Saturday, July 30, 2011

Day Two: Pigeon Island

For background on this series of posts, see the intro to my St. Lucia travel journal.

Saturday, July 9 — On my first full day on St. Lucia, I got up around 7:30, after having slept like a rock. As I got moving, I heard calls from roosters and a few barks from town dogs. None of the sounds were too loud, The communal patio at the Bay Guesthousejust pleasant reminders of animals about.

I decided to attempt making coffee, even though there was no pot in my kitchen — just a tea kettle, a gas range, and three paper cone filters. The first cup actually came out pretty well, but I spilled it after taking only a sip or two! After cleaning up, I tried making a second cup, but this time the filter broke and the coffee was too full of grounds. Oh well. On the upside, the onion bagels I bought at Super Js were good. I sat out on the patio while I ate one.

While I was getting ready to leave, I noticed the two girls staying in the room next to me, who were out on the patio for a bit. One of them was short with dark hair, the other taller and fairer. They didn't say anything to me — as I recall, they disappeared into their room pretty soon after I left mine. It occurred to me that the only tables for eating are on the communal patio, which is a nice place to sit and chat with other people, but if you really want privacy, it might not be ideal.

It was about 10 a.m. when I finished packing up my snorkeling gear and headed out into the overcast morning for Pigeon Island. If you are familiar with the region, then you probably already know that tourists often visit Pigeon Island to see the ruins of the British military fort, remnants of the historic British-French struggle for control of the island — but personally I was more interested in the hiking and the snorkeling, which I had heard was supposed to be pretty good. Because some years ago a causeway was built connecting Pigeon Island to the main of St. Lucia, getting there is a pretty easy walk from the Bay Guesthouse.

As I left, I got a better look at the guesthouse grounds than I had yesterday and realized that it is really quite secure — there is a wall on the south side, the sea to the west, a fence to the north and east. The only gate is situated next to The view south from the Gros Islet public beacha little office, where either Will or Stephanie seems to usually be sitting. This morning it was Will, and he greeted me on my way out.

I decided to walk around town a bit before heading to Pigeon Island. I wanted to check out "Lorna's Store," which I'd seen described in the binder in my room. Unfortunately, when I got to the street that I thought was right, I didn't see a single thing that looked like a store and, when I asked a passerby if he knew where it was, he looked at me quizzically and shook his head. (Later I learned that the store was exactly where the map showed it to be, but it was closed up tight for Saturday.)

After abandoning that mission, I started walking north along the beach to Pigeon Point. It drizzled a bit on the way, which was fine, just a little stressful as I debated whether I should have my camera out. I did take several pictures, looking both south and north, and was just careful to put the camera away whenever the rain picked up, which was only a few times, and each time briefly. Still, I was glad I had my umbrella.

After crossing a public beach, I got to the Landings resort, where a security guard noticed me immediately. When I explained I was going to Pigeon Island, he was fine with this and even walked me across the property, explaining that the Landings has a small marina, and I would either have to ride a dinghy across it or walk around it.

In the course of conversation, I mentioned that I might walk to Smugglers Cove after Pigeon Island. The security guard said, "Oh, no, I wouldn't advise that." I said, "because it's too far?" And he said that it wasn't far but that it was too risky for a woman alone. I have to admit I had wondered that myself, after having read some generally cautionary advice about traveling alone on St. Lucia. But I hadn't been sure, and it gave me a bit of a chill to hear a local express such caution so definitively. I asked him what the difference was between walking to Smugglers Cove and walking to Pigeon Island, and he said that it's just different. He assured me Pigeon Island would be fine. I was disappointed about the Smugglers Cove walk but grateful for the guidance.

The security guard led me to another Landings staff member, who invited me to climb in a dinghy to cross the marina. I thanked the guard and then chatted with this other guy, who complimented my "Obama '08" T-shirt.

After the crossing, I thanked the dinghy driver and proceeded on through another public strip of beach before getting to the Sandals Grande resort, where I was met by another security guard. I explained what I was doing, and the guard said to make sure I walked close to the water and not on the Sandals resort itself. The resort itself didn't seem as large or imposing as I would have guessed, but the beach was, if not crowded, busier than the others that I passed.

