or all 27 waterfalls. Most people go for 7. We go for all 27.

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On weekends and later in the day it can become crowded so we choose a Monday and make sure to get there early, around 8 a.m., thus we have the falls to ourselves during our entire visit.

The guide helping Maya

The guide helping Maya

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The experience can be challenging, and only strong swimmers in good physical shape (8 years old and over) should attempt cascading. Walking back down the mountain trail is always an option.

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Viktor

Viktor

 

Helmets, lifejackets, and guides are mandatory and provided by the park. We cannot bring nothing with us but water bottles and a submersible camera. Our guide is very friendly and enjoys the journey as much as us. “The water is a bit wet” he cautions us before we plunge at the first fall, “but it’s not cold. We don’t have cold water in the Dominican Republic.”

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Mira

Mira

 

From now on we are constantly in the river, walking down the shallow parts and inside narrow canyons with dark slippery walls covered with moss, jumping from cliffs, sliding over small cascades, swimming in deeper pools formed under waterfalls. It’s beautiful.

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Sometimes we slide head first, sometimes we have to jump in a shallow spot with our legs bent, and sometimes we have to jump from the top of a waterfall aiming in a precise very tight place, better don’t miss it because there are rocks around it. People can get injured here easily if they don’t do exactly what the guide tells them.

Mira

Mira

Maya

Maya

 

The scariest part is the 10-meter (30 feet) jump form a cliff in a small pool below.

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Maya goes first every time, I think she is an adrenalin junky, has no fear, and is enjoying every minute of this adventure. It is not the first time she is jumping from a 10 meter waterfall. She has already done it in Agua Caliente, Guatemala a few months ago.

Maya

Maya

Maya

Maya

 

Viktor is no less excited and doesn’t hesitate at any of the jumps.

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Viktor and Maya

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Evo, it goes without mentioning, is eager to make the plunge too, and there is mad joy in his eyes.

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Evo

Evo

But me, I am afraid of heights, and just looking down from the cliff makes my hands sweating. It takes me a few minutes of hesitation.

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Viktor

Viktor

 

I am standing on the edge of the cliff looking down. Evo and the kids are cheering from below “Come on mom, jump!”. The guide is behind me repeating in a low voice: “ Do it! Do it!” I am afraid he might push me.

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Mira and Evo

To jump or not to jump? This is the question. And if not to jump, then how the hell to get down there? I jump! First time in my life (and I hope last).

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Thus, after about an hour of swimming, sliding, cliff-jumping and diving, we are back at the visitors center. We have survived all 27 waterfalls at Damajacua Cascades.

Damajaqua Cascadas

Damajaqua Cascadas

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Pico Duarte. Journey Beyond The Clouds

Purple mountains all around us and over our heads. A sea of clouds beneath our feet. The world is mellow. Time is slumbering. The meaning of life has changed in the folds of these moments.  

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In the afternoon, after a day of hiking up and down El Mogote near Jarabacoa, we drive west to La Ciénega, a small mountain village in the heart of the Cordillera Central range, the greatest of the Dominican Republic’s mountain chains. The road is narrow and in bad condition, portions of the pavement are missing, a landslide slows us down, but it is passable and we arrive in La Ciénega before dark.

In the colmado, a small grocery store and bar where village people have gathered in the evening to drink beer, we ask for directions to the national park Armando Bermudez.

          You going to climb Pico Duarte?, a guy at the bar asks us.

Named after Juan Pablo Duarte, one of the Dominican Republic’s founding fathers, Pico Duarte is the highest peak in the entire Caribbean region with elevation of 3,087 meters. There is a well-maintained system of trails leading up to the summit, with trailheads at several locations all managed by the national park service. The easiest access is from the town of La Ciénega. The trail is 23.1 km (14.4 mi) to the summit, with a total elevation gain of about 2,000 meters and a shelter 5 km away from the summit. This is the most popular and shortest route which usually takes 2-3 days, other trails can take up to a week. The route is steep and can be muddy in places, but is not difficult. Hiking Pico Duarte is only possible between December and March when is the dry season. The rest of the year there are too many storms and rain. In April, we are already a bit late.

