Huh, what, whoa… I know. Before flying the friendly skies to the West Indies I had briefly mentioned going to the Dominican Republic here on my own space and confessed also wanting to travel into Haiti as well on Gadling. I put a lot of planning into that trip and it disheartened me to cancel on everyone (mainly in Haiti) and tell them my trip would be postponed, but with the turn of events that had occurred I suddenly realized the company planning to travel with me was no company I wanted to keep, even if he spoke a good deal of Spanish. In whirlwind of emotion and change of heart I proceeded to cancel out all my Hispaniola plans and start anew with a new island – St. Lucia.
It’s not as if Saint Lucia was a bad choice. It was a really good choice. The reality is I’d like to travel to ALL the islands in the Caribbean one day and one day I will, but for now I lead you into the day by day detail of events of my exclusive one woman stay of play in St. Lucia. Envy me if you wish or go out to an island escape of your own…
Day One: The Arrival, Rum, Honey, Lime & the Gros Islet Friday Night Jump Up
“Been a long time since someone make me workup a sweat.” – Chebang
After having my rum just as the doctor order I came back to the room where I fell out moments after capturing me in my first hour on the island – blitzed. Tehe. Photo: Adrienne C. Wilson
Sunshine and very warm temperatures blanketed all first impressions of the island upon my arrival on the tiny stretch of runway at the George FL Charles Airport. As a resident of areas in warmer climes one would imagine that 80 degree plus temps beating down on me would leave me with little to sweat about, but working in the brutal and cold New England area for the last four months had obviously taken its toll. Making way through the short-line in air-conditioned customs and scoring a taxi were two pretty easy tasks to tackle and within no time I was zooming off to the Glencastle Resort – my home for the next seven nights.
When I arrived I was greeted by a warm smiling face that had the “We’ve been expecting you” look written all over it which made me wonder what Mister Johnnie Joseph at the Ginger Lily Hotel in Rodney Bay told the folks at Glencastle. Perhaps he juiced up my short-lived sob story to help a sister out and so many thanks go out in his direction for his last minute calls around the island in an attempt to find me affordable last minute accommodation in not only the height of tourist season, but days away from the island’s hosting of the World Cup Cricket games. The smiling front desk face then led me to a room on the second floor in the very far left corner from the stair. Before she opened the door I was already pleasantly pleased. It felt like a secret hideout and beyond the door revealed a room that would prove just fit for my needs over the next few days and nights. My favorite part was the walkout balcony with a view of Gros Islet, Rodney Bay, and the ocean just as the website had promised, though I was only expecting to get a room with a garden view, so again… blessings to Mister Johnnie Joseph.
Taken from the balcony looking out towards Rodney Bay and beyond. Photo: Adrienne C. Wilson
The smiling face left me to get settled into my room and as soon as she was out the door I began tearing off the warm attire that got me out of NYC into something much more comfortable and island appropriate. Once my khaki shorts and tee had made their way on I took off for the hotel restaurant. Starving doesn’t come close to defining what all the lack of in-flight meals did to my stomach. I was famished! Okay, I’m lying I wouldn’t really know famished if it slapped me in the eyelid like a boxer pounding on a raw slab of beef tenderloin, but you get the picture. Down at the restaurant and bar I ordered fish, chips, and a salad to nosh on and hold me over for the evening. Considering how late it was in the afternoon for lunch there were very few patrons dining. I decided to sit up at the bar where the waitresses and another guest were lounging.
My attempt to order water to go with my meal failed when the two of them heard my tale of trying to overcome a little cold and instead I was given rum, honey and a twist of lime. Both agreed it would cut any cold/flu nonsense out of the picture. Between each sip of my beverage I exchanged conversation with the other guest who had many pleasant things to say about St. Lucia, but said no other island was as wonderful as Grenada. If I ever had the chance to go I should seize it with the utmost quickness and not walk, but run or skip my way there as it is the most beautiful island of them all. This is according to Mister Clair. He said he was born and raised there and that the best thing about the place was all the honest men and women. Not all were honest he noted, but it could be said that a healthy portion of the population was such. When I told him of my previous plans to go to D.R. without the mention of Haiti, he told me Republicana Dominican was a lovely place too, but never to go to Haiti. Mister Clair said the people of Haiti don’t believe in God and with all their voodoo they could turn me into a goat in my very seat. I didn’t want to tell Mister Clair that his warnings weren’t enough to turn my curiosity the other direction and if it was curiosity that killed the cat in its past lives then I suppose it will be curiosity that turns the kitten into a goat in its next life.
Deborah, the waitress, asked if I would be heading out for the Friday night Jump Up or street party held down the block from the hotel. I confessed that I really wanted to go, but wasn’t sure if it would be suitable for a woman traveling on her own. She kindly invited me to tag along with her and her crazy girlfriend that evening and I happily accepted. My rum & honey, the 82 degree temperature and my day of flying was starting to get the best of me so I excused myself for a little siesta and retreated to my room.
I woke up around seven or eight. My memory fails me now, but I do remember that the rum felt as if it were working and that I would be strong enough to jump up at the party in another three hours. Deborah had to wrap up things at the hotel before we could leave and head to her place for her to change. I was in no hurry. When it was time to take off to her home we walked down from the hotel to the mini-bus/tax stand and waited for the next to scoop us up and carry us off.
