Barbuda April 17-24, 2010 

Click on the above thumbnail for a map during this time period

Castle Bay Hike - 4/18

After a day of rest we decided to again hike up the eastern side of Barbuda.  This time we made it much further, reaching the area of northeastern Barbuda where the limestone tilts up and makes a series of eroded cliffs that create caverns and caves.  The maps indicate that there are ruins called Castle Hill, and there we found the tumbled remains of a stone building, and, just a little further, a much-used cavern that contained grills, chairs, a few cooking supplies, and even a sleeping platform complete with several old mattresses.  There was a crevice that had been used to dispose of the shells of tortoises that presumably had been consumed on the site.  Two huge slabs of limestone created a large canyon with three openings, and someone at some distant time had invested a huge amount of labor in creating walls to turn the canyon into some type of animal pen.  The most protected of the walls was still totally intact, the other two had been breached by time or design.  We used the intact wall to facilitate scrambling up the face of the slab in order to get to the top of the cliff; from there we had a commanding view of the surrounding landscape.  On the way back we found and used a track that was much more substantial, and since it was further inland, much less sandy than the one we had used on the way up when we were not on the shoreline itself.

The Terns and Takks and Chris went snorkeling in White Bay one afternoon.  The Takks had been there before, and were very disappointed to see that the coral reefs have degenerated.  Not much alive, and lots of yellow-green gook growing on the dead coral.  Far fewer fish than we had seen just a year earlier.  It seems clear that almost all of the fish of any size have been either netted or speared out.  Such a shame.  Barbuda really needs to consider emulating St. Lucia, which has created zones where no taking is permitted.  Not only does this make the tourists happy, but St. Lucia reports that the existence of a preserve serves as a nursery to such an extent that the fishing in the rest of Lucian waters has actually improved dramatically.

Unusual marker for a track that digressed to the beach

Bush that displays "cotton"

Sometimes the shore is rocky ...

... and plants grow in the crevices, and ...

... sometimes the shore is sandy and coveniently equipped with logs for sitting

Cavern at the southern-most cliff on the eastern shore

Beds at the camp site

Crevice containing scores of discarded tortoise shells

One of the many shells

Intact wall that created an animal pen and served as a stand from which to scramble up the cliff

Devi climbing up to the top of the cliff

Hunter looks down from the cliff

One of the partial walls of the pen

The other one

We found these little guys on the road that runs north-south through the interior of the island

Yani Dinner -- 4/19

Yani treated the Barbuda Triangle to a formal dinner one night.  She did the cooking on her boat, but brought everything over to Tusen Takk II because our vessel was the most commodious.  We have been the beneficiaries of her culinary expertise before, so we knew what to expect.  We were NOT disappointed.

We begain with a pumkin soup that was divine

Hunter and Devi wait for the others to be served soup too

Yani serving the main course


Toast to start the main course ...

... which consisted of pasta and mixed vegetables, topped with a freshly caught fish filet with a delicious sauce

Barb prepares to dig into the main course

Chris relaxes between courses

Dessert looked so good I almost forgot to get a picture -- thank goodness Devi eats slowly

South Walk -- 4/20

On the 20th we took a walk along the main road heading west, and stopped in to see George at the Coco Point guard house.  We saw horses and lots of donkeys along the way.  Later that day, Arctic Tern and Tusen Takk II moved over to Low Bay, on the western side of the island.

Barbuda Triangle in White Bay

Several out of a cast of thousands

Bike Hike #1 -- 4/21

Hunter, Devi and I caught a water taxi into Codrington and asked around about renting bicycles.  We were directed to John's Kayak and Bike rental, and there received expert fitting and Bristol-shape bikes.  We decided to bike out toward Two Foot Bay, but stopped at the Highland Ruins.  After a brief exploration we took the 30-minute walk down the foot path from the ruins to Darby Sinkhole.  By the time we got back to the ruins, we were hot, so we returned to town instead of continuing on to the caves found at Two Foot Bay.  That evening, as we enjoyed cocktails and nibbles with the Terns on the cockpit of Tusen Takk II, we were privileged to see a green flash.  (The sunset sequence below has been cropped, but has otherwise had absolutely no manipulation/enhancement.)

