Today was looking GOOD. I woke up to no sound of rain, and when I walked outside, the skies were blue!
Today was MY day. I called up a local tour guide named Ali (Ah-lee) who I had met last night to head out for the day. I wanted to hit the petons, the restaurants with the best views, and the drive-in volcano. Yeah, that’s right – drive-in volcano.
We headed out for the hour-long drive to the southern part of the island. On the way down, Ali was telling me that the central part of the island was FULL of snakes – poisonous, deadly, and really big snakes. Like, 20 ft constrictor-huge snakes. I wasn’t too eager to explore the central part of the island.
We saw a guy on the side of the road who had caught a constrictor earlier in the day – that’s him in the pic below. I put the snake around my neck for a few seconds, just enough time to feel it coil around and get a good grip. That was all I needed as far as snakes were concerned.
After we past the midpoint of St Lucia, something I dreaded would happen ended up occurring. The rain. Lots of it. The skies turned gray and the raindrops started to fall, making very clear the meaning of “rain” in rainforest. Ali suggested that the central part of the island usually gets more rain than most, and in about 15 min we would be out of the storm. I wanted to believe him, but in the back of my mind I had this sinking feeling that it would rain the rest of the day. (sigh…)
As we made our way further south on the island, Ali told me some stories from the tours he has done over the past few years. Apparently, Ali is a mack-daddy. Despite being a little on the older side (Ali is in the red shirt below), I guess the whole guide-angle has worked to his advantage. He told me about how all the foreign girls (so he says) are all about him after the tour is done. After a few drinks at the bar to cap off the tour, the rest is history. Sounds like he’s got it made in the shade if you ask me. (Or in most cases, the rain.)
We came up on the drive in Volcano, and this is where I felt myself get a little uneasy. Not because of the impending doom the island seems to be facing in the near future, but because of the situation I found myself in when going on the tour. Tickets to enter the tour were $10 each, and there were no cars/taxis allowed past the entrance. I had a lot of camera gear with me, and I couldn’t just carry everything with me as it was raining down somewhat heavily at this point. I decided to leave my stuff in the taxi with Ali, who I had known now for less than 24 hrs. At the time, I was feeling like I should give him the benefit of the doubt – he seemed to be a decent guy, and I had spent quite a bit of time with him during the day – so I felt like I could trust him. I also felt like I could have been making a really stupid mistake.
Luckily, Ali proved to be a solid guy. I toured the drive-through volcano (which was really just some sulfur springs which will eventually erupt and destroy a nearby city) and returned to find Ali patiently waiting with the taxi and my gear safely stored inside. I felt reassured that I can have trust in humanity, and it was refreshing to have that feeling in a country thousands of miles away from home while not knowing a single person around.
It was around lunch time, so we decided to stop off at one of the more renown restaurants in St Lucia – The Forbidden Beach at Jalousie. This spot was amazing. It was surrounded by HUGE lush mountains and had a crystal clear shallow cove that was great for snorkeling. Before lunch, I spent a few minutes in the water checking out some of the sea life. It was pretty cool to see some of the more colorful fish & eels – definitely a change from what you would see in La Jolla cove.
By the end of lunch, the rain cleared up enough for me to be able to get some photos with my SLR camera along with my little waterproof cam. Thing was – my camera was back in the parking lot, which was a shuttle ride up to the top of the hill. It didn’t make sense for Ali to come along as well, so he would just give me the keys to get all my stuff. When he handed me the keys, I could feel a sense of reluctance on his end to hand over the keys to his car – to someone he’s only known for less than 24 hrs. I took the keys, and when I came back with my stuff, I could see a sigh of relief come from him – probably the same look I had when I saw him after returning from the volcano.
We drove out onto a scenic route and caught some amazing views of the petons – although the view was a bit obscured from the rainclouds that had come it, it was still a pretty cool sight to see. Next on the to-do list was a waterfall, which was hidden amongst a plethora of crazy looking indigenous plants. While the waterfall was a bit dull due to the rainfall causing it to run in with the mud, Ali told me some pretty interesting facts about some of the plants on the island! One plant in particular, “Angel’s Trumpet” was similar to peyote in the way that a small dosage can make you trip out of your mind. Slightly higher amounts than the small dosage can unfortunately lead to death. I decided to pass on trying out that experience.
After learning about the crazy flowers, we headed back towards my hotel – stopping along the way in Cannaries. This was more of a local town, not too many tourists here. What was funny to me was that there were A BUNCH of chickens roaming the streets like it wasn’t a big deal. Several times we had to stop the car because there was a pack of chickens crossing the road, and each time they did – I couldn’t help but wonder why they did.
We eventually arrived back in town to learn that it had been sunny for the majority of the day while we were gone. Right when we got in, however, it seemed as though the storm was moving in. Does that surprise you?
I decided to work with what I had and go for a swim out in the ocean. I can’t really express in words how I felt at that time, but it was so peaceful that I couldn’t really compare it to anything else. I just let myself float in the water for a good half hour, all the while looking up at a strong blue sky. The water was warm, the sky was (mostly) clear, and I didn’t have a single responsibility on that island. Life was good.
After awhile, I decided it was time to head back to the hotel and grab my last dinner while in St Lucia. I hit up a local place with some authentic beef sandwiches and it hit the spot. I can safely say that St Lucia has good taste in food!
It seems as though this trip has gone by too fast, and I feel like I haven’t really had the chance to see this islands beauty in its true-est form. I guess what I can take from this is the familiarity of the island, and what I can expect next time I come visit – which is a must!