Month: January 2015

From Sun to Snow

Cobble Beach

January 19, 2015

Saturday night we savoured Caribbean Seafood Chowder, marlin on a bed of puréed pumpkin with white beans and finished with a molten lava cake.  We took our PIC coil with us to the outdoor lounge where an Antiguan was playing the keyboard and singing old romantic songs, many of which I did not recognize. We trained our British friends well as they joined us with their PIC coil. Every little PIC helps! Once again we were among the last to head off to bed. Even the musician packed up before us. It must be the British influence keeping us up so late!

View while sipping piña colada

View while sipping piña colada

Sunday morning was our last “hourrah” on the beach. We walked back and forth studying shells and collecting coloured polished shards of glass to give to another guest who is going put her glass collection on her kitchen window sill as a reminder of her warm vacation. We snorkelled for an hour and fit in an extra swim before packing our bags and having our last piña colada before lunch. Yes, we were able to have a good lunch before taking a taxi van to the airport. We did not have to worry about being hungry on our non-food flight.

We arrived at the airport two hours ahead of schedule and spent the first hour moving through the line for emigration and customs check. I heard an official with a walkie talkie saying, “Well, if everything is ready, let’s load them up.” And they did! We left Antigua an hour early.

Four and a half hours later we were landing in rainy dark Toronto. I was surprised there was no snow! In spite of the mild temperature of -2C, I felt cold after two weeks of 25C+. Happily brother JIm was quick to pick us up with my down jacket in hand.

Lynn had a delicious meal waiting for us: fish amandine, carrots, broccoli and rice. We could not decide between Stephanie’s two birthday cakes; so, we had both: Black Forest cake and rum cake.

Brilynn returned our car to us and greeted us with big hugs. Always a pleasure! Brilynn is keeping Kishu in Toronto. Our house is very quiet without Kishu, but she seems to be quietly content at Brilynn’s.

Home gain

Home again

Toronto received a skiff of snow overnight and the temperature dropped and continued to do so as we headed north for home. Nevertheless the sun was shining, but the snow had not accumulated much until after Orangeville. At home we have two feet of snow. There must have been a thaw followed by new snow as we were skiing on a crusty slippery layer after unpacking at Cobble Beach.

Skiing before sunset

Skiing before sunset

It’s -11C now and even though I am wearing three layers, two of them, wool, and I had Brian’s warming spaghetti with lamb meatballs, I am cold.

Octopus’s Garden

Frolicking with fish

Frolicking with fish

Antigua

January 17, 2015

We headed into the sea early to benefit from the sun along the south cliff. We did not see an octopus but his coral garden was stunning, so many different kinds and colours. No photo does it justice. Purple feather fans and yellow ones with tiny white “flowers” waving from the tips of the fan. Stubby green fingers; long elegant green, yellow or purple fingers. Large brain coral a metre wide. Beige, white, yellow or blue coral intermingled in masses much like the spreading patches of thyme in my garden. Black Sea urchins, some showing bright red centres peaked out from under rock ledges. One eighteen inch long fish, eight inches deep had a jagged fin the length of his back and blended in so well that I wasn’t sure I was looking at a fish until he darted away under me.

We were in the water and were loath to leave but our bodies were chilling even though we had swimming T-shirts on. A hot shower felt good. It is still 25C. This morning felt muggy as there was little breeze but the wind just picked up and it is raining. The rain will probably end within half an hour but if not, we will just have to swim anyway!

People tell us we should go on a tour of the island, but as we are only here a few days we are taking advantage of sea and beach walking before returning to skiing.

Coral garden

Coral garden

Hold onto that hat!

Hold onto that hat!

Our palapa awaits

Our palapa awaits

Lizard or gecko?

Lizard outside our room

Snorkelling and Hiking

Antigua

Bananaquit

Bananaquit

January 15, 2015

Very good food here. In the evening the restaurant has sittings for a la carte dining. We took the earliest at six-thirty. The seven and seven-thirty sittings are quickly signed up for and gone at breakfast. Thursday’s are a little different as there is a manager’s cocktail before dinner; so, the first sitting is at 7PM. We have signed up for that one.

