SAINT LUCIA — Day 4

At around 9am, we headed down to the waterfront to check out the boat we’d rented for the day:

219_walking_to_our_boat

No, not the huge yacht on the left. I’m talking about the teeny motorboat on the right. The plan was to take a 45-minute ride to a town called Soufrière, do a little sight-seeing, and hit up a couple beaches on the way back.

My mom (Naomi) and half-sister (Martha) sat in the front. Here’s a photo of them once we got moving:

225_naomi_and_martha_on_the_boat

Martha’s girlfriend (Amy) and my girlfriend (Hayley) were sitting near me.

The ride was relaxing, and we enjoyed the beautiful scenery:

227_beautiful_land_of_saint_lucia

Here’s a photo of the captain of our ship — a local guy named Cuthbert:

233_cuthbert_the_boat_driver

He was a man of few words, but he showed us something I’ll never forget. It happened several minutes after we saw these two volcanic plugs known as The Pitons:

237_saint_lucia_mountains

Cuthbert turned left and steered us toward a narrow gap in a cliff:

241_approaching_a_crack_in_a_cliff

Ready to see what was inside? Take a look:

243_bats_on_the_wall

See all that lumpy gray stuff? Those are bats — hundreds and hundreds of bats. Maybe even thousands. Some of them were flying around, and they all combined to make a high-pitched squealing/squeaking sound. Yeesh!!

Soon after, when we docked in Soufrière, I helped guide my mom up and off the boat:

246_zack_helping_naomi_get_off_the_boat

Did you notice the guy pulling her up? At the time, I thought he was just some random friendly dock worker, but as it turned out, he was our taxi driver and tour guide for the next three hours. His name is Dickson, and as you can see, he and my mom seemed to like each other:

249_our_taxi_driver_dickson_with_naomi

We walked a short distance to his van and then headed up into the hills.

Five minutes later, he pulled over onto the side of a quiet road, lined on both sides with lush, tropical vegetation. His friend had a home there, and Dickson hopped out of the van to go get something for us. Check it out:

256_dickson_showing_cinnamon_leaf

That might not look like much, so let me explain. It was a fresh cinnamon leaf that he had plucked off a tree, and when he bent/cracked it for us, it gave off the freshest and most intense cinnamon smell you could imagine.

Then he handed a big yellow podlike fruit to my mom:

256b_cocoa_plant_that_is_used_to_make_chocolate

He told us it was cocoa, the plant that’s used to make chocolate. Here’s what the inside looked like:

257_cocoa_plant_interior

Those little white things were slimy — kinda covered in mucus. They looked nasty, but since it *was* just a plant (as opposed to goat brains, for example), I popped one in my mouth and chewed it up. The inside was purple, and it didn’t taste like chocolate — not even a little bit. It was bitter and somewhat unpleasant, but the whole experience was interesting.

After that, Dickson showed us the pods that produce coffee beans . . .

260_pods_and_coffee_beans

. . . and then he sliced up a sweet, fresh grapefruit.

This was our next stop:

276_martha_amy_naomi_hayley_zack_at_the_sulphur_springs

See all that white cloudy stuff in the background? That was sulphur gas rising out of an active volcano. Unlike the cinnamon leaf, it was nice to look at, but smelled like crap.

There were a whole bunch of folks nearby taking mud baths in the natural spring water:

277_mud_bathers_down_below

We were all tempted to jump in, but that would’ve meant getting back in the van in wet bathing suits. Bleh.

On the way to lunch, Dickson took us to a scenic overlook. Here’s an amazing photo, taken by Hayley, that shows him pointing out stuff to Amy:

284_dickson_and_amy

Here’s what they were looking at — the town of Soufrière way down below:

285_nice_view_of_sufriere

Remember the bat cave that I showed earlier? If you click the photo above and zoom in, you can barely see dat gap in the cliff on the extreme left side.

After lunch, we went here:

294_diamond_boanical_gardens

In case you can’t read the sign, it says “Welcome to the Diamond Botanical Gardens, Mineral Baths, and Waterfall.”

Basically, we wandered for an hour and saw a whole lot of beautiful plants . . . like this:

299_pretty_stuff

It was exactly the type of thing I would’ve haaaated doing when I was a teenager, but now I kinda liked it. It was just nice to be out in nature with friends and family.

Here’s a photo of my mom and I walking leisurely along one of the paths . . .

311_naomi_and_zack_walking

. . . and just for the hell of it, here’s another weird-ass plant:

313_tree_testicles

At around 2pm, Dickson drove us back to the dock, and we got back on the boat with Cuthbert. This was our first stop:

323_beach_where_we_stopped

We didn’t stay there long. Martha wanted to snorkel for 15 minutes, so I played around on the beach:

325_zack_on_the_beach

That photo was taken by Hayley, who stayed on the boat with Amy and my mom.

A little while later, we went to a different beach. Check out the view and then I’ll point out three things:

334_view_from_the_beach

1) The head poking out of the water between the beach and the boat belongs to Hayley.

2) If you look really closely, you can see Amy’s head just in front of the boat. She told us she was “flinking” — that is, floating while drinking (a beer).

3) See the gray blob just above the horizon . . . between the two boats? That’s rain.

It rained quite a bit on our way back, and of course it was windy on the boat, and of course I was wearing a wet bathing suit — funny to think that I was craving a hot shower in the Caribbean, but I really needed it.

In the evening, we all hung around the pool for a few hours and ordered food and drinks. Here’s the before-dinner photo . . .

343_hayley_amy_martha_drinks

. . . and here’s the after-dinner photo:

346_zack_martha_amy_naomi_after_dinner

Back at the condo, Amy went to bed, and the rest of us played a team game of Scrabble — Martha and my mom versus me and Hayley. Somehow they won. Let’s not talk about it.

During the game, I spotted THE biggest cockroach of all time, climbing up the wall ten feet to my left. It was like a medjool date with legs. And wings.

Did you hear me?
I SAID WINGS!!!

When Martha tried to kill it with her flip flop, it not only escaped but FLEW RIGHT AT US, prompting a whole lot of shrieking and laughter. Best (or perhaps worst) of all, I got the whole thing on video, having instinctively hit the “record” button on my camera just as Martha took her first swat at it. During the commotion, I managed to whack my ankle on the metal edge of a chair, and when the bug proceeded to crawl toward me, I retreated to my mom’s room, never taking my eyes off it. Thankfully, before entering the room, it veered to the left and headed down the stairs. Martha scampered after it, half-screaming and half-swatting. Unfortunately the bug escaped yet again, and guess whose rooms were downstairs? Yup . . . the rest of us. We were all scared to go to bed — I had visions of that thing landing on my face in the middle of the night — but everything ended well. The bug survived, and so did we.

6 Comments

Hayley drinks beer???!!!
(i love her)
You’re wearing a boise HAWKS t-shirt???

You were right near where we stayed on our honeymoon! Our resort was right in between the pitons you pointed out. Have to say, seeing those photos taken by someone I ‘know’ makes me jones a but harder to get my butt back down there….and soon!

JOE-
It’s like everything good was coming together at that moment, huh? Meanwhile, when can we talk on the phone?

BRIAN-
You must’ve loved that honeymoon — hard to imagine a more beautiful place.

wow, what an ending. u dont drink?
-Navi from New York

but those bats though
-Demetrius Kazanas
http://thatballhawk.mlblogs.com/

NAVI-
I drink *lots* of water and rarely consume any other liquids. As for alcohol, maybe once or twice a year.

DEMETRIUS-
I had no problem with the bats because they left me alone. That cockroach, however, was evil.

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