My husband and I are back, safe and sound!
We would like to thank the Police Department, the Fire Department, the Saba Conservation Foundation, Dutch marines and all other people who were trying to find us and prayed for our safe return. We heard you were all very concerned. We are touched by the compassion of the Saban Community and the warm welcome we received as we were found.
This is what happened:
We started to hike the Sandy Cruz trail at 2.50 pm, an easy one, I know it by heart, so we brought no map. Somewhere after half an hour, we saw a sign ‘no excess beyond this point’. It was facing us, so we thought we were not allowed to continue on this trail. On the same sign, there was an arrow pointing to the right and we saw a trail marked with pink ribbons. So we thought that this trail would be the detour and we would come back on the Sandy Cruz at some point. So we hiked that trail. It was steep, but we are experienced hikers, so that was no problem. As we saw the last ribbon, we were on a regular trail and we continued on that one. Suddenly we couldn’t go any further, the landslide was in front of us. Then I knew we were on the Northcoast trail, which is dangerous and should only be hiked with a guide. We considered going back the same way, but figured out we could not make it before dark. So we decided to go around the landslide and find the trail at the other side from Mary’s Point to Wells Bay, a trail I hiked before with James as a guide. We thought we could reach the end of the trail before dark. I couldn’t find the trail though.
Darkening already, we decided to hike towards the sea, so people would be able to see and find us. This was a big mistake, a wrong decision; we should have gone up the hill instead of going down. We went into a steep slope, in the hope we could reach the shore, but just before we reached the coast, there was an abyss, and we couldn’t go any further. We climbed back a little and, as it was almost 7 pm, looked for a spot to spend the night. It was steep, but we were under elephant ear plants and the spot did not that many rocks so we could lie down and rest. We had to put our feet against a tree to prevent us from gliding down. We alternated resting and staying awake, in case someone was already looking for us. We heard yesterday people did look for us in the night, but unfortunately, we didn’t hear them. We had a charged cellphone, but no service, not even for an emergency call, which we tried several times. Hemmie and Jenny called 911 in the evening, because we should have dinner with them, and we didn’t show up. They knew we planned hiking Sandy Cruz Trail.
Yesterday morning we prepared to hike back the same way we came, because we didn’t know another way to get out there. We ate some cookies we had and drank some water. We started at 6 am, at daylight. The slope was very steep and it took us quit some time to climb out of it. We had to pull us out, holding on to rocks and roots. It was very difficult, dangerous and scary. We heard a helicopter but we were under the trees and could not sign. We walked trough the forest, back north. Finally, we found the trail, the one with the pink ribbons, and we hiked back home, slowly, because we were exhausted and almost out of water. As we were almost at the end of this part of the trail, Jenny and Stefan from the rescue team found us! We were so excited to see them! They gave us water and support, so we could walk all the way back to Hell’s Gate. After a visit at the hospital (a lot of scratches and bruises, but no severe injuries) and the police, who wanted to hear our story, we finally could shower, have a meal and rest.
We are tired, but very happy and grateful we survived this dangerous adventure.
Thank you again for all your effort and support.
Mariette Zuijdgeest & Alexander Reens