This Way to St. Lucia

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Mark and I along with our good friends and traveling buddies Eddie and Joyce Rogers set off on our newest adventure to the West Indies to tour the island of St. Lucia.  Here are the pictures from our journey, hope you enjoy the trip...

A View from the Plane - these are shots I took from the air as we were approaching the island. The island is 27 miles long and 14 miles wide.  The picture of the cruise ship is one of three ships that was in port when we arrived on Wednesday.

Some Post Card Shots of our Beach Front Room - our room is nothing short of perfect and believe it or not the internet pictures didn't lie, it is exactly as pictured.  We love it!  We are just steps away from the ocean.  The first 2 nights we slept with the patio doors open and the ceiling fan on, PEACE OF HEAVEN!  Unfortuantely, after 70+ mosquito bites we thought it best not to do that anymore, DANG!  The weather here is perfect mid 70's to 80"s, windy (breezy) and lighty raining almost everyday so far.

Views from around St. Lucia

Forget bowling, rock climbling and ice skating. The coolest thing to do on a vacation these days is to go ZIP-LINING through the jungle... so that's just what we did. We took a zip-lining canopy tour of the St. Lucian rain forest. Strapped into a harness 80 feet above the jungle floor, we were flying through the air like Tarzan and Jane of the Jungle, attached to a steel cable strung between two platforms/treehouses.

Were we crazy? Sort of. The first set of pictures below are of us getting all geared up and ready to go - outfitted with harnesses, helmets and gloves then listening to the safety briefing. TIP: if you are planning a vacation with these type of excursions you might want to pack an extra suitcase with things like helmets, gloves, skull caps, raincoats... or you will be stuck with wearing what they provide which means that you will be putting on hot, sweaty stuff that some other vacationer just took off, YUKE!
The next set of photos are of ME, then Mark, then Joyce and then Eddie...  Our zip-line adventure began on the east coast of St. Lucia in the heart of the rain forest at the beautiful Errad Estate. The 300-year-old estate was once a spice plantation, and it is full of fragrant nutmeg and cocoa trees. There is also an amazing river and waterfall. All in all, the perfect setting for this crazy adventure.  We traversed a series of twelve platforms, with the longest run being 700 feet with a 60 foot drop. After zipping through all the platforms we were exhilarated. Mark, Eddie and I did the ZIPLINE in Alaska back in 2007, and for us it is one of our MUST ALWAYS DO if offered on any of our vacations.

Our Tour Guide & Some Local Animals
Meet our tour guide George of the Jungle, he entertained us for the entire hour plus some minutes ride from our Sandals Resort to the Zipline Base Camp and back again. He was AWESOME, of course being a native he had all kinds of info to share with us.  He promised us on the way up to the camp base that while we were ziplining he would go out and hunt down a snake for us to see when we were done.  True to his word, this is what was waiting for us we we return to the base - a St. Lucian Boa Constrictor - no further words are needed.

In the slideshow you will see a greenish yellowish plant that George is holding in his hands with some white squiggly things coming out of the top, these are the seeds and this is, believe it or not CHOCOLATE. Or at least this is where chocolate comes from and it actually grows on a tree, a "cacao" tree pronounced ka-kow. George gave each of us one of the seeds and we sucked on them, the texture was squishy and the taste was very bitter, not at all like the chocolate that I'm use to.

The seeds while still sticky with pulp, are placed in earthen pits or wooden bins and covered with banana leaves, then left to ferment. The heat of fermentation changes the bitter flavors in the beans into a more edible chocolatey state. The sugars in the beans turns into acids and the color changes from the white/pale to dark brown and the pulp residue melts away. After fermentation the beans are dried in the sun and the flavor continues to develop during this time. The beans are then sent to factories to be made into chocolate. Pretty interesting stuff huh?

Dancing in the Streets
This night the resort put on a street party complete with LOTS OF DIFFERENT FOODS and entertainment. The flame eaters were by far the most shocking to me. I will never understand how they can put kerosene in their mouths in order to do the type of things you see in these photos.
DAY 3:  ATVing...

We took the St. Lucian Paradise Tour for our ATV excursion. Our tour guide Kurt from ATV Paradise Tours , took us across a 1000 acres of lush tropical land with over 40 different fruit trees, tropical plants and flowers on the Fond Estate - it is still a working plantation. The property overlooked the Atlantic Ocean and it was very serene and peaceful riding through the rainforest and we even had some time to stop for a bit to walk along the Fond River.
Below are some creatures native to the island, the peacocks, such a beautiful creature. Just one of many things that tends to blow my mind when thinking of the beauty that God creates...
Do you recognize this famous spot?  The Pirates of the Caribbean sequel Dead Man's Chest was filmed in St. Lucia and this is one of the most popular scenes from the movie.

DAY 4: 
Cycling through the St. Lucian rainforest... IN THE RAIN! Yes, you certainly did read that correctly. It didn't just threaten to rain today, it did rain today and rained and rained until we just had to accept the fact that we were going to have to cycle our way through it and that's what we did. Wet, muddy, cold and I even got my hair wet. This is not the Anna you all know, as a matter of fact this is not the Anna that I know.

They told us that this was the only way to experiece the real St. Lucia by cycling our way through unique forest trails and being able to witness up close the beauty of the rainforest

with its lush vegetation and interesting wildlife. The photo opportunities were endless. The waterfall in the pictures was the Dennery Waterfall which they say is arguably the most spectacular on the island. Although we didn't dip in the pool at the base of the waterfall we did wade in a bit, it was refreshing and invigorating.

On this trip we learned alot about many of the native things and a whole lot about bananas and coconuts.  We even got to taste the coconut water (totally nasty) and eat fresh coconut (not bad).  Although these snap shots are also in the slideshow, I just wanted to highlight a few of my favorties...

St. Lucia Local UMBRELLA - Banana Leaf

After our cycling adventure we cleaned up a bit and just hung out around the beach for the rest of the day...

DAY 5: It rained and soooo we stayed in all day, Mark read and slept and I attempted to get some of our St. Lucia pictures up on the blog and later that night we went to dinner with the Rogers.

DAY 6: Shopping, except there wasn't much to buy so we went back to the resort and hung out at the beach...

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