Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Reflections on Carriacou

It is hard to describe why we like Carriacou… Even though there are always a whole bunch of boats anchored in protected Tyrrel Bay (around 40), it is still pretty quiet on the water. Some of these boats are “stored” during the hurricane season, others have live aboard cruisers who made Carriacou home for (part of) the year, a few have their owners onshore and about a quarter of the sailboats are like us. They come and go, sometimes staying for a couple of days, sometimes for a couple of weeks. As it is time for us to move further south to Grenada (mainly for business and boat projects), I come to reflect on why I like it here and why I already look forward to coming back later this season.

I recently talked to a couple of cruisers who call Tyrrel Bay home for half of the year. We were sharing why we like this place and –really- it all came down to the fact that the pace of life is still slow here, the people are friendly and nothing much will change over the coming years. It is the Caribbean how it used to be twenty years ago. While the other islands are developing rapidly, becoming more demanding of visitors and getting more and more focused on tourism and activity, Carriacou is different. Each time I go ashore to buy fresh bread or to see what’s available in the small vegetable stand (nothing much), I have a smile on my face and relax. I walk the one street, barefoot (sometimes regretting not having put my flip flops on when the afternoon sun made the road surface unbearably hot), sweating, but not caring about that, greeting pedestrians and drivers and browsing the same old stores and the same old stands and the same old food items, stopping for a chat here or there. That’s life in Tyrrel Bay.

After an hour or so, I get back in the dinghy, pull it off the beach and slowly drive back to Irie, carrying my valuable cucumbers, avocados and bread. Once again, I did not find tomatoes, lettuce or meat other than pig feet, chicken legs, chicken thighs, chicken drumsticks and chicken wings. We’ve been on a diet of chicken parts, callalloo and rice, or plantains and potato, but that’s OK. I did give in the other day and bought a pound of pre-packed carrots for the equivalent of US$3. We’ll have coleslaw, potatoes and … chicken tonight! It actually is quite nice to have limited choices and still enjoy our food. Eggs and produce is bought at room temperature and can stay that way for several days. Our fridge is loving it.

The place to be in the evenings in Tyrrel Bay is the Lambi Queen. Mark and I used to love coming here. We’d buy a “quarter” of local rum, a glass ½ liter bottle of coke and ask for two cups and a tray of ice cubes, freshly made in the freezer. For the affordable price of EC$ 12 (US$5), we have enough rum & cokes to last us a couple of hours. On Friday nights, we’d order food from the grill and listen to the steel drums. When no entertainment was present, we’d just hang out, pet Jack the dog and hear the “click, click, click” of local guys playing dominoes. The place is under different management now and when we took our friends out for a drink about a week ago, the same drink arrangement came to EC$ 19 (US$8) for no good reason. When we opted to have a chicken meal the following Friday, the price had also gone up with EC$5 (US$2). We checked other options “in town”, followed the street, inquired in different local establishments and settled on the Old Rum Shop.

This cute little bar/restaurant is no stranger to us (we had some fun nights here last year), but we had never seen it open this season. Mark and I joined some locals “inside”, ordered a BBQ chicken meal and our usual assortment of “quarter” of rum (Clarke’s Court Bay, not the lethal Jack Iron), bottle of coke and “homemade” ice. A couple of “old” salts joined our table and the food was delicious. For the equivalent of US$20, we had a good dinner with 2 rum & cokes each, without the nagging feeling of being taken advantage of. We sure will be back, with our friends, next time!

Since it was Friday night, we did swing by the Lambi Queen and enjoyed listening to a group of talented local guys playing African drums, while their kids danced and juggled some sticks to the tunes. We had a great evening combining the best of two worlds without breaking the bank!


Anonymous said...

The old rum shop is the best decent food at a decent price

Liesbet said...

Agreed! Thanks for introducing the place to us last year (or was it the year before that?), Frik!