One of the many ruins of Highlands

Hunter on the path from Highlands to Darby Sinkhole

Looking over the sinkhole to the far side

Floor is cool and relatively flat

Palm in a shaft of light down on the floor

Drip from an overhanging wall has created this massive stalagmite

Hunter and Devi pause to do some birdwatching

Bats in a hole of an overhanging cliff

Bike Hike #2 -- 4/22

By the time we had returned to John's Bike Rental on the 21st, we had already decided that we should try again to go to Two Foot Bay.  So we made arrangements with John to leave the bikes where we could get to them early in the morning, and made arrangements with Foster, the water taxi we had been using, to pick us up at the beach of Low Bay at 7 AM.  At that time of day it was much cooler, and we made good time.  We had a little trouble finding all of the caves that are mentioned in the guidebooks, but enjoyed exploring in any case.  One of the caves we did find had a "chimney" at its rear that provided access to the top of the cliff, from which the views were spectacular.

In the sandy track that traverses along the base of the cliffs, we saw a remarkable sight.  A cluster of hermit crabs were gathered, all lined up in mostly descending order.  There were three fairly large crabs, a few "medium", and a number of tiny crabs no bigger than the nail on a lady's little finger.  We paused to observe the cluster and speculated as to what we were observing, deciding in the end that it was probably something to do with sex.  Hunter picked up two or three of the larger shells, and the little guys fell away.  The rest remained glued together.  Hunter pulled the largest one free, and it hurriedly left.  One could imagine that if crabs could talk, the air would have been full of the sounds of grumbling.  Hunter returned the two remaining crabs to the ground, and we continued to watch.  Then things got interesting.  The larger of the two crabs, in the smaller of the two shells, used his claws to grasp the other's shell, and gently and continuously rocked the shell back and forth.  We were shocked and amazed, and were in the process of reaffirming to each other that the motion was definitely sexual, when the larger of the two succeeded in grabbing the end of a claw of the other.  Quicker than the blinking of an eye -- and quicker than the idiot with the camera -- the larger crab flipped the smaller crab out of it shell.  The larger crab then immediately exited his shell and backed into the newly vacated and not incidentally larger shell, while the smaller crab scuttled over to the former home of the larger crab, and likewise backed into its new and far-better-than-nothing home.  The question remains:  how did everybody in the original cluster know that there was going to be a game of "musical chairs"?

On the way back to town we stopped to admire the colored walls of a quarry, and we also stopped to fix a flat tire on Devi's bike.  It was nearly noon by the time we got back to Codrington, and we were interested in getting lunch somewhere.  John the bicycle vendor had mentioned "Uncle Roddy's" who could be found on the road heading toward Coco Point from town, and we impulsively decided to bike on out for lunch.  Not a good decision.  We pedaled and pedaled and pedaled.  The road turned from tar to gravel, and we pedaled and pedaled.  The sun beat down, and the wind opposed our progress.  Finally, we came to the sign which directed us off the road and over to a sandy track that paralleled the beach.  A block's distance down the track was "Uncle Roddy's Cafe and Bar".  All boarded up, and no one to be seen.  Then, a car approached.  Uncle Roddy -- for that is his real name -- had been driving by and had seen us heading in the direction of his little establishment, and had therefore come on in.  He was all out of seafood, he explained, but would we like a drink?  We did.  And then it was time to pedal all the way back into town.  Hunter urged me to go on ahead at a faster pace if I liked -- he would stay back with Devi in case she had another flat tire.  With the wind at my back I made really good time -- the bikes really were in superb condition.  I waited in the shade on John's front porch in one of his home-made lawn chairs, eating complementary jerk chicken John had run over to get from a Jamaican street vendor.  Hunter and Devi didn't show up for another 40 minutes:  Devi had had TWO more flats!  When we got back to our vessels we were all shocked to see on a map how far down the road Uncle Roddy's really was -- we had gone south to get there much farther than we had gone northeast to get to Two Foot Bay.  All told we had cycled well over 30 miles that day.

