Manny & His VanYesterday was my birthday and Joel & I had a great celebration! But I’ll talk about that in a moment — first, I want to introduce Manny, one of the interesting people in Saba. Manny is one of the friendliest people on the island — I call him “The Mayor of Saba.” He always has a smile, wave and greeting for you whenever he drives by. Manny has a taxi, which is a blue van that says “You’re behind Manny…cool out!” on the back. It is in this van that he drives all of the Sea Saba customers to and from Fort Bay, where we meet the diving boats. On a trip with Manny, he will tell you all about the history of Saba and point out the interesting sights. After 2 years in Saba, he still tells me something new on each trip. Guess what else Manny does?

Manny is a great cook! He has dreams of opening his own restaurant, but until then, he does catering and special picnic trips. He’s very popular with the medical students, who have him cater parties for them — you constantly see him with a group of clamoring students wanting to find out what’s happening next! Manny always has some new type of fruit for us to taste when we drive with him — sugar apple was the last one we tried. It is the size & shape of an apple, but has skin more like a pineapple — only green. Sugar apples taste like apples, only sweeter.

Saba Off The Beaten Path
Heather Walking to Wells BayManny also does these cool trips to Wells Bay, when the beach is there (right now, it’s still gone — but it will be back!). His beach meals & parties are excellent. On Friday nights, he takes groups (mostly medical students) to Wells Bay for a sunset barbecue. He picks up a giant load of students, takes them to Wells Bay and barbecues while the sun sets. It’s a beautiful — and delicious — activity. He also takes tourists to Wells Bay or Cove Bay for snorkeling. On these trips, you can request lunch & he’ll bring you a catered picnic for everyone on the trip. It’s one of those things that you don’t realize you can do in Saba — and it makes it more special. You can also do some even more amazing snorkeling by going out on the boat with Sea Saba — imagine seeing everything the divers see — it’s incredible!

Happy Birthday!
Yesterday, Manny called me in the morning singing “Happy Birthday!” Joel had spilled the beans about my birthday to a van full of people on the way to our first day of scuba diving with Sea Saba. It ended up being a good thing, because Joel & Manny schemed to have a wonderful birthday lunch brought to my door. Manny showed up with two 3-lb. Saba lobsters — pre-cracked and fresh from being steamed! They were excellent — we could have saved half of it for another meal, but it was so good we ate it all!

Caribbean Spiny LobsterNot Your Typical “Red Lobster”
There is a difference between Maine and Saban lobsters. You notice this when diving — we see these huge, spiny lobsters hiding under rocks on many of our dive trips. Saban or Caribbean spiny lobsters (Panulirus argus ) grow to be about 2 feet in length and like others in its species, they lack the large pinching claws of their Maine relatives. Their spiny — or sharp, thorn-like bodies are what protect them from predators. The taste is similar — although the Caribbean spiny lobster is naturally a bit tougher than the “melt in your mouth” Maine lobster.

Fresh Fish In Saba
It is very difficult to get fresh fish in Saba, which seems ironic given it’s an island, huh? You can get fresh fish at restaurants, like Brigadoon (Michael Chammaa, the owner, even has sushi night on Saturdays!). However, there is not a fish market and you can only get frozen fish at the stores. The are a couple of ways to get fresh fish — you can meet the fish boats and buy or trade for fish. Or, local Sabans can do a limited amount of fishing, based on rules set by Saba’s protected marine park.

Some examples of the rules are:

  • Spearfishing is only allowed to Saban residents while free diving.
  • Turtle catching is not allowed except for Saban residents who are allowed to take 2 per person, per year — provided that no females are taken from April 1 – November 30th and that the catch is reported to the manager of the Saba Marine Park.
  • Conch collecting is only allowed to Saban residents who can take a maximum of 20 per person per year, provided that no conch smaller than 7.5″ is taken, that collecting is done while free diving and that the catch is reported to the manager of the Saba Marine Park.
  • No one can fish in recreational diving zones.

If anyone wants to start a business in Saba, a fresh fish shop might be a good one — everyone wants it and it’s tough to get. In the meantime, Manny is a great source for fresh lobster. And how can you beat door-to-door delivery?