Pico Duarte Trail

Pico Duarte Trail

We are not sure if we want to climb Pico Duarte, we didn’t prepare any equipment for 2-3 days hike, plus we don’t know if we can afford it.  Apart from the park permits all persons are required by the national park service to hire a local guide and mules; entering the park without a guide is not allowed. We heard the price for a guide and mules is about $100-$130 per person. We are 4 and cannot spend $400-$500 to climb a mountain.

Turns out the guy at the bar, a short chubby guy who speaks a very particular sort of fast unfinished Spanish as if his mouth is full of marbles and I cannot understand half the things he is saying, is one of about 60 official guides in the village and he agrees, after about an hour of bargaining, to lead us to Pico Duarte for a total of $100, two mules included, but we have to make the journey in two and not in three days, and we have to pay for the food. Deal. We spend an additional $25 to buy all necessary food products for the five of us for two days: rice, canned tomato paste, oil, chicken noodle soup, sugar, hot chocolate powder, bread, smoked pork meat, crackers and waffles. Our guide looks pleased with the provisioning. At the park’s entrance we also pay $10 for park permits for the four of us ($2.50 each) and we rent 4 decommissioned American Army sleeping bags for $15 at the park; we need good warm sleeping bags as it gets freezing cold in the mountains at night; the American Army ones are probably the best we can get. Thus the entire excursion costs us $150 including food and sleeping accommodations for two days and nights. Not bad at all.

Bunk beds in the park's cabin where we spend the first night.

Bunk beds in the park’s cabin where we spend the first night.

That night we are accommodated at the park’s lodge at the trailhead, free of charge. We sleep tucked in our army sleeping bags in a small room with two metal bunk beds and occasional night-rats running on the roof beams. Not the most comfortable accommodation, but we are absolutely exhausted and our muscles hurt from hiking all day up El Mogote, so we sleep tight all night. It gets very cold. It rains for some time too that night. I am not sure hiking Pico Duarte immediately after hiking El Mogote and after months of just sitting in a boat at sea level is a great idea. Hope the kids will make it.

In the morning an invasion of people and cars and mules in the parking lot next to our lodge wakes us up at around 6 a.m. Turns out a group of over twenty hikers from Santo Domingo are going to the peak as well. They are all young people looking like professional athletes wearing special bright-colored hiking clothes and special bright-colored hiking shoes and special bright-colored hiking socks, brand new. They have special hiking sticks and special hiking hats and special hiking water-bottles. They don’t have special hiking backpacks, as a large herd of mules will lug their equipment up the mountain: clothes, food supplies, sleeping bags, inflatable mattresses, tons of stuff. We feel like some poor amateurs, with our unprofessional shoes and clothes all muddy from yesterday’s hike, and decommissioned American Army sleeping bags. We now doubt we will ever make it to the peak. Plus, our guide is late and the group of professional-looking hikers takes off about an hour before he shows up. Finally, our guide arrives with two frail sorry-looking mules, Pintero and Margarita. We load all our stuff on Margarita. Pintero is “the ambulance”, our guide explains, anyone who feels too tired to walk can hop on Pintero.

Our guide, our stuff, the mules, and us.

Our guide, our stuff, the mules, and us.

We begin walking into the foothills of the mountain entering the evergreen world of the tropical rainforest. Palms, giant ferns, and bamboo trees. A creek runs parallel to the trail. The air feels fresh.

Maya in a bamboo forest

Maya in a bamboo forest

Trail through rainforest

Trail through rainforest

 

The trail is divided into 8 portions. The first one, 4 kilometers, is the easiest with only about 170 meters elevation gain walking on soft earth. The second and the third one, 4 km and 3 km, are not bad either, with a total of about 600 meters elevation gain up to La Laguna, walking inside what looks like a dry riverbed. From La Laguna begins the hard part to station number 4 and 5, El Cruce and Aguita Fria.