We had several interesting talks with John those two days.  He talked about his second job with the water company, and how the company blends well water with Reverse Osmosis water to create the still-undrinkable mix that is sent out in the water pipes.  It seems the system is not pressurized at all times, and there is no specific schedule.  So any resident on the occasion of turning on a facet may or may not get water.  When he left us at noon on the first day to return to work, he left the front door ajar so we could use his facilities if we wished before we left.  He said the water would be on for another 20 minutes or so.  If we were later than that, he said we should just give him a call and he would pressurize the system for 10 minutes or so.  He said the schedule for sending water into the system is actually controlled by an official in Antigua who makes his decision remotely without ever visiting Barbuda. 

John also talked about a beer drinking buddy, who he characterized as a tremendous cook who also happens to be someone who enjoys shading the truth on occasion and is sometimes indifferent to issues concerning strict ownership and who is a man with a fond affection for adult beverages.  He has been trying to talk John into turning his house into a cafe, and also suggested that it could be used as the headquarters for the ladies of the night who come over from Antigua several days a week, and who currently use a rather run down building on the outskirts of town.  John is considering the cafe idea, but insists that the friend use his own house for headquartering the hookers.

Cliffs and Two Foot Bay

White flower at the foot of the cliffs

Red flower at the foot of the cliffs?

NO! Another white flower. Look again. The red things are leaves.

Entrance to one of the caves

Looking southerly from the top

Looking northerly from the top

Group sex in the sand? (Cf. text)



Hunter and Devi take shelter in the shade while I photograph the quarry

Repairing Devi's flat tire

Barb's Kayak Expedition -- 4/23

The Terns and Chuck needed a day off, but Barb, who had not gone on the bike hikes because the rough roads would have certainly caused a flair-up of carpal tunnel, needed to get off the boat.  (Chuck stayed back to attempt to get caught up on this blog.)  So she took her kayak over to the strip of sand that separates Low Bay from Codrington Lagoon, dragged her kayak across the strip, and paddled the two miles across the Lagoon to the village of Codrington.  There, she photographed the Japan-funded project to create a marine center for the local fishermen.  Why would Japan fund such a project, you may wonder.  Actually, we have seen in the Caribbean many instances  of Asian countries engaged in such apparent beneficence.  Why?  It all comes down to votes.  China wants votes that recognize her as the only legitimate Chinese government -- which is to say, that does NOT recognize Taiwan as a separate country.  The Japanese want rights to fish in the Caribbean, or a vote to permit them to continue to harvest whales.  Taiwan wants recognition.  South Korea wants something or other.  And so it goes.  All up and down the Eastern Caribbean, we have seen projects funded by Asian countries.  The local people on the streets usually know what the motives are, and often comment on them with some cynicism, but all in all the "gifts" are far too tempting to turn down.

Sign at the Japanese project in Barbuda

Looks like the ultimate result will be extensive and impressive

Pumping water out of a dike-enclosed area that was once submerged

Barb returns from her explorations

Travel Day -- 4/24

We had been watching the weather forecasts and decided to leave Barbuda and head for St. Martin on 4/24, since the seas promised to be unusually flat and the winds unusually gentle.  Not good sailing weather -- so the Terns stayed back for another day -- but great conditions for a trawler.  And great conditions for trolling!  On the way up we caught two black fin tuna, and three mahi-mahi.  Note the benign sea conditions in the backgrounds of the pictures below.

Reeling in a nice mahi-mahi

Two tuna: a 2-pounder and a nice 6 1/4-pounder


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