Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Photoshoot With A Lizard

Our last day in St. Lucia was one of mixed feelings.  We were sad to be giving up the preciousness of carefree living (especially in such close proximity to the water), but also ready to get back and start "normal" life again.  The morning we left, we sat in a lovely gazebo overlooking the clear waters toward Haunted Hermit Crab Island (clever, eh?).  All of a sudden I noticed a hummingbird buzzing around the red flowers growing nearby.  It was the size of a sparrow with iridescent blue and green on its body...absolutely stunning.  I couldn't get a good shot of him, but here is his silhouette.  Cute curved beak.

It's no secret, I love a good amphibian.  These little geckos and lizards all over the place were ADORBS!!!  So I got really excited when this tiny guy just sidled on over and let me go all papparazzi on his little green self.

He's really workin' it.  I could tell he was into it when he peeked around the corner all sultry-like.

But all good things must come to an end and he ended up slinking away, but I stole a few more pieces of his soul before he left.

The camouflage of nature is something I never cease to be amazed by.

One last shot of us drugged up on dramamine before getting onto our crazy roller coaster shuttle ride.  As you can see, the gift shop behind us was having a blowout sale.

My thoughts on St. Lucia...overall, I'm really glad we went there.  Our resort was quiet for the most part, and even though the beaches at the other two Sandals were nicer, this place had a very comfortable, down to earth feeling about it that made us glad to come back to it at night.  St. Lucia has always been on my list of places to go because I imagined hiking in the rain forest and discovering all kinds of animals and flowers.  My biggest regret from this trip is not doing the nature hike excursion.  We would have had to cancel something else, so it wouldn't have worked out.  We also couldn't get into the party vibe everywhere we went.  About the most excitement Rob and I can handle is going to a bar or a show.  This whole "dance your ass off, we here to party, Mon" thing wasn't working for us.  There wasn't a time when we were looking at the water and didn't hear the thumping of dance music in the background, but it didn't stop us from appreciating where we were.  Plus, if you snorkel, it muffles the sound.  The pollution on the island is disconcerting and I hope in future years more awareness is raised as to the impact it has on the ocean and the environment.  However, for a honeymoon, it worked out.  We were forced to relax, to enjoy spending time with each other, and to get back to a normal, less stressed state before returning to our pets and our jobs.  It lasted for a minute.

We stressed ourselves out again tonight when we sat down to try and formulate a plan of attack for redoing our kitchen.  It's going to be a nightmare.  Don't worry, readers, I will drag you along every inch of the nightmare with me so you can experience all the ups and downs of home repair when we are brave enough to get started.  I have some friends on Facebook who are redoing parts of their homes and I want details!!!  The occasional pic here and there of an entire room torn up is such a tease!  Our plan of attack is to formulate another plan of attack after our friends visit in October. That's all we could handle for now.

Monday, September 15, 2014

We Be Een A Hurricane, Mon!

Well guys, today was a total washout…literally. Last night there were insane crazy thunderstorms that sounded like we were gonna fall into the sea. Forget “angels bowling” thunder. This was more like “angels are ticked off” tropical storm thunder. So we woke up to gray skies, but no rain where we were. We got to the harbor, got on the dolphin/whale watching boat, and it started to pour. So before we even left the harbor, everyone on the boat was huddled under the half of the boat that was covered. At the harbor there was trash and garbage floating everywhere, and yes, it looked like people live in these houses. 

One thing we’ve sadly noticed here is that there is garbage everywhere. It’s very disconcerting. For an island that claims to be extremely concerned with the environment, that message hasn’t quite sunk in. There is trash all over the harbors, trash along every roadside, trash in fields, trash in the rainforest, trash EVERYWHERE. Our boat took us 3-4 miles out to sea today and there was trash floating all over the ocean. My heart was breaking. You know how you always hear people talking about how evil plastic bottles are???  Well, plastic bottles are floating all over the ocean and lining the roads of St. Lucia. I can’t stand to see that kind of disregard for nature. It also appears that the bathrooms on the boats plunge waste into the sea. Don’t swallow when you swimmin’, Mon!!

Ok, so the boat ride took us about 3-4 miles out to sea and down the same side of the island we were on yesterday. Except we could see some major storms brewing on the horizon and, holy crap, we ended up right in the center of one. No joke. We were in the middle of the sea, couldn’t see more than 20 feet, maybe less, on either side of the boat, gale force winds, streaming sheets of rain, crazy waves, all of us holding onto whatever we could grab….here I’m thinking WE’RE ALL GONNA DIE, OH MY GOD, WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING TAKING US OUT IN THIS?!?!?!? And Rob’s all like, “Well, they don’t seem too concerned, we’ll be fine.” I kept thinking of the story of that couple in Florida whose boat sank like 2 months ago and they floated in the sea for 2 days before being rescued…and I’m like, ok, no prob, I can float in this water…how hard can it be to float to shore, right? What direction was it in again?

