Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Day In St. Lucia

Our most anticipated stop was in St. Lucia. We had prescheduled a full day tour with Cosol Tours at $65 per person. This was one tour with a relatively high price that we didn't question as we knew what it would include and the duration of the tour being 5-6 hours long was also a plus.

As per usual, the ship docked at 8:00am and the excursions met on the dock at 8:30am so we had to set the ipod alarm to go off pretty early to allow for our morning hygiene rituals before hitting the buffet for breakfast. Today however was a rainy day. The sky was grey and dark but the temperature was hot and humid. I didn't mind the rain because by now I was pretty much burnt to a crisp, the saying "put a fork in me I'm done" comes to mind!

We met with Cosol Tours on the dock along with other passengers aboard our ship. The tour bus was one of those air conditioned mini-van type of buses that sat 10 of us (this included the driver of course). We had Cosol himself as our driver and tour guide so we knew we would get the best!

We all climbed into the van and made our way through St. Lucia. As we drove, our guide, Cosol, spoke of the islands economy, how people are living, the unemployment but also said with all the fruits and vegetables on the island, nobody ever goes hungry. And as we looked around there were many vegetable stands with locals selling something. We drove past many mango trees with mangoes laying all over the ground! I'm accustomed to seeing the small crab apple trees with apples on the ground but not mango trees (especially as mangoes are so expensive in our markets). We pulled up alongside the banana fields where we exited the van and were given a tour and explanation of the banana crops. We also had the opportunity to take a couple of photographs so that's me there with the bunch of bananas and our tour guide Cosol.

We boarded the bus and began to tour again and then stopped for breakfast. Breakfast was buffet style, home cooked samplings of various of the islands foods from fried plantain, fish cakes, johnny cakes and fruits. Very tasty and most of it I already sampled and I had pleasure in letting the guide know that I was familiar with most of the foods  too because my Mother-in-law is from the West Indies and cooks these regularly. Pretty much everyone else was newly introduced to the foods. Our tour group consisted of mostly Americans but we also had a couple from the Ukraine (we were the only Canadians).

It began raining off an on again heavily at times as we drove along and Cosol continued to provide detailed information about St. Lucia.  We stopped once in a while photo opportunities and got lucky with a stop to see the "Lady Slipper" and take photos before the rain started all over again!

During our tour we had plenty of drinks that were included in the price of the tour! I tasted the St. Lucia rum punch that knocked my socks off, then I had one of the Piton beers (the local beer). I have a friend who is from St. Lucia so when I came home I told her I drank one of her island beers while on vacation, this made her very happy!

We pulled up to the water front and boarded a water taxi that took us for a brief ride across the shore to a beach where we could relax, swim and snorkel for 90 minutes.

Once the water taxi left us, the sky opened up and it poured on our heads.

I hadn't intended on swimming but got soaked to the bone nonetheless. Tony was in his swim trunks relaxing in the water while it rained and other tourists were snorkeling in the rain. It was hot so the rain didn't bother us! Eventually the rain stopped, once we were all soaked, and the water taxi returned for us taking us back to the tour bus where we had more rum punch and soft drinks, then went to see the smoking volcano thing. It smelled like rotten eggs there! phew! We were given a brief explanation from a guide who works solely at the volcano then, you got it, it rained on our heads and we ran for cover. The rain didn't last long and we were able to snap some photos of the Piton mountains before heading back into the van and driving away.

Our next stop was the botanical garden but unless you had an umbrella or a water proof camera, you may as well stay in the van.

I braved the rain and managed to take half a dozen photos but that's it because the rain came down too hard, too fast. Back in the van and off we went, more driving, more discussing the island and we noticed that Cosol was worried about the weather and explained that it should be the dry season now but this year they've had lots of unseasonable rain. Either way, we don't blame him for the rain and he did make the tour as best he could all things considered. Besides, everyone was so loaded up on rum punch it could have been snowing and we wouldn't have cared!

Towards the end of the tour we stopped off and were given hot fresh baked bread with pieces of fresh cheese... mmm that was so good! Back to the ship by 4:25pm and the ship left port at 5:00pm. We thanked Cosol for a wonderful tour but insist we will do it again on our next Southern Caribbean cruise, he went above and beyond to please his clients, well worth the money.

The day ended with the usual, freshen up, get some late lunch, stroll around the ship, see a show, have a late dinner. We tried to watch the big screen movie but it was pouring rain, though the movie was The Incredible Hulk (the good one with Edward Norton), I think that was the only good movie played that whole week and naturally it got rained out!

Early to bed, early to rise, next stop.... St Kitts.

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