I slept very little last night. The frogs were cacophonous. I actually travel with earplugs since Joel snores, but not even they (the ear plugs, not the snoring) could block out the noise of the frogs. I probably fell asleep around 2 am. Then, I awoke around 5:30. It was light out and I find it hard to sleep with the light (1). It was still noisy. I could hear the frogs and the birds had woken up, including what sounded like an owl (2) (3).
We unpacked and explored a little. Our suite is very private with lots of screening foliage. We then looked at some of the other suites. The honeymoon suite also looked nice. We could see the ocean from there since the foliage wasn't so dense. After exploring the resort grounds some, we went down to the beach.
The Petit Byahaut beach is a black sand beach covered in little holes. I wondered what kind of crab lived in the holes and found out quickly. Little ghost crabs. They looked just like the ghost crabs we saw in Hawaii, but they were darker to blend in with the black beach.
Joel said he didn't want to swim right then, and I wasn't expecting to see anything in the water so early in the morning, but I wanted a swim. So, I grabbed my swim goggles and went out for some exercise. The bottom of the water was beautiful. The sand has small undulations and looks like the skin of a giant sea creature. A couple of flying gurnard (fish) were digging in the sand with their front flippers. I went off to the right side of the bay to see if there was any coral there, but there was very little. However, the fish where everywhere. Especially under the ledges near the shore. Tons of them of all different kinds; from tangs, to damsel fish to puffers to trumpetfish. And despite the lack of direct sunlight I could see perfectly, because the water was absolutely clear. I've never snorkeled in water so clear before. I waved to Joel to come in and I got out of the water to get my snorkel gear, because frankly, swim goggles are much harder to see through than a real mask.
We both went out together over the rock ledge and through swarms of brightly colored fish. The highlight of the morning snorkel came when we spotted a small spotted eagle ray, maybe 3-4 feet across. We followed him about for a short time and then went off to the left side of the bay. Here we saw a spotted morey eel poking his head up from a crevice (4).
Just about this time three small boats were paddled into the bay. They were local fishermen. They called to us and asked us if we had seen any tuna, but we hadn't. They threw out their nets anyway and took quite a while reeling them in. A group of them were at one end splashing in the water and hitting the water with their oars to get the fish to go into the nets.
When we came out of the water, Joel wanted to get a photo of the fishermen so took out one of the little kayacks to snap photos with our little camera (it has a dive case so is protected). He was afraid to take out his good camera; he had tried earlier this morning and the lenses started fogging up in the high humidity so he quickly packed the expensive camera back up in its protective case. It is very, very humid here (5).
We were the only guests at breakfast, because as we discovered, we were the only guests at the resort. Although the resort has only five suites, July is the off season (rainy season) and all the other suites were empty during the time we stayed at Petit Byahaut.
Breakfast was a plate of local fruits and some eggs and sausage (6). We gabbed with Brian a bit. He is from Colorado, where I grew up. He used to be a chef, but a year ago he and his family moved here to manage the resort. We discussed what tours we wanted to take and a trip to The Falls of Baleine was available that day, so we arraigned to go later that morning (7).
Petit Byahaut has the same biting gnats that we found in Eleuthera. We joked then that it was the Eleutheran measles, because they leave small red spots all over your legs. I find them a little annoying, sort of like mosquitoes. But, I'm sure by the end of the trip I will be ignoring them completely.The Falls of Baleine are one of the classic destinations on St. Vincent. The falls are located on the northern end of the leeward side of the island, and they are only accessible by boat. The Falls of Baleine are a 60 foot waterfall cascading into a natural pool. The falls are a short hike from the ocean, although the path to the falls has been washed out requiring you to wade through waist deep water to reach the falls. The tour to The Falls of Baleine is run by Sea Breeze Tours, and includes a stop at Wallilabou Bay for lunch, where you can explore the movie set where Pirates of the Caribbean was shot. The tour sometimes includes a dolphin sighting side-trip, although we had to skip that because of weather and time issues.
Our trip to The Falls of Baleine started out promising, but as we headed north the clouds started thickening. Our captain, Hal Daize, preferred not to go to the falls in the rain, and noted that it would often quit raining quickly after it starts. Therefore, we stopped at Wallilabou Bay where the movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was filmed (8).
At Wallilabou Bay, the buildings still had their facades from the movie. Although, a few were the worse for wear (they were not designed to last). There were only a few buildings, and did not take long to see them all. We hung out at Wallilabou Bat until the rain moved off, but the clouds to the north (where we were going) were still thick, so we stayed put and ate lunch at the Wallilabou Bay Anchorage early (9).
The food at the Wallilabou Bay Anchorage restaurant was good, but not something to go out of the way for. The service on the other hand was very, very slow. This was a little surprising since we were the only diners.
After lunch, it looked like the clouds were thinning out to the north, so off we went. Unfortunately, we were wrong. As we went north off the leeward coast of St. Vincent, the rain returned. But, when we got to the falls, we decided to do the hike anyway. At least the thunder and lightning were gone. Hal stayed with the boat, but our guide, Speedy, took us up to the falls.
The hike to the falls was just a short ways up. However, recent rock slides has wiped out much of the trail. For part of the hike, we had to scamper over the rock slide where the trail used to be. For another part of the hike, we had to wade through a pool of water that was about four feet deep at the deepest, through murky water hiding an uneven bottom of rotting foliage. All the guys in our tour group went up to the falls, but I was the only woman that wanted to. The rest of the women stayed behind, not wanting to brave the hike through the murky water (10).