After Sandals was a narrow strip of land with sea on both sides. There were horses grazing there, and Pigeon Island was right up ahead. I began walking toward the park when two local men came running toward me, waving their hands as frantically as if I were about to walk into a wall of fire. Apparently the entrance was just ever so slightly north of the trajectory on which I was walking. Of course, I had heard of local people who volunteer directions and then demand tips from tourists, so I tried to extricate myself from the conversation quickly, but one of them, the younger of the two, had grass sculptures he wanted to show me — very pretty figures of birds and fish made from thick leaves folded just so. I told him truthfully that I couldn't buy one because I had an active day planned, and I would inevitably lose it or ruin it. He seemed surprised at that answer, though I am not sure why. I chatted with him a bit more out of politeness and, when I left, he insisted that I take a fish sculpture, saying really, there's no charge. I thanked him, and the older of the two said, "Maybe you will tip us on your way out of the park."

I entered the park and paid the admission — about $13 EC. Then I decided to take a snapshot of my grass fish because, as much as I wanted to keep it safe, I had a feeling that was a lofty goal.

Looking around, I could see the ruins of barracks up ahead and the sea to the northeast. The area was shady with trees, and it struck me as pretty but not stunning, much as I had expected.

I followed the signs for Fort Rodney, which is on the lower of the two peaks on Pigeon Island, and Signal Peak, which is the higher. The walk began with an easy path lined with bushes, trees, and red flowers. The views to the south were quite nice. I could see what I assume was Rodney Bay across the way, but I'm not sure. The whole area to the south is very mountainous and dramatic. I wondered what the names of the mountains were. The day before, Elias had told me that only the mountains in the southern part of the island have names, but I'm not sure that's right.

As I made my way toward Signal Peak, I crossed a wide flat grassy area. When I got to the other side, I didn't immediately see an obvious way to continue, but then I spotted the trail — you just have to go down a bit before going up.

The climb was pretty rocky. I did it fast, which left me a little winded. As I was reaching the top, some people were coming down: a British couple and a girl. The woman showed me her broken thong sandal, and told me that at her resort they had said she wouldn't need trainers. She seemed good-natured about it, but I felt bad for her doing the walk in those shoes. I don't think it would have been comfortable even if they weren't broken. I noticed the man was wearing Birkenstocks, which might have been OK, but I was glad I had sneakers.

When I reached the summit, I was treated to gorgeous views in all directions. This is where the site is stunning! I drank a lot of my water, then took a bunch of photos. It was breezy up there and hard to hold my camera steady, but the air felt nice.

The areas north of Pigeon Island were very pretty, and the waves were crashing hard around those shores. I tried to guess which resort was Smugglers Cove, the place I shouldn't walk to. I also looked for the route I would have taken to walk there. While doing this I noticed some dark clouds over that part of the island and soon it was raining fairly hard. I sat under my umbrella until it passed.

Finally, I decided I should head back down. I took one last look around, wondering where Martinique would be visible on a clear day (it was too misty today). Then I went to gather my things. In doing so, I noticed that I had indeed already lost my grass fish.

I had worried that the rocks would be slippery on the way down, but it was fine, and next I headed toward Fort Rodney. In general I don't get a big thrill out of seeing old cannons and things like that, but I thought the area was pretty neat, and I read all the placards dutifully. The view of Signal Peak from Fort Rodney was also nice. There were several other people there viewing the site. Two British tourists staying at the Rendezvous said hi to me and inquired about my trip.

At this point, I was ready to eat. I headed toward Jambe de Bois, the restaurant on Pigeon Island, and hoped the service wasn't as bad as I'd read in some of the reviews, because I was really hungry. (Fortunately, it wasn't.) I had a curried vegetable roti that was huge and delicious. The lemonade I ordered tasted a lot like ginger ale but was still good.

While I was sitting there I noticed a cat and a kitten, who were wandering around and playing — very cute and entertaining.

I also noticed a lot of Sandals boat traffic in the area, including a jet ski coming from the direction of the resort. From the helm, a guy shouted a loud but unintelligible greeting toward the Jambe de Bois patio. Since I was about to be snorkeling in those waters, I was a little worried — the waters seemed busy — but I figured it would be fine.

My bill was only $16 EC — a great value!

From Jambe de Bois, I headed to the beach for my first snorkel of the trip. Based on that one swim, I'd have to say the area seems weak as a snorkeling site. Still, it was refreshing to get underwater, and I did see a few things.