So anyway, we finally got out of the storm into calmer rain, but higher waves…see, a tiny wave in the middle of the ocean feels rather large…and eventually I look out and see a fin and I’m pointing and Rob’s like, what I can’t see anything, and other people are starting to see. It was a small pod of about 4-5 dolphins. Rob was never able to see them, but I kept an eye on them until they faded out of sight, which was pretty fast. We were told they are grampus dolphins who are very unfriendly and don’t interact with humans much at all. The other types of dolphins on the island usually put on a good show. However, we didn’t see any of those. We saw tons more flying fish, which are seriously the coolest things ever. We’d come up on a school and all of them would go flying in different directions. I couldn’t get a picture of them because they are like the Jack in a Box of the sea, you never know when they’re going to jump up and then go away pretty fast. They are truly beautiful though, watching them glide over the waves like birds. 

The trip was a total bust. Next time we’re going whale watching off of Montauk. This sucked. The weather made it freezing and miserable and not seeing any big sea life within easy viewing distance was totally disappointing. The really magical thing about the boat ride that we didn’t see yesterday was the fact that after it rains here, the coast is peppered with waterfalls. They are everywhere. It was so beautiful, and the trees looked so much greener in the fog. It’s everything you’d imagine a rainforest to be.

So when we got back we took a walk on the beach and hung out with today’s cats. They are so cute. They like to chase crabs on the beach. So below you can see some very determined kitties sitting next to a crab’s hole, staring down there like Alice and Wonderland, hoping a crab will pop out. The crabs are smart though. They all have an exit strategy, so the poor kitties are all tense and ready to pounce while the crab is like, doo doo doo, scooting out his back door like 10 feet down the beach. You can see this in the pic with the black kitty.

We had dinner at the hibachi grill with some other crazy couples who were trying to get as drunk as possible. The food was great even if the company wasn’t. This poor couple was sitting at our table who were celebrating their 25th anniversary. We’ve been hearing a lot of “happy life, happy wife” around here. Rob knows I hate this phrase. They always say that on all the DIY cable shows when the wife is totally mean. I mean, I’m pretty sure a happy husband counts for something! Happy husband = lots of home improvement ;)

I’m ready to get out of here. It’s pretty, but when we got here I was like, eh, we should have just stayed in Montauk. The only way for us to see the island was to spend a lot of money on a tour. I did read a brochure on the Sandals Foundation tonight. Guests are able to donate some money from their stay to this organization and they contribute to the community in huge ways, like building schools, sports programs, gardening lessons, and environmental stewardship. It’s very encouraging to see that Sandals is trying to make a difference in the local life here. 

I didn't even bother putting a picture of us from today.  Just imagine us tired, wet, and grumpy.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

We Be On Da Catamaran, Mon!

I’m laying in bed writing this, but I feel like I’m still on the boat and everything seems to be rocking from side to side. We had the most incredible day out on the water. We took the catamaran all along the coast to the bottom of the island where the Pitons (pee-tahns) are. Our boat was big enough to hold 85 people, but there were only about 15 of us including the crew, so it was kind of great. 

On the way there we saw flying fish!!!!! I’ve only read about these so I was freaking out. They would jump out of the water, skip along and just fly for about 30 feet before diving back in. It was so cool! We talked to one of the crew who used to work on a fishing boat. It was a catch and release boat and he was telling us stories of marlins that they used to catch. The largest recorded one caught on the island is 950 pounds.

The crew was so nice, taking pictures of us, playing music, talking and asking where we’re from, bringing us drinks. These people know how to make an experience, that’s for sure! 

When we got to Soufriere, we hopped onto a van and headed to the botanical gardens. Our guide walked us around and told us all the names of the flowers. They had all these incredible tropical plants, like what they sell as houseplants in our part of the world, just growing all over the place. There was a river that ran gray with minerals. We walked up to Diamond Falls which is right in the middle of the garden. Superman 2 was filmed there.

After the botanical garden we headed to the volcano where some people took mud baths, but we opted for the volcano tour. As soon as we got out of the van I was gagging. The smell of sulphur was totally overpowering, like rotten egg salad that’s been left out in the sun. My stomach was queasy the whole time, but it was fascinating. The site had all these bubbling pools which are seawater mixed with sulphur and minerals…boiling point! The town of Soufriere is a volcano, so the whole time we were there, they told us we were driving in the volcano. The meaning of the town’s name is literally “sulphur in the air.” We saw hummingbirds there! In fact, one was the size of a regular bird and had iridescent blue on it…so incredible.  Also, part of the Bachelor was filmed in a dirty little pool leading up to the volcano.  

