Monday, June 30, 2014

The Island of the Segways

There were great expectations for the island of St. Lucia. Everyone, even those from other islands, call St. Lucia the most beautiful island in the Caribbean. It is my mom's very favorite. Even from the ship, I could see rolling hills and the two famous twin mountain peaks: the Pitons.

(In case you were wondering, those two little hilltops are not the Pitons)
However, when we stepped off the cruise ship and boarded a bus to take us thirty minutes away to another location, the scenery seemed to be a little off. It turns out that St. Lucia is suffering desperately from drought. Although it should be the rainy season, it has not rained in three months. The trees are yellowing with the dry climate; few flowers are blooming. In fact, there is even a water ration in place, where water is shut off completely from parts of the island on certain days of each week.

My family's excursion lasted all day and had more activities than what we've done for most of the week!

First was the nerdiest activity of them all: we took lessons on how to ride Segways. These machines are pretty funny. They have giant wheels since they are all-terrain. I was given a personal lesson by a handler on how to mount, dismount, turn, ride forward, and stop my Segway without falling over and dying.

Each vehicle had a name so guests could keep track of their own Segway; mine was named Jacquo. I couldn't help but laugh as I rode Jacquo while wearing my Chacos.

The Segway trail ride was two miles long and lasted for an hour. We paused at a few beaches and ruins of 200-year-old forts. Even in the midst of a drought, I can see why St. Lucia is known to be the most beautiful in the Caribbean. It is a relatively new island, so there are only a few beaches, but its waters are lovely and its geography is striking wherever you look.

After the Segway tour, we climbed onto a bus to take an hour-long scenic tour of the island. Our Rastafarian guide gave us an animated history of St. Lucia, as well as some political opinions about his desire for the legalization of "Happy Grass."

We were taken to a small and lovely beach where only a few people were sunbathing around us. Even better, local vendors were not allowed to solicit on this beach, which meant that we could relax without being hounded to purchase seashell jewelry and copper wire sculptures.

At this point, our group split. The men went to hike up a small peak on one end of the beach while the ladies wandered to a restaurant to try some local cuisine. It was the first time we had tasted genuine Caribbean food. I ordered tortilla chips and cheesy dip, I had in mind chips and queso from back home, but this appetizer was chilled and salted with sea salt; vastly different from what I would ever consider to be a cheesy dip. The meal was not bad at all, but it was certainly a new experience.

There were about forty-five minutes left to relax on the beach after we had lunch. Amy went for a swim, Mom decided to go snorkeling, and I stretched out in the sun next to the boys, who had just returned from their hike. The beach was one of the loveliest I have ever seen. I cannot get over the color of the water, the sand, and even the mimosa trees hanging right over the edge of the bay. My Creator makes beautiful things.

We arrived back at the pier just in time to do some quick souvenir shopping and head back on board.

Dinner was at Chops Grille, one of the finer dining restaurants on the ship. I had shrimp cocktail, filet mignon, and a dish of creme brûlée (that was lit on fire when they first set it in front of me!) for my main three courses.

During dinner, I was able to sit down and listen to my dad, Grandpa Frank, and Nawnie share their personal stories of what happened when my dad met his biological parents for the first time. Nawnie adopted Dad when he was a baby, and Grandpa Frank is Dad's biological father. I have heard variations of this story from each of them, but hearing everyone chime in together was a striking reminder of God's guiding hand in my family.

Tomorrow I will arrive at my final island of this cruise: Barbados.

Three years ago: Getting drunk is... cool?

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