When I first went in, the water was murky. I swam north a bit and it cleared up. Still, it was a while before I saw any fish. First I saw a silvery blue type of fish — large schools of them swimming very fast past me, as if they were fleeing something. Next I saw a very small Sergeant Major, much smaller than the ones I saw on Grand Cayman. I saw what I think was a blue tang, though it was more lavender than what I am used to. I also saw what I believe was a large black sea urchin — at least a foot across.

The most unusual thing I saw was a pale yellow and black fish that was shaped a bit differently than the other fish — more blocky, if that makes sense. I also saw some tiny silvery blue ovals that were always moving upward toward the surface, in groups. At first I thought these were bubbles, then I thought they were some sort of creatures, and then I wasn't sure. (I think now that that the striped fish might have been a three-stripe damsel, and that the bubbles were volcanic ventilation.)

After my swim I was tired, but I still had a few more parts of the park to see. I walked up to the outermost point of the peninsula — the point furthest west — which is quite rocky and pretty. Sadly there was a fair bit of trash washing up against the rocks. More exciting were the tiny hermit crabs I saw scurrying about.

Next I walked back toward the park entrance to see the old barracks and the interpretation center. Then I headed out. I wondered if I would see the two vendors from the morning and was torn between hoping that I wouldn't see them and wanting to replace my fish. However, the vendors weren't there anymore, just the horses, including a colt this time, and some children playing a running race.

I walked back through Sandals and the Landings (no dinghy this time, I had to go around the marina), then back past the public beach nearest the guesthouse. On Bay Street, I saw four little boys running around barefoot. I wondered how the hot pavement must be on their feet.

Then it was home, a bit of cleanup and back out again, heading for Rodney Bay. I walked into the center of the village and caught the bus. It was dusk at this point. As we made our way south, the nearly full bus stopped for a woman who was very pretty but seemed tired. I wondered who she was and where she was going. I looked out the window and was struck by the juxtaposition of being in a fairly urban trapping — a crowded bus full of unconnected people — while up ahead were the silhouettes of mountain peaks against a slate blue sky. The only sound came from the radio, set to the local station, and all around us was a heavy heat that was becoming familiar. I felt truly removed from my old life and knew I'd always remember the moment.

At Rodney Bay, I disembarked and walked to Ti Bananne. The guest binder at the Bay Guesthouse had said that the restaurant had live entertainment most nights, but that must not apply to the off season, because they were just playing recordings. This included Elton John and, later in the evening, a rather inspired George Michael playlist, which included some obscure favorites.

After looking at the menu and chatting with the waitress, I realized that the menu they have posted online is outdated. I still had a good meal though — pumpkin mash, plantains and, when they said they were out of spinach, the parmesan mashed potatoes. All three were very good. I also had two "Blue Sky's" (their spelling and punctuation), a cocktail made with curaçao and coconut something-rather. Very tasty.

I paid with a $100 EC bill, and the change they gave me was a few dollars short. I said something to the waitress and she gave me two more dollars. It was still short, but not by much, so I decided to write it off.

From about the time I arrived at the restaurant, my stomach had been feeling not quite right, and it worsened through the evening. I suspected the water I'd been drinking all day, a mix of bottled and tap. I decided to increase the bottled ratio, and on my way home stopped at the supermarket for two large bottles. (As I write this, I feel guilty, knowing that St. Lucia does not have plastic recycling, but at least I bought two large bottles and not many small ones!) At the store, I asked the cashier how to get to the bus stop from where I was. She was a bit impatient but explained it.

I caught the bus and, very unusual, I was the only one in it. The driver's name was Morgan and he seemed very intent on selling me a taxi tour for sometime during my stay. He also asked if I smoked (nope) and drove me past his house and his sister's house (both in Gros Islet) before dropping me off right in front of the Bay Guesthouse.

It was only about 10 o'clock, but I was exhausted from the day!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Day One: Gros Islet

I wrote this entry on Friday, July 8, my first night on St. Lucia, but I didn't publish it until today so I could clean it up and add photos. For background on this series of posts, see the intro to my St. Lucia travel journal.

After more than a year of planning, I arrived in St. Lucia today, and it was amazing!

I'm pretty tired from getting up in the middle of the night for my 6 a.m. flight, but I want to go ahead and jot down some notes.

My flight (via JetBlue) was uneventful — easy even. My second flight was a few minutes late leaving JFK but still landed on time.

From the air approaching Vieux Fort, I could see the Pitons from my window seat — what a thrill! As we sank lower in the sky over Hewanorra Airport, one of my first impressions was of how colorful the houses were, an impression that would be strengthened everywhere I went for the rest of the day. This was a surprise to me — I had expected natural beauty, but not pretty towns and buildings.