By the time we made it to the Jump Up things seemed to have quieted down and though there were quite a few people wandering the streets and vendors cookin’ up all sorts of food the sound man must have packed up his system and cruised back home because there was no roots, rock, reggae or dub to be heard anywhere close. It was a slight disappointment and Deborah and her crazy girlfriend were also on the bummed side, but I knew the night was only beginning for them. I had no clue where it was taking me. We walked past a mixture of tourists and locals laughing and hanging around on the street until we made it to a small club around the corner right next to the water. There were as many people standing about outside as there were inside and come to find out it was more than likely the club entrance fee keeping them from getting in. The music could be heard just fine outside and it was really no biggie (for me at least) to get inside, but after a little waiting my two guides had successfully gotten one of their friends to rub his freshly stamped arm (club entry stamp) onto our wrists so wa-la – we didn’t have to pay. Hey-hey-hey and off went inside.
The interior was like most clubs. Dark for the most part with the exception of the black light glowing from the ceiling and all the girls and guys that purposely tried to wear all white to glow along with it. The music was decent and there were a few people dancing on the floor, but most individuals were bouncing in and out of the club. We followed suit and after two times of going in and out we finally decided it was time to head on over to Rodney Bay. Besides the boys that had accompanied us didn’t get the stamp on their wrist and didn’t want to pay to come in so when they wandered off the girls began looking. Back onto the streets of Grois Islet we finally heard some music being played and found people dancing, but it was too late. Other plans had been made and it was time to head to a new location. Once we found the guys again we took off to Rodney Bay where the scene wasn’t anything out of this world either, but there was music and enough of it to keep me moving and awake for the next couple of hours.
Like most nights spent dancing to sweet island sounds and blends I worked up a nasty sweat – evidence of a good time. When I stopped it wasn’t because I was bloody exhausted or anything, rather I knew I should probably call it a night to avoid getting under the weather again. My dancing guides were not yet ready to depart and there was no reason that the fun should end there for them so I kindly asked her to assist me in finding the closest taxi to carry me away and with that my night ended.
Gallery: Glencastle Resort
Day Two: Rodney Bay Beach
“Gimme da max, gimme da max…” – Israel
Waiting for my hotel shuttle to come and rescue me from the boys on the beach. Photo: Darren
My original plan had been to get in on day one and tighten up my game plan for the rest of the week, but since I went with the flow of things the flow took me out on the town and so I spent sometime on Saturday trying to figure out where and when to go. That being said I didn’t have any solid plans for my second day on the island, but when the beach is right around the way it doesn’t make for a bad escape plan. Still playing it safe I left my swimsuit behind. I packed my sack with my camera and a few other necessities and headed down for breakfast.
Breakfast at the Glencastle Resort is especially nice. The kind waitress, a different girl than the evening before gave me a warm welcome and instructed me on how the breakfast went down. “The coffee is over there… an assortment of teas there… cereal – there…” I placed my order: a fruit plate, two eggs fried hard and toast with raspberry jam. While waiting I watched vacationing, probably honeymooning couples eat and laugh and birds flutter and fly trying to get their breakfast serving as well. When my morning munch arrived I tossed it back and departed from the restaurant to catch the hotel shuttle to the beach.
Rodney Bay beach is your typical tourist filled location; resort style hotels lining the beach, overpriced restaurants and the cleanest clearest ocean water from miles around. I spent most of my afternoon getting acquainted with the soft sand as my toes dug their way through each slow step along the water. I watched children build castles or giggle when the water rushed up and splashed them in their face. All the little ones were having an ultimate fun time in paradise, but so were all the vacationing adults. Couples held each other in the cool water stealing small wet kisses here and there and some simply snorkeled in pairs seeking exotic underwater life. I smiled. I smiled for it was sunny and because I was far, far away from the cold snow and drear. I smiled because happiness surrounded me and love was in the air. I smiled hell because I was happy to be here in St. Lucia. Strolling the beach is relaxing for me.
With my Rebel in tow and new lens I was able to capture typical beach shots like a jet ski left on its own, waves crashing against the shore and the rocky end of the soft sandy stretch. After the walk down and back, clicking picture after picture, the heat made my body demand that I stop to refuel with an ice cold pina colada. The closest beach side bar and restaurant was Spinnakers.
A lonely jet ski at sea. Photo: Adrienne C. Wilson
To the left of Rodney Bay beach – the hills or hill. Photo: Adrienne C. Wilson
Rocky area of the beach. Photo: Adrienne C. Wilson
A beach-goer relaxing in the sun. Photo: Adrienne C. Wilson
Before I could make it to the bar I was stopped by one of the local guys who said he had seen me walking up and down the beach and wanted to know if he could join me while I cooled down. Considering how gorgeous his eyes were I smiled my approval. And certainly he tried to charm the pants off of me, but this vacation wasn’t about getting island nookie. I can’t say that I wasn’t guilty of batting my eyes, winking on occasion or tossing my head back in laughter to create the image so often seen in those day dreamy movie scenes with the guy oogling over the beautiful beach beauty. If it is a crime then I suppose I should be deported, but then so should my new parasailing and jet skiing pal who probably hits on at least five tourists a day. However, I don’t know where they’d send him if he were deported.