Walking in a dry riverbed

Walking in a dry riverbed

Evo and Maya on the trail

Evo and Maya on the trail

 

Viktor and Evo

Viktor and Evo

Our guide calls this portion of the trail El Repentimiento, The Repent, for people and mules repent and regret coming here. We now climb a steep narrow path covered with loose rocks. It is very physically challenging, tiring, and dangerous, at 2,600 meters above sea level. 

Viktor

Viktor

Our guide Maya on the mule and Evo

Our guide Maya on the mule and Evo

 

Here the fauna and climate have changed completely. Tall pines begin to appear at the side of the road. We enter a pine forest with understory of shrubs and areas of treeless meadows of tussock-like pajones. The air is cool and humid, it might rain. We now walk inside clouds.

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There are a few fresh water springs labeled „Potable“ along the trail where we fill our bottles with delicious mountain spring water. We stop to rest and have lunch and we continue. Maya, Viktor and me take turns riding Pintero, Ivo walks all the way carrying a big backpack. I figured that it is best for the poor mule if one of us is riding him instead of our guide who is a lot heavier than us and every time nobody is in need on “an ambulance” he hops on top.

Margarita, Pintero and Maya

Margarita, Pintero and Maya

Riding the mule is almost as difficult and painful as walking up the trail. The animal jumps up and down the path, accelerates, and trips over rocks. Pretty soon your butt starts to hurt badly from the saddle and your legs and knees from trying to squeeze, balance and hold on to the mule. But at least your hearth gets a chance to rest from the heavy workout when climbing at high altitude.

Viktor with the mules.

Viktor with the mules.

Maya with the mules.

Maya with the mules.

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Pintero on the way

Pintero on the way

We arrive at Le Comparticion, last base before the summit,  4 o’clock in the afternoon after 8 hours of hiking and riding Pintero, just before a thin rain begins to fall. It gets cold. Some of the hikers from the Santo Domingo group are already here gathered around a small fire outside the hut. They all look pretty tired, but still have enough energy to make jokes; we join in and we even make a new friend, his name is Maurice. The ones who haven’t arrived yet are those we passed on the way up, exhausted, all beaten-up and unhappy. They arrive, wet from the rain, later in the evening, some late in the night. And everybody cheers when they come!

Comparticion, last basecamp before Pico Duarte

Comparticion, last basecamp before Pico Duarte

Comparticion lodge and tents.

Comparticion lodge and tents.

 

We place our sleeping bags in one of the corners of the long wooden shelter near the fireplace. Inside is almost as cold as outside. The Santo Domingo hikers quickly take up all the rest of the space with their inflatable mattresses.

Inside the lodge. This is exactly half of the room. The other half is exactly the same, behind me from where I am standing; there are two doors to my left and right.

Inside the lodge. This is exactly half of the room. The other half is exactly the same, behind me from where I am standing; there are two doors to my left and right.

Our guide prepares the supper for the five of us over a fire stove in the building next to the sleeping hut: tomato rice with smoked meat all baked in a big pot. Tastiest meal ever. We feast on that while the Santo Domingo crowd nibble on healthy energy bars and crackers.

Evo and the guide making supper.

Evo and the guide making supper.

Maya by the fire in the kitchen.

Maya by the fire in the kitchen.

 

Tomato rice with smoked pork.

Tomato rice with smoked pork.

And then we die. We crawl inside our decommissioned American Army „body-bags“, and we curl on the floor. We envy all those people around us mounted on top of comfortable inflatable mattresses with clean shiny sleeping bags and pillows, who even took “showers” in the opposite corner of the hut before going to bed, organizing small shower rooms. The whole cabin smells of shampoo. That night the rats are nowhere to be found probably terrified by so much cleanliness and the smell of perfumes. We sleep to the rhythmical pro-logic surround sounds of people snoring and we wake up every time a girl with a flashlight gets up to go out and pee.

