We managed four months of sailing, over 1500 miles, without injuries. Within the first HOUR that we had the rental car, we broke that streak. Just as Dan was getting into the car at our very first stop, the wind took the door, and he got an ugly gash on his forehead from the corner of the door. Fortunately, the bad start was not an omen, and we really put the miles on the car touring (and getting lost in) every bit of the island we could get to.
I guess I should explain about rental cars here – we’re not talking shiny new vehicles as would be the case with Hertz or Avis. The rental car, a slightly creaky Ford Explorer with over 100,000 miles, seemed more like someone’s personal vehicle being loaned for an opportunity for some side income…especially since the deal was “cash only, no credit cards” but the engine sounded smooth and it had 4WD and we wanted to explore! At the same time, this meant that casual was the name of the game - there was none of the rituals we were used to when renting a car in the States, no inspections with the rental agent and clipboard circling the car recording scratches and dings that were already there so we wouldn’t get blamed for them when we returned. I love that no one locks their car here, either; people are that nice. But then again, what, exactly, would you do if you did steal a car? You can’t exactly run away with it - you’re on an island.
We got lost more times than we could count, part of the fun of exploring. Some of the roads ran through undeveloped vegetation so dense it felt like driving in a green tunnel. Once I asked directions of a man who was using a machete to clear brush by the side of the road, who explained that we needed to go “dis way, nah dat way, (and here he gestured left and right emphatically with big sweeps of his arms -- including the one holding the machete, yikes!) and de road be rough.” He wasn’t kidding! We stopped several times to walk ahead and make sure the “road” was going to be passable at all. But after 2 miles of rugged travel in the direction he indicated, we came to the end of the road and parked and walked up a moderate hill for about 5 minutes. Spread before us was what I think was the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen. MILES of fluffy white sand, and almost no people. Tropical island fantasy come true.
(I'm internet-bandwidth-limited here, so more pix will have to wait)