Not buying the sweet talkers sweet talkin’. Photo: Darren
Anyhow, he was the same age as me, but fairly goofy and yet he could read me like a book. He tried to persuade me to take a ride on his jet ski before my trip end. At first I said “No, I’m cool” several times, but he was insistent and so I gave him a maybe instead. Once there was nothing more than light condensation on the glass of what used to hold a pina colada me and my new island pal headed back out to the beach. By now I was only trying to kill time until the hotel shuttle came and wondering whether my island pal had a customer he should be assisting. He told me he didn’t even though I could have sworn I saw one of his co-workers scowling at him from afar. He ran off for a second leaving me with the two guys that playing cards that help you get a chair and umbrella to rest on when needed. While making small chat with the two another jet ski guy came over to talk. Something told me if I stuck around long enough things could get real interesting and perhaps a beach brawl would occur over which jet ski I should ride, but luckily my hotel shuttle arrived and whisked me away leaving the guys to find another tourist or three to make buddies with.
Rodney Bay through a filter. Photo: Adrienne C. Wilson
That evening I skipped out on Saturday night partying to cool it at the hotel. The chef down in the Calabash Bar and Restaurant in the hotel had done a fine job cooking up some BBQ along with some other goodies like some green banana and fish salad, which I am still not sure how to describe its full list of ingredients, but it was delicious. When I had eaten all I could and the chef finally stopped piling my plate with one of everything I headed up for a little reading before drifting off to sleep.
Gallery: Looshan Nibbles & Bits
Day Three: Soufriere Beauty & Bacchanal
“When life hands you lemons – go bananas.” – Adrienne
Checking out the Toraille Waterfall. Photo: Chebang
I’ll describe Soufriere beauty here and you can read about the bacchanal if you choose below. Before I get into either first I must describe where Soufriere is and why it is important to check it out when visiting St. Lucia. As found in the latest issue of Tropical Traveller who states it best:
Soufriere is a fishing town with an intense history – once the French capital and a thriving sugar producing area, then ravished by the French Revolution. Located on the scenic west coast it also harbors many natural wonders such as the Pitons World Heritage Site, two volcanic plugs rising dramatically from the sea’s surface; the Sulphur Spring’s boiling pools of dark mineral laden waters, a constant release of pressure from the molten, subterranean activity…
Okay, so after reading something like that and hearing about it from everyone I somehow felt compelled to venture down south to check it out with my own two. For St. Lucians the 45 min to and hour ride down is considered very long and there are several ways to catch a ride down though some are easier than others or more expensive at that. I first tried booking something with one of the local travel agencies, but going this route was difficult only because they have to have a minimum number of people going to make the trip down and they never had the minimum on the days I wished to go. The next option is to take the local mini buses down which probably would have been the cheapest, but would have required some extra work once landing in the area. This is only due to my not knowing the area and I would have had to hire a car from here anyhow. Third, one can bargain and hire one of the country’s many taxi drivers to carry them down for the day and back. The last option was the one I went with. Actually the kind restaurant staff phoned one of their friends and hired him for me the day before and in the morning he showed up just a wee-bit tardy, but forgiven.
Mister Andy was sort of quiet with a deep thick accent. At times it was hard for me to understand him, but it was mainly due to his talking while looking away from me. Someone had tiefed the radio from the van not too long ago so there wouldn’t be much music on the ride down. The girl from the hotel bar who had taken me out to the Jump Up also worked her way into the trip which was okay by me since the van could seat up to ten or more people, but to my surprise her two Rasta guy friends that had gone dancing with us were also in accompaniment. Good thing too because the older one of the brothers had a little radio which provided the soundtrack for the ride down.
Welcome, welcome! Photo: Adrienne C. Wilson
My first request was to stop by one of the banana plantations on the way down. Before leaving on my trip I had spoken to a close friend of mine in Los Angeles who had suddenly picked up agriculture as a new hobby and was hoping to one day grow some banana trees of his own. I thought this was peculiar, but he insisted he’s seen many growing in and around Los Angeles. As a small souvenir I told myself I could at least photograph one or two of them for him. This was the story I had to explain to my companions for the day that raised an eyebrow when I told them I hadn’t seen one myself before and that I needed to get a picture up close and personal of a banana tree. So the first stop was near Marigot Bay where I stole a few shots of the trees lined in a number of rows. I didn’t get as many as I would have liked, but eh… Soufriere isn’t all about seeing bananas – it’s about going bananas.
For Joshua. Photo: Adrienne C. Wilson
Our drive took us by numerous fishing villages like Anse la Raye and Canaries. View points for taking pictures were marked at the top of many hills which made for several stops along the way. The beaches in the fishing villages often looked more immaculate than those found in the tourist areas and I found myself a little green with envy that the villagers had that kind of paradise everyday. At least it would seem that way to someone like me just passing through. When we reached the first view point of the Pitons the rain started to come down a bit harder fogging up my picturesque view, but there was a woman name Ms. Mary that made up for what I could not see by letting me in on facts like films that had been filmed there (Pirates of the Caribbean) and when the last volcanic eruption was and the population of the town Soufriere in which the Pitons looked down over. I thanked and wished a blessed day before hopping back into the mini bus to get out of the rain.
