Castries

Sadly, our trip was coming to a close and we had yet to leave the resort. Technically, climbing the piton was off resort, but…

There are lots of tours organized through the resort. You ride a resort boat with up to 15 other resort people. But there are also locals with their own boats. They hang out on the beach (all St. Lucian beaches are open to the public) and harass the guests. They are actually quite polite about it. They follow you, talk to you about your stay, if you’re having a good time and the like. And then they start to tell you all about the services they can offer. If you stand there and listen to them, you never really have to talk to them again. I was instructed “there are lots of us guys that do this, and it’s first come first serve. So you tell them you talked to Terry and they’ll leave you alone. You come see me if you need anything. I’m the only one with the star on my hat.”

And Terry wasn’t joking. Shelby is blind as a bat, so when a dark skinned, tall, scrawny man waved him over from where we were sitting nicely sipping pina coladas, he wandered over to hear what he had to say. It was not Terry. Terry came stealthily out from behind the outdoor activities shed and sauntered up to the pair, told the other guy that we were his, and told Shelby we were ok, go back and have a drink. Vaguely creepy, but all the same, harassment ended.

Terry was polite, smiled at us often, and checked in to see if we needed anything. I asked about the half day tour to Castries. He quoted us a price, we agreed, and planned to meet him at 9am Monday morning.

As we loaded into Terry’s boat with one other couple, we noted the large crowd of other residents loading into a slightly larger boat than ours.

Terry, Terry's silent helper, and my baby.

We hugged the coastline. Terry is from Soufrier, a fishing village on just the other side of petite piton. He knows the island, or at least his tours, very well, and we definitely got our money’s worth. He interrupted our devine meditation very occasionally to tell us about the island or the sites we were coming up against. Of course, our first site was Soufrier. Everyone has a boat. They either fish, or solicit patronage from various resorts. When they aren’t in the water or cleaning a catch, chances are they are at mass. 90% of the island is Catholic.

Catholic church in the center of Soufrier

We continued dangerously close to the shore, saw a slit in the rocks that went from shore to the top of the cliff and housed millions of bats, squeaking and fluttering.

Bat Cave
Seagull rock
One bad storm, a few more years of erosion, and that family is going to have a rough time of it.
Apparently, this is where some of the Pirates of the Caribbean was filmed.

We meandered up the coast toward Castries. When we pulled in, the size of our boat was put drastically into perspective as we taxied between two enormous cruise ships.

Huge cruise ships harbored in Castries

The locals put up booths in the marketplace right at the water’s edge. It’s amazing the prices American’s will pay for the 25 cent crap we won’t buy here. We dove right in to the first few booths, special prices for friend’s of Terry’s (yeah right), and then slowed ourselves down. We had lots of friends and family to buy for and we had lots of places to choose from. We wound our way through, delved into the actual city outside of the marketplace, and headed to Duty Free.

After an hour and a half of shopping, wandering, and general tourism, we went back to the dock to meet Terry and the other couple. (Stuart and Louise. A cute young couple from “just outside London”. We are pretty sure Louise wanted to be our friend, but Stuart was less chatty.) We drove back along the coast, at a faster clip this time, headed toward Marigot Bay. We were informed that Marigot Bay is the safest place on the island. During hurricane season, the waters remain calm and the mountains block the wind. The alleged vacation home of Steve Tyler, alleged former workplace of George Foreman, and previous filming sites for Dr. Dolittle were all pointed out here as well. In fact, a restaurant was constructed in Marigot Bay named Dolittles in honor of the filming. We headed straight to the back where a cute little restaurant (JDs) was situated. Most of the dives there can only be reached by boat or swim up. Pete followed us! Did I tell you about Pete yet?

Pete was “our” birdie. He was in the villa when we arrived, and hung around waiting for us to drop him a few crumbs. Sometimes, quite often actually, he snuck in and pecked holes in the sugar packets, the fiend.

No, there were not dozens of birds that all looked the same, there was only our Pete.

He wasn’t the only beggar though.

This is Ibrahim, our beggar cat.
This is Ibrahim getting comfy.

In any case, Pete followed us to Marigot Bay, I am convinced. Turns out, in addition to sugar, he fancies pineapple.