I got through customs easily and then found Elias, a driver/guide arranged by the Bay Guesthouse, my first accommodation (out of two, one for each week of the trip). I settled in for the 90-minute trip to Gros Islet in Elias's minivan. Elias seemed like a man of few words, but he laughed when I joked about his severely cracked windshield having seen better days.

Also in the car with us was Elias's friend and colleague Henry. Between them, they gave me a great overview of the island while we listened to cool local music on the radio. The scenery was spectacular — deep valleys bordered by tall peaks and dotted with towering slender palm trees. Henry pointed out the banana trees and explained how the blue bags on the trees are meant to protect the fruit from insects and the elements. He mentioned that the banana industry used to be the biggest on St. Lucia, but now tourism has replaced it. Because of the importance of tourism, he said, people would be nice to me wherever I went, and that would be how my time on St. Lucia was different from my time at home. I replied, "Well, that's one way!"

We saw other sites as well. Elias and Henry pointed out an athletic stadium that is currently being used as a hospital (apparently, there was a fire at the hospital it is replacing). We went through Micoud and saw the village fire station. My guides also pointed out a prison at the top of a hill.

When we passed a vendor by the side of the road, Elias pulled over and bought us some fresh watermelon slices. The slices were messy but refreshing, which was welcome given that I was wearing jeans and a T-shirt, plus shoes and socks — good attire for an airplane, but way off for the tropical St. Lucian climate.

We pulled over at a scenic viewpoint, and my companions laughed when I said, "Is this Dennery?" Henry said that I must have read a lot about St. Lucia to be able to recognize Dennery at a glance. I took some photos and then Henry offered to take my picture in front of the Atlantic backdrop.

We drove on and chatted more about the island. I really liked talking to Henry, but it was hard to hear him with the windows down, and whenever I looked back at him in hope of hearing him better, I worried that I was missing some spectacular view!

After a bit, Elias changed the radio to a sporting event. I had no idea what sport it was; Elias had to tell me that it was cricket. Apparently a big game was going on in Dominica. I asked Elias if he had ever been to Dominica, and he said that he has gone there for a Creole music festival.

I was surprised to see a sign for the Eudovic art studio, which told me we were near Castries — I hadn't realized we would go through the city on this drive. Elias pulled over at the Morne Fortune lookout point, and I was really struck by how beautiful Castries was. We took some more photos, and this time I got one of Elias.

We continued driving through Castries. The buildings were painted brilliant colors, and people were everywhere. School must have just gotten out, because there lots of kids in school uniforms. We passed a bookstore, and the city square, which was very pretty. I had come to not expect much of Castries based on comments I've seen here and there online, but from the car it looked like a cool city with lots of character and life — much busier than Cayman's George Town, the only other Caribbean capital I've been to.

On leaving the center of the city, we dropped Henry off and he wished me a good trip. If you ever read this, thank you, Henry, for the introduction to St. Lucia!

Finally we got to Gros Islet (meaning Gros Islet interior, not Rodney Bay, which technically is part of Gros Islet but is newer and more tourist-oriented than Gros Islet interior, which is a traditional fishing village). There are a few guesthouses in Gros Islet, but I get the impression that the only time tourists flock here is for the jump-up, a big street party that starts every Friday night (tonight) and typically goes on through early Saturday morning. But even that is an event for locals, and tourists just happen to come to it.

On riding through Gros Islet for the first time, I had a similar reaction as I had to Castries. I could tell that Gros Islet is poor, but the buildings are brightly colored, there are people everywhere, and it immediately appealed to me. It was more vibrant than I'd been expecting.

After a short time, we arrived at the Bay Guesthouse, an orange-colored building right on the sea. As we pulled up, I was greeted by Stephanie and Will, the owners. Will checked me in and showed me a binder full of tips and information about the island. It looked very useful and I was glad to see a list of Gros Islet restaurants inside of it — that was something I had been wondering about it. Inside my room was a copy of the binder, very convenient.

I immediately had a positive reaction to the guesthouse. Will and Stephanie seem like really nice people, and they have the sweetest dog. I had read previously that they had two dogs. I asked about this and was sad to learn that one of the dogs died only about a month ago.