My guides snap a quick pict of me at one of the view points. Photo: Deborah Jeremie
Next was a stop at the Sulphur Springs. You could tell when you were approaching because the smell was so potent and Mister Andy said he didn’t buy all that talk about sulphur being real good for the skin and bathing in those tiny natural pools. He said it was a bunch bull. I’ve never bathed in a sulphur pool and I wasn’t going to on this particular day, but I have often fancied various sulphur soap and hair products. I love the tingling sensation the mineral provides. Before going up the hill for a little tour we stop at the gate to get some food. I got some beef on a skewer and when I started pouring the pepper sauce over it I heard someone cough behind me and tell me to take it easy with the sauce. I smiled at the guy and told him I like it HOT! Well, I’ve had some very spicy dishes in the past and the pepper sauce looked familiar too, but by the little bit of choking I did from the first taste revealed it wasn’t so. This gave them a lickle laugh and I too laughed and insisted that I liked things that way – which I truly do.
When we finished up with the food we then drove into the springs for a brief tour and history of the Caribbean’s only drive-in volcano. Our tour guide Saidley, who asked us to call him Lee for short, provided a real quick 411 on the steaming active pools and told us the temperature of the water was something ridiculously hot and that the name of the first pool seen was given so by a guy who got a little too close and got burned very bad to say the least. He told us if we wanted to give it a new name all we had to do was walk on down though he was only joking.
From the volcano we toured two waterfalls in the area. The first was the Toraille Waterfall and the other was the warm Piton waterfall where two of my travel companions bathed beneath and I simply watched from the sidelines. The other one went off somewhere after being told he couldn’t smoke weed down by the falls, but hell I thought you could smoke practically anywhere at the rate they smoked, but even in the islands there are rules. We hung around the pool for a while though. It did seem like a lot of fun bathing in them, but I didn’t bring my swimsuit along and if smoking weed was inappropriate I had a hunch my naked arse splashing and laughing in the pool would not be allowed either.
Hanging ten on a plant – this lizard is too cool for me. Photo: Adrienne C. Wilson
Now at this point I’m more than a lickle tired and another meal sounds like a real good idea, but as you’ll find in the St. Lucia Lowlights account below trying to score a combo meal at the Soufriere KFC damn near put a damper on the entire day, but now that I am in the comfort of my room typing all of this I can only laugh and praise God that the day filled of beauty and a teeny bit of bacchanal didn’t get anymore out of control than it could have.
Gallery: People In & Of St. Lucia
Day Four: Another Lazy Beach Day at Rodney Bay
“Your lips are so shiny I can see my beautiful eyes in them.” – Darren
Look! The beach is all mine – with the exception of the two snorkeling folk behind me. Photo: A Nearby Tourist
*Coconut drinks from the fruit man.
*Flipping through the pages of a Chi Running book.
*Listening to some tunes from my iPod.
*Being playful with the boys on the beach.
*Dips in the cool ocean water.
*Conversations with the Rastas.
Does this shot not scream “One Love?” Photo: Adrienne C. Wilson
Hmm…Another good day spent on the beach – need I say more? I could, but I’ll keep a little something for myself to giggle about later.
On the walk back from the beach… By the marina. Photo: Adrienne C. Wilson
Self-portrait on top of the hotel room. Photo: Adrienne C. Wilson
The boys from the Boys Training Center across from the hotel playing soccer. Photo: Adrienne C. Wilson
Looking down from my hotel room. Photo: Adrienne C. Wilson
Day Five: Spunky, Zeus, & Me
“No pressure, no problem.” – Jason
Zeus and his dark woman of the sea getting ready to head out into the Atlantic waters in Cas-en-Bas. Such a beautiful horse. Photo: Trim’s Staff Member
The morning smelled of honeysuckle flowers. I don’t know what it was exactly since to my knowledge there is no honeysuckle to be found in Saint Lucia, but when I woke I smelled a sweetness which made me rise wearing a silly smile. Perhaps it was some sort of pre-glow thing from the anticipation of trying something new or something you hadn’t done in years so it felt like new.
Today’s agenda was a light one, but one I was really looking forward towards. Late the evening before I had phoned Trim’s Riding Stables to get in on some horseback riding the following day or today. It had been years since I’d been on a horse and I was certain taking part in such an activity would give me a slightly different perspective of St. Lucia. A perspective that could not quite be seen on the speeding mini-buses or local taxis – a natural one. Trim’s had scheduled to pick me up a quarter to 10 am and though a few minutes behind a white van with “Bon Ami” in blue letters came pulling up. I was the last passenger in.
The ride to Trim’s was a short one for me since the stables were right around the corner. Some of my fellow day tour pals had been sitting in the van for about an hour waiting to get to the stables. Their hotels were much farther out and with the road construction they had gotten stuck in the madness. But at the stables everyone relaxed – well to a point I should say.
