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Bequia Honeymoon Trip Report, 9/15-9/23/03

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Everyone, of course, is going to remember their honeymoon location fondly, whether it?s the south of France or Cleveland. That being said, my new husband Richard (R_P) and I just got back from a weeks trip to Bequia in the off-off-season, and we had an incredible time that we are always going to remember. When we first started honeymoon planning, we decided that we wanted to go someplace quiet and a little off the beaten track. We wanted to rent a house if possible, and the place had to have great beaches, snorkeling, and good local food and music. We weren't interested in doing a large resort for this trip, and we didn't need loads of activities going on. We were looking for comfortable lodging, but had no need for high-end accommodations or to be "pampered" or anything. Of course, we were also planning for the peak of the hurricane season, so we looked in the southern Caribbean where hurricanes are less likely. We settled on Bequia, which is just south of St. Vincent. What did we do? We lay in the sun. We drank Hairouns, the local brew from St. Vincent, "island of clear water and quality beer." It was hot and sunny, and we snorkeled every day. We had cheese and crackers and frozen rum drinks on our porch and watched the sunset. We were adopted by several local dogs, most notably an insane creature known to us only as "Dog," a short-legged yet highly determined animal who followed us from beach to beach by day and slept outside our door by night, once even chasing the taxi all the way to Port Elizabeth to sit under our table at the Gingerbread. Details follow, grouped by where we stayed, what we ate, and what we did (not too much, really). Please feel free to email us at repage3@attbi.net for more information or if you have any questions whatsoever!

After missing our connection in Barbados due to our plane taking off late from Philly, we spent our first night in Barbados at the Yellow Bird, a decent and reasonably priced hotel in the St. Lawrence Gap area. Bright and early the next morning we were up and on our little propeller plane for the 45-minute flight to Bequia. We were the only people deplaning in Bequia, as the flight was continuing on to Union Island. Gideon Olivierre met us at the airport with his taxi and took us to Trinity Point House. The house's owner, Hodge Taylor, pulled up on his moped just as we arrived. Hodge has been living in Bequia for 30 years, and lives the next house up from Trinity Point. He gave us the tour:

LODGING
Trinity Point (http://www.bequiatrinity.com/) is a three-bedroom house with a wonderful view of the harbor at Admiralty Bay, which we were getting for an amazing off-season deal of $300 US for the week (usually Hodge rents it for $900 during high season). The house definitely lived up to our expectations - we had a comfortable porch with a great view, two hammocks and cushioned benches around the side, a living area with couches and dining table, a bedroom complete with mosquito net, and a kitchen that included stove and gas range, toaster, fridge, and blender. The doors into the house and out to the porch were just wrought-iron gates that we could lock with a padlock when we went out, but let in the breeze, lizards, and the occasional bananaquit. There were cool tile floors and local art, some of it Hodge's own, on the walls. There are two downstairs bedrooms for bigger groups that we didn't use, and a back porch with a charcoal grill. Big windows let in lots of light, and we were amused for hours by watching the small lizards hunt bugs along the windowsills. Hodge was wonderful, even stocking the fridge with a couple beers and bottles of water, fruits and veggies to get us started. A housekeeper came in halfway through the week to do a thorough cleaning.

FOOD
Being the off-season, many restaurants were closed for repairs or staff vacations during September, but enough places were open that we didn't feel constrained in our choices at all. One thing we loved about Bequia was the food - local delicacies like flying fish, rotis, chicken and goat stew, and pumpkin and callaloo soup were easy to come by. We had great, inexpensive lunches at Dawn's Creole Beach café on Lower Bay, and went one night for Dawn's special "dinner on the beach," where I had the most delicious roast chicken ever and Richard had grilled tuna, with palm heart salad, rice, and macaroni, served on candlelit tables right on the beach. We ventured to Coco's in Lower Bay one night as well, which has a great view and where Jenn had pumpkin soup and pan-fried fish that was excellent, and Richard had callaloo soup and curried chicken. For a big splurge dinner we headed into Port Elizabeth and had lobster at the Gingerbread. The lobsters were huge, and served with melted lime and garlic butters, and we would highly recommend them. We also had good lunches at the Green Boley and the Porthole in Port Elizabeth.

We usually had toast and fruit for breakfast, on the porch with cups of coffee. Twice we cooked dinner in - one time we bought fresh whole fish and cooked them up with wine and a bottle of green "local seasoning" that we picked up at the grocery store. The local seasoning worked equally well on chicken pieces a few nights later. There are a few grocery stores in town where we shopped and bought fresh bread, wine, rum, and other staples. There is an informal fruit market where people sell produce, which is where we got pineapples, mangos, bananas, and whatever else looked good (we were easily susceptible to the highly enthusiastic sales pitches of the vendors).

