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2023 - St Lucia - Day 8

Today Karen set the alarm for 6.30am to ensure we were down for breakfast before 7.15am. The alarm didn’t go off though as she didn’t put her phone on charge properly and so it ran out of charge overnight. Fortunately, my body clock meant I was awake for 6.15 am and so we were not late.

A couple of poached eggs later and we were back in our room for a quick clean of our teeth. Then we headed down to the lobby to await our 8am pick up by Graham & Jo. Almost bang on time they arrived and it was lovely to see some familiar friendly faces. They were in their hired Suzuki Jimny we were all realised was fine for us all to squeeze into for the day but not be able to carry us and all of and our luggage as had been the plan for the following day when we all relocate up North. We decided to leave that problem to be resolved later asinstead there was lots of chatter and catching up to do.

Our destination this morning was the Rainforest Adventure where we had booked to do the aerial tram. It was about a 90-minute drive away. It hadn’t seemed too far distance wise on the map but the road network left much to be desired. The roads were narrow, bendy with large potholes everywhere. There were stray dogs all along the roads wandering in and out. Many limped badly where they had presumably been hit by cars previously. There was also the odd stray goat and chicken in the road. The vegetation was very lush and in parts pretty bordering upon beautiful.

It soon became clear that outside of the resort the island is still very much third world. The road network went hand in hand with shacks and derelict buildings alongside. There were many people just sitting around seemingly with nothing to do and possibly no hope. There were dozens and dozens of cars everywhere just derelict in people gardens or on the side of the road. Many had been stripped of parts and abandoned. Lots had vegetation growing over and through them.

It was a hard drive for Graham in what turned out to be a grossly underpowered Suzuki that struggled with a full load with some of the hills. Mind you some of the hills were so steep we would not want to walk down them alone drive up them.

Eventually we came to attraction set in an ecological park. Graham had prebooked our tickets which came with a guide. We decided to have a hot drink before joining our guide called ‘Curlier’ for our trip. The teas and coffees were hot and wet but that’s probably the best review I can give.

The Tram takes 8 people at a time plus the guide some 2000 feet above sea level. The website the tram ride is a celebration of colour and life and a restorative retreat guaranteed to refresh the senses. Lovely words but possibly too poetic. The guide was very good at pointing out various trees, ferns and birds. There was a real sense of calm as we glided slowly through the Rainforest canopy on the way up whilst over and above the canopy on the way down. The silence was only pierced occasionally with the screams and whooping from those who were going down the slopes on Zip Lines.

After the non-stop ride we were asked if we wanted to do a 25-minute hike with the guide through the tree and ferns which we did. We all enjoyed it especially when the guide broke off various leaves for us to smell which was very interesting. I do have to confess that the guide did not always have my full attention as I was getting update from the Norwich Match where we were by now winning 4-0 away from home. It’s not too late for a promotion push– is it?

Our tour ended with a free cold drink. I liked the Tamarind one but not the Sorrel one which tasted like cold mulled wine which I hate. The cost of the ticket for the tour had been a lot of money but we had all enjoyed it.

As we were not far from Castries we decided to go and explore the Island Capital. It was not great. It was market day and it felt even more 3rd worldish. Karen was adamant she would not even stop for a beer and I cannot say I blamed her. We resorted to Trip Advisor to find somewhere within walking distance that had a least an understanding of basic hygiene requirements. We ended up in Shawamas which was the third highest ranked restaurant in the capital. It was in the port area ready to catch those coming off the cruise ships.

We were looked after by Mary Shawama the owner who pointed out all the relatives she had working for her in the restaurant. The food was fine and she handled our many questions with a smile. She even allowed Graham to have some extras with his meal to try different types of Caribbean Cuisine. I even tried plantain. I would rather have proper potatoes but they were OK and much better than sweet potatoes that I have tried and disliked in the past.

On the way back to the car which we had parked next to the main square, we went to the supermarket to get snacks for when we leave the comforts of the hotel. The supermarket was clean and fine but expensive. It amused us that amongst the stock were products that were own brands from Waitrose and the Co-op. Goodness know how they had sourced them.

Later in the week Graham & I had planned to play 9 holes of Golf at one of the Sandals resorts. As they had not responded to his emails and as according to the map the course was only 6 minutes’ drive away, we thought we would pop in to book. The sat nav though took us have way up a mountain on unpaved roads to a closed back entrance. We decided to use our instinct instead to find the correct entrance which was through the Sandals resort itself. We were singularly unimpressed with what we came across. A miserable security lady just said the course was shut and walked away. I had to ask if it would open later this week and was told No and that was it. So instead, we turned around and headed back to Coconut Bay. On route we had a couple of stops. One to look at a view and once whilst a van was recovered after it had rolled into a ditch. It looked pretty crushed and we just hoped that whoever had been inside were OK.

We were glad to get back to the resort. After getting through security, we parked the car in guest parking and decided to show Graham & Jo around the resort. We had actually asked about them being our guests for the day but the cost was $150 each for them. So, we were a bit naughty in doing this but they only stayed for a hour. Enough time to get them some drinks, have some chips and a good look around. They were impressed enough that they wished they had booked themselves in here for a couple of nights.

After seeing Graham & Jo off back to their Airbnb we had a quick freshen up in the room before heading down to dinner. It was Caribbean Carnival night again (yes we had been here that long). We grabbed ourselves some food from the buffet and watched the same show that included the fire dancers this time. Our final evening here finished with a Baileys on the Rocks from the lobby bar before retiring for the night.

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