As I got unpacked and cleaned up, I realized I could hear the sounds of the sea quite clearly in my room, which I love. My room is basic, perhaps a bit more rustic than I'd been expecting, but I like it. I have a round window that looks out onto a communal patio, with the sea just beyond it. As is typical in this area, the windows have no screens or glass, just blinds that you can open and close. The bed has a mosquito net that you can sleep under, and there is a kitchen with a fridge, gas range, and sink, plus plates, cutlery, and bowls.

The guesthouse also has a beautiful view of Pigeon Island (which is what you see pictured at the top of this post).

At this point, I was tired, but I wanted to get some local cash from Scotiabank (which is affiliated with my bank and doesn't charge me a transaction fee) and also to get a phone that will work on St. Lucia (I had read online that this is a good idea). I took a quick shower and put on a T-shirt and skirt that I wore often when I was on Grand Cayman last year. I was surprised to find that both pieces seemed way too heavy and hot, even though technically they're summer clothes. I changed into a lighter skirt and then left to do my errands.

On my way out, I gave Will a gift I had brought for the dogs — treats from the Polka Dog Bakery in Boston. I buy these treats for my own dog all the time. They come in several flavors, but for Will and Stephanie, I chose the peanut butter variety, because I think they smell good, and because they come in an orange canister that matches the color of the guesthouse.

Next I walked to the bus stop for my first ever St. Lucia mass transit experience! On my walk through town, I was struck by how close together the houses were, and how there was little to distinguish the private residences from the businesses. There were lots of people about and, with my fair skin (most people in St. Lucia are of African descent; I am of European and Mexican descent), I'm sure I stood out as a visitor. I got lots of male attention, but none that seemed too troublesome.

The bus stop was easy to locate, and I found that the bus operated very much like a Cayman bus, so I wasn't too surprised by anything. (Just as a sidenote, these buses are minivans, not large city buses like you would see in the States.)

Once we were en route, I realized I wasn't totally sure of the right stop. In fact, we passed the Rodney Bay marina, so I thought I'd gone too far when I asked to get out near the Rodney Heights Super J grocery store. Luckily, I had not gone too far, and a store employee helpfully pointed me toward the Baywalk mall, which was just a short walk away, and which looked nothing like an American mall. (That's a compliment, I just mean that it seemed normal sized instead of gigantic.) At the mall's Lime store, which fronts the street, I bought a phone for about $30 US. Included in the price was about $10 Eastern Caribbean dollars' worth of minutes, probably about 20 minutes.

Then I went looking for Scotiabank, which I knew was near the Coco Palm hotel. I walked around a little and wondered if I was in the right place — the Rodney Bay restaurant strip looked nothing like I'd pictured. To be honest, this wasn't something I had really researched carefully, but I had the impression there would be lots more people and lots more views of the water, or at least some indication that the water was nearby. I'm sure the area is more interesting in the high season, but today it struck me a bit lifeless and bland. Eventually, with the help of a friendly local, I ascertained that I was close to Scotiabank, and I got my cash. Unlike the Scotiabank ATM in Cayman, there was no option to get U.S. dollars, but I didn't that want that today anyway.

I'd been thinking about eating at Ti Bananne, which I'd heard has good West Indian food, but the whole Rodney Bay area seemed so empty, and I hadn't brought a book or my travel journal or anything. I decided it might be better to go back to Gros Islet. On the way, I stopped for some provisions at the Rodney Heights Super J. I bought bagels, soymilk and, after a bit of hesitation, coffee. (Hesitation because I had not seen a coffee pot in my room, though I did see cone filters, which was promising.) I started walking in the direction of Gros Islet, but was able to flag down a bus before I'd walked far. Then I rode the bus to the end of the line, which was just a few minutes' ride, then walked the few short blocks from there to the guesthouse.

During that walk, a lot of guys insisted that I stop and chat with them. I'd known that Caribbean men would be aggressive, but as I tried to exit each situation in a friendly way, it occurred to me that I was going to need to find a faster way of rejecting men or I'd be losing a fair bit of vacation time in the name of politeness. Once back in my room, I put on a fake engagement ring I'd brought for this purpose and hoped it would help. Then it was time for a little more cleanup and back out in search of a badly needed dinner.

I followed the guidance in Will and Stephanie's binder and went to Flavours of the Grill, which was just a block or so from home. The menu there was all very meaty, but when I said I was a vegetarian, the chef offered to make me something veg. While waiting, I sat at the bar and chatted with a couple from Toronto, Jack and Amy (well, he's British, but they live in Toronto). They said that they were staying at the Landings and had been there for about five days already, and had two days left in their trip. When I said it was my first night, they asked how I already knew about Gros Islet, which made me feel very in the know.

