Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Approaching cloud-shrouded Saba

A typical Saba home in both design and colors

Interesting door handle detail on a Saban gat
Okay, did I say that St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands was a wonderland?  Well, we hadn’t visited Saba yet.  Saba was visible from our anchorage in Sint Maarten, a conical island rising from the sea, always partially obscured by a crown of clouds, beautiful but rather ominous.  As we approached, I half expected to see a huge wall and King Kong roaming through the lush vegetation.  Contrary to the islands we’ve just come from, with long sandy beaches and low rolling hills surrounded by shallow waters, Saba is too steep for beaches, and the water drops off to the depths almost immediately offshore.  But the water is wonderfully clear with nearly unlimited visibility, and it was fantastic to snorkel amongst the nearshore coral-encrusted boulders and through the tunnel bored in the cliff face, as well as on the rocky pinnacles that reached nearly to the surface, above which thousands of fish large and small swarmed and fed.  It was like being tossed into a tropical-fish aquarium.  Ashore was no less fantastic.  The Dutch government had told the island’s settlers that it was too steep to build roads, so a local citizen took a correspondence course in road building and the islanders built the The Road themselves – by hand.  Then the government told them that there was no place for an airstrip, so the islanders cleared off the only level rocky surface by hand and built their own.  These are some plucky people, and very friendly.  Along with Steve and Lynn from Celebration, we took a taxi to the village of Windwardside (on – you guessed it! – the windward side of the island), then hiked to the top of Mount Scenery, the peak of the island, through a rainforest of palms and tree ferns, huge heliconias and climbing pothos and flowering begonias, and floating mists.  The “path” was actually tall, steep stairs that the islanders had cut into the rock all the way to the top.  I must say, our thighs, calves, and shins were a mite tender the next day.  The architecture is characteristic of the island, and the villages are quite lovely with their white, red-roofed cottages.  We will definitely return to Saba someday.

The Saban coast rises steeply from the water of the mooring field

Steve and Chris looking out over Bottom, the capital of Saba

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