Some rare souls...believe that a vacation should be comprised of hour after hour of dawdling in comfortable and interesting surroundings. Carriacou offers an excellent destination for these nonconformists.
Now that you finally made it to Carriacou and the eastern most point of the island, you are about as far away from airports, traffic, hassles and hubbub as you could dream to be. Good!! This is an important step. You are now officially LIMIN'. For those of you who are new to these latitudes, LIMIN' is essentially the art of doing nothing gracefully.
Anyone here been to Jamaica? Then you are probably familiar with the expression ‘IREE'...as in feelin' iree....this is essentially LIMIN' with a buzz. So if you'll just kick back, pour yourself a tall Superb Light Rum and Coke and put your feet up, we'll bore you with a few little facts that will make your stay a little more understandable if not a tad more comfortable.
As you were traveling the back roads of Carriacou to reach this destination I am sure you were struck with no small amount of trepidation every time you saw a little green or blue or red or yellow house. Actually, these quaint little dwellings are modeled after typical West Indian chattel houses.
These houses were traditionally one room homes built with no foundation but resting on a bed of stones to protect the board from moisture. They were brightly painted and had ornate fret work on their large overhangs. As they were originally slave dwellings they were designed to be picked up and moved as the occasion arose. In the case of the little blue cottage this occasion has arisen no less than three times.
PLUMBING is pretty simple: All water is supplied by gravity from a 400 gallon tank over the bath room which is filled as needed from the cistern below the cottage via an electric pump. Water is free of chemicals & minerals-- it is rain water.... pure and simple and safe to drink, although you might prefer bottled water for drinking.
If you find your water pressure getting low, you can fill the overhead tank by turning on the switch which activates the pump....in the green cottage...switch is on your right as you enter the bathroom.....and in the blue....switch above and to the left of the pump box.
The overhead tank in the green also supplies the yellow cottage...and the overhead cottage in the blue also supplies the red....so make sure you top up every couple of days to save some neighborly complaints.
Carriacou is a dry rock with two basic seasons: one month flood and eleven months drought. As the saying goes: In this land of drought and sun we don't flush for #1. No strict rules here other than be discrete and use water wisely. For example, don't let the water run waiting for it to get HOT.
Toilet water goes into a small septic tank-- please-- NO CHEMICAL CLEANERS other than those specified 'safe for use in septic tanks'. And NO cigarette butts....
ELECTRICITY, when functioning, is 220v, 50 hertz (as opposed to 110v 60 hertz in the USA). DO NOT try to plug in your appliances until you have verified the voltage. We can arrange for the use of transformers and appropriate adaptors. PLEASE, do not be afraid to ask before you plug in.
You will notice that most of the outlets are for British-type three pin plugs. While these are very safe, the handy little lethal plug adaptors which can be inserted into these outlets are receptacles for almost any type of plug. Beware of this one. While all plugs fit, none fit well. Although, the cottages are all linked up to ground fault circuit interrupters, as an added safety feature, this will not save your appliance if popped into the wrong outlet.
STOVE TOP is operated by pushing and turning clockwise appropriate knob and lighting with match or lighter. DO NOT leave gas open without any flame. There is no electric start or pilot light-- so remember to ignite it yourself. LP gas can be very explosive if you are careless.
If your stove is off and you smell gas, turn off the tank under the house immediately and report your dilemma. The house is usually quite breezy and it may be necessary to shut the kitchen window and several louvers to keep a good flame going.
Food preparation is a job unto itself in the West Indies and planning well in advance is a key to success. If you are not planning on doing the restaurant gig-- you may want some tips on where to get what and when. For example, certain days fresh vegetables are available at different locations. Or fish for that matter. If eating is one of your holiday pleasures, it is well worth your while getting savvy with the savor of the islands.
