Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Zip and Good-bye

Day Six.  This is the last of a six-part blog about our vacation in St. Lucia.  To read from the beginning, see my Winning! post, then follow my February posts chronologically.
For our last day in St. Lucia, we arranged to go zip-lining at Rain Forest Adventures.  Our shuttle picked up others from another resort, a young couple from Kentucky and Ingrid.  We noticed that Ingrid’s husband hugged and kissed her good-bye three times, apparently fearful of what his wife was about to do but too scared to try himself.  Ingrid looked to be in her upper sixties, a German-Canadian who explained that zip-lining was on her bucket list.  She wanted to be able to say she got hooked up at the rain forest. 
Our group nestled in the base of a tree

After safety training with Kadeem and Jeffrey, we rode the “tranopy” or “aerial tram” to the top of the rain forest mountain.  Kadeem showed off his botanical knowledge, describing the foliage, the four-hundred-year-old trees, using the Latin names easily.  We zipped back down the mountain, from tree stand to tree stand, a hundred feet up, nine times. 


The safety practices were impressive; at no point were we unattached.  Another couple we had met said this zip-lining place was far safer and more dummy-proof than a zip-lining place they’d been to in Portugal.  As soon as we landed in a stand, the other guide would hook a safety line from our harness to the tree and then help us down.  We had three separate attachments to the zip cable.  Kadeem said the cables were inspected every morning before the first tour.  For me, zip-lining was a major highlight.
100-foot tall fern trees
That evening, we decided to venture out to the street party in the nearby city of Gros Islet.  The “Jump Up” is held every Friday all year round.  It’s a lot of food vendors, restauranst, street dining and very loud music.  We had been advised to go early so we got a taxi.  Our driver, Desmond, said he’d be back in two hours. 
As we walked down the closed off street , I saw one white man in dreads with a joint tucked behind his ear.  Looked like he came to St. Lucia for vacation and never left.  We got a couple of Piton beers (native to St. Lucia and quite good) and sat at a picnic table which had one other person at it.  A chunky red tabby cat circled the table legs while a skinny street dog which was obviously still nursing puppies shyly wagged her tail nearby.  The other dogs all looked the same; short-haired, medium height, brown and very thin.  I assumed the woman at our table was waiting for her  significant other to join her, but upon talking, we found out she was traveling alone.  As we could barely hear each other over the music, Jay and I invited our new acquaintance to walk somewhere else where we could talk. 
Marjorie was a tall, slender woman with bangs, 64-years-old from Exmoor in the UK where she worked on farm conservation grants for the government.  She had been traveling for the past three weeks, visiting all of the Caribbean Islands, staying as long as she wanted then moving on.   We found her fascinating, especially when she told us about her vacations to Kenya, Katmandu, Pakistan, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand.   I can’t imagine going to all those countries by myself so I really admire Marjorie’s independence. 
About two blocks away from the Jump Up, we found a quaint restaurant.  The woman who owned the place was friendly like all St. Lucian’s, but easier to understand.  It turned out that Josephine had lived in Albany, New York for 30 years.  She’d come back to her native St. Lucia recently to care for her aging father and opened a restaurant.  Josephine described her St. Lucian house as “very elegant”, perhaps because she didn’t want us to assume that everyone lived in the tiny homes we saw from the road. 
After an incredibly delicious fried fish dinner (we had a lot of awesome seafood that week) and great conversation with Marjorie, we went back to look for our taxi.  Desmond was actually where he’d dropped us off, walking around looking for us.  Since Marjorie was planning on taking a bus back to her hotel, we asked Desmond to just drive her directly since it was on the way.  We had arrived at the Jump Up unsure of how much fun we would have, but meeting Marjorie and Josephine really brought the day to a wonderful end. 
Before we left the next day, we tried to say our good-byes to as many of the Windjammer staff as we could find.   As we waited for the cab to take us back to the airport the next day, I begged the front desk to give me a job and let me stay.  They laughed at me, "Silly American.  Go home Girl".   They didn't actually say that, but I imagine they were thinking it.   
The St. Lucian airport brought us back to reality with a hot slap on the face.  Filled beyond capacity, seating in the waiting areas was hard to find and the air conditioning couldn’t keep up.  You couldn’t help but feel nasty and smelly quickly.  Just when you thought it couldn’t be any worse, a one-man band complete with sound system, started serenading us.  He was not good.  The pregnant couple we’d met on the Jammer Tour was there.  We smiled at each other with sweaty faces.  “Vacation’s over.”  The lines to the gates were confusing as the gates were just doors out to the same place; one couldn’t tell if they were in the line for Gate 5 or Gate 8.  
The flight was crowded and Jay and I had to sit in seats across the aisle from one another.  The pregnant couple, who happened to be seated behind Jay, jokingly asked if we’d had a fight.  As our plane started down the runway, Jay and I held hands briefly across the aisle and I faked a sniffle.  “Bye St. Lucia!”
“We’ll be back,” he promised.
“You win the next one.”


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