The Flying Iguana of Saba


Yo, Iguana Poser
My spitfire landlady is completely batty for iguanas, and stops every time we see them. She says she’s filled her camera with pictures of these lazy lizards. This guy, though, did something I’ve never seen before: after a couple seconds of stillness, he freaked and took a flying leap off the wall and into a tree, where he fell through the branches until he landed, almost Monty Python in its execution.

The Bottom is at..errr, the bottom
Saba’s capital village is The Bottom, so named because it sits at the lowest elevation (~1000 feet) of the 4 villages on the island. I’m in St. John’s, the smallest of the 4, and every morning, I unhook the latch on my white fence and trundle around the corner and head down a 400 foot steep twisty descent on The Road, loaded with blind corners. Which is lesson #1 in Saba; I always walk the outside of the blind corners for max visibility to the island’s cars. I started out trying to face the traffic, but all those little four strokes would come buzzing around the corners and look super startled when they saw my big Hawaiian self right there in front of them. Yikes! The Road was constructed starting in 1937 spearheaded by a Dutch fellow who took a correspondence course in civil engineering. The Sabans had been told for years it couldn’t be built because of the sheer terrain and elevation gains. Anyhow, The Bottom has the governor’s house, the island council, and little cemeteries dating back to the early 1800’s when the Dutch took the island for good after wrangling with the English and French for a while. They brought along their slaves for good measure, so native Sabans are an unusual hear the lilting West Indies accent, but you also hear heavy Dutch, Irish, and Scottish mixed in there. I’m still learning to pick it up…it’s English, but heavily modified. Of course, a bunch of this island’s residents are expats..a lot of US, British, and German. They were only allowed to buy property on the island in the 1990’s, so the influx is relatively recent, and motivated by a kind of Zen and the Art of Diving lifestyle.

I used my iPad to turn this picture of a stone church perched at the top of Zion’s Hill ( locals call it Hells Gate, but the religious folks object to that name) into a watercolor. This hill is a beast to descend on foot, so being extra careful about the knees , shuffle stepping downward.
Ex Post Facto: Police Story
Yesterday, took an hour to give my statement about the “incident” to Susan, an adorable blue eyed blonde Dutch policewoman with a very large and lethal looking sidearm. I understand the native boys on the island all wanna “git wit her” but as you might imagine, mixing it up with the locals is verboten. I’ll tell more about the incident later, but suffice to say the mildest part of it was my wild landlady kissing the wall–passenger side, HELLO!–with her banged up Corolla three times as we shopped for groceries in the afternoon in The Bottom. She’s peri-menopausal and dives into hot flashes at any particular moment…and the islanders know to direct fans, rags, napkins, and occasional ac at her immediately. They love her, though, and her hubbie is an uber calm Lebanese chef of Saba’s celebrated restaurant Brigadoon.

2 thoughts on “The Flying Iguana of Saba

  1. Very interesting to hear about the terrain there. Sounds to me like its just one continuous climb or descend ! Glad to know you are being very observant of this to keep safe! The family here is following the blog and enjoying it. Oh I am not too interested in seeing a flying Iguana!!!

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