In town, and when one says town that means Hillsborough... there is a fruit and vegetable market around the Bus Terminus that is open daily. There is also the Marketing Board +1 473 443-7394 at the south end of town which carries an assortment of local fruits and vegetables which come up on the boat from Grenada. In Windward, outdoor markets line the village street at various times of day and week. Check by the well next to Malick's +1 474 443-7203 shop.
Also, on request, we do a dinner service down at our deck...enjoy breath taking views, savor gourmet meals, imbibe unbeatable magic elixirs... more on that later....
GARBAGE should be bagged properly and disposed of in the DUSTBIN out on the main road-- from where it is collected twice weekly by the government truck which-- believe it or not -- stood idle one year for several months simply because funds were not available to buy diesel.
A bucket is provided for vegetable waste which can be disposed of in the COMPOST AREA near the front gate, if you will be so kind. Although, there is no official recycling program in Carriacou we try to separate some items: certain bottles need to be returned and others we save for landfill...we will be happy to collect and sort empty bottles for you or just drop them off next to the compost area; leftover food and animal waste we feed to the crabs down by the sea; soiled pampers get double bagged and disposed of properly. During the dry season we do not incinerate garbage due to the fire hazard--this gets done for us down in Dumfries at the local garbage dump and we pay thru the nose for this service whether we use it or not.
CHILDREN, while not required are very welcome. If you have young children in need of restraint: we have zip lines thru the coconut trees...we do provide bicycle helmets and carabiners.
MOSQUITOES, the national bird of the West Indies, and sand flies-- in spite of the often ferocious trade winds-- can often be a force to be reckoned with. Mosquito coils are effective, though smelly and a fire hazard. PLEASE be extra careful....place them on a non-flammable dish and keep clear from hanging sheets, towels and nets.
We recommend using BUG MAT which should be part of your cottage inventory. Otherwise, repellants like DEET, Off or another brand work...also citronella oil is good stuff for the body and is readily available locally. At times, particularly in the rainy season, it is recommended to close up around dusk and spray with Baygon---the cottage that is--although a Dutch doctor I know prescribes Baygon as a cheap and effective treatment for crab lice.
We are NON-SMOKERS. If you must indulge, we encourage you to do so out of doors and dispose of your remains properly. If you require an ash tray, we will be happy to fabricate one for you.
LINENS and towels will be provided and replaced on a weekly basis. If you need further laundry or maid service, special arrangements can be made. No extra charge for dry cleaning in Carriacou.
SHOPPING: Our local shopping area is Windward. Many items are available at the larger super shops: Malick's +1 474 443-7203, Blue Horizon +1 473-443-8567 and the Sunrise Disco +1 473-443-7982 as well as at the smaller shops in between. Traditionally, these small shops were all rum shops, where an ‘eights' of rum was decanted from a large oak cask, shared among friends and chased with cold sky juice.
The usual array of tin goods was also available upon request over the counter. As well as flour, sugar, etc. meted out by weight. So, in one little shop you had both over the counter and under the counter!!!
Unfortunately, in an attempt to make the quantum leap from the nineteenth century to the twenty-first century, the rum shop is all but extinct and replaced by the self-service super shop. For basics and beverages, closer to home: J&J BIG POND SNACKETTE +1 473 443-8284 [left when you get to the pond] on the road to Limlair.
JACK IRON is the name of our local strong rum. Distilled in Trinidad and available for human consumption only in Carriacou, this rum is truly strong. Ice sinks in it. It will put hair on your chest or take it off. A couple bottles of this in your suitcase will keep the customs man guessing and/or make a great gift item.
CHECK OUT...ministryofrum.com...you will find more than you will ever need to know about rums of the west indies
At this point in time it might be fitting to inform you that while most everything that you encounter on this little island seems friendly and hospitable, there is that small element of marine and terrestrial life that is DANGEROUS. A few noteworthy examples for the unwary:
THE ANT, while small and seemingly unassuming, is perhaps the most dangerous if not deadliest of the predators. Edmund O. Wilson devoted a 721 page book to The Ant in which he documents that if all the ants in the tropics were added up they would comprise one-third of the total weight of the animal kingdom.