The falls was beautiful. Probably made beautiful because of all the rain (which made the falls run stronger). The guys all went swimming under the falls, but I was cold, yes cold! In the middle of the summer in the Caribbean I got cold. It was windy and very rainy by now, and the steam water was not very warm compared to the ocean.
We didn't spend a long time at the falls since it was so cold and dismal (but beautiful). We had a little more time on the tour and the Hal asked us what we wanted to do. We could go looking for dolphins or go snorkeling. Hal didn't like the idea of going farther out into the ocean because of a squall coming in, so we went snorkeling instead. But after just 10 minutes in the water, the thunder and lightning returned. I quickly swam to the boat. The idea of being in the ocean during a thunder storm was not very appealing. Hal then got us all back to the boat and quickly dropped us off at Petit Byahaut.
We were exhausted from the trip so we laid down to read for a while (11). We didn't get up until it was close to sunset. It was a pretty sunset, but not spectacular. I think there were too many clouds by the horizon. Joel and I had cocktails and played a game of Lost Cities. We were waiting for our dinner during this time. And we waited, and we waited. But no dinner. Then, I checked into the kitchen and our chef Chuckie hadn't shown up (he had fallen asleep). When Brian realized that we were chef-less, he cooked us dinner. After dinner all I could do was collapse in bed, and it was only 8:30pm.
Footnote 1: If you get the idea that Daphne does not sleep well, you would be correct. If its not the noise, its the light, or the mattress, or Joel's snoring, or the caffeine from a cup of tea drunk ten hours earlier. P.S. Joel's snoring is not really that bad.
Footnote 2: I should point out that Daphne was not the only one who had some sleeping problems. I would often wake up in the middle of the night to the sounds of Feisty, the resort cat. Feisty insisted on sleeping on the metal roof of the bedroom area (cat on a hot tin roof), and tended to make a lot of noise in the wee hours of the morning.
Footnote 3: We later learned that it was not an owl that we were hearing. Instead, it was the sound of the native pigeons. For visitors from the city, it is important to know that, even here, you cannot escape the sounds of the pigeons.
Footnote 4: There are no pictures from this morning's swim because I had not bothered to bring the camera. The first set of underwater pictures we took at Petit Byahaut came from the following day's swim.
Footnote 5: I brought two cameras with me on this trip -- a Nikon D70 digital SLR and a point-and-shoot Canon S400 Elph. For the Canon Elph, we have a waterproof underwater case that lets me pictures while snorkeling or when it rains. For the Nikon, well, the Nikon takes higher quality pictures. I had planned on using the Nikon whenever possible, switching to the Canon only when we went snorkeling. However, because of the humidity, I left the Nikon in its waterproof pelican case all of July 15th, and on July 17th as well. Once we left St. Vincent, the humidity dropped to more manageable levels and I switched to using the Nikon camera again.
Footnote 6: You may have noticed that there was plenty of time to go snorkeling before breakfast. Although you may think that as the only guests, we just ate when we wanted. But the opposite was true. Meals were scheduled at set times, and breakfast was scheduled for 9:00am.
Footnote 7: A trip to The Falls of Baleine was on our list of things we wanted to do while on St. Vincent. The trip, however, required a minimum of four paying passengers so it had to be scheduled when other people were willing to go. As it happened, there were a bunch of people staying at Young Island resort who had booked the trip, so it was easy to get us added to the list (the boat had to pass by Petit Byahaut on its way to The Falls of Baleine anyway).
Footnote 8: The filming of Pirates of the Caribbean seems to be the single most important thing to ever happen to the island of St. Vincent. The movie set has become a major attraction (at least what passes for a major attraction on St. Vincent), and everyone seems to have a story about working for the movie. I understand that Disney is considering a sequel and I hope that, for the sake of the local economy, they decide to film on St. Vincent again.
Footnote 9: There were about 5 or 6 other people on the tour and they were all armed with their cameras. When we first put ashore at Wallilabou Bay, the rain had stopped so everyone has their cameras out taking pictures. As soon as the rain started again, the other guests all ran for cover, and wrapped their cameras up to protect them from the rain. But not me. I had the Canon Elph in its underwater case and didn't worry about the rain at all.
Footnote 10: Between the rain and the hike through the pool, everyone had to leave their cameras behind -- except for me. I dragged along the Canon in its underwater housing and was able to get some great shots (here, here, and here) of The Falls of Baleine (great, except for some drops of rain on the lens that causes small blurry regions in some of the pictures).
Footnote 11: Its worth pointing out that although we traveled very light on this vacation, books made up the third heaviest part of our baggage, after camera equipment and snorkel gear.
Introduction | July 14th (travel day) | July 15th (Falls of Baleine) | July 16th (Petit Byahaut) | July 17th (La Soufriere hike)
July 18th (sail to Bequia) | July 19th (Union Island) | July 20th (Sandy Island) | July 21th (Tobago Cays) | July 22th (Petit Tobac)
July 23th (arrive at PSV) | July 24th (West Side Beach) | July 25th (Atlantic Beach) | July 26th (Mopion) | July 27th (travel day)
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