The Santo Domingo hikers and there inflatable mattresses...

The Santo Domingo hikers and there inflatable mattresses…

Us, inside our rented decommissioned American Army sleeping bags... (the empty one is mine (Mira), I am taking the picture)

Us, inside our rented decommissioned American Army sleeping bags… (the empty one is mine (Mira), I am taking the picture)

 

The next morning we wake up 5 a.m. It is still completely dark and unbelievably cold outside, below freezing. We put on all our warm clothes, long pants, jackets and hats, and we eat bread and drink the hot chocolate our guide has made over the fire stove, with extra sugar. The summit is only 5 km away and the hike should not be too difficult but we need to get up there and then walk all the way down to Cienaga in one day. This time we start before everyone else, the Santo Domingo group has to deal with inflatable mattresses, take morning showers, and figure out something for breakfast. We just roll up our second-hand “body-bags” and off we go holding flashlights.

Early morning on Pico Duarte

Early morning on Pico Duarte

About half an hour later, the sun begins its slow rise from the east. First everything around us becomes purple and mysterious. Then, at 3,000 meters, the most beautiful moment in our lives. Golden shafts of sunlight like cathedral light coming from under a sea of thick orange and pink clouds, slanting down the black pines, illuminating them as if they catch on fire, everything still, and the mists rising to meet the sky, grass and pine needles bathed in dew, and all the way around and below us the grand secret mountains covered in frost, slumbering.

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Pretty soon we reach the summit. Nothing stands higher than us now in all of the Caribbean islands.

Viktor and Maya at the summit. Pico Duarte

Viktor and Maya at the summit. Pico Duarte

Cookies and hot chocolate on the summit. Pico Duarte

Cookies and hot chocolate on the summit. Pico Duarte

 

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Luperon, Dominican Republic

The beach at Luperon

The beach at Luperon

We arrive in Luperon, a small village on the north shore of Dominican Republic, on March 23, 2014.

Small fishing boats at Luperon's peer.

Small fishing boats at Luperon’s peer.

Everything is unfamiliar and strange the first couple of days. But then gradually, with time, we become part of the place and the place becomes part of us.

Old colonial house in Luperon's downtown.

Old colonial house in Luperon’s downtown.

The village, named after General Gregorio Luperon, a hero and President of the Republic from the Restoration period, is not a popular tourist destination today. After the global economy crisis and the closing down of the hotel a few year back, tourists have stopped visiting the place. Except sailors who appreciate the vast weather-protected harbor set among mangroves, surrounded by wooded hills.

s/v Ciganka, our new neighbors, in Luperon Anchorage

s/v Ciganka, our new neighbors, in Luperon Anchorage

The Luperon anchorage is the most notorious hurricane hole in the entire Caribbean region and is always full of visiting boats. Some stay here forever. Even Christopher Columbus who founded the first New World settlement not far from here used the harbor to shelter his boats in foul weather. He named it Bahia de Gracias, Thanksgiving Bay.

Morning in the harbor

Morning in the harbor

The village is tiny, rural, with small brightly-colored wooden and stone houses with tin roofs and closed windowpanes to keep the heat out, very elaborate decorative fences, rocking chairs on the front porch.

House in Luperon

House in Luperon

Flowers, palms, and banana-trees transform every yard into a lush botanical garden.

Plants in the front yard

Plants in the front yard

Lazy dogs roam the streets looking for leftovers and shade.

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In the morning the village awakes early. Women come out on the streets and perform a daily ritual of sweeping and cleaning in front of their houses. The cleanest streets in the world!

A woman cleaning the sidewalk in front of her house.

A woman cleaning the sidewalk in front of her house.

Small grocery shops called colmados open doors for clients; cafeterias, a few chairs on the sidewalk, are now alive with people chatting; loud music booms from the small restaurants called comedor.

Buying flour at the local colmado.

Buying flour at the local colmado.