As soon as a crumb of food is left about a trail of ants will be seen. These are red or sugar ants and they also have an affinity for new lightweight white cotton clothing. Be sure to shake all clothes and footwear vigorously before donning. Then there is the small black ant which is the ubiquitous resident of all the fruit trees, makes massive nests in the dirt and if trod upon-- bites hard!!! The gros tęte ant is the one that eats all of our flowers and crops and then there is the wood ant (termites), which, like rust, never sleeps. This is the one that eats your floor beams and bed posts without disturbing your paint job. On a recent trip to Tobago I was astounded by the even more innumerable varieties of ants, particularly one that resembled a small dog. I was told that they call that one black engine, ‘cause when you step on it, it ‘don' take 5 minutes to reach town'. While querying further about ants in the twin island state, I was informed that in Trinidad the ant walks erect.
The Centipede is another critter to be wary of. This is easily identified by its fire-red color and its 100 legs. Do not pet , collect or try to verify the number of legs, this one bites hard. Look for this one under stones or in cracks in the dirt especially after a hard rain.
The Manchioneel tree is another item high up on the danger list. This beautiful shade tree is definitely one to stay away from. Milk from the freshly cut bark and raindrops from the leaves can cause serious blistering and burning. The beautiful, golden apple with its deceptively sweet taste is poisonous. Otherwise known as death apple--this one burns everything from the lips down to the esophagus. Antidote is large doses of evaporated milk. I know!!!
In the sea, the most dangerous things are the slowest moving ones. Sharks, stingrays, barracuda,etc are fast enough with enough sense to get out of Dodge at the first warning. Sea urchins and fire coral don't. When snorkeling out on the reef: don't try to catch anything with your hands. Stay buoyant and don't trample the reef.
Street urchins are fortunately few and far between on Carriacou. They are not usually dangerous or threatening and in most cases are only in need of a dollar and a quarter for a shot of Jack and a cigarette.
You know, there is really nothing to do in Carriacou, but just in case you are inclined to stay busy while also trying to enjoy your vacation, we have left at your disposal some literature about the island and will mention here a few
BEACHES: There are a few within walking distance-- but most are more easily accessible by boat or bus or car. In the Windward area, except for our postage stamp beach there is Thibeau....a fairly weather beaten and desolate windward shore just a few minutes walk to the left when you walk out the gate...best at low tide...For those who are interested in off-roading in a rental jeep-- just follow the map and discover for yourselves. Excellent beaches further afield include:
Turtle Beach-- the large white sand beach in Petite Carenage (at the far end of Windward before Gun Point);
Anse la Roche which is accessible from the road in Prospect or about 20 minutes meander past Gun Point. Look for a large tree whose main branch is full of epiphytes (air plants) hanging high over the dirt road. On the bottom side of the road are several large stones marking the beginning of the trail down to some ruins, a fabulous overlook and then straight down to the beach;
Paradise Beach past town and the airport in the village of L'esterre, the name speaks for itself;
Sabazan, whose beautiful body-surfing beach is a good way past the old Dumfries Lime factory. These places are also accessible to those getting around by public transport so long as you don't mind hiking. Remember to take along some drinking water as you never know when your favorite rum shop will have the GAHN FISHEN' sign posted.
Or, if interested in snorkeling .... our little reef just off shore...is a good introduction.... Remember, when venturing off shore alone be advised that the current here is swift. Always start your swim upstream..and plan your snorkel at low tide
There are many off-lying islands around Carriacou and a day spent on the water is unquestionably one of the best ways to enjoy the Grenadines. Day trips can be arranged on our home built picnic launch --MOSTLY HARMLESS-- to the Tobago Cays and Mayreau, or PSV and Petite Martinique. Typically, we would leave here around 9:30 and head to the Tobago Cays for snorkeling and a spectacular picnic lunch then Mayreau for a swim and walk and rum punch before heading back to the farm. If weather doesn't permit, shorter trips are available to Mopion and Petite Martinique and PSV...or Chatham Bay
Or if you just want to cruise around the bay and you are feeling truly energetic, try kayaking in our single or double kayak.