After that we had lunch at a local sugar plantation and ate creole chicken, rice, and veggies. Then we headed back to the boat for snorkeling and swimming. They basically just stopped the boat in a cove and told people they could go in and snorkel. I took one look down and was like hell-to-the-no. We were in about 25 feet of water and I just would have freaked out. I am no longer sure about the snorkeling trip tomorrow. Rob was brave and jumped right in, assuring me a few times that if I’d been in there I would have been nervous. You can see pictures below of Rob in the middle of the freaking ocean just floating around.

On the way back we went into Marigot Bay where Dr. Doolittle was filmed. It was small, peaceful, and totally gorgeous. Mick Jagger and Harrison Ford have homes there. We were told the most expensive home is around $9 mil. 

The marine police freaked us out on the way back, heading straight for the boat and then veering off at the last minute. Then they pulled alongside us. They were giving a group of school children a tour. Our catamaran was booking it at 150 horsepower, but the police boat has 900 horsepower and was doing donuts in the water…it was rad. 

So it was another totally lovely day and being on the water was so peaceful and fun at the same time. We miss our pets though. Maybe we’ll see some dolphins or a whale tomorrow!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Day 2 In St. Lucia: Resort Hopping

It’s been another rough day here on the island of St. Lucia, Mon! We were supposed to drown this morning while snorkeling, but thanks to the two cups of “decaf” coffee I had last night, I sat awake bemoaning my existence until the alarm clock went off and Rob graciously let me go back to sleep. We rescheduled our snorkel adventure for Saturday afternoon. Today we woke up, combed the beach for sea glass…there is a ton here!!!  It's all over the beach and it's in larger pieces with softer edges.  Unlike on Long Island where you have to peel your eyes for every tiny speck, here it just sits on the sand bold as day.  

In trying to figure out what to do for the rest of our trip, we decided to do a catamaran cruise on Friday that goes down the west coast to Soufriere where we’ll visit the botanical gardens, tour the volcano, and get to see a major part of the coastline by sea. It’s a day long tour, so we purchased dramamine today at the gift shop, lest we be losing our lunch o’er the side of the boat. Our dolphin/whale watch was rescheduled from tomorrow to Saturday, so we’re checking dolphins out and then snorkeling all on the same day…total fish overload.

Since we had reservations for the Italian restaurant at the Sandals Grande St. Lucian, we decided to head over there around two. There is a 15 minute shuttle ride that took us to the resort, past a nicer part of the island called Rodney Bay. The homes were more expensive on this side and we saw some yachts in the harbor. When we got to the Grande, we were overwhelmed by the size, it’s easily 5 times larger than our resort. 

It has much more of a party atmosphere and the rooms look more like a hotel than separate quarters. The pool was full of 20-something frat boys and sorority chicks who had hooked up and managed to stumble their drunk selves down an aisle and say “I do.” Good luck, kids. 

The beach, however, was MAGNIFICENT. The water was totally crystal clear. This is what we were expecting!!! The water by our resort is choppier so it’s harder to see. We were kicking ourselves for not bringing our masks because we could see fish and urchins and all sorts of magical creatures in the water. It was like looking into the top of a tropical aquarium, except it was the ocean. The panoramic view was stunning, with the town on one side and some mountains on the other. We stayed in the water for hours. Literally. I think the water here is saltier because floating is totally effortless.


The sky was amazing as evening closed in and we headed for dinner. They offer courtesy rooms here so you can shower and dress for dinner, which is awesome.  Even though the all inclusive resort thing isn't for everyone, it was such a relief that everything was taken care of and we didn't have to think about anything.  

We sat down to dinner at Toscanini's just as a tropical rain shower was passing over. The food was excellent. I had potato gnocchi with gorgonzola cream sauce that nearly made me lose my mind it was so delicious. Rob had seafood risotto and fettuccine with shrimp. We’re getting fat. It’s embarrassing. At nine we headed back to our resort. The consensus is that we’re glad we didn’t stay at the party one, but their beach is sooooo much better than ours, and because all those dumb kids were in the pool, we shared the entire beach with like 3 other couples. It was awesome.

Tomorrow we’re checking out the Sandals La Toc, which is the upscale, snobby one where all the golfers stay. We talked to a guy who works here today and he told us that all the cats are allowed to hang around here because they provide pest control. Kitties earn their keep! It’s pretty rad that we can skip around and try different restaurants and beaches. I think it’s how they suck you into coming back. Ok, must try to sleep since last night was a bust.