In The Time Of Chimpanzees, I Was A Monkey

Sara's Airport Seen From The Walk To Hell's Gate, Saba, Dutch Caribbean
Sara’s Airport Seen From The Walk To Hell’s Gate, Saba, Dutch Caribbean

Ah, the places I must return to. Work and cubicle dwelling has started in the big city, but it’s not irony for me to remember sometimes, at 8am on weekdays, that not long ago at this same time o’ day, I was rambling down the roller coaster Road on Saba, visiting Tricia and Michael or maybe just going down to the airport so I could time myself from Flat Point to Big Rock Market (best time: 32 minutes in my waning days on the island). When you wind around English Quarter out of Windwardside and start the short climb towards the base of Upper Hell’s Gate, you have about 10 yards where visibility down the steep cliffs to the airport is unobscured. Here it is. Good memories.

Behave, amigos, or don’t. Life is too short to be consistent 😉

Raincloud Horizon On A Saban Easter

Raincloud Horizon, Saba, Dutch Caribbean
Raincloud Horizon, Saba, Dutch Caribbean

As readers of my blog know, Saba has been in a drought condition for quite a while. The day I left the island, it was raining steadily on Easter Sunday, as it had the day before, some respite to the parched little Caribbean isle. I snapped my last shots from the balcony of Tricia and Michael Chammaa’s apartments in Lower Hell’s Gate, and managed to get this gorgeous and dramatic horizon.

Here’s to many more rainy days like this for my Saban friends. April showers and all that good stuff.

Do I Get Charged Extra For The Bags Under My Eyes During Airport Check-In?

Moonlit Sunset Over The Airport, Saba, Dutch Caribbean
Moonlit Sunset Over The Airport, Saba, Dutch Caribbean

A Short History On Saba’s Airport

From Wikipedia:
[Saba] airport’s risky reputation arises from the airport’s physical position: it is flanked on one side by high hills; and on the runway’s other side and both ends, cliffs drop into the sea. Additionally, the runway at the airport is extremely short (400m ); this creates the possibility that an airplane could under/overshoot the runway during landing or takeoff and end up in the sea or dashed on the rocky cliffs.

For those of you who saw the video blog a couple weeks ago with the plane taking off, the description above may amplify the concern about landing or taking off in Saba, but the airport’s had no fatalities or crashes in its 50 years of operation. This is the second or third incarnation of the airport, as the first couple terminal buildings blew down in hurricanes, most recently Hurricane Lenny in 1999. Flat Point was cleared of rocks by Saban folks in 1959 for a landing by pilot Remy F De Haenan to prove Saba could support aircraft, and it officially opened in 1963. Due to its length, it only supports a couple commercial short takeoff and landing (STOL) aircraft and helicopters, of course. The airport is named for Juancho E. Yrausquin, a prominent Dutch politician for the Antilles in the 1950’s.

There are normally only 4 WinAir flights a day, except during major holidays, when the students from the university fly out and they ramp it up considerably (10-12), but the net of it is, the sound of planes over Saba is generally rare, except at 7am, 10am, 1pm, and 5pm. Moreover, I can’t recall having ever heard a jet overhead. This contributes the the general peace and quiet on this isle I cherish.

Oh, You May Have The Body, But Do You Have The Bay?

Cove Bay Sunset, Saba, Dutch Caribbean
Cove Bay Sunset, Saba, Dutch Caribbean

Clouds and Fierce Waves Turned To Glass

Though it may not look like it, I took this image in near darkness at a sunset BBQ. The shutter was open 30 seconds, which turns the water into an aqua pond, the waves against the shore into a misty swirl, and the clouds into a blue purple glass.

We’re in March, and the clock is finally ticking down on my time here on beautiful Saba. Cliche, but damn, time goes so fast, and there’s nowhere to hold onto to try and reign it in or slow it down. Let’s see what else remains in these final weeks for my lens, for my novel in progress, for music I compose, for great times with friends on Saba. I’ve accumulated such a wealth of images I like, I’m considering pulling together a limited run coffee table picture book. Sound interesting?

Moon Over My Hammies, Dirt In My Shoe

Moon Sunset Over Flat Point, Saba, Dutch Caribbean
Moon Sunset Over Flat Point, Saba, Dutch Caribbean

La Luna Bella

Rambling down the twists and turns of Hell’s Gate to a perfect Sunday Cove Bay BBQ hosted by Tanner (chef at Shearwater Resort) and his gal Patricia, the moon swapped roles and let the clouds be the crescent over Saba’s airport, and this delightful sunset was the brief result. It only lasted maybe 30-60 seconds before the clouds broke up and hid Mister Moon. But hey, right time, right place.

Cheers to all who’ve watched the Saba video yesterday; proved to be a most popular blogpost indeed. More to come. Au revoir ’til tomorrow!

Cotton Candy Coated Clouds Crawl Like Cats On The Mountain

Cloudscapes, Mt Scenery From Booby Hill
Cloudscapes, Mt Scenery From Booby Hill

In No Sense, Nunsense

I saw my brother off on the plane this afternoon after an intense twelve days, rambled up Hell’s Gate in record time following beautiful girls who just happened to be walking up as well, realized I forgot today’s blogpost, attempted to meet a French scientist in The Bottom, chatted with mi amigo Michael Irish, and at long last, here I be with you, listening to the wind blow fiercely here in St John’s. C’est la vie here on Saba, friends. Small wonder I’m sharing these floaty, cloudscapes over the mountain, eh? Just that kinda mood.

May you have a wonderful day ahead or behind you!

Food Out At The OK Saba Corral

One Tree Stands Alone, Saba, Dutch Caribbean
One Tree Stands Alone, Saba, Dutch Caribbean


A very full and foodie crazy day on Saba, rambling down the ridges and across guts and snapping pictures of Spring Bay/Kelbe’s Ridge in the early AM, an afternoon enjoying the splendid lunch made by our friend Marie Petit at her and Bob’s home in Hell’s Gate: a passion fruit-grape-banana smoothie, walnut-spinach-apple salad, seared tuna, grilled tomatoes and spices, capers and cream over mahi mahi.

Homemade Lunch After A Hard Saba Hike, Yum!
Homemade Lunch After A Hard Saba Hike, Yum!

Later on, dinner at Brigadoon netted us fennel-tomato-onion sauce over dolphin tail snapper. Finishing up the evening, we chilled with our Sea Saba friend Becca and her man Johnny, who’s a chef at Ecolodge. More premier barbecue fixin’s….and a little suds to wash it down. So many premier cooks on the isle. Food is love, is it not?

Little House On The Caribbean Prairie

I visited Tricia down in Lower Hell’s Gate and came upon this little house perched quietly on the cliff, fronted by a messy tangle of foliage above the great Caribbean expanse, looking out on a bright, almost nuclear-lit horizon in the wake of good storm, with Statia presiding in the right upper corner. It’s interesting to me how our visual brain discards all the noisy information it sees in a scene like this when you’re looking at it, and all that cluttery detail reappears when you look at what the camera’s eye saw. Post processing for me is really painting the picture as close as I can to what I see in my mind’s eye when I take it. Some purist photographers disregard these processing techniques, but in the end, it’s all about aesthetics to me; you like an image or don’t, for reasons you may or may not understand, or it gives you pause to examine its detail, or you turn the page or click onwards…

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.