ACTIVITIES
As I mentioned earlier, we weren't looking for a place with a lot going on, figuring we'd be quite capable of amusing ourselves on our honeymoon. This was good, since the island was very quiet this time of year - the usual bands that play around the island were taking a break, and lack of tourists meant lack of many tourist activities. Nightlife was pretty slow, but there was always somewhere open to have dinner and a few beers. Predictably, our favorite evenings were spent making up our own rum drinks in our house and playing boggle on the porch, but there was nightlife to be had - you just had to look for it, and expect crowds to be light. Our house was within 10 minutes' walk of two beaches - Lower Bay and Princess Margaret. Princess Margaret is totally natural, and accessible only by steep path through the woods or by water taxi from Port Elizabeth. Lower Bay was a bit livelier, with Dawn's and a couple other beach restaurants, rental houses and small motels. We found Lower Bay most happening on Sunday, which seems to be the day local families spend at the beach. Young boys raced little sailboats around the bay and folks sat at Dawn's, having lunch and catching up. Usually we spent the day on one or both of these beaches. Both of them had good snorkeling along the rocky ends of the beaches (we saw an octopus, many parrotfish, eels, pipefish, and a gigantic pufferfish, among others.) From Princess Margaret you could walk into town in about 15 minutes, so sometimes we'd swim a bit, then go to town and do some shopping, and catch a taxi back uphill to the house. There were many good little shops in Port Elizabeth, including a great bookstore with Caribbean literature, guidebooks, and maps. We dropped into a model boat store to take a look at the incredibly detailed models that Bequia artisans are known for. Unfortunately they were a bit pricey for us this trip, but they were gorgeous and the shops are well worth a visit even if you are just looking.

One morning we hired Gideon to take us on an island tour, which lasted about three hours and gave us a chance to see some of the sights. Bequia is only seven square miles and has a population of about 5000. Most people still make a living by fishing, although the tourist trade also employs many. We liked that it seemed like a place you could actually live. We saw local teams playing soccer in Lower Bay, and kids in uniform going to school, and people heading out fishing from Lower Bay in the morning and coming back in the late afternoon. After only 7 days we were starting to recognize people in town and feel like a part of the place. It was very lush and green, despite a wet season that has been dryer than normal. On our island tour we went up to Mt. Pleasant, the highest point in the island, around Port Elizabeth and up to the site of the old fort where the French and English defended the island during colonial times. Then we headed down towards Spring, the site of an old sugar plantation, and over to Industry Bay. We stopped to see the Old Hegg Turtle Sanctuary, where we met Orton King and talked with him about his passion for sea turtles. Mr. King grew up on Bequia and used to be a fisherman, until he realized that the turtle population was dwindling. Now he is dedicated to rescuing baby turtles and raising them at the sanctuary until they are big enough to have a fighting chance of survival, and releasing them.

On Saturday, we took a catamaran cruise on the Passion with two other couples down to the Tobago Cays for some snorkeling. Surrounded by a horseshoe reef, the cays are five uninhabited islands that exactly fit my fantasy of a deserted tropical island. The sailboats anchored around the little islands solidified our desire to learn to sail. We snorkeled along the reef - the water was crystal clear, and while we saw a bigger variety of things off the beaches in Bequia, the snorkeling here stood out by the large size of the fish, and also the numbers of baby fish - we saw tiny parrotfish, sergeant majors, and triggerfish. The living coral was also amazing; extensive and colorful. On the way back we stopped at Canouan for lunch at the Canouan beach club, then motored back to Bequia. We saw flying fish "flying" along the surface of the water around the boat, and at one point near Canouan a gigantic tarpon leaped out of the water. Marty, the captain, let out the fishing lines with no luck. Passion also runs trips to Mustique and the Falls of Baleine in St. Vincent.

We headed home on Monday, sad to go and promising each other we'd return. It was a wonderful trip! If you want to learn more about Bequia these websites were very helpful as we planned our trip:

www.bequiasweet.com
http://bequia-island.com/
http://www.hwcn.org/~aa462/bequia.html
http://www.grenadines.net/bequia/bequiahomepage.htm

We also have many, many photos of Trinity Point House and the island up at http://community.webshots.com/user/dickandjenn

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