Monday, June 20, 2011

Summer Crush

Yes, I'll admit it. I have developed a summer crush. What's worse, it's a crush on a small island (only about 5 square miles) with no white, sandy beaches and takes three air flights to get there. It is part rock and part tropical forest. It is located in the Netherland Antilles, off the coast of St. Martin. On some maps, it actually doesn't even exist. It is called Saba, The Unspoiled Queen ( I LOVE that name!)
I would have never known about this little gem of an island if it weren't for my bestie Veronica and her lovely aunt Chris, who is retired and living blissfully on the island. The locals are hard-working immigrants. Those who first developed the island suffered through harsh, hot, rocky conditions. Most of those on the island who we met during this visit gave up careers in cooperate America to run their business blissfully on this island in the sun.
The hubs and I spent an entire week there on vacation and because I don't want to forget a second of it, please forgive me if this turns into the LONGEST. POST. EVER.

Saturday- We left Tampa bright and early, flew to Miami, then to St. Martin and then finally boarded Winnair for Saba.

Sunday- We head to Sea Saba Dive Center for two morning dives. Unfortunately, since it was my first dives of the season and we had just flown the day prior, my ears did not want to cooperate and I was unable to clear my left ear. After hanging on the mooring line for several minutes, trying to get cleared, I waved off the hubs to join the rest of the divers and I went back onto the boat. I enjoyed the rest of their dive laying out and relishing in the gorgeous view of the island.
Luckily, my ears got their act together and I was able to join the rest of the divers during the second dive. It was along these lava fingers that extend outwards from the island, full of coral and sea life and I was in HEAVEN. It was so amazing to experience all of the noise and sea life. I truly felt several moments of PURE GRATITUDE that we were on this beautiful island experiencing such beautiful sights.
After the dive, we headed back to our adorable abode called Orchid Cottage at Juliana's Hotel on the island. The cottage and the view were so serene and relaxing. At night, the noise level of the tree frogs was intoxicating. I still miss it.

Monday- We enjoyed two more morning dives. Luckily, my ears got the memo that this was a dive vacation and I had zero problems clearing and descending. We traveled over to the Windward Side and dove along the lava fingers of Core Gut and David's Drop Off. They were relaxing, easy dives and I was able to completely get comfy under the deep beautiful blue waters of the Caribbean with my bestie dive buddy! During this dive, we dove over some mustard colored sand. The dive guide, Becca instructed us to dig our hands deep into the sand to feel the warmth of the active volcano forces bubbling up to the surface of the ocean. It felt spectacular to get a "warm up" at the end of a dive and "reach out and touch" an actual force of nature.
Monday evening, Veronica's Aunt Chris hosted a "Welcome to Saba" cocktail party in our honor. Her house is located at the top of Upper Hell's Gate, but it provides a beautiful view of the heavens. The food presentation was exquisite and tasted delicious. We really enjoyed the party and meeting some of Aunt Chris' friends, but we were diving early the next morning, so it wasn't a late night.

Another beautiful day of diving... The dive plan was to approach the pinnacles at Third Encounter and follow the dive master to the famous Needle. However, the current was ripping, so our wise leader Oswaldo kept us around the pinnacles. That was okay with me, now I have yet another reason to return to Saba. Must dive the Needle!
I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening lounging poolside at Tropics and reading the latest novel published by my favorite Furman professor, the one and only Dr. Butler Brewton. Warning, read this ONLY if you are in need of a hot, steamy, controversial read. :)
The rest of the group enjoyed a nurse-shark-filled night dive. Now, I have yet another reason to return to Saba. Ideal Night Diving location

We explored the beauty along Tent Reef Wall and I was amazed to see this massive wall of rock and coral extending from the depths of the ocean. Due to the kicking current, it turned into a drift dive, but that was just fine with our group. The sea life was tiny and colorful and abundant and fascinating. I truly felt blessed to "swim with the fishes" and observe such a rare beautiful sight.

Thursday- Our last day of diving. It was so bittersweet! The highlight of the first dive among the lava fingers was during the ascent along the mooring line. Dive Master Extraordinaire, Oswaldo, entertained me during my safety stop by "walking the tightrope." I felt the line shaking and looked down to see him with fins off, "walking" up the mooring line and doing a "tightrope" act, complete with a backflip. Show off! I showed my appreciation and enjoyment by applauding and bowing down to his efforts of entertainment. I was laughing so much that water kept leaking into my mask! It was this type of "fun-ness" surrounded by knowledge and professionalism that made Sea Saba Dive Center a favorite with us!
During our second dive, We were able to make it to the ever popular Diamond Rock and I was simply amazed at the beauty of this massive structure extending from the depths of the ocean. The coral/rock structure was covered in sea life and the sound of the live coral was deafening at points during the dive. It was a symphony of sounds and sights. All provided by Mother Nature herself!
Thursday evening was spent at the fabulous Shearwater Resort and Hotel overlooking the Windward Side of Saba. The hotel offers a breathtaking view, decorated in trendy, sexy decor and provides luxurious accommodations for it's guests. We enjoyed a wonderfully prepared dinner and drinks and desserts. But, we enjoyed the company of good friends (old and new) most of all in it's beautiful setting.

Friday- Our last day on the island. We chose to sleep in, lounge around the pool at Juliana's, then the girls hiked down to the Sulphur Mines. It was a short, twenty minute hike down the Windward Side. At the end, we planted ourselves on a bench along the cliff, downed some cold beers and shared some stories of family, fun and friendship. It was such a special time that I will never forget.
Friday night, we went for pizza at the local joint, Saba Treasures. Then, Tanya, Aunt Chris and I headed out with the locals for a late night of karaoke and dancing. Good times!
I forgot how absolutely wonderful it is to be on vacation with my husband and enjoy special moments together. I highly recommend it for all mommies and daddies!
(Disclaimer: James stayed happily at home with his favorite sitter, Miss Emily. I was truly grateful to have him safe at home and happy. If I had to spend a week away from my little sunshine, what better company than with my husband and our best friends!)

1 comment:

  1. Veronica HardingJune 23, 2011 at 1:01 PM

    It went sooo fast but between your blog, my dive log, the pics and videos the memories will live forever. What an outstanding vacation spent with the best people in what is surely one of the best places on earth. Thanks for the recap.