We were told to stand up in a line so that as the horses were brought out we could be paired with one according to our height. Some were pretty big, tall and they did that thing horses do that I assume is like coughing a whole lot. A whitish-gray one came out and I hoped to Jesus they wouldn’t give me that one. From watching the thoroughbred races with my mother I know that the white looking horses tend to act up when running around the track or blaze past the rest. It wasn’t a thoroughbred, but I didn’t wish to take any chances. Finally, the last horse out was mine and it looked like a match made in heaven.
My horse went by the name of Spunky and was the leader of the pack. He had to be the one in front of all the other horses which was kind of cool and frightening at the same time. I didn’t know whether it meant Spunky couldn’t handle other horses swooshing their tails in his face or what, but I just told myself I’d give him “Good Spunky” praise every step of the way just in case Spunky liked that sort of thing.
Instructions were fairly simple to riding the horses: make sure heels were kept down and toes pointed up, hold the rein close and down not up, but let it give a little, and to turn the horse pull downward on the rein the in the direction you wanted it to go. Basic – right?
We headed out of the stables and down the road until we made it to a trail where we took the horses on a nice nature ride. It was so pleasant, peaceful, and scenic and something I felt I could get very used to. From the trees on the trail we made it to an opening that let out to the Atlantic Ocean side of the island and we rode our horses along the shoreline. I’d never rode a horse on the beach so the moment felt like magic even when my helmet was starting to bother me some. The beach was bare with the exception of a couple of tourists who had discovered it was much quieter than some of the other nearby beaches. We took the horses to the top of the hill where everyone got their photo taken with a nice landscape in the background – mainly water, but some hillside as well. After our glamour shots with our horses it was time to bathe with them.
Yes, you heard me correctly. Our two professional riders and staff from Trims tied all but three horses up while we stripped down into our swim gear and bathing suits. I had to do a quick, “are you really doing this” reality check. Yes – indeed I was and my only reservation about riding a horse half nakie was bugs, ticks, parasites, etc. I prayed there would be no little nibbling critters waiting to take advantage of my bikini clad bod while wading through the cool Atlantic Ocean with my handsome steed. Letting go of those thoughts for the time being I jumped up onto Zeus. Spunky was still tied to the tree and I would have to ride Zeus instead. His name shook me up a little, but he was a beauty and beyond that he seemed to like playing in the water.
Time to go swimming! Photo: Trim’s Staff Member
Zeus and I turned to meet up with the other horses out a little further and as my legs began to go deeper in the water I started to really give into this unique experience. Only one of the Trim’s staff was out in the water, Jason and the horse he rode was named Bob. He told me that if I feel like I was starting to slip off to grab onto the mane real tight. It hurt me to grab the mane. I thought it would hurt Zeus, but when I found myself starting to slip sure enough I started holding tight to the mane. Jason took my reins and made it that Bob galloped faster through the water so Zeus would go faster too. By this point I’m laughing so much my stomach is starting to hurt, but was I having a good time. The water felt so nice and though I knew bouncing around on the horse would later leave me with a sore bum I didn’t want the experience to end though at the same time I did. I’d say we spent at least ten minutes out there bathing if not more.
Heading out to meet the rest. Photo: Trim’s Staff Member
When we came up out of the water I dried myself off and went to check on Spunky who didn’t look so pleased. I have the feeling he was jealous.
Looking a bit on the upset side, Spunky awaits tied to the tree. Photo: Adrienne C. Wilson
From the beach we headed back onto the trails where all was pleasant until we came off and had to go past a little bit of construction. Everything seemed okay and I thought I was managing Spunky pretty well until something scared my horse causing it to fling me off onto the concrete in what must have looked like a really bad fall. My right shoe flew off and my camera came crashing down with me too. A good majority of the fall was a blur and in the short time span I only remember thinking two things: Dear Lord, please don’t let the hoof of this horse come down on my chest or head and please let my camera survive this… Thankfully my prayers were heard this time. While everyone was looking wide-eyed with jaws dropped, the first thing I did when I stood up was turn my camera on to see if it were functioning still. After seeing that it came on and nothing looked broken or shattered did I proceed to collect my shoe and shoot a smile everyone’s direction to let them know I was okay. I’ve had much harder falls and I think since I was more worried about my camera it took away the shock of my own body being flung from Spunky. I wasn’t mad at the horse though or scared to get back on. There was still a lot of trail ahead.
Jason checked several times to make sure I was okay and I told him I was gonna be alright. To soothe my soul some he shared stories about all the falls and things the horses he had encountered and how he still loved riding them. I told him the fall off the horse was nothing compared to getting hit by a piece of glass in the Soufriere KFC which was a long story of sorts. He then asked me if I was on my honeymoon which I just laughed about and told him I recently ended all ties with the last guy I was dating on Valentine’s Day. I got this question many times during my stay and so everyone was graced with my story of the lamest man I ever dated, but they found the whole thing entertaining and were full of questions. One of the girls riding behind me told me I was pretty tough and she was happy that after everything I was still all smiles.
But of course!
The ride was pretty much over at this point and before I knew it we were rounding the corner and bringing the horses back into the stables.
My day concluded with a nice late lunch at Castaways and once more a little reading before dozing off into island dream land.
