6th to 15th March 2019
Unfortunately, nana couldn’t join us, with her health issues she’s restricting travel because of COVID-19. She doesn’t have a strong immune system like Theo, who took great delight in telling us how his white blood cells would dismember the virus in interesting ways – he was worried about his nana, understandably. So, we “only” had two visitors – uncle Gordon (Dave’s brother) and auntie Sophie. Fortunately, the kids had a lovely time playing with both of them – a really beautiful week. Ended with a morning doing watercolor painting, then much crying after they left. Sweet. Funnily enough after a couple of hours in the pool, and Arthur going off paddleboarding with an older kid (wayyy off) they were a little better.
The hotel was odd – running at 5-10% capacity which was perplexing. Probably partly because of that there was little variation in menu between the three restaurants, no deserts apart from an uninspiring flan, and the mini market stocking was terrible. On the other hand the rooms were beautiful, the chess sets in the lobby were used extensively, and there was a beautiful infinity pool overlooking the bay. As well as a deck to the sea and paddleboards/kayaks to borrow. Some of the staff were awesome too – even getting a fist bump from Hector, which is unusual as he’s in “mama” mode at the moment.
Marina, likewise, odd. I can see it as a useful place to check in given the port authority/immigration on site, but I would not be leaving our boat here unattended. The swell is fairly significant whenever its coming from the NE, and while shelter from the wind is good we saw two dock cleats break where lines were left too short to absorb the shock, and a couple of other boats sustain some damage from hitting the pontoons. As they’re fixed concrete they don’t move with the water, so with the 2’ tidal range as well as a swell you need to be very careful fendering-up. Nothing too dangerous, but not overly secure either.
The whale tour was good, for the two of us who had not seen whales in the bay before. But the whales were not staying on the surface so we didn’t get any extended displays – another tour operator offered a 5-year voucher after an even more disappointing show on the same day! I think they have high expectations for the whale tours here – but as Arthur said while he was reading his book as we motored around: “whales will be whales”.
The waterfall was stunning. A fairly long hike, too long for Theo really although he would have made it on another day. Our guide, Francisco, was superb – pointed out lots of interesting plants (cocoa, passion fruit, sour-sop, coffee, guava, about a dozen herbs that he broke bits off for us to smell etc. etc.). Helped with our Spanish. Held the kid’s hands and wandered along nattering with them. Cool guy. If you go on an organised tour, remember to take cash – we had paid for the tour and forgotten to bring much with us. There’s a lovely gift shop two thirds of the way along with local craft and refreshments, and the guides work on tips only! Fortunately, we had enough to offer a tip, but I would have liked to be more generous – he does a lot more work than the tour operator after all…
Lots of discussion of our plans with the COVID-19 pandemic. We had intended to go to Turks and Caicos next, but they are turning back yachts who have been to St Maarten (as we have) and as there’s a case in the Dominican Republic too I’m pretty sure they would not be keen on us visiting. And the general situation might leave us “stuck” somewhere if travel becomes more difficult, so we don’t fancy the Bahamas either. Instead, we’re intending to hop along the coast of the Dominican Republic and then cross to Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, and then Belize (probably by mid-May).