In greener times in 2012, my morning ritual was to pop my sandals on, cook up some bacon & eggs, and sit outside on the stone steps to the cottage, and this view was typical on stormy mornings that would always turn out to be sunny by early afternoon. I’d type a little of my story out on the iPad and inhale the fresh air. It didn’t suck.
Victor is a well known face to Saban locals, hitching rides back and forth between his house in St John’s (shown here), The Bottom, and Windwardside. He’s related to Eddie Hassell of Swinging Doors back through generations, and he has an fascinating history on Saba that’s a story in itself, tangled up in dark mystery and rumors, and a long stint in a mental home (he’s been out for many years). I got the sense that the island looks after Victor in a subtle way. In all my conversations with him–and there were many–I never found him the least bit violent, odd or strange. He’s a very low key fellow, smiling and generally happy, remarkably articulate in one on one conversation, friendly, and openly talks about his past if asked. The one memory he does continue to bring up is that of a lost love he had and was engaged to marry, only to have it dissolve through events out of his control. Of course, all of this is his recollection, but I tended to believe him, as he was remarkably consistent on the details. Victor’s house sits below Thais Hill, at the start of the switchbacks that descend to The Bottom. If you visit Saba, you are almost certain to run into him…wave and say hi, and he will wave back, as so many friendly Sabans will.
With this repost of a Saba sunrise from the St. John’s flat, I’ve got a little something special for you all, courtesy of my brother Michael. Saturday nights on Saba can, on occasion, be remarkably quiet. We were walking home from Windwardside at 9:30pm one night–prime time–and my brother recorded the ubiquitous teeny singing tree frogs whistling in the night, instantly familiar to those who’ve been there, slightly haunting and sweet to those who haven’t. Take a listen. Let me know what you think. Click the link below to hear.
My time is ticking, running out here on Saba, and just when I think I’ve run out of images to show, I confront The Road I take to Windwardside from St John’s every day, often 3-4 times a day, and see an artistic perspective I didn’t catch before. That’s today’s pic, the descent out of St John’s after I climb out of the Flat, and bend around past the old GEBE station, where the plaintive bleats and brays of goats on the ridges and cliffs continues, the wind sometimes moans in the cleft between the mountains, and the fog tops Mt Scenery. I dig this place, I really do. Guess I’ll be back in a few years…
The Beekeepers of Saba
Spending a lot of time down on the Giles quarter coastline lately, coming up ridges and checking out the unique flora and fauna down there, as well as unusual and unique ruins. I showed this picture to the locals, asking what this big stone wall was for. It extends in a big circle, so I figured it for a pasture or remains of the sugar cane plantations in the late 1800’s (BTW, Saba no longer grows sugar cane…the dry climate can’t support it natively, either).
But oddly enough, folks told me it was for some kind of beekeeper’s colony, which puzzled me, as I’m not sure what good the stone wall encircling a bee haven would do. I’ll inquire around a little further to see what the scoop is.
The last few days have been me getting up earlier and earlier to try and beat the dreaded heat with no wind and do a bunch of ridge hikes up from the Giles Quarter coastline midway between the St. John’s Flat and the Wash Gut up to Windwardside. Saba’s terrain is so rugged and steep, it amplifies the actual distance you’re hiking, which is usually between 3-5 kilometers, but can feel like a lot more. Regardless, even at 7:00am, the heat is beating down mercilessly as I haul my big ol’ self up this rock.
In any case, repeated trips down to Fort Bay to start these coastline-ridge excursions had me passing this little house nestled in the cleft between St John’s Flat and Thais Hill. It’s an old style house, with rare brown wooden shingles rather than the traditional red corrugated tin,though you can’t tell from my processing it in black and white. My guess is that it’s well protected from the ravages of hurricanes and tropical storms as well, but I don’t know yet who, if anyone, lives in this nostalgic little house, but it sure looks cool from above, n’est cd pas?
“The greatest gift of life on the mountain is time. Time to think or not think, read or not read, scribble or not scribble — to sleep and cook and walk in the woods, to sit and stare at the shapes of the hills. I produce nothing but words; I consumer nothing but food, a little propane, a little firewood. By being utterly useless in the calculations of the culture at large I become useful, at last, to myself.”
― Philip Connors
Though this quote is in reference to hiking and camping on the mountain, I still think it sums up the essence of my coming here, particularly that last bit. I love the city I live in, but equally do I love this rugged rock, the peace and tranquility of its folks and its setting, above and below the water. People ask me if I miss the city, and my general answer is no, I’m focused on wringing out every bit of distraction free relaxation until the day I leave, and on the plane, I’ll get excited about where I’m going; I’m so much better at living in the moment at this stage in life, no apologies or regrets.
When you walk down the steep and sidewinder curves of The Road down to Fort Bay, you can take a mild detour to climb onto the hill above the harbor, across from Bunker Hill. Rather than looking towards the sea, where the Dutch Navy frigate was bringing in 60,000 liters of relief water to the hospital, the government building, and the old folks home due to our current drought, I looked back up at Thais Hill, which looms over the road, and up to the edge of the St John’s Flat, close to where I live. Never a shortage of new angles, and this one really shows off the rugged nature of this auld rock, forever subject to the wear and tear of weather, the thin wisps of stratus clouds high aloft and skimming the atmosphere. Not bad, Saba, not bad at all.
Bless any of you who actually get the bizarre reference in the blogpost subject 😉
It’s hot here in Saba, and no wind this morning made my day an exercise in sweating. I walked down to the Fort Bay harbor, climbed up the rocks above, then headed back up The Road to the The Bottom, where I frightened some people with the sheer amount of moisture dripping off of me, then took the Crispeen Track trail back up to St John’s, where this l’il guy was on my mailbox post, cool as a cucumber. He’s an anole lizard, indigenous to Saba, plus he’s an excellent poser.
One Quiet Saban Afternoon
Sorry ’bout the missed post yesterday. I was diving all morning…two months of diving and I finally see my first green moray eel at dive site 3rd Encounter, sitting at the top of The Needle, then we spotted an even bigger green moray–a big fat boy–at Babylon. Rock the house! Saba diving is awesome. Anyhow, I came back from the dive and walked directly over to Windwardside, running around doing errands and forgot about the blog until I got back home late, then I was so tired I conked out as I was posting. Alrighty then.
Snapped this tranquil afternoon from my front yard when I got home from the dive. Byootful, eh?
I talked to Chef Michael from Brigadoon, and indicated I’d like to take another crack at climbing the monolithic whale tail on Paris Hill. Hoping he can come with me, as he’s done it several times before, and it’ll help me to see how before I tackle it. We’ll see. In the meantime, here’s a sample of the gorgeous south coast views of Saba from Paris Hill. I’d like to especially thank the foreground yucca for acting like a mini-sunrise accent to the picture when only minutes before, that seemingly innocent sunny plant’s serrated edges had ripped a variety of tiny holes in my calves when I came over the ridge to the summit. Flora dualism or have I finally reached a point where I’m anthropomorphizing Saba’s durable vegetation as a lame cover for poor hiking skills? I’ll leave that opinion to you, dear readers. Cheers and have a great day!