Last night I had shrimp pasta as an appetizer and Brian had deep fried mozzarella sticks. We both had lamb with vegetables then Brian had amaretto ice cream and I had cherry cheesecake. All good, all,the right sized portions.

This morning our omelette chef was from Guyana. She is going to visit her cousin in Toronto this year. Everyone is very friendly, staff and guests alike. All of the guests we have talked with are from the UK. An eight hour flight for them.

January 16, 2015

I didn’t get around to finishing yesterday’s blog…too busy.

We snorkelled at both ends of the beach where we saw plenty of colourful fish. There were deep trenches at the south end of the beach. Because we were in the shade of the cliff, the colours were less pronounced. At the north end there were more flat rock hiding places, many covered in moss and seaweed. It is there that I discovered a large fist-sized octopus well camouflaged in green plant material but he kept stretching and curling his tentacles. I kept looking above water to get Brian’s attention but he continued to swim away from me leaving bread crumbs and schools of fish behind for me to admire. Brian always tells me I should not go far from him or too close to the rocks, but apparently that advice is only for me. Brian was disappointed he did not see the octopus.

There were twenty inch long blue fish and many differently patterned yellow fish that sparkled in sunlight and were happy to nibble bits of bun.

A pair of bullfinches

A pair of bullfinches

Walking the beach we were surrounded by a flutter of butterflies, hundreds of small white ones with splashes of yellow on their wings. I was unable to capture this marvellous sight.

We hiked with medicine man, Vaughn, and his apprentice, Ashlin and two other couples for an hour and a half. We left the resort and walked through the abandoned Grand Royal Antiguan Resort, a huge resort that for the past seven years has hosted only invisible guests. Curiously the hotel is in good shape. Someone is maintaining it. There was a security guard at the gate, a man on reception, a new flat screen television playing in the lounge. Vaughn explained the many medicinal properties of various plants as we walked through and told of us the political decisions that had caused the closing of the resort. He asked us to imagine the throngs of people that we would have had to shimmy past in the hotel’s former glory. It is now under new ownership and it is expected to open again.

Brian and Vaughn

Brian and Vaughn

We walked the sand beach of Deep Bay where about ten large sailboats were moored and an equal number of brightly painted former souvenir cabins remained vacant.

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We scrambled up the lava rock face of a steep hill to the top to the stone ruins of Fort Barrington. As we had no trekking poles, I think we merited mountain goat certificates but none were issued. The view from the top was stunning in all directions but particularly in the direction of Montserrat, the sailboats and the setting sun. Vaughn advised us to use our toes to climb and flat feet to descend. We heeded  his advice.

Vaughn gave many tributes to his grandmother for having taught him about plants. He was obviously very attached to her and missed her. Vaughn was a musician for seventeen years in New York City but came home to the island to lead guided walks which he has been doing joyfully and successfully for twelve years from four hotels, relying solely on tips.

We dined with Mike and Jill one of the two Brit couples who walked with us. A local playing a steel drum provided musical background. We kept one another well entertained with lots of laughs until 11 PM, well past our bedtime!

Antigua

Coconut Beach Resort
Antigua
January 14, 2015

It rained harder and more frequently last night than any other night on Montserrat. Perhaps we were being told to go away! Antigua appeared drier but we have already had a shower here. I guess it is that time of year. In both places, rainbows smile on us.

Thank you! See you Sunday!

Thank you! See you Sunday!

Susan prepared crepes for breakfast, perfect with brown sugar and lime juice. I had one last swim in the pool after yoga and a short walk, admiring flowers, trees and houses.

On our way to the airport, Bryan stopped at Runaway Ghaut so we could have a drink of spring water. According to local lore, if you drink from this spring you will be sure to return to Montserrat.