Gallery: Urban & Rural Sights
Day Six: 007 Stylee
“You’ve been watching too many of those passa passa DVD’s.” – Rohan
Soaking up the last few minutes of sun on a sunset cruise. Photo: Rohan
How do I start to describe this day? Let me see. The morning started like all the rest. Sunshine beaming through the small slit in the drapes, birds chirping their calypsos outside my window, a morning shower to freshen up and a delicious breakfast to get me set off on my way. Today I had only two activities on my schedule and I felt as if I was going real James Bond style minus explosives, guns, and well James Bond himself. I’ve never watched a whole lot of James Bond films, but I think I’ve gotten around to seeing enough to make a statement like such.
Mission Number One: See the whole island of Saint Lucia by helicopter.
Another helicopter lands as we take off in our own. Photo: Adrienne C. Wilson
Christopher was only three minutes late to pick me up and it wasn’t as though I was timing, he mentioned it himself. I jumped into the back of the minibus and off we zipped down to Castries where I would take off on my second aerial tour in history and my first in St. Lucia. At first I wasn’t too concerned with time. Christopher is known for driving like mad at times and I trusted him in getting me to my appointment in a timely and fashionable manner. But instead getting there was brutal. Traffic was a nightmare. Part of me admired the construction workers hard at work, steady trying to finish the road before the real Cricket madness began, but the other part of me wished they could finish up all their construction on another day or even another week. My driver hooked a right and we zoomed down tiny winding roads in the scenic route that would get me there on time with a hope and a prayer. It didn’t.
I arrived at the St. Lucia Helicopter location five minutes after my scheduled time, but all was still good to go. On this mission there would be two happy couples joining for the ride and the pilot guiding us around. Disappointed that I wouldn’t be getting a seat in the front I made sure to nab a window seat in the back. The younger girl of the two couples tried to rob me of any taking any photos on the mission by suggesting I sit in the back middle, but a staff member from the office shut her up and told her to get on in (Okay – I’m embellishing here – he didn’t shut her up exactly, but you know.) Once everyone was in, buckled up and wearing their headphones the pilot took off.
The wind made things a little shaky at points, but this being my second time on a helicopter and it being a much bigger helicopter I was more prepared than the first time. The girl to my right didn’t look so hot at times. It really wasn’t any of my concern so long as I gathered the intelligence needed for a successful mission. Our chopper cruised the all the resorts and popular beaches. We nearly landed on the Pitons before flying over the lush tropical rain forest. It was incredible seeing all the vegetation there unspoilt by man’s touch and as close as the pilot was flying we almost could have reached out and touched the leaves. Other times I just wandered what animal life existed before on the floor of the rainforest for which I could not see. If this helicopter by some chance were to fail on us and crash and I so happened to survive I wanted to be prepared to fight off whatever snakes or vicious man-eating animals below. That was the 007 Girl in me thinking ahead.
We continued to fly over the sulphur springs and the southern most areas of the island I hadn’t accessed by automobile. We flew over a ton of coastline and secluded sandy and rocky beaches. To round it all up we came back over Castries and saw three cruise ships in town for a day or two. I snapped away trying to photograph as much as I could. I was a bit peeved with the thickness and glare coming from the helicopter glass. If I got at least four good photos from the mission I would be okay, but I would have to wait to find out.
With the few hours to kill between mission and two I had Christopher drop me off close near the hotel by the Marine House Restaurant & Bar where I dined alone collecting data from the area around me. There were only a few other patrons dining at the same time: Two businessmen to my right on the front patio and four individuals to my left dining on the back patio. My positioning in the center patio was perfect as I had a clear view of the bar and could see when my food would be coming. Don’t ask why that is important, but I’ve learned from my male counterparts that having your back to the bar or the door can sometimes prove fatal. I need to see what is going on. I washed my fish and chips down with a cold bottle of Cream Soda – something I can’t get enough of when I’m in the islands. Screw the local brew – I’m all over the Cream Soda.
In my dreams that afternoon I dreamed of a dark handsome island man who would deliver Cream Soda at my every waking call to cool me off from a day spent in the island heat. I woke up to find there wasn’t any extra Cream Soda than I had had at the restaurant, but it was time for mission two.
Mission Number Two: Sunset cruise with the Spirit of Carnival
Preparing to cruise the sea. Photo: Adrienne C. Wilson
Christopher wouldn’t be driving me to the start of my next mission. Instead I was told by Thecla Cockrell of Solar Tours & Travel of a vehicle that would come for me at 4 PM sharp. I waited out front of the Glencastle as we had discussed and on the dot a vehicle arrived carrying six other individuals. There were still two others to pick up from the Windjammer Resort. In the front were the driver and his younger handsome companion. In the front row there was an older couple and in the second row a younger couple with the Misses expecting a little one. I had positioned myself in the rear of the vehicle and the last couple that made it in sat in the one-seaters in front of me. From the Windjammer we carried onto the dock were the boat would be awaiting our arrival and sail shortly into the Caribbean Sea.
The boat was a catamaran to be exact. By the time we had arrived many of the other tourists had positioned themselves in the very front and had already made one too many trips to the bar from what I could gather. I found a spot on the left front side of the boat where I stayed seated from the time we set out until we came back (almost). Something told me that we wouldn’t be getting the greatest sunset by the way the clouds were moving over it so I shot a few before the sun became a covered cloudy orangey marshmallow puff. One of the crew members asked if I’d like anything to drink and I asked for the fruity looking drink I saw in a few people’s hands. Turns out it was something called Planter’s Punch which wasn’t too bad. The food came around and I nibbled at a few items. Then Rohan came around and we talked for a good portion of the cruise.