We have a video of two Pete's fighting over this little hunk of pineapple. WordPress won't let me upload it.
Eating some yummy pineapple
and one of my baby

After lunch, we headed all the way back to the resort where we spent the rest of the day lounging by the pool.

Petite and Gros Hahn, lined up nicely with Petite and Gros Piton. 🙂 On the way back.

Pool days. Ahhhhhhhh.

The beach is just past those palms.

 

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So Far Behind!!!

I’m so far behind on all of my updates!

We went to the spa, had a fantastic day, and fell asleep at, possibly, 9:30 that night. Which gave us plenty of sleep before our 9am hike up the Gros Piton. As a testament to how much my baby loves me, he came hiking with me anyway knowing this would happen…

Tears? Sweat? Near Death?
Beautiful Views

To be fair, I was huffing and puffing and dripping with sweat. It was humid and high air pressure. The legs weren’t the problem for either of us, it was the breathing that was the issue. And Shamus, our guide, was traipsing up the rocks with a big white smile and nary a sweat droplet. He tried to make us feel better by dallying, picking up hermit crabs and pointing out various views. He was very patient.

Halfway mark for our trip. See the sweat puddle?
And this is our "top". This is where we turned around.

We passed through a local village on the way up and then down the mountain. I forget the actual name, but it translates into Valley of the Free People. It seems almost like you’re traveling through the line at a Disney ride. The colors are so vibrant, the people are so interesting, and everyone knows each other. Pups wander the roads. People hike beside us for a few feet to talk in a foreign language and laugh. The trees and rock formations seem so strategically placed.

Natural

While the dogs and cats run free, the goats and cattle are tethered to the ground. The message is clear, the dog is worth nothing. The goat is a source of income, and these goats are mine.

There are stakes in the ground with leather tethers that keep the goats from wandering off.

It only took us about 2 and 1/2 hours to complete our hike. Neither one of us remembered our money, so when they invited us into the shops, we reluctantly declined. But no wallet was no problem for them. “You can just give it to the driver.” So we bought some knick knacks, met the artists who made the little carvings we just purchased, and promised the cash would return with the driver. Gotta love the Caribbean.

Next up, our boat trip to the capital. And more to come on the day I turned 30, the trip to New Orleans to celebrate, and the unexpected birthday surprise.

More

So we had arrived, safe and sound, sans luggage, but thanks to a boy scout bride were still mostly prepared for a day on the beach. And that is exactly what we had, a day on the beach.

By about mid-day, lounging on the beach with nothing to cover me but blue jeans, I was pining for luggage. No flip flops, no sarongs. I just wanted to change. And show off all the cool beachwear I had.

We took a shuttle back up to the room. Montgomery (the butler) met us. We made arrangements for dinner “provided we get our luggage tonight” and went to the room. No less than 20 minutes later, our bags arrived!!!

Sometime in the interim, an invite had been placed in our room. There was a black and white event taking place in the Cane Bar that evening. We dressed in our best theme appropriate attire and headed out the door.

I totally overdid it on the wine that night. We did not make it to the free rum party. Sad.

That night, I had another beautiful and restful sleep. I woke up early for another beautiful and restful day laying around.

Relaxin
Chillin

Friday was spent mostly doing this.

Oh Yeah

Saturday came in with a bit of grey. Luckily, we had already made arrangements to have an hour massage followed by lunch and an hour of privacy in the rainforest spa.

What Does a monkey say?

Our lunch came with complimentary sparkling wine and an hour in the Watsu pool. Warm water that continuously refreshed from the rocks above. It was fantastic. The rest of the day, I was pretty much putty. I could barely walk I was so relaxed. Once the treatment had been completed, we strolled/melted down the hill toward the bayside bar for some relaxation, stopping for photo opportunities along the way.

Images of the grounds
Old Sugar Mill equipment on the property.
Perfection

My bathing suit was still a little wet, and my sarong was made in Morocco, where they use very heavy dyes without rinsing them out. I’ve washed and washed, turning a variety of clothes various shades of blue. I thought I had gotten it to a place where it wouldn’t do that anymore. But I totally stained a big blue butt mark on one of the hammocks. I’m sure they’re used to it by now.

So, that’s all you get for now. Stay tuned to hear more about our hiking adventures and the boat trip!