Three couples were signing in at the airport for departure to Antigua. It took each couple about fifteen minutes to check bags and pay departure taxes, a slow process but there was no place to rush to, no long corridors to walk to the waiting room beside the runway. Good-natured Captain Abe greeted us once again for our twenty minute flight. He said he was trying out a new plane. He had a pink stuffed flying pig for a copilot to ensure our safety. I felt as if I was getting a foot massage as the plane vibrated down the runway for takeoff.

There is a pretty good system in place at the Antigua airport for taxis. No one comes rushing to beg you to take his taxi. You go to the taxi dispatcher who tells you what your fee will be and calls the next taxi driver whose turn it is to take us to our destination.

The twenty minute taxi ride took us through the industrial side of St. John’s, downtown past the market then the docks where three huge cruise ships were moored then along the seashore to Coconut Beach Resort. We were warmly greeted by the young woman on reception with the words, “You are on time for lunch.” Delightful. This is a thirty-eight room resort with rooms on three levels, on a white sand beach that is five hundred metres long with no other resorts on the beach. We are on the ground floor less than forty metres from the sea. The buffet table was short but with very good food…fish, chicken and vegetarian lasagna. The dining room is open air. Little birds were flying in and out.

We have seen half a dozen birds since our arrival, most of them landing near or on the deck at our feet: purple necked brown doves, small finches and sparrow like birds.

Rainbow at Coconut Bay

Rainbow at Coconut Bay

I reclined in the oversized hammock with my book before walking the length off the beach and back, in and out of the water. The waves are milder here. We had a lovely swim in the 82 F green Caribbean. We will try snorkelling at both ends of the beach where the cliffs rise up and there are some rocks and coral in the water.

Brian's siesta

Brian’s siesta

Sadly we are back in civilization where people smoke. It only takes one smoker to bother me. I have to choose my outdoor seating carefully. In the bar area it was not possible to avoid the smoker. We brought our piña coladas back to our deck.

Our room is smaller than the Lions Den at the Taj and there is no clothes line to suspend our wet suits. There is a pool about the same size as at the Taj. So far I have seen no one in it. I am sure that when I do go, in it will overflow as it is filled to the brim. Of course the sea is so lovely, I may just stick with salt water swimming.

Celebrity Cruise Ship Summit is floating past our bedroom. That is one huge ship! Nine storeys of cabins! At least it is gliding by quietly.

Last night in Montserrat :(

Montserrat, January 13, 2015

A leisurely morning following scrambled eggs for breakfast thanks to Susan. Al and Barb were preparing to leave, getting in the last swim in the pool, time in shorts before returning to snowy Canada. Brian and I have a little reprieve as we go to Antigua tomorrow for four days. Last night the dolls beat the guys to be the 2015 Pepper Champions. Bryan may have preferred to watch football, but seriously, how can ducks play football? Obviously last night, they could not. Ohio had a big win.

Flambeed bananas and peaches

Flambeed bananas and peaches

Beautiful home and garden

Beautiful home and garden

Susan flambeed bananas and peaches to finish off last night’s tasty meal of steak, ham and veg fried rice, sautéed brussel sprouts and salad. We certainly eat well. Everyone is wondering what we will do without such great team prep for meals.

After our daily siesta, a most important part of the day, we walked down to the beach and charged the waves. We keep thinking we have seen the biggest waves, but the power of the waves is incredible, daunting and lots of fun. Not so good for snorkelling.

Body surfing

Body surfing

Pam and John brought their company over for drinks before dinner. Two more new Canadian tourists will enjoy ten days on Montserrat.

Brian made a delicious fish chowder and I made a salad. We had guava ice cream for dessert. The choice of guava was prompted by the guava fruit Brian and I picked from a tree at the Viewpoint Resort. The fruit was much more fragrant than the ice cream which had more of a berry than guava flavour.

What is this plant? The leaves feel like wood.

What is this plant? The leaves feel like wood.