He was a bright handsome guy with a complexion about one or two shades darker than my own. I asked him how he liked his job and he exchanged stories about all the silly questions the tourists always, always seemed to have – like whether it would rain each day. That one really got under his skin. He told me about all the young marriages he saw at the resort. Couples that were only 19 and 20 years of age tied the knot in St. Lucia quite often and he said about 80 percent of the clientele was from the U.S. and many still didn’t know much about the West Indies. He said people in Saint Lucia don’t marry so young. I sat and listened to his tales about his work environment because for one they were interesting and to some extent I could totally relate. I shared with him my stories about what I’d done in St. Lucia so far and what I had hoped to do with my last day on the island. I told him about where I’d been before and playing mas and how I wanted to hit up a passa passa party in JA one of these days. I said I’d like to go donning a lime green wig and so forth and he laughed hard telling me I had been watching too many of those DVD’s.
When night fell the dance floor became just a bit more – hmm… wild. All the Planter’s Punch must have kicked in because there were moves being done that I’d never seen or at least I didn’t really want to see. Hehe. Rohan warned me of this and while I had the feeling it would get wacky I didn’t expect for it to get that wacky. At first sounds from reggae artists like Shaggy and Sean Paul, but the sounds that really put these people in their element were some good old fashioned Elvis tunes and those from the soundtrack “Grease.” When “Summer Lovin’” played I was forced to get up and dance by a 60 some year-old man who had given me a few compliments on my beauty earlier that day. I asked his lady if it were okay to steal one dance and she was delighted. She even got a picture of me and him doing our best “Grease” dance moves.
It was just about time to pull back into the dock and it was just in the nick of time that we did. As we gathered our shoes and headed back to the vehicles it started drizzling – something that wasn’t very apparent earlier, but was quite clear now. It was going to rain the rest of the evening. On the ride back the scene became too much for me. I can’t even bring myself to describe all the details, but I’ll say this: There was a British girl screaming, “I’m not a jackass” in her finest American accent, the guy from Green Bay decided it was okay to start mooning the people in our van and vehicles behind us and the California transplant living in Atlanta started teaching the British girl Redneck jokes. I no longer felt like I was in Saint Lucia or any parts of the West Indies. I felt as if I had entered the twilight zone. Roll playback.
I was the second to be dropped back off at the hotel and so happy for it. I quickly got something to eat from the restaurant and then scurried off to my room so that I could shower and get comfortable for America’s Next Top Model. I have no shame and I’m very guilty of indulging in silly girl model drama, but what better way to finish off a day pretending to be one of Bond’s girls.
Lord help me.
Day Seven: A Reason to Come Back
“I wish I could get to know you better…” Mekonnen
By the end of my stay I had gotten a nice tan and felt much more revitalized! Photo: Adrienne C. Wilson
All day last day plans got changed with my morning mood. I woke up much later than I had wanted. It looked as though it rain and wouldn’t be a good beach day for Pigeon Island and as much as I wanted to get new music from Castries I didn’t want to deal with the construction traffic going in. Instead I opted to stay close by and headed to Rodney Bay Mall for some small souvenir shopping. I had to pick up some rum for a friend of mine I would be staying with during my return to New York and a few colorful island prints for a girlfriend who had requested some for her place in Atlanta. I tried searching for some earrings for my mother (I always get her earrings wherever I go), but instead I just opted for a St. Lucia tee-shirt.
In my short time going around looking for small gifts I talked to a very bright and talented guy in the art shop I purchased the prints from. He listened to me babble and shared the same understanding on a few artsy topics. He showed me some print work he had done for Digicel (one of the local cell phone providers) and handed me a copy to keep in addition to his email address to stay in touch. He was real easy going and actually very nice to chat with. And at the duty free shop I actually learned for the first time what duty free was… It sounds very silly, but I never duty free shopped in all my travels so as the girl looked at me as if I were half stupid I chimed out the details of my flight and gave her my I.D. to save a little dough on my new goods. You learn something new each and every day – it is true.
I had a sweet and spicy tuna salad with a fruit smoothie that day at Café Ole in the Rodney Bay Marina. There was an Aussie there who had asked if I wanted to go sailing that afternoon and I politely declined and told him I had some packing and farewells to do, but he was a little insistent. Perhaps too insistent and so I held my ground. I went back to my hotel as I said I would and turned the TV onto ESPN to watch a little soccer and fell to sleep for a nap.
An hour and a half later I woke up from my lazy state and began to do what I did not want to do – pack. It wasn’t as if I were packing for good and planning on never coming back. There is still so much to do and so much more to tell. I never quite tell these trips the way I’d like to exactly. Sometimes it take a couple trips to get the words just right and to define the people, the sounds of the wind’s breeze and bird chirps to a T, but I’ve made my best attempt now in a short time. If I don’t visit the island again in physical form again soon, I’ll most certainly be revisiting it by pen.
For now I must prepare to head back into my daily grind.
