Bequia for Old Years Night

Christmas came and went, Jazz reluctantly took down the decorations, and we turned our eyes to New Years. Bequia still seemed like the place to be, and we’d head back to the mainland and hike the volcano after the holiday. So we looked into things to do, and suddenly all the time was gone. First, we found a group of cruisers doing yoga on a pier in the mornings, so we joined in and got limber and only a little bit splashed. It’s not normally as wet as in these photos; this was the one day it rained on us, so you’re seeing the super-dedicated crowd here. We also passed the lead around, so I got to teach a class, which I hadn’t done since our time in Luperon. (We’re still missing some posts about that era; maybe we’ll get to those someday.)

We had a bit of a misfire on finding a sail loft, which resulted in a lovely if grueling hike up a hill. Definite highlight: finding this gem.

We hosted Dorothy Rose for dinner, and managed to take only this picture of them arriving.

With an absolutely overwhelming two invites for the next evening, we decided to do both, and stopped to visit our friends on O for a sundowner…

… and then proceeded to meet new friends at Keegan’s full moon party and pig roast. Loyal readers know that they had me at “pig”, and the roast did not disappoint. The shadow picture is in moonlight, from the walk there.

Someone realized we could get a taxi back to the dock, and somehow Jazz and I ended up in the trunk.

The next morning, we skipped out on yoga in favor of a brunch at Jack’s before a “hike to a turtle sanctuary” that a local Australian had put together. Jack’s is the “fancy place” on the beach, and their prices reflect that, but the food doesn’t really. Nor do the individually-keyed bathroom stalls, or the sign I’ll leave you with. They make a mean bloody Mary, though, if you like that sort of thing.

The hike turned out to be maybe a twenty-minute trek over the hill to the other side of the bay, at which point it turned into a rum-shack crawl. “Bringing custom to some of the smaller local businesses.” Which was fun, but maybe we shouldn’t have skipped the morning workout.

Likewise, the turtle sanctuary turned out to be a guy who had caught a few of the local tortoises and them a little habitat on the level above one of the bars, this one sporting a Foosball table. And the tortoises will happily eat whatever fruit tithes you bring them, and pose for photos in return. Also note some of the excellent graffiti in the unisex bathroom.

We split the group for lunch, mostly because neither of the two places was large enough to accommodate fifteen or so tourists dropping by. Between the bar above, and the newly-opened restaurant across the way, below, they got us all fed with “shark-n-bake” and similar. Non-fish options are hard to come by, and Jazz ended up getting by on fries.

The next stops included the Good Mood Cafe, whose lovely garden and ad for a full English breakfast would draw us back later. And after that, a hilltop bar everyone referred to as “the Heineken Bar” for the big ad on the side, despite the name “Chrissy Bar” posted out front in lights. Name confusion maybe, but a great view over Friendship Bay.

Then back to the boat for a relaxed afternoon, and a dinner cooked with a sunset view.

And that brings us to New Years Eve, the biggest culinary event in the Bequia calendar and therefore one of my favorite holidays. We’d carefully looked through all the posted menus, and decided to pass up the cruisers’ potluck in favor of the swanky place overlooking the harbor. Here’s the menu, get excited: they have a reputation for good food and a great view of the fireworks, plus there’s a promise of live music.

So we got all dressed up for our early reservation, and saw the band setting up as we walked in. And we told the server we were excited about the music, and to bring us the wine first and space out the courses. They proceeded to do the opposite of both those things, and sometime during the main we noticed the band packing up without having played. We asked about this, and were told nonchalantly that live music had been suddenly banned, and there would be no music or fireworks. We guess now that many of the later reservations got the memo and cancelled, because at that point we were one of three parties in the room. But one guy from of them had brought a guitar, and started to play, and everyone in the room morosely joined in the chorus as he sang the Shrek Hallelujah with silly lyrics. So that both captured the mood of the room, and turned the evening around.

It turned out that what had happened was that non-travel COVID cases had been discovered on the mainland, and the government had ordered an immediate shutdown.

This would prove to be the beginning of the end for St Vincent’s COVID-free streak. Over the next weeks, contact tracing would fail to keep up with the community-spread cases caught in clinic walk-ins, and the numbers would spike. I actually think the government and locals mostly did a good job taking it seriously, with sensible restrictions and mostly-universal mask-wearing on the mainland. More on the other islands later.

Still, I find myself irritated with Papa’s about NYE. I know we’ve been incredibly lucky by pandemic standards, and it feels entitled to complain about anything at all. But, as the most expensive restaurant on the island, throwing the most expensive party on the basis of your view of the canceled fireworks and your canceled music, you’d think you’d want to do something to make sure your guests still left happy. Sure, the government threw you a curve ball, but you totally dropped the ball communicating with the guests who were already in your restaurant. I mean, the food was good, so I can’t literally say I left with a bad taste in my mouth. But come around and say something in commiseration, or pass out an extra glass of champagne, or something.