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.
“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.
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!
Bleeding Out On The Paris Hill Boulder Scramble
You may recall an earlier blogpost of the whale on Paris Hill, above the village of The Bottom. Today’s hike was to summit the hill and get up close and personal to said whale, but it proved to be anything but trivial. Indeed the hike up to the base of the whale was literally 12 minutes, but then it was a sheer, steep boulder scramble up sawtooth yucca and other cactus, that ended up taking an hour and a half. This rock climbing was easily comparable to the off trail route to Hot Springs (a no access trail) that Chef Michael from Brigadoon took me on a few weeks ago. Lots of route calculating as far as where my feet were going and where I was going to get handholds on the volcanic rock. In the end, it was worth it, as I snapped lots of pictures from the dramatic views up there. I managed to make it to the tail, called Tent Rock, but I just didn’t have the huevos to haul my fat butt up that sheer red face with 1400 foot dropoffs to the cliffs and bay below. Maybe another day. The yucca and cacti took a bloody chunk out of my legs on the way down; I’ll wear long pants next time I’m up here.
Another fantastic morning on Saba!
Red Roofs Beget Saban Fairytales
Saban villages are lovely settings for these red tin roof cottages and houses, their wash white painted shingles, their green gabled shutters. You walk the friendly Road and people young and old greet you with a variety of waves and acknowledgements; I think brother Michael has catalogued ten or more different waves in his visit here. Those of you who havent been, put Saba on up your bucket list and come here one day to witness in person what I’ve tried to convey in this blog, this charming rock and its rugged shores and guts and mountains, its hardworking people.
When two photographers walk together, particularly brothers, often as not, they happen upon scenes or settings where they both see the image to be captured; so it is with today’s picture. We were on our way through The Bottom to hike The Ladder when we turned the corner near the Thomas Dinzey cemetery and came upon this juxtaposition of Saban houses against Paris Hill greenery, a clouded sky above. We both saw it at almost the same time…I snapped a few pics, he snapped a few pics, here’s my favorite of mine. Hope you enjoy it!