Sandy Island is just minutes away from the leeward shore by speedboat. Best bet here is to go to OFF THE HOOK +1 473 443-8748 at the south end Paradise Beach and simply tell CURTIS that we sent you and he will take care of you. This is unquestionably Carriacou's most sought after tourist attraction.
There is a ferry which runs fairly regularly between the Windward jetty and Petite Martinique-- where you can enjoy an exciting walk around the island (start by heading South on the gov't road and allow 1 1/2 hours for the circumnavigation). P.M. has a lot of watering holes, but all within the few hundred yard strip of beach, so remember to take a bottle of water with you on your walk. Although the breeze seems to keep you cool, it is important to avoid dehydration. There is a lovely little restaurant on the beach--PALM BEACH +1 473-443-9103-- with excellent food and service by Emanuel Clement , his mom and any number of his 10 brothers and sisters. Otherwise, take the Osprey shuttle to PM from town, ie Hillsborough, at 11am and return from PM at 3pm.
Otherwise, we can arrange just about anything on the water you might need to make your stay unique...day fishing, a sail on a local work boat...just ask.
Carriacou is also rapidly turning into a sought after paradise for scuba divers of all levels. We can suggest 2 dive shops here on Carriacou, Deefer Diving in Hillsborough at +1 473 443-7882 and Arawak Divers in Harvey Vale at +1 473 443-6906.
Private tours can also be arranged to show you some of the scenic spots and other points of interest. THOMAS A/C TAXI comes highly recommended. He is reasonably priced, courteous, informative and is not training for either the Grand Prix or to be a bus driver in Grand Anse.
If you are inclined to just hang out in the cottage....surf the net and monitor the tides: here are some guidelines to frequently asked questions for which there are no real answers:
When is it High Tide and when is it low tide? When the tide is high the water is washing over the breakwater. The wind seems stronger, the current is definitely stronger and it requires some strength to be able to venture off shore. At low tide we usually have a nice little pocket sized beach and everything seems to be a little calmer.
I recommend swimming and snorkeling when the tide is relatively low and just starting to flood. When will that be? Just after moon rise or moon set as a general rule of thumb, however, this varies greatly according to the phase of the moon and the season (ie. winter, spring,etc.). Best bet is to watch it from day to day. If low tide seems to be early in the morning today, then tomorrow it will be approximately early in the morning plus around one hour.
THE DECK is also a great place to get together with the folks from the other cottages at the end of the day. Exchange stories and local gossip and get ideas of new places to go, things to do and people to meet. Please feel free to use the deck as you see fit.
close by...right around the corner next to the pond is J & J SNACKETTE +1 473 443-8284....great lunches
or in Windward...TEENA'S PIZZA +1 473 456-6426....right opposite the windward jetty
in Bogles...The Round House +1 473 443-7841 offers 3 course suppers and should be re opening for the 2016-17 season
in Town...try ECLIPSE +1 473 420-7820....at the north end of town, a new restaurant right on the water run by Clint John and his mom
or at the south end of town...THE BUTTERFLY BAR +1 473 443-8061...right on the beach with fish and chips and great lambie stew.
there are many more local eateries...so just dig in
Hardwood Bar +1 473 443-6839 for Joy's specialties on Paradise Beach
Lazy Turtle +1 473 443-8322 for real ITALIAN pizza and pasta in Harvey Vale
The Slipway +1 473 443-6500.....great burgers and the best seared tuna anywhere
There are also any number of little roadside stands... selling bar b q chicken
Anything else you need to know-- we will be happy to assist you. If there is anything else you need to make your stay more comfortable, any comments, remarks, criticisms, suggestions with regard to the house, island, place or anything under the sun...let us know!!!
NOW RELAX!!! AND START LIMIN'