August-October 2012, Carriacou (west indies)

P1000464Before the first cyclone Ernesto, we found refuge in Tyrell Bay on Carricaou just before Grenada. This island offers a large protected bay and a large mangrove.

But Carriacou is not only that …
For the record: the first inhabitants were the Arawak Indians then the Carib who named the island Carriacou: “the land of reefs.” Then the island was colonized by the French in 1763 but ceded with Grenada to the United Kingdom under the Treaty of Paris.
In the 60s, many carriacouans emigrated to the United Kingdom, the United States or other Caribbean islands because of the lack of jobs. The island has no manufacturing and agriculture is the main activity on the island. But Carriacou has no rivers, the water comes only from rainfall which sometimes can cause real problems during the dry season that extends from January to June
In the 2000s, many carriacouans returned to their island to retire and repatriating a bonanza of a lifetime rewarding work and by the same improved the local economy. Today, the British influence is still strong on the island in the manners and customs but we find also a French influence in the names of villages and local Creole. In the village of Windward, located in the north of the island, you can still see traditional boat building following the true legacy of Scottish and Irish descendants.

When we arrived for the first time in Hillsborough (admittedly a Sunday afternoon!), The streets were deserted. Only a few stray dogs were hanging into gutters dodging bushes rolling on the road under the hot wind of August. Rather gloomy atmosphere far from the images of postcards that we had made. Once the formalities done, we quickly left to Tyrell Bay which we had heard great things.

P1000615Again we were a little surprised when we landed to find just along the beach one road, lined with a few small restaurants, two “supermarkets”, a diving center, a sails workshop, two huts vendors of fruits and vegetables.


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But soon we realized that Carriacou would offer its true beauty, unveiled its wealth to those who take the time. Because if Carriacou has a reputation of being one of the most beautiful Caribbean island with its white sandy beaches, protected bays, varied landscapes and sites of exceptional anchorage, it is up to you to discover and explore! As the most beautiful in all of this is that it is not a tourist island. There is no real tourist facilities, no big hotels, no international airport. The Carriacouans welcome you just naturally as travelers, curious to know you and to share their island, if you wish to.
Over the past three months in Carriacou during hurricane season, we have been able to forge real connections with people, share with them our lives. Here we take the time to meet, to learn, to apreciate. No more relationship based on money only, where we, tourists,  are perceived only as a source of easy revenue. No. Everybody here pays its bananas, its sweet potatoes the same price, same with the bus ride. Here we are again  travelers that Carriacouants are proud to host.
So, without really realizing we turned to the rhythm of Carriacou “neither too fast nor too slow” and simply enjoyed life.

You can enjoy a nice walk in the surrounding countryside. We talked with fishermen and  vegetables vendors. Fridays evenings we celebrate the arrival of the weekend with the whole village around a Steel Drum concert before spending the weekend with everyone on the beach. At anchor as well as in the village, there is a warm summer camp feeling: aperitif for some, BBQ with others, activities for children on the beach, crafts, fishing. Most boats are moored there for several weeks or months, and the separations are more difficult when it’s time to leave.
Yes life is simple and sweet in Carriacou without being cut off from the world (there is internet everywhere). It’s just that people here know how to take  what was good in our modern society itself (health, education, culture, communication, etc.) while not losing the human ties, family and  not succumbing  to the “always more”. Here, a cellphone is a cellphone, although it is  2, 3 or 5 years old. Here children play outside freely and everyone keeps an eye on them.
DSC_0229The vegetable vendors, Denise and Dodline, have a vegetable stall in a small wooden box made of four boards and a “roof” at the edge of the road. They have become our “cuddly” offering us daily scarce resources according to arrivals the moment.


Then there is Johnny who came on board for coffee in the morning and  for diner when he couldn’t bother preparing himself some food, alone on theP1000699 catamaran of which he had “custody”. Sometimes he goes fishing with his friend Cigarette. Well, he watches him diving while he keeps the boat, just in case … . Because Johnny, he is not ready to put his head under water and even less to look at what lives down there. “Naa!” As Johnny would say …. “I do not like all that stuff down there that swim.” .
P1000579There is also Andy who runs the unique sail workshop on the island. The british corner that illuminates our days of his smile, his DSC_0230composure and his positivism. The epitome of the expression “if you do not have good brain, you have good legs” … Although, in his case, it’s a good dinghy that allows him to flutter and twirl from boats to boats for his work.

Oh I should also tell you about Geneviève and Dominique. Genevieve who has so generously shared with me her knowledge as masseuse-physiotherapeut. I hope I’ll be at the height of my “master” and her talents. In any case since then,  I’m having good fun giving massages to anyone who is ready to receive it. Dominique (aka Domino), her husband, has DSC_0035invented a concept simply awesome. He has set up his workshop welding seam on the water in the middle of the bay on an old trimaran (which admittedly takes a little water, then he pumps, he pumps  Dominique ..). The space is very open and welcoming in the image of Dominique. And boats that need repairs can come to moor directly to his workshop and get an expert hand, welding aluminum and stainless steel .. Too strong this Domino!

DSC_0702 I forget many other figures of Tyrell Bay in Carriacou, as Richard and Diane: Canadians who run one of two dive centers, the team at Lambi Queen where one can enjoy “fricassés  of Lambi” or beautiful grilled lobster while listening to the local group of Steel Drum and many others …


This island and its inhabitants have marked for simplicity and sincerity meetings, Carriacou soon!

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