It’s pouring. Bryan and Susan tell us we have seen more wind and rain than they usually do. It has not stopped us from having a fabulous time…swimming, hiking, star gazing. Tonight might just be the first one when we will not be able to search for planets and stars and the Lovejoy comet. It looks as if we might have to play a four hand game of Pepper. Don’t worry, Barb, it won’t affect our championship!

Blackwood Allen Hike

Young gecko moulting

Young gecko moulting

Montserrat

January 12, 2015

We  rose early to leave the Taj at 8 AM to drive on serpentine hills up and down, but mostly up to arrive at Mongo Hill above St. John’s to meet our hiking guide, James Scriber Daly. Like most Monserratians, he has an Irish surname, but he people call him Scriber. When he was in school the other children called him Scriber because he was so good at describing things. He offered each of us a hiking stick which we gratefully accepted and were definitely glad to have particularly on slippery down slopes.

We set out on the Blackwood Allen hike from Mongo Hill to Baker Hill in the Center Hills. The highest point of the hike was 1417 feet. The highest point of the island is 2429 feet. Many of the hiking trails are located in these Centre Hills.

Scriber was a great source of information about the rainforest. We would certainly have hiked two kilometres much faster than three and a half hours if Scriber had not stopped to make us see and hear the many birds, trees and smaller living creatures. He pointed out the national symbols: the hairy mango tree which was flowering yellow, the heliconia flower of which we saw a large bright red one (at one foot in length, much bigger than any house plant varieties) and the Montserrat oriole, which we heard but did not see. The oriole suspends its basket nest from the heliconia plant.

We did see an Antillean Crested Hummingbird. Brian spotted it first and Scriber was very impressed with Brian’s observation skills. The iridescent green crest was beautiful. We also saw a large black moth darting about like a bat, a big cane toad hidden in the leaves, a crayfish in a stream and flashes of birds such as the quail dove, forest thrush, ani and scaly-breasted thrasher.

Philadendron umbrellas

Philadendron umbrellas

Scriber pointed out the Cecopia tree as we began our hike. When its twenty inch diameter leaves turn upside down to show white, a weather system is moving in, that is, rain. We did get rained on a few times but the rain forest provides pretty good protection. In addition, Scriber handed us a philodendron leaf as an umbrella. A two foot diameter leaf makes a good umbrella. The thirty to forty foot roots of the philodendron drape to the forest floor. Women cut them down and use them to weave baskets.

Scriber with a Cecopia leaf

Scriber with a Cecopia leaf

The thick high roots of the banyon tree have to be stepped over. This is one of the larger trees of the rain forest.

Shortly after starting our hike, Scriber motioned us to stop. He broke off a slim stick and lowered it into a hollow metal pole. When he pulled the stick out a gecko was clinging to the stick. Scriber held it while we admired it. Scriber was quite excited to see it was moulting, not a common sight. I held my little finger up to its paw and it grasped the end of my finger. What a feeling! It was soft and velvety like baby skin. Tiny grippers on the end of its foot held fast to my finger. I thought I would be wearing him home.

We also spotted holes in the ground where the nocturnal tarantula lives, but Scriber did not disturb him.

The Mammy Apple tree with its six inch wide round shiny leaves had small apples on it, but they were not yet ripe. People used to live on the mountain. Evidence of gardening remains. Scriber pointed out a poisonous plant, non native, that causes severe blistering on the skin.

It was a very informative excursion which finished with a drink at the Grandview B and B while Scriber had a friend take him and Bryan back for the cars. I had a delicious ginger beer made on site. Yum!

Game On

Montserrat

January 11, 2015

Most nights there is a shower, often it comes on quickly while we are stargazing, and we quickly retreat to the covered living room. With the large open arches we still have the pleasure of the thundering downpour and fresh smell of rain without getting wet. Last night the torrential downpour happened after most had gone to sleep, but I heard it and listened to memories of my first two weeks in Burkina Faso…more than four decades ago!