St. Lucia Trip Lowlights
There are only a few things that tend to frighten me on my adventures abroad, but nothing can top being in a very tiny KFC surrounded by several hungry black men and woman awaiting their number fives, crispy zinger wraps or corn-on-the-cob. Now, for some reason I have come to find that the Colonel and his combo meals have taken a strong hold of the hearts and bellies of West Indians across the islands. I first discovered this while standing in one of the largest KFC’s in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and possibly the world. Waiting in the commotion here was an experience that could give the entire two days of Carnival a run for its money. On the flip side the smallest KFC I thought I’d ever seen was in San Fernando, Trinidad (the country’s second largest city) on my way into La Brea.
That was until I walked into the KFC located in Soufriere, St. Lucia. After an action packed day of dazzling waterfalls, aromatic sulphur smells from the town’s active drive-in volcano including enchanting drives through banana plantations and fishing villages my travel companions/guides thought a quick meal at KFC would do just fine. I didn’t oppose only because it had been a short moment since the Colonel and his delicious chicken sandwiches tangoed on my taste-buds in a feast of fast-food righteousness. Plus, in all my past experiences at KFC’s abroad the chicken was always ten times better than at home so I knew I would be getting gourmet here and not just some greasy mess that would upset my stomach hours later. Well, hours later gourmet was exactly what I got, but not without a headache and a bruise on my leg to take home as a souvenir. The moments that passed in this KFC were just a reminder as to why I can’t quite live overseas as much as I think I can or I’d like to – or maybe it was just a call to never enter a West Indian KFC without my battle gear on.
You might call this “Survival of the Fittest” or “The Herding of the Cows,” but I prefer to call it like I see it –
“Soufriere KFC Bacchanal.”
Upon entering the establishment I was welcomed by the sound of shouting, lots of shouting, and too much shouting. The sounds of raised voices was humming from every corner as beach goers, locals, natives and some of the most barbaric people I ever encountered stood on the chairs and pushed their way to the front of an inexistent line. There were only two registers and only one was being operated by a pretty young girl who looked down only at the customer who had finally made their way to the front and not the herd of hungry individuals looming behind the lucky one. My companion for the day, Deborah, made her way to the front, tugging my arm to follow and stay close right behind her. If I hadn’t who knows what may have happened? After placing her order in what must have been at least six minutes later it was finally my turn to get a number five and six combo meal to-go. (I ordered one for the driver.)
Before I actually got my order in a few things happened:
1. An ugly Coolie looking fellow butted his way past my side and tried ordering a “number tree” and some other items.
2. The guy standing behind me who tried to be a gentleman and stick up for me told the ugly looking Coolie guy that I was first and that he had also cut a few other people. During the protection process I could have sworn I felt his pelvic area just a bit too close for comfort, but looking back only made matters worse. The small yet large drooling crowd pressing up behind him allowed me to give him the benefit of a doubt. Everyone was pushing their way to the one-(wo)manned register.
3. The ugly looking cat continues to insist on being first though he clearly just walked in the building and with a prayer I finally got my receipt to wait in the line of hungrier waiting folk. Great.
I took a breath of relief after making through the intro only to find the second act got just a bit more intense. Deborah took my receipt and volunteered to wait up front for both of the orders while I tried to find refuge somewhere behind. In the meanwhile some monkey of a person knocks over the entire glass panel one of the little seat divider things and it comes falling down, slides and hits me right above my left ankle. Without any apology the fool picks up the glass panel that didn’t shatter and took no victims other than my leg and carefully places it back into its position. Everything from here on becomes a blur as I try to refrain from using my own Sailor’s Patois. The gentleman who had been protecting me from the beastly Coolie fellow had made his way over to my waiting spot and tries a round of conversation at why he thinks all this madness is occurring. All along I’m thinking, “Dude, I nearly lost my life to a freakin’ glass panel and if it were America, I might just be on the verge of filing a lawsuit,” yet he continued to press on talking about how the menu made no sense. Of course it made no sense and where was the management?
Since it seemed I was going no where fast I decided to whip out the camera and film some of the bacchanal, though the stormiest parts had already passed. Actually, after I took the 31 second video from my Kodak camera I thought about how much of a wimp I was… Many will watch and think I’m on rocks or being a priss, but please believe me when I say it was beyond crazy. To all the travelers who have had their rounds in a Nairobi train station or a bazaar in Bombay, I am almost sure you are laughing and I am fine with that. However, in all of my time spent in St. Lucia getting a very large piece of glass flung down at my leg was not pleasant and for that I have to place this in the lowlight area. As you watch this very short video take note of a few things:
1. The ugly coolie looking guy that cut in front of me watching as I record.
2. The guy against the restaurant divider watching the arse of a happy customer as she escapes the Colonel’s chicken fortress and then watch as he turns his head to check out the front side of another individual not quite visible.
3. The lack of a line formation.
4. The raised arm and voice of the guy who just moments earlier was the same moron that caused the glass to hit my leg.
In the end the crispy zinger combo I ordered for my own was quite appetizing and way better than those found at the KFC’s across the U.S. And to bring a brighter positive side to this tropical lowlight – at least I didn’t lose the entire leg.
***All photos taken by Adrienne C. Wilson unless pictured or otherwise noted.***