Disaster Averted

I panicked a little. I had wanted to leave the house no later than 5:30 am. As the minutes ticked away, I felt a nervous twitter rise in my throat. “C’mon baby, we really should be on the road.”

We pulled out of the parking lot only 15 minutes behind schedule, so I drove a little faster and made up most of the difference. Everything from that point was unbelievably smooth sailing. We pulled into the park and ride, and by the time we had pulled our bags out of the car, the bus arrived. We were two of 4 people on the thing, so we made it quickly to the terminal. There was no line at our flight check-in, so we stepped right up, checked our luggage, and headed along our merry way. No snafus at security, no trouble finding the gate, we even had time to take out some cash while they loaded the first class passengers for our short connecting flight to Atlanta, GA.

And then it all went fantastically to pieces.

A bird hit the plane the night before. Rather than completing the paperwork then, they left it until the morning. While we all sat on the plane. Our hour and a half layover was rapidly disappearing, and in fact, disappeared by the time we took off. I cried. Wonderful start to the honeymoon, I thought. We haven’t even taken off and I’m already crying.

The pilot did what he could for the passengers. He kept us well informed every step of the way. When we taxied in, he made us show our hands if we had a quick connection so all could see and let us off the plane first. He assured us that the ground teams all knew we were late and would do their best to hold our connections for us, but they had already re-booked most of us onto the next flights just in case.

Our connection to St. Lucia took off out of gate 16, terminal E at 9:54 am. We landed, taxied, and had the doors to the plane opened at 9:40 in terminal B. I looked sadly into the eyes of the Huz, asked him if he would rush with me. He said yes, and we ran through the Atlanta airport.

Our flight to St. Lucia had already been closed up. The bridge had been removed and the plane was getting ready to back-up. My brain exploded, my heart shattered, I almost fell to the ground too depressed to move. But what? What’s this?

“They’re reconnecting the bridge. Quickly quickly get your passports out. What are your names?”

There were 7 of us total. 7 tired, out of breath, barely existing people standing in front of this savior of a ground operator shouting our names and tearing our passports from our carry-ons. We ran down the bridge, through the open doors to cheers from the boarded passengers, and dropped ourselves into any open seat with huge sighs of relief and one tiny tear.

We made the plane. Our luggage, of course, did not.

I have had my luggage lost once before. But even before then, had an enlightening conversation with a frequent traveler who had shared with me some (honeymoon saving) advice. “You never know!” She had said. ” Which is why I always pack a change of underwear in my carry-on.” Not only had I packed us both a change of drawers, but also a bathing suit (we were headed to the beach, after all). Our carry-ons also included our toothbrushes, a shirt for Shoobs, some snacks, cash, cards, the iPad, and books. We could survive for a day. Our conversation went much more smoothly than the couple beside us at the claims desk. She was not a smart wife. She did not pack the carry-ons wisely. And she was left to explain to her Huz why they had not medications nor toothbrushes nor shaving gel through angered shouts at the baggage team and the walls.

We took our hour taxi ride through colorful village after colorful village. The houses were simple yet beautiful. Many of them were in some state of personal decay or renovation, hard to tell which, as whole rooms stood gutted and exposed to the road for all to see. The roads themselves were pretty bad as well. Most travel on the island is either done by foot, or by boat. So what probably could have been a 20 minutes journey took almost an hour. But it was beautiful. The road mostly followed the coastline. As we traveled further up the mountain, we had stunning views of tropical rainforest disappearing into colorful fishing villages leading to white sand beaches and crystal clear oceans.

And then we arrived at Jalousie. Our taxi took us straight to our room where our butler met us with cool towels and fresh rum punch. Our room had been decorated for our arrival.

Complimentary Sparking Wine and Local Fruit
Foot of the Bed Bench
Holy Huge Bed Batman

And one quick glimpse of our stunning view…

We peruse our kingdom over room service breakfast

Leaving On a Jet Plane

We leave first thing in the am. It still doesn’t seem real. It is chilly outside, requiring at minimum pants and a hoodie. And tomorrow, I will be here…

Paradise

You can find me here…

Private Villa

Or here…

By the pool

But most certainly, you will not find me here…

Work

Maybe on this trip, my right eye will stop twitching. Maybe I will get tanned and lovely. Perhaps I will get my first ever massage. Whatever I do, I won’t give one thought to work. Blah.