I'm sitting in a sandy bar in Bequia, the sun is setting, tourists frolic happily on Princess Margaret Beach; it's a postcard...no, make that Instagram-Facebook-Twitter kind of scene. I'm drinking a passion fruit Mojito, the sweat of the glass is running down my arm but I'm not paying attention. Over at the bar sits a teenage boy, perhaps seventeen years old, he's found the strongest spot of an otherwise pitiful wifi signal- his earphones fixed, he's chatting with his girlfriend over a Skype video feed. Her face fills his laptop screen- she's stunningly beautiful: auburn hair, huge eyes, full lips- a child and a woman at the same time. As she flits and flirts, he remains motionless, her eyes dance, her lips pout then smile; she chats away, she tosses her hair just so. He remains firmly focused, he says nothing, he simply stairs at her, listening intently with undeviated fascination, it's all very public. Her sweater, the dark wood room she's in, she's a half a world away. His laptop screen looks like a scene from a movie- it's all so cool, so sweet, it's obvious this is true love- first love, and she is so going to break his heart.
Such is life here in the Caribbean where people easily become unaware of how on display they may be. They tend to let loose and let go a bit too much. Blame the relaxation factor, blame the double strength beer, blame the warmth and ease of this place but people forget themselves here. It's a state of mind that is often taken advantage of by the local folk.
Another waterfront bar in Bequia, the Frangipani, but this time I have Mount Gay Rum on the rocks chilling my palm. Maya has joined me, we're taking in opening night of Bequia's music festival. A full spread steel drum band is hammering out covers of pop tunes and these guys are good. What? Think you're too cool for steel drum? If so, you're missing out. This was a local youth band but these kids were pure old school. From the glittering, perfectly matched costumes, the well practiced precision, the carefully choreographed moves, the energy, the vibe, the last time I saw a big band performing like this was in the Bahamas back in the eighties. An eighteen piece steel band going flat out, all jumping, spinning, and dancing in time with the beat, they played for two hours straight. An excellent display of pure showmanship and these days, all too rare a sight.
The crowd was into it, thumping and bumping to the high speed rhythms, the place was packed and the bar was swamped. They were six deep and the guys behind the bar were hustling drinks as hard as the band was playing- everyone was in the groove. Now, here's a situation that can go either way, meaning, if you know how to handle yourself, you get your drink order, and if not, then you end up standing around watching everyone else get their drink order. First rule: stand full on facing the bar, strait and tall, make yourself visible. Second: have cash in hand at the ready, and third: know what you want! Be ready to clearly state your order without hesitation. If the bar is at full capacity it helps to order something simple, like say Mount Gay rum which happens to be the main sponsor of the Bequia Music Festival, but the most important tip of course is TIP! Yes, tip your bartender, tip him generously, he'll remember you and when you return to the bar for another round, he'll zero right in on you and your cash, let that poor sap standing sheepishly next to you with the credit card sulk as you whisk away your drinks in short order, yes my friends, this is how to work it.
On to Mustique, we sailed over to this tiny island a couple days ago. So I called this morning and made a lunch reservation at The Cotton House, the lady on the phone was cheerful: party of three, 12:30, no worries right? Ha ha, but this is Mustique, one of a handful of corporate owned private islands, and the famous domain of the super snooty.
So we're thinking- innocently enough, hey! Let's rent one of those golf carts and tool around a bit then go for lunch at the Cotton House- easy peasy! We arrive at the dingy dock and are immediately inundated with security- "The island is closed!" The security guy was seriously puffed up, "we have a special VIP arriving, I can't say who it is but THEY'RE SUPER IMpoRTAnT! You can't rent a car, you can't even take a taxi, you can't take photos of ANYTHING! Stop looking at things! You are not authorized to enjoy this island!" Well, ok, he really didn't say that last bit but the feeling was certainly in the air. I went on to explain that we have a lunch reservation at the Cotton House, "HOW could you have done this it's impossible!" Well, I called the hotel with my phone this morning and made a booking..."IMPOSSIBLE! I must call the boss"...boss arrives, we chat, he makes some calls, and after about a half hour, they send a car from the Cotton House to pick us up...and we had lunch...and it was lovely.. I do kinda hate this place though..actually..