Being a Tourist in the Caribbean – Part 2

 

View from Anse Chastanet Resort

 

 

View from Ladera Resort

An Extraordinary Opportunity

I think that is how I would characterize the tropical islands of the Caribbean. The choices offered are many.

Cruises:

There are different ways to see the islands. One way people choose is cruises. We saw the reality of cruises whenever we stopped in a capital city. In those major ports the cruise ships arrived and disgorged passengers. The tour operators waiting on the dock were often aggressive and we knew there were others who were gentler. And often we saw the passengers make their way through the duty free shops over and over again. It seemed rather pointless. There was generally a failure to touch the soul of the island and its people. 

Romance and Mystery – More Than a Vacation

We had researched the islands before committing to build but the adventure of actually staying at resorts just happened. We accepted it as an opportunity and a gift. Two resorts utterly intrigued us beyond the small cozy resort in the north where we stayed when we were building our home.

In fact, by seeing the different resorts, we experienced St. Lucia in depth. One evening when we were traveling with our builder, Wayne, he took us to dinner at Anse Chastanet. It is in the southern part of the island and was built up a hill with a stunning view of the pitons. Sunset comes early in the Caribbean—every day all year, because it is relatively close to the equator. And that evening we had a delightful dinner in romantic dim light with a group of people Wayne assembled. They were from all over the world and generally were there on some kind of business. The conversation was truly interesting. The feel that evening is hard to convey. Cozy, warm and so much more.

Another special favorite was Ladera Resort which is nestled between the pitons. The view is truly enchanting and there are no walls on the room on the ocean side. It is a form of rustic. Without a wall on the front there is a special intimacy with the pitons and the larger tropical environment. The quiet is enchanting and the experience enhances companionship. The staff was warm, it was quiet and felt so pleasing. Such resorts are rare and need to be sought.

And then there are the day to day experiences being out and about. One year we were on the island for New Years Eve. The party was fun and, I should say, the local people, even the expats living on the island were unrestrained. At midnight the bartenders jumped out of the bar opening it to the guests. I had been standing by the water and looked down into a boat featuring a couple making love. It was a rich evening.

Doing Research:

Even though our initial experience on St. Lucia engaged us, we did research before we committed. At the time there was a monthly newsletter covering each island in turn. I finally called to talk to one of the authors. The information I received led to confirmation of St. Lucia. Now, of course, it is possible to do research on line. But, above all, we still recommend people get into the richness of island life. It need not be complex but requires seeking environments beyond what largest resort chains offer. But also its best not to be naive. Balance is best. There are many inviting options.

Reality of Island Life

It all requires common sense and often a sense of humor. At the time we often traveled on Air Jamaica. The landings were flawless and one time I commented on the one just experienced to the Jamaican man sitting next to me. He responded, “Yes, they do much better now that they are not drinking.” He was, of course, teasing me. 

On another flight to Montego Bay they passed out a newspaper with the headline, “Eight Hour Gun Battle in Montego Bay.” Of course it had ended before we arrived. Naturally such a thing is not a common event and we have gun battles in the States as well.

Getting out into island life does, however, require not being naive. Simple caution and being realistic is indicated. But isn’t that a fact of life?

Since our experience led us across the Caribbean, in a later post I’ll share the view we gained of other islands.

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