Most evenings we play cards, Pepper, to be exact, a game that was new to Brian and me. We play in friendly competitive teams: gals against the guys. We, women, were off to a great start winning games, but the men took the lead then we tied the series last night.

We added a new game to our repertoire last night. We played tabletop curling prior to our card game. Although there were tiny brooms available, we did not have much need of sweeping on the glass tabletop. With Nana hefting the curling rock with deadly aim, we thought our team had them beat, but in the end the men prevailed.

Curling

Curling

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The Taj as seen from The former Viewpoint Resort

If other games are needed, board games are available, but we also turn to our electronic devices to check on email from family and friends, see how much cold and snow we are missing and play word games near and far. Still waiting for some words, Alex. Among us, we have two laptops, four iPads, and two Kobo readers. Only Nana is sticking strictly with a paperback. All of us have booklets about Montserrat to read…local guides about, trees, flowers and birds.

As reported, we have had many meals out as we sample the island businesses, but we have been taking turns cooking or acting as sous-chefs. Susan makes terrific crepes which are perfect topped with lime juice and brown sugar. Brian made a loaf of bread yesterday. It is all gone. Bread is a tough commodity to acquire. You have to line up early at the bakery. Even buying flour is not always easy.

We had a wonderful spiral ham last night with scalloped potatoes and roasted squash cubes, a joint cooking affair. We will have plenty of ham sandwiches in the next few days.

We are returning to Johnny Pont’s at noon for his Sunday Barbecue special.

I did my morning yoga on the upper deck with a rainbow and a hummingbird welcoming me to this new day.

Cow with friends at the Viewpoint

Cow with friends at the Viewpoint

The sun is out….time to explore.

Happiness Is

Montserrat

January 10, 2015

At The Yacht Club

At The Yacht Club

Sunset at Isles Beach

Sunset at Isles Beach

Kestrel

Kestrel

Happy 95th, Mom! I hope the heavenly hosts are treating you well!

We have the great pleasure of having Nana with us. Nana is Susan’s mother, the original owner of the Taj from the seventies. Nana is one month shy of her ninety-eighth birthday and we are in awe of her. Although her hearing aid does not serve her as well as she would like, she is able to share her wit and wisdom, swims back and forth across the pool and is enjoying reading The Rosie Project, almost ready for its sequel. I have always said I would like to live long, as long as I live well. Nana is a fabulous inspiration.

I think perhaps being young and carefree is not as good as being old and carefree. The former do not realize their good fortune while those of us who are older recognize how very lucky we are! Of course we are only as old as we think we are, as Mom was fond of saying, and as long as I don’t look in the mirror, I continue to believe I am a few decades younger than I really am.

Another ‘momism’ was that we should always cover ourselves when we lay down, for fear of taking a chill, regardless of the season. Here in Montserrat, there really is no need. Our skin suffices as a covering. Much as I enjoy our changing Canadian seasons, it is pure bliss when the only clothing decisions I have to make are which bathing suit to wear. That decision is really quite simple: I don the dry one. No need for layers of clothing, woolen socks and boots.

The Taj is fully open on the ocean side with no windows, doors nor screens. The sea breeze makes music with the palms and flows in and out of the arches cooling us as we relax in the shade watching the multi blue layers of the sea and the drifting clouds. Last night we stretched out in corpse pose on the deck, not noticing the hardness of the glazed clay tiles as we spotted constellations and planets.

We were contentedly full from our Isles Burger and fries from the Yacht Club beach bar, a twenty minute walk away. This bar is a new addition on the beach at the entrance to the Belham Valley where once there was a golf club. The golf course is well buried under volcanic mud and now quickly growing up in sprawling greenery. The bar is run by a couple of Aussies who came to Montserrat fairly recently and were so charmed that they stayed. Located as it is at the mouth of the valley in the runway from the volcano, it could be a risky business, but it is a sign that someone thinks life is moving forward.

