There are a couple guys that come around the anchorage in their kayaks. They are not associated with PAYS and some people find them quite annoying. Somehow Dave got roped into forming a “friendship” with one of them. He said someone paid him in US currency and he had no use for it and asked to trade it for EC (Eastern Caribbean) dollars. Dave didn’t have any, but he had a few Euros and the guy seemed to prefer Euros to US$. Then the guy starts fishing around in his pockets and pulls out some US coins, lint, dirt, food particles, and who knows what else. So Dave gave the guy the Euros and told him to keep the US$ as well. Since then, the guy seemed to turn up everywhere we went.
He said he draws postcards of peoples’ boats and wanted to draw ours. “Later,” Dave said. As soon as he saw we were back on our boat, he comes paddling out. “My friend, I brought you some limes and I brought my postcard stuff. I’ll draw your boat for you.” He digs out a dirty, folded piece of dot-matrix printer paper – you know, the kind with the feedholes on the side? Then proceeds to start sketching out our boat in the Portsmouth anchorage. I assumed this was in return for the earlier Euros, but no. When he finished he asked for payment for the limes and the drawing. So Dave paid him! Who is this Dave? Feeling secure in this “friendship” now, the guy asks Dave if he has any old trousers or tee-shirts he wants to get rid of. Dave told him he would look later and off the guy paddled again.
Dave researched some hikes for us to go on and chose one that follows a couple parts of Segment 11 and part of the Waitukubuli Trail. He didn’t tell me all this would entail. Silly me, I just blindly followed him, like I usually do when he tries to kill me. When, oh when, will I ever learn? We walked at least a mile through and out of town before we even reached the trail. The directions went something like: walk down the main street and turn left when you get to the big taxi stop. Look for a dirt road that goes through a big field with horses on the right (pictured above). Look for a large black stone and turn right. When you see the sign telling you to go to the left, don’t. Go to the right. Follow the blue and yellow trail markers, careful scale down into the ravine (sliding on your bottom if necessary), climb the steep mountainside out of the ravine after crossing it, and cross the suspension bridge at the end. Of course, Dave only tells me the last parts after we’ve climbed the mountain that I thought would be the hard part. But that’s all later.
First, we continue on that road across the big field. We saw some garbage around the town, which is typical in these islands more often than not, unfortunately. But then we saw what looked like a garbage dump. Some of the islands are treated this way as well, but fortunately this is the exception not the rule from what we’ve seen. It is so sad to see these paradise-like islands treated as garbage dumps. Though we do understand many of these poor countries lack the infrastructure to deal with all of the waste created by locals and cruisers alike.
Still following that road, we came upon some bruisers that looked like they were the local security. As we neared they just stood there and looked at us. But when we came close, they got skittish and moved off the road just out of reach. No licking cow here. These young guys were more like chickens than bulls!
Eventually we arrived at the beginning of the trail that was going to take us up the mountain. “We’re going all the way up there?” I ask. “Yup!” Dang! I was already hot and sweaty, but still feeling fine and so I continued.
Hiking up the mountain was tough but there were switchbacks that made it mostly bearable. I took my time and even felt a little sassy along the way. But it just kept going up. Funny how mountains do that.
We passed a picturesque stream and the scenery became more and more rain forest-like. The healthy green foliage was beautiful.
We finally reached the top of the mountain, where there was a sign pointing to go left for the Waitukubuli Trail. THIS is where Dave tells me about the even harder second half of the hike. By now, I’m tired and I’m worried, no longer feeling sassy at all. I was near tears just thinking about scaling down and back up a super steep valley with the ravine at the bottom. This was the turning back point and I should have gone. But I’m trying to be a trooper and carry on. It IMMEDIATELY got steep, really steep. If you didn’t hold onto the trees or the few rocks, you would just slide right down and it is not a smooth enough ride to consider that as an option.
Going down was hard and just kept thinking about having to go back up. Down and down we went. I had one false impression when I thought we had made it to the ravine. Oh no, that’s just a dent in the hillside. It keeps going. Finally making it down, we immediately have to start back up the other side of the ravine. OMG! This was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. Okay, those other hikes I was whining about? Forget them! This was insane. I started looking for reasons to stop. Oh look at that vine wrapped around that tree. Oh look at that other mountain down there peeking through the trees. Oh, look at that lizard showing us the way… About halfway up, my legs started giving out and I really started to worry. “I’m not sure I can make it back, Dave.” “What does that mean? How can you not make it back? What’s the alternative?” Not very sympathetic, is he?
I eventually did make it over the top. We kept following the trail and, when we came to the suspension bridge, I knew it was nearly over. I was never so glad to see a bridge in my life! Problem is, now we had to walk back to and through town to the dinghy dock. And my legs were dead. We came to the IGA grocery store and I downed a Gatorade before we even got to the checkout stand. Then we continued walking and came upon the Riverside Restaurant before we got into the main part of town. We stopped for a much needed lunch break, probably the only reason I survived to the dinghy dock. So Dave says, “See? That wasn’t so bad. You made it. High five!” I think I looked at him with murder in my eyes. I need to start smaller, but we did see the beautiful countryside and rain forest. But next time… let’s rent a Jeep!