While we talked, I ordered the local beer (Piton), which is a fairly light brew, but still good, and well suited for downing quickly in hot weather. The interior of the restaurant is hot pink and blue, with lots of windows, so that the outdoors seems quite near. The restaurant also has a huge front porch and, when my food was ready, Amy said we should all go sit out there and eat together.

My meal was really good — it was a soy-potato-rice mix, with vegetables and salad on the side. The soy was that crumbly mix made to look like meat, which generally is not my favorite, but the vegetables and flavorings were good, and it was relaxing sitting outside listening to the music of the burgeoning street party. I knew I would be way too tired to stay up and see the party in full swing, so this was a nice alternative. Also good was the conversation. I especially enjoyed hearing about Amy's travels in Southeast Asia.

After we'd all had a few drinks and cleared our plates, Jack and Amy were ready to go walk around, and I was ready to call it a night. We said goodbye and I went inside to settle my bill. First of all, so cheap! ($33 EC — $25 for my meal, I believe $5 for a beer, and the rest tax.) Second, I realized Jack must have paid for a few of my Pitons. If you guys ever read this, next time the drinks are on me!

As I left, I thanked the chef again for my meal, and I thought he seemed incredibly nice.

While I walked back to the guesthouse, the street party played a tune that sampled "Billie Jean," which seemed perfect for me, and I figured things couldn't get much better! I'm under the mosquito netting now, about ready to crash. Tomorrow, Pigeon Island!

Travel journal intro: St. Lucia!

I once had a co-worker who traveled to St. Lucia for his honeymoon. We worked in an antiseptic office park in a dreary suburb, but his description made me feel I was far from my windowless cube. He talked about St. Lucia so enthusiastically, I desperately wanted to go myself. But at the time, I thought that I never would.

This month, I proved my former self wrong and traveled to St. Lucia for two weeks, after a marathon 12 months of planning and one rescheduling (thank you, Hurricane Tomás). Because of that, I had plenty of time to mull over every last detail. But despite all my research, in many ways St. Lucia was nothing like I expected!

In the past, I have not done a good job of blogging about my vacations. This time, I am going to write an entry for each day of my trip. I wrote drafts of two of these entries when I was on the island. I now am going to clean them up and post them, then write new entries for each of the other days. I kept a hard-copy journal while I was there, so that will help me remember details.

In general, I'll be changing the names of people that I met, though when talking about specific restaurants, hotels, and vendors that I patronized, I may go ahead and use the real names of managers and guides and such, since I think that's expected.

I hope that this travel journal will be helpful to others who are planning trips to St. Lucia. If you read this and are interested in the island, please feel free to e-mail me any specific questions you may have.

With that, on to Day One!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The scent of paradise

One of the best things I bought when vacationing on Grand Cayman last year was a small pot of coconut-scented hand cream.

I remember sitting in my idyllic vacation apartment, looking through the window at the Caribbean, and thinking my hand cream was the best souvenir because, after getting home, every time I smelled the cream's wonderful coconut scent, I'd be taken back to that time and place.

Horrifically, when I left Cayman, my hand cream was seized by airport security! I stupidly had stuck the cream in my carry-on bag, forgetting that it would be considered a liquid. This despite having practically memorized the TSA rules prior to the trip. It was as if I forgot that the guidelines mattered on the way home!

But the amazing end to this story is that a few months after arriving home in cold, bleak Boston, I decided to e-mail the store where I bought the hand cream, a wonderful little spot called Pure Art. The store's manager, Deb van der Bol, wrote back that she would be happy to mail me some replacement cream. Luckily, she had a friend who was going to be traveling to the U.S. and could mail me the cream for a shipping charge of only $5. What wonderful luck! The hand cream arrived safely a few weeks ago, having been carefully packed in a box with handwritten directions such as "please do not crush" written on most every side.

Every time I use this cream, I'm back at the Harbour View Apartments and Studios, feeling the perfect relaxation and ease that I had every day I was on Cayman. Thank you, Deb, for helping bring back that wonderful week!

Copyright 2009-2010 by Sasha Sark. Please don't reuse without permission.
"West African Dark Blue Cloth" image is displayed courtesy of the Richard F. Brush Art Gallery at St. Lawrence University.