We wake up this morning and we are surrounded by clouds. You would think we were still in the Rockies ready to go skiing, instead we don our bathing suits and descend 1250 ft to the ocean and dive to the ocean bottom.
Travel day. Yesterday went without a hitch. Westjet. No canceled fights, no delays, nothing. Every flight left on time and voila we are at the hotel when we expected and only tired because we boarded a plane at 12.05 am and flew through the night. We flew the last leg from St. Maartin to Saba on the pizza delivery flight. Domino’s in St. M. has a delivery on Saba and it is on our flight.
The people here on Saba are friendly to a person. The immigration guy is pretty dead pan but very nice and wishes us a nice stay. The taxi driver is a bit dry but gets us here safe and sound. Wim the hotel owner and Lynn the diver shop owner are both enthusiasic and great ambassadors for the island. They want you to like the place and the amount of info each inparted to us is far more than we can remember.
Today is our first dive day. Always an apprehensive time. Today is no different. The first dive is test. When we moor there is no current. When the dive brief is over the capitan says the current has picked up and suggests when we jump in hang on to the line. We get in the water and the current is raging. Kicking into it we make not forward progress what so ever. By the time we reach the coral head we seek I had used 500 lbs. of air and thought “This is going to be a short dive”. It is. I don’t feel so bad because everyone is hanging onto the bowline at the same time. 38mins, one of the shortest dives I have done in a long time.
The second dive is much less stressful until we try to exit the water and the seas are tossing the boat around so much I cannot remove my fins and have to assend the ladder fins on.
The boat trips are not long so we are back in port early. That gives us time to peruse the village. Yesterday the trip to Windwardside, the village at the top of the mountain was an eye opener. The whole island is only 4 sq mi and the Windwardside is at 1250 ft. That is 1250 ft in 1 mi. Very steep. I didn’t count the switchbacks but there are a lot.
The ride down to The Bottom, the village where the dock is, is not much different than yesterday’s ride. These roads are not for the faint of heart. The traffic is not heavy but there is no shortage of cars either.
Today we had a chance to do a bit of exploration. The roads are steep enough that walking is labourious. We head up one road and I am able to pace of the slope. It works out to about 22% and this is the norm. At the top of this climb we find a Chinese food restaurant. I not sure how many tourists would be will to take that walk. I hope for the restaurant’s sake there are a lot of locals that like Chinese food or the tourists willing to spring for a short taxi ride.
The people here have pride in the properties they own. Most of the house are in very good shape. I would say this is not the case in most of the Caribbean. The climate is hard on buildings and maintance does not seem to be a priority. Hear the houses are whitewashed regularly. The metal red or green roofs, which are easy to see because of the steep slopes, are in good repair. The streets are clear of junk and a good protion of the yards are kept up so they can be used as an outdoor room.
This island seems to take its toll on inhabitants. There is no single expanse designated as grave yard but there are graves here and there through out the village. In fact the view out one of our hotel windows is a grave plot with two or three above ground concrete plots. Nicely done but a bit weird. There are sure a lot of graves considering the size of the population.
First impessions are very favorable. Diving has been diffcult but from what we understand that is not the norm. The place is completely different from other places we have been. The people of course make the place and those we have run into have made a very good impression.
After our dive we rose again into the cloudy mountain top. The fog has been getting steadly thicker and it now slightly obscures the restaurant 100 ft across the road.