Sunday, July 13, 2008

Day 4 (Tuesday)

Morning came quickly. The skies were rather dull and gray, and the wind possibly worse than it was on the previous day. All was not lost however, as the kids got a little too much sun the previous day anyway. A break from being directly in the sun’s rays is probably a good thing for this morning.

We enjoyed our breakfast on the veranda, and saw that the mysterious boat anchored off Sandy Island had now disappeared. Our friend Godfrey stopped by to check on us this morning and we asked him about the boat. He explained that it is a dive excursion operated out of Grenada. The main boat, accompanied by two smaller boats, tours the Grenadines, stopping at all of the premier dive locations and includes night dives. That explained everything that we had observed the day and night before and our curiosity was now satisfied.

While sitting on the veranda typing this blog, we noticed a rather consistent WiFi signal originating from the Hotel Laurena. We are not familiar with this local business, so Godfrey described to us its location in Hillsborough. I am surprised that we can receive its WiFi signal all of the way in L’Esterre! As we make our list for places to visit in Hillsborough, we add the hotel to it. Maybe we could talk the manager into selling us WiFi access for the duration of our visit.

By late morning, we were off to Hillsborough. We planned on playing tourist for a bit, seeing what was happening in the big city. And ‘big city’ it was on this day. We had never seen Hillsborough so busy on a weekday. There were actually quite a few tourists, mostly European we believe (and likely so considering the current strength of the Euro to the Eastern Caribbean dollar). It was not certain if they had arrived by ferry from Grenada or if they were yachties from the Hillsborough harbor. There were also many local residents on the sidewalks and in the streets, and we had to drive with caution to avoid the heavy pedestrian and vehicle traffic. We finally figured out that being the first weekday of the month, everyone was ‘in town’ to take care of their financial matters. We need to make a mental note to try and avoid Hillsborough on those days in the future.

The first stop was at the Cable & Wireless shop (in the old Hillsborough Bakery, on the main street just off the jetty). There was quite a line at the cashier to pay that first-of-the-month bill, but we were able to find help at a service desk after only a short wait. Our intention was to purchase a SIM card to give our mobile phone from the States local service on the island. The staff tried their best to assist us, but our Verizon Wireless Blackberry 8830 phone would not accept the Cable & Wireless SIM cards. I found it somewhat amusing, as Verizon Wireless sells the 8830 as their global phone solution. However, they apparently have the phone locked-down to only accept their own SIM cards purchased while still in the States. I did not anticipate that being a problem, but the lesson was learned about having a locked phone; we didn’t plan ahead very well on that matter.

A couple of doors to the southeast is the Carriacou Museum. We stopped by to look through the various exhibits. We never fail to learn something new about the island; it has a rather interesting history and has really seen little change until the last fifty years or so. The museum is expertly staffed by Clemencia Alexander; daughter of the famous local artist, Canute Calliste. She is very personable and we enjoyed a good discussion about her deceased father and his various artistic works. She was pleased to hear that we were familiar with him and already owned books featuring his paintings and audio recordings of his violin performances. We purchased a few reproduction, vintage Caribbean maps, paid the modest museum fee and signed the guest book before departing to continue our walking tour of Hillsborough.

We did some window shopping along the main street and stopped-in here and there. The variety of stores and their wares is pretty astounding for such a small town. You can buy literally anything imaginable. Unfortunately, the Rasta produce stand is closed again. We hoped that they were still in business and made a note to stop by later in the week. Patty’s Deli is a nice addition to Hillsborough. The store offers many hard-to-find premium delicatessen items that may make your stay on Carriacou more enjoyable. They had quite a selection of fresh lunch meat, frozen cut-meat (steaks and chops), several types of cheese and yogurt, biscuits, coffee, jams and jellies. Our daughter Courtney, a Nutella fanatic, was quite excited to find a jar of the spreadable treat to satisfy her obsession. We also made a quick stop at Matheson’s grocery for a few more basic provisions that we forgot on our first stop to town and also purchased some cold drinks to enjoy on the drive back to L’Esterre.

Passing by Callaloo By The Sea, a favorite local restaurant, we were disappointed to see that it was closed. Glenna, the owner, has been known to close down for an extended period during the low-season while she herself takes a holiday to visit family and friends in the States. However, that was normally in September before the busy high-season begins. We were surprised to see the restaurant closed in late June, early July. We hoped that it was not a bad sign for the business as we always thought that the restaurant was pretty good and that the location was perfect and very convenient.

While in Hillsborough, we also scoped-out another favorite restaurant in hopes of making reservations for later in the evening. The Garden Restaurant was situated at the north end of the main street in Hillsborough at the edge of the town. We were disappointed to see that it was apparently closed for business. When we later asked some friends about the demise of the restaurant, we were deeply saddened to learn that Jenson, the young man who had owned and operated The Garden Restaurant had passed away. We met Jenson during our last stay on Carriacou and found him to be a delightful young man with great ambitions and a rather successful little restaurant. How unfortunate that he was taken from this earth while having such a great opportunity for the future.

Before leaving Hillsborough, we stopped by the Hotel Laurena to ask about obtaining WiFi access. The hotel is just a block or two northeast of the jetty and then another couple of blocks to the southeast. Although the hotel has been in business on Carriacou for the last six years, it appeared to us to be very recently remodeled. The spacious lobby and entertainment area was very well maintained, clean and inviting. The outdoor sign even included a large, scrolling, color LED display. Pretty impressive for Hillsborough! Unfortunately, we missed seeing the manager as they had just stepped-out for lunch, and the staff there was not able to help us with our request. We would have to stop by and try again some other time.

It was near the noon hour and on the drive back to the villa in L’Esterre, we decided to stop by the Hard Wood to get a chicken lunch to-go for Laura and I to share. While waiting for lunch to be prepared, we shared a Ting soda (one of our very favorite brands) and shopped at Sandra’s Fidel Productions shipping container store on Paradise Beach. We found some great, locally designed t-shirts and jewelry to purchase as mementos of our holiday. Some of our favorite items from this store are the hand-painted calabash bowls and ceramic tiles. Georgina, a local artist, paints fabulous designs that range from Caribbean-styled flora and fauna to detailed scenes, all done-up in a very tasteful folk art style. On this day, some bowls that feature a local beach scene caught our eye. Once we settled on our purchases, we picked-up our chicken snack (EC$24 for the dinner and a Ting soda) and moved along.

It’s difficult for us to pass by Henrietta’s Bakery without stopping. The kids really like their little ‘pigs-in-a-blanket’ rolls. They decided that would fit the bill for their lunch, so we picked-up a few things from the bakery and headed back to the villa for our meal. There we enjoyed a relaxing lunch while looking out over the Caribbean wondering where else in the world could be more wonderful than this.

When evening came, Anthony and I took to the swimming pool for a little night swim while Laura and Courtney played a game of table tennis in the villa. After everyone got cleaned-up, we played a couple of games of Scrabble and picked-up where we left off with our holiday reading. As we said our good nights, the winds began to blow-in some rather heavy rain. We all hoped that the night storms would clear the skies for a sunny tomorrow with only a slight breeze to contend with.