"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines.

Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -Mark Twain

Student Writing from Bequia

>> Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Author: Danielle Woodward

March 6, 2011


Sea turtles are beautiful animals. The swim so very gracefully through the oceans; they travel for years and are able to return to the beach of their birth. Unfortunately, these amazing reptiles are declining due to hunting. However, one man in the Caribbean has taken the initiative to try and save these unique creatures.

At first glance, Brother King is just an ordinary man. He has a medium height and build with a short grey beard and hair. He lives on the island of Bequia where sea turtles continue to be hunted. He, however, doesn’t kill them; he saves them. Brother King owns and runs the Old Hegg Sea Turtle Sanctuary. Here he raises hawksbill and green sea turtles from tiny babies until they’re big enough and strong enough to survive on their own. When hatching season comes about, he goes our onto the beach to collect all the young that he can. From there, they live at his compound until he thinks they’re ready for the wild. With hawksbill he cares for them for five years. Green sea turtles stay a year longer.

I can honestly say that Brother King is unlike any other human I’ve ever met. That he cared for these animals was wonderfully clear. He said that he had been prepared since the age of six to save sea turtles. At that time, he saw grown men cracking open sea turtle eggs and eating the insides raw. He decided to try it as well. He cracked and egg, swallowed it, and promptly began vomiting. It was then, he said, that he knew he wouldn’t always hunt sea turtles. As he grew older, and took his part in catching sea turtles, he decided to stop hunting and start helping.

Brother King is a great man and the Old Hegg Sea Turtle Sanctuary is a wonderful place. It’s almost ironic that a country that so freely kills sea turtles should have produced a man so intent on saving them. Whether the island and the animals realize it or not, they’re very lucky to have him.

Author: Milo Stanley

Date: March 6, 2011

Throughout our travels in the Caribbean, we have had the opportunity to experience much of the tradition, eating traditional food, attending traditional festivals, and witnessing traditional culture in general.

While we were in Bequia, one of the main points of our visit was to see the traditional whaling boats and learn more about Bequian whaling. Bequian whaling is a descendent of Yankee whaling. The main difference being the New Englanders operated from mother ships while the Bequians operated off the beach with lookouts on hills to watch for whales. The whaleboats themselves, longer, double ended, open boats, have been changed very little from their American ancestors and can be fitted with racing rigs for the very popular annual Easter Regatta held in Bequia.

Upon the sighting of a whale, the whaling crew will set off in its direction under sail or oar, the harpooner ready on the bow, a long tether leading aft from his harpoon to the loggerhead (a sturdy, round post in the back of the boat). The objective of the whalers is to sneak close enough to the whale to harpoon it with a special harpoon head that breaks off inside the whale and holds fast. After being pulled around, they will attempted to kill it by repeatedly stabbing it with a wooding killing lance, in an attempt to find the heart or lungs, or shooting it with a bomb gun, an unpleasant instrument whose workings I won’t go into. When the whales starts spouting blood, the whalers back off while the whale goes into its death throws. When it is finally dead, a motor vessel is called for to tow the whale back to a cutting station, where it is cut up, and its various products are divided amongst the whalers, and those who show up to help with the butchering.

Though bloody and dangerous, Bequian whaling is an honored tradition, and a source of pride for the country. The killing of a whale is a national holiday and Bequian schools are let out and business shut down for the event. Whales around Bequia are rare, but the whaling traditions are active and well.

Author: Cree Lehman

Location of Piece: Bequia

She steps onto the dock soaked with salt spray. They sky is stormy today and it has been raining on and off all morning. Even though it has been a rough morning, she cannot help but smile once on land. Being ashore always brings that same feeling, a feeling of comfort and happiness. Today is different though, even with a smalls miles on her lips, she still feels down and sad. The lump is still in her throat, the one she gets just before crying. This day has not started out the way she would have liked, happy and upbeat.

The group she is a part of gathers, talking about what the day’s events will be. Her mind wanders as she looks around the small town they have comes to. Everyone disperses and climbs into two open air taxis. Se scrambles to get into the taxi that is pumping Bob Marley. Music that has been recorded is now a luxury since she never hears it on the boat. By this time it is pouring rain. She ducks her head while keeping the tears at bay. The weather seems to be in tune with her emotions. With a jolt the taxi driver peels onto the main road taking her and all the rest away from this port of the island. She watches this foreign world with curious eyes. Eventually they stop to see the authentic whaling boats. Not much about whaling interests her, so she half listens while watching the waves crash on the beach. What a beautiful beach it is, especially when the rain is falling. Down to that beach they walked. They sand is soft beneath her toes and the water warm as it laps against her ankles. When permission is given to swim, the rain is coming down harder than ever. She sits under a porch at first. Then, all at once, strips down to her swimsuit and sprints to the water, diving head first into the green water and algae. Bliss. The ocean feels warm, encasing her body as the cool sting of rain hits her face. It isn’t so bad, swimming in the ocean while it rains, on an island far away in the Caribbean.


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