Day 4: BAD WEATHER AND THE BIG BAMBOO
With the agreeable weather we had been having throughout the trip, Julie and I were shocked to see that it had been raining this morning. I thought this would pass in the afternoon (being in the tropics and all), but Julie somehow knew this would ruin the Pitons view throughout the day. And after all, this was the day we were going to do the cruise which promised to yield the best views of the Pitons.
So we took this opportunity to get the excellent banana crepe at Josephine’s. It was a bit fattening but at least the portions could be controlled versus the stuffing you’d be subjected to at the buffet.
Afterwards, we managed to secure beach towels and then joined the tour along with a half-dozen other couples who were joining us.
The tour van drove us back towards Castries then headed towards the small airport in town where there appeared to be another harbor. That was where our tour boat was docked.
The weather was a mix of on and off showers. It wasn’t exactly the type of fair weather everyone was hoping for. But when you’re committed to a paid excursion like this, you have to suck it up and hope for the best.
And so we pulled away from the shore and proceeded along the 1hr 45minute cruise along the western coast towards the town of Soufriere. We could see additional squalls were drenching the coast as we pulled away from the harbor. Plus, we could see more squalls up ahead the further south we went. In fact, some of the oceanside properties (like the Sandals Regency) were a bit depressingly misty behind the squalls.
There was a constant scramble of people going under the shelter and back out in the open thanks to the on-and-off rains. Meanwhile, the tour operators were blaring reggae music (many of which were Bob Marley classics) as well as some other Caribbean reggae songs that both sounded familiar as well as others that had more of a local flavor.
Given the volume of the music, it was a bit too loud for our liking and plus it seemed to give the tour more of a party atmosphere instead of a more relaxed atmosphere that we were hoping for.
Every once in a while, someone from the tour would talk over the loud speaker and explain what we’d be seeing on the coast, whether it was Anse La Raye or Canaries.
There was also one moment where one of the songs played was a seemingly local one called “Big Bamboo.” After listening to the lyrics, it soon became apparent that the big bamboo had more to do with a person’s appendage and nothing at all to do with the real bamboo. And in typical reggae style, it was one of those party songs where you have a recurring word or phrase that gets applied to a variety of situations.
You know, kind of like Sublime’s “Smoke Two Joins” where he can