Leaving the Caribbeans to head back home was no easy task!
After 8 months in the Caribbeans amid a global pandemic, lockdowns, PCR tests, and last but not least, hurricane season, home was looking more and more like a mirage. Would we ever be able to make it back?
After loads of research and negotiating, we finally found a safe place where to leave Gladan during the hurricane season so that we could fly back to Europe and see our families and friends.
The place was Canouan marina, which is brand new and has been built for luxurious superyachts, slightly bigger than Gladan…
It was built by Italian architects and it looks like a small version of Porto Fino or Porto Rotondo, with the addition of an airpot right next to it, so that yacht owners can fly in and out with their private jets in no time.
We found out about this marina thanks to our friends who decided to take refuge inside it when Gonzalo, one of the first hurricanes-to-be of the season, decided to give us all a good scare coming right towards the Grenadines….but that’s another story!
Because of Covid, and thanks to the special hurricane rates, we managed to get a mooring in the marina for the whole month of August at a reasonable price, without having to sell any of our beloved limbs 🙂
The marina consists of a channel, almost a mile long, and once you’re deep inside, you’re so sheltered and the boat is so stable that you feel like being on land – which means you’ll sleep like a queen! And possibly sweat like a pig :)! It can indeed get a little hot if you, like us, don’t have air con on board. The moorings at the very end of the channel are so sheltered that no breeze will ever reach you! Only mozzies will!
Yes, there is a little suffering involved, but it’s all worth it when you enter the marina’s bathrooms…which are literally to die for. I thought that Lymington marinas’ in the UK were great…until I actually saw these ones! Suffice it to say, Gc managed to do yoga inside the shower bed and neither of us had ever taken so many unnecessary showers before!
Not to mention that you’re escorted around the marina on golf carts and given lifts to and from the well assorted and very convenient supermarket inside the marina. (P.S. Prices are in EC not dollars, in case you were wondering!). The staff seem to take offence every time you venture out for a walk; wherever you are.. they spot you, chase you, and take you on board their golf carts or dinghies. There is no escaping from them…they’ll intercept you even by sea 🙂
The staff is so friendly that it all looks rather unreal. But we were there and experienced it…it’s all true!
When we planned our trip back to Europe, we thought we had it all figured out. We would need to get a ferry from Canouan to St. Vincent (SVG), then a flight from SVG to Barbados and then finally a direct one to London. Easy! And of course, we would need a PCR test, taken 72 hours before travelling.
After phoning the ministry of health of all the islands involved in our journey several times (my advice is always double check the information you’re given as you might find yourself in troubles if you don’t…), as well as the various ferry companies (a reduced service runs between the Grenadines due to Covid 19), I found out very last minute (Friday morning and our departure from Canouan by ferry was meant to be on Monday..) that the SVG government had decided to postpone the bank holidays that would normally take place in May to…. August! And not just any time in August…. but the Monday and Tuesday before our Wednesday’s flights to Barbados and London. Sweet!
This had two types of consequences;
- the ferry we were meant to catch from Canouan to SVG was not running anymore…and
- we couldn’t get tested 72 hours before travelling to Barbados because even if we did, the lab wouldn’t be able to give us the results in time for our departure.. due to the bank holidays.
So what to do now?
Thanks to our friends Laurie and Tom, we got a lift on their sailing yacht from Canouan to Bequia where we spent 1 night before taking an early ferry to SVG where our first flight would take off from. We got to the airport way in advance and right when I thought I could finally sip the first coffee of the day (it was an early start so no time for breakfast…) two things happened;
- the airline staff didn’t want to let us board the plane because we didn’t have a negative PCR test…
- and, cover up your ears, all coffee places at the airport were shut!
Clearly, I was more concerned about the latter…this piece of news was truly devastating.
What happened next? I forgot to mention that during one of my many conversations with the ministry of health officials, they had told me that it was ok to fly to Barbados without a negative PCR test because we could get tested at the airport upon arrival. “Yes, but we’d only spend a few hours at the airport while waiting for our connecting flight to London” – I had mentioned to them. “No worries”- they had replied- “we’ll email you the results and you’ll see them once in London”.
The logic of that totally escaped me, but I was not going to question something that for once worked in our favour, was I? Basically, the UK didn’t require a negative test for passengers to board the plane and we wouldn’t stay in Barbados longer than couple of hours. What would be Barbados’ government’s interest in testing us then? Apparently, they dig up your nose for statical reasons only…
After putting Barbados’ ministry of health’s officials on the phone with SVG’s airport authorities – which was even more complicated than usual since, because of Covid, the staff were wearing masks so their voices were muffled and they couldn’t understand each other….then again because of Covid, they couldn’t hold my phone themselves and we had to hold it close to their mouth which was quite a job considering that there was PPE in between us! A Caribbean’s version of Shakespear’s comedy of errors was taking place in front of my eyes!
At some point during this whole shenanigan, Gc started to lose his temper and while listening to him explaining to the staff how common sense had gone down the drain and how this was the end of a civilised world…..all I could think of was: “if we finally manage to board the plane, will they serve coffee ☕️ during the flight?”
In the end, we did manage to board the plane, and NO coffee was served during the flight because of Covid…
Few Covid forms and passport stamps later, around 2 pm, I had my first coffee of the day, in Barbados’ airport, while waiting to board the plane back to London. Life was great again!