The last week or so had been exactly what I needed after leaving St Lucia. It has given me time to contemplate my decisions (good and bad) and remind myself of the great times I’ve had as well as my reasons for challenging myself to this type of travel.
After spending just over a week with Capitan Rui (who I sailed with from St Lucia) on his yacht, it was time for me to think about moving on to a new destination. So, backpack on, I raised my thumb for the first time since Senegal.
I have to admit I was feeling a little nervous at first. There wasn’t a great distance to travel but I was alone and unsure where I would be sleeping that night – neither of these things are new to me – but no matter how much I tried to deny it, even to myself, I was still feeling the effects of my recent negative experiences.
After a long hike up a hill out of town I only had to wait a few minutes before I had my first ride. I felt relieved and exhilarated, buzzing on the high of traditional hitchhiking once again! Two more rides, and some seriously dodgy French skills, and I was dropped right in the marina.
Thirty minutes later and I have a sign up in the marina notice board (though feeling less than hopefully with the 40 or so other similar posts) and have settled down in the marina bar with a coffee, desperately trying to listen for anyone talking in English (this is France and it seems only the French are here). I must confess to a rather unsuccessful afternoon, with not even the motivation to dock-walk (the common practice of walking boat-to-boat, making connections and asking if they, or anyone they know of, have need for/space for another crew member onboard).
I eventually decide to take a walk on hunt for a spot to pitch my tent for the night. Again, this was not my most successful venture, and decide on a spot just beyond the marina car park, knowing I was in full view of the road, but with thoughts of safety from nearby people. I return after darkness to a clearly not well inspected spot of broken glass, bright street light and dog shit. To make matters worse I had only just been told that I was breaking the law as wild camping is illegal. But it’s late and I have nowhere else to go. I only hoped if I was moved from my spot it would be by the police and not marina security – at least then I would have a cell to sleep in for the night, and maybe even a meal (I hadn’t dared to get my stove out here and was very hungry!)
The following morning, after a very restless sleep, before sunrise I was up, tent packed, backpack on and had decided for a safer, more comfortable place to stay that night, regardless of the cost…
I spend the next two nights in a campsite outside the town of Sainte Anne (only 20 minutes ride from the marina). Here I meet many long term campers who seem to have formed a community – each evening bringing food or alcohol, cooking, socialising and playing music together. The first night I am invited to join them for pizza, made from scratch and cooked on an open fire while listening to the beautiful sounds of their various instruments (randomly including a trombone – not the most backpacker friendly instrument I would imagine!), and discussions in a mixture of French, Spanish and a little English. It doesn’t matter to me that I don’t understand the majority of what is being said – I feel relaxed, safe, accepted and happy.
In the mean time my advert on the marina notice board had paid off… I receive not one, but two, offers to join boats – north to Grenada or south as far as Trinidad. The fact that Trinidad Carnival is known to be in the top three in the world and the capitan is planning to arrive just before it begins may have swayed my decision…
So in an hour or so I will set sail with Capitan Maurice, from Switzerland, and a French couple, to slowly island hop our way south via Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Grenada, Tobago Cays and eventually Trinidad.
I am excited for my journey ahead and look forward to seeing other countries, having new experiences and meeting new people. I have not given up on my adventure or belief in the kindness of strangers!