The hamburger buns were freshly made in the bar’s bread oven. The fries were handcut and the servings very generous. It is a good thing we walked back from the bar to begin the digestive process. The return walk, aided by flashlights, was slow as we had to keep stopping for the cars headed for the bar to pass. In spite of no sign to point the way, many customers find their way to the Yacht Club bar.

This morning we drove to the Hilltop Restaurant inland above St Peter’s. As well as a museum to display photos about Montserrat and Sir George Martin’s Air Studio, it is an art gallery for local artists. We had waffles with bowls of fruit toppings from which to choose as well as maple and chocolate syrups, nuts and whipped cream. The cappuccinos came with the delicious waffles. Life is good!

Flora and Fauna

Montserrat

At Woodlands Beach

At Woodlands Beach

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January 9, 2015

Happy Birthday Cory!

Flowers, we see in abundance, pink bougainvillea, red castor and ixora, Hibiscus ( red, yellow and white), orange cordia, yellow allamanda, white spider lilies, growing on vines, shrubs and trees, draping over stone walls, running up houses and through abandoned buildings, some wild, some tamed in manicured landscapes, bordering swimming pools, leaping over tin rooves . Flowers and lush green foliage are everywhere. Neem trees are particularly prolific, one of which is threatening to topple a garden wall beside the Taj. Susan and Bryan are hoping to negotiate with their neighbours for its demise. A couple of palm trees tower above the patio, providing shade and interesting possibilities for sunset photos.

Allamanda and unknown caterpillar

Allamanda and unknown caterpillar

An almond tree along the driveway is showing great clusters of almonds, not yet ready for harvest. The coconut palm has already provided fresh tasty snacks, and today I made piña coladas with coconut milk, shredded coconut, lime, pineapple juice and eight year old rum. I know you do not care for coconut, Margaret, but this was a refreshing drink, full of vitamins! We procured the limes from a tree down the road. Banana trees provide sweet little bananas that have not been picked before their time for transport to Canada. These are available from roadside vendors along with melons, oranges, lemons, grapefruit and bright orange carrots.

Sadly other than the items mentioned above and lettuce, there do not appear to be many fruits or vegetables grown on the island. There is no manufacturing nor food processing of anything on the island. Almost everything is imported. Five thousand people does not make for a very profitable market, I guess.

There are many mahogany trees on the island. They have many long broad brown pods. When we wondered what could be in such pods, Brian suggested we would find tiny mahogany chairs. That started us on a round of humourous silly imaginings.

Last night we ate at Ziggy’s, Montserrat’s gourmet restaurant. Ziggy’s is a small operation, totally run by a husband and wife team, for the past twenty-five years. They used to be in Plymouth but had to move to their current location up a winding hill, right at the second street, left at the T junction. You need directions or you would not find it. No sign leads you there, but you need reservations; so, you will be given directions!

The menu is not extensive, but all was delicious and where possible food is sourced locally. I am pretty sure the asparagus in the salad was not grown here. On offer on the chalkboard for the main course were roast duck, large scallops, freshly caught snapper and steak. Our crew went for the first three items. All were delighted with their choices. Some had cheese soufflé, others smoked salmon for an appetizer. No one had room for a dessert of chocolate sludge or lemon sorbet. The venue was, of course, unique: three rooms tented outside the house with a fourth where the wine selection was housed. You went to the wine room, rather than a menu, to select your wine. Once again, the chef and his wife, the server, came out to chat with us following our meal. We asked where the name, Ziggy’s, came from. The response: “It is an easy name to remember; it is the same in all languages and it is easy to find at the end of the phone book.”

Fauna? We hear birds and animals or see their tracks, more than we see them. The most at home with us is a kestrel which sits on the wires near the Taj. Hummingbirds, large red necked pigeons and flycatchers flash past us, too busy to pay us heed. The white ibises descend en masse wherever a lawn is being cut. Pelicans, usually in pairs, fly low over the water in search of fish. I thought one of them was going to try me out for size as I was swimming. Perhaps the silver hair looked like a fish! The frigate birds leave us alone.

