We were cutting it a bit fine but we finally managed to make it to East Caicos on Saturday. We got there on the slow but steady boat of Brodie Forbes, a local in Bambarra, on what was a near perfect day for the trip. We got the boat from the wonderfully named ‘Windward Going Through’, the channel at the end of Wild Cow Run, and passed Joe Grant’s Cay on route for the end of the Donkey Railway on East Caicos.
East Caicos has barely been inhabited since the 1930s when a sisal plantation there finally failed. Before this one of the major industries was guano (bat poo) which were taken from caves on the island. The Donkey Railway was built to get the guano to boats for export.
There is one of the Field Trails that follows this old railway, though not quite as close as we had imagined. We managed to get to the first cave without too much problem and walked through the main cavern to emerge at another opening but we couldn’t re-find the trail so it was time to retrace our steps to be certain of not getting lost in the bush.
The trail then continues east, eventually crossing a causeway over a shallow creek. This section was a little wet but at least the route was clear. On the eastern shore we began to struggle with the trail and lost it a few hundred metres before the end, another larger cave. Once again we made a decision to turn back despite the disappointment at not reaching the destination – it would have been easy to have got lost on this uninhabited, remote island.
Wildlife was there in abundance. There were many plants we had seen before but a few new ones such as the mauby (Colubrina elliptica) a shrub with renowned tonic properties. Bananaquits watched us as we walked along and a pair of Cuban crows got irate with us as we got a little lost before turning back. Their gabbling squawks indicating their irritation, or was it inquisitiveness?
We had some help today – Mel (originally from Bambarra, his mother was headteacher at the school) and Susan Hamilton came along, and it’s thanks to them (and Brodie Forbes) that the boat journey happened.