The streets are full of people walking or riding motorbikes, motoconcha, sometimes three or four on one bike (fuel in Dominican Republic is very expensive and the motoconchas are the main vehicle and cheapest option to go around).

Motoconchans in the streets of Luperon.

Motoconchans in the streets of Luperon.

We can’t wait to explore the Luperon surroundings, to walk in pastures and fields, to climb hills and look in the distance, to meet cows and horses, to breathe the air of the countryside, el campo. Luperon is our home for the next few weeks.

Pictures from Luperon

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The Hills of Luperon

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Passage South. Betsy Bay to Booby Cay

 

Day 1 George Town to Long Island

 

Day 2 Long Island to Crooked Island

 

Day 3 Crooked Island to Aclins

 

Day 4 Aclins to Mayaguana

 

Passage South Map

Passage South Map

 

Day 5 Mayaguana West Side to Booby Cay

Thursday, March 13

From Betsy Bay we sail east along the south coast of Mayaguana Island. The cruising guides advise to stop at Abraham Bay, an anchorage only 6 mi east from Betsy Bay, with a settlement nearby, the only all-weather anchorage in Mayaguana. But we decide to keep sailing for 18 more miles to the easternmost point thus shortening the distance for our next passage to Turks and Caicos with 18 miles.

We are doing 7 knots and get to the easternmost point of Mayaguana in the early afternoon where an anchorage is indicated on our charts between the main island and a small cay, surrounded by reefs from all sides.

“There are places where in settled conditions you can work your way in through cuts in the reef due south of Booby Cay, but we think you’d be crazy to attempt it.”

I am quoting from The Bahamas Cruising Guide, page 264. So, according to the cruising guide we are crazy to attempt anchoring near Booby Cay! Well, according to us, they are liars. Getting through the cut in the reef on the south side of Booby Cay is no problem at all. It is a wide deep (18-20 feet) cut, no current and no swell. We slowly and carefully sail through it (no engines), terrified for no other reason but the cruising guide’s warnings.

Once through it, the anchorage is huge and calm, gradually becoming shallower as we sail closer to land, but is sand everywhere with few coral heads which are well indicated on the charts and visible in day light. Holding is excellent. Mayauana to the west, Booby Cay to the north and a massive reef all around to west and south like a fence make it a delightful place to wait for a weather window (unless a hurricane hits, I guess). It can get a bit wavy in south and west winds, but nothing unbearable. One thing is true, though: there is nothing here, no fuel, no freshwater, no public laundry, no shops. The nearest civilization is 18 miles away. But guess what, we don’t need fuel, we produce our solar electricity and fresh water, and we have a fridge full of tuna. We don’t need no civilization!

Booby Cay in Mayaguana is the wildest place we have been to in the Bahamas, our last Bahamian stop, and our favorite anchorage where we spend 6 unforgettable days. Mainly, because of the recently wrecked boat we found there from which we salvaged a bunch of useful things, as well as the hundreds flamingos nesting in the shallow waters near the beach this time of the year.

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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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Bitter Guana Cay

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The 700 Bahamian islands and cays are all low-lying flat tablelands of sand, coral, and limestone on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, averaging not more than 30 meters/100 feet in elevation. Most of the smaller cays are uninhabited, covered with low tropical vegetation, small spiky palm trees and cedars. 

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One such cay is Bitter Guana Cay in the Exumas where we stop for a few days for a total do-nothing relaxation period away from everything and everyone. The island looks like a chocolate-covered puff-cream pastry. The white sand is the vanilla cream filling and the limestone is the chocolate on top, which is now all cracked-up and melting away as a result of some glorious roaring Jurassic convulsion of the earth’s crust.

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On the west side, the side of the shallow Bahama Bank, the anchorage in front of the small beach is completely protected from east, north and south winds and big ocean waves.

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We spend a few days here alone, with no other boats around, swimming, fishing, climbing the crumbling sandy ridges, exploring the small cave, feeding the population of hungry but friendly iguanas with whatever leftover food, which is not much, sorry, iguana-buddies.

