I guess there will always be a part of me that will remain a small boy yearning for adventure on the tropical seas. My mind will never forget how excited I used to get when I read the pages of Treasure Island and dreamed about those pirate ships hiding in secret coves with sandy beaches surrounded by mystical seas.
It should be no surprise then, that this old geezer of seventy one years should still be in love with the azure seas and the exotic islands in the sun. Of course, the Holland America ship MS Maasdam doesn’t have to hoist the sails nor do I climb the crowsnest or face a pirate’s sword.
Still, this wonderful ship does bring out the romance in my heart and I can still almost be a kid once again as the pleasures of cruising these Caribbean islands lets me escape from the realities of home.
Yesterday we visited Grenada which is also known as the spice island. We hired a taxi to take five of us on an island tour which turned out to be breathtaking and joyful. The people on the island were setting up to celebrate their Independence Day. From school children to elderly ladies everyone was dressed in their national colours and they were all waving and singing to us as we made our way around their island.
We saw coco trees, breadfruit, bananas, and so many exotic plants and flowers that I was simply overwhelmed by it all. I bought a few packs of spices to bring home for friends so that they can get a glimpse of this world.
Not many years ago a terrible hurricane hit the island and over 90 per cent of the infrastructure was destroyed. Canada helped this small nation get back on its feet and the local people remind us that they are grateful. It was obvious that Grenadians have taken that help and built on it–something that doesn’t happen everywhere
We spent the day driving through verdant valleys and high fern covered rain forests. Everywhere people waved, smiled and made us welcome. These folks are proud of this beautiful island they call home and they should be…it’s gorgeous. Did I mention the beaches?
Later in the evening we attend a cocktail party on board ship and Captain James Russell-Dunford correctly mentioned that every Island is different with a variety of geography and vastly different cultures, customs and ways of living.
For those with even a small amount of curiosity, getting out and visiting these islanders in their own setting gives each of us a fantastic experience.
A couple of days ago we stopped at two French islands. St. Barthelmey and Martinique.
St. Barts as it’s called is an island for the rich and famous. In the harbour when we arrived were two huge private yachts, which I found out were owned by a Russian billionaire, at a cost of over $150 million each.
The main city, Gustavia was as pretty as a picture postcard. The designer stores were so expensive I didn’t think I could afford to just look. Oprah had a home here as did many of the world’s rich and famous. Obviously, a place of paradise, but way above my income level.
It would be a good thing to brush up on your high school French if your going to visit Fort-De-France, Martinique. I stuck to ordering simple things like coffee and cakes, but this is an island of abundant food and flavour. I spent about six hours shopping until the afternoon sun wore me out, but I thoroughly enjoyed this island.
While French dominates this island, don’t miss out on the heavy influence of the West Indian culture. Visiting the open markets to get immersed in the culture is a great way to make the most of your visit.
Tired and happy we struggled back to the ship to relax and listen to some music. A great young entertainer from Kelowna, Larry Evans, was playing his guitar and singing for us this evening. Nice to meet someone from home who made us all proud with his performance.
Our ship now makes its way to the Netherlands Antilles, Bonaire, Curacao and Aruba.
These islands are just a few miles from the coast of Venezuela. The weather is still warm and sunny and our fun continues.