In the sea, we see a variety of colourful fish, but we have yet to snorkel in an area with large schools of fish. The coral we saw today was very colourful and in large and small shapes. I particularly liked the clusters of bright yellow tubes.

There are many roosters and hens running about. The roosters are especially vocal from the middle of the night to the middle of the afternoon. Those sleeping on the north side of the house seem to be more bothered by them than we have been. Mosquitoes have kept Brian busy at night as he clears out the ones which have found their way under the dome of our protective net. Last night was our first mosquito-free night. I think he figured out how to seal the cracked seam. Fortunately the bites we have received have not left great welts and have not been itchy.

Mountain chicken

Mountain chicken

We have heard donkeys braying and one cow mooing. We have seen goats and sheep tethered in yards. We have seen many squashed mountain chickens. These are large frogs, not poultry, and they are apparently a delicacy although we have yet to see them listed on a menu. Dogs bark and one black adorable puppy routinely shows up near the house or follows us on a walk. We heard that one survivor of the 1995 volcano has produced six thousand offspring. An intensive spaying project is underway.

Rendezvous Bay

January 7, 2015

In our trusty RAV4 rental, the six of us travelled north, not to the squalls and cold of Ontario, just north, along the western shore of Montserrat to Little Bay. There we began our hike by walking through a concrete block company yard. We were observant enough to spy the arrow sign for Rendezvous Bay hidden in the vines.

According to the Montserrat Nature Trails pamphlet, our four kilometre hike over a hill top would be moderate and take us an hour. It took us twenty minutes to go up through thorn bushes in hot sunshine. We slithered sideways, high stepped and stooped to avoid the thorny branches. Brian discovered a piece of aluminum flashing which he used as a hiking pole and weed whacker to clear the overgrown trail. Navigating the down slope to Rendezvous Bay was slower. A hiking pole would have been useful. Brian was equipped!

Leaving concrete block yard

Leaving concrete block yard

Going down

Going down

We heard the waves before we saw the beautiful azure bay. We were delighted to peel off our shorts and shoes, and tumble into Rendezvous Bay. This is Montserrat’s only white sand beach, all others are black. One end of the beach is closed by a huge cliff while the opposite end is much lower with rocks and coral covering the sand in and out of the water.

Brian and I snorkelled briefly at the cliff end. We saw half a dozen different types of brightly coloured fish. I collected a few shells and small pieces of coral for my garden. I admired the baseball sized and bigger chunks of coral but left them on the beach. Carrying such items in a backpayck is not recommended. I am practising restraint for when we do the Camino.

it was soothing to our feet to sink a few inches into the wet sand with every step we took along the beach. A good stretch for our calves. Mindful that a granola bar would not be sufficient lunch, we rubbed the sand from our feet, donned socks and shoes and returned over the hill to Little Bay.

Last year, Bryan and Susan discovered Pont’s Restaurant, only because after twenty-one years of being there, Johnny Pont, chef and owner, decided some were having trouble finding his restaurant. The entrance to the restaurant is a very narrow path through a jungle of vines and trees. Without the sign, I would never have found this restaurant. There is an octagonal deck looking over the bay where we relaxed with our Carib beer and gave our orders for lunch. When our ribs and wahu (dense boneless fish)’we’re ready, we seated ourselves at tables made of slabs of wood, completely surrounded by foliage with a ceiling drooping with an eclectic mix of colourful buoys, lights, driftwood, coral and unusual sculptures.

Pint'so Restaurant

Pont’s Restaurant

Our food was delicious and plentiful as our ribs or fish were accompanied by mixed fresh vegetables, rice, potatoes and salad. Johnny sat and chatted with us when we were finished our meal.  He originally worked in the kitchen at the Belham Valley Restaurant where ex-pats dined before the lahar of the volcano overwhelmed the valley and covered the restaurant and the golf course. While still working there Johnny began his own restaurant at Little Bay, beginning with a barbecue on the beach. He is obviously an island success story.