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Only once a dinghy stopped by our iguana-island and a young couple spent the afternoon on our beach, completely naked and happy, their white butts shining like vanilla ice cream under the mighty all-seeing ever-smiling tropical sun. We forgive them the trespassing, just because they were naked and therefore totally free and defiant, and because they too shared some food with our iguanas.

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On the other side of the island, the Bahama Sound, the sea is not so kind. It is scary and menacing, deep blue-purple color, east winds and huge waves pounding the rock. Here the ocean dropoff plunges to depths our depth founder will never record, some of the deepest ocean water in the hemisphere. We stay away from there. For now.

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Swimming with Pigs

 People normally swim with dolphins.

We did it with pigs!

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Near Staniel Cay, after snorkeling in the Thunderball Grotto, we go for a swim with pigs. I know, this is weird. Trust me, I am now looking at the pictures and can’t believe it’s real.

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Swimming pigs! We have heard of the swimming iguanas of the Galapagos even of the swimming monkeys in Borneo. But pigs?

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No one knows for sure how the pig family came to settle on the beach near Staniel Cay in the Bahamas known today as Pig Beach, and how come they swim, like true athletes, in the tropical sea.

Legend has it that the pigs have been dropped off on Big Major Cay by a group of sailors who were planning to return later and cook them. But the sailors never returned. Probably got too drunk and forgot on which of the 700 hundred Bahamian islands they dropped the animals. The pigs sustained themselves feeding on leftovers dumped from passing ships.

Another theory says that the pigs survived a shipwreck and managed to swim to shore, while another claims that they are fugitives from a nearby islet. Others suggest that the pigs are part of a business scheme to attract tourists to the Bahamas.

 

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Whatever the truth behind these guys New World beginnings and pioneering struggles, today they are prospering and thriving on the island, enjoying a life of pleasure and leisure, of fiesta and siesta, and a bit of sporting activities, for which way of life many openly envy them.

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How not to envy them? They have the perfect setup. All they do all day is lie on a Bahamian beach lazily basking in the sun. And when it gets too hot, either move under the shade of the low tropical vegetation of the island or jump in the warm crystal waters of the Caribbean Sea for a few refreshing laps.

The baby piglets, the cutest you will ever find, occupy themselves with activities and games like any vacationing youngsters on a beach resort, such as digging holes in the sand with their soft pink little muzzles or chasing each others’ tails.

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Moreover, these guys never worry for food. Food comes to them every day on a boat. On many boats actually.

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This girl is kissable…

Locals and tourists bring them goodies of all sorts: apple and potato peels, pieces of salad and bread, tasty leftovers. The cruisers stop in the anchorage in front of the beach and don’t throw their food scraps to the fishes. Oh, no! They keep every last piece of uneaten diners for the piglets. The locals bring them food too, organizing boat rides for tourists, and consider the pigs national patrimony, one of Bahamas’ most popular tourist attractions.

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Mira feeding the piglets

Thus, when the piggies spot a dinghy approaching the beach they know a delivery is coming and race to the boat. The fastest swimmer gets the biggest cut.

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All they have to do to deserve the handouts is swim with the tourists, demonstrate gracious swimming skills, and pose and smile for the pictures.

Maya swimming with pigs

Maya swimming with pigs

The most beautiful part of the story is that the animals don’t belong to anyone, they live in freedom and die of old age. They are protected, enjoying a status of celebrities, and nobody roasts them and eats them.

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More fun pig pictures

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Ivo swimming with pigs

Ivo swimming with pigs

 

Synchronized underwater pigs

Synchronized underwater pigs

Maya and her piglet friend

Maya and her piglet friend

 

Mira with the pig family

Mira with the pig family

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surreal underwater creatures

surreal underwater creatures

 

 Three swimming pigs chased by Mira

Three swimming pigs chased by Mira

 

Maya with underwater pigs

Maya with underwater pigs

Smile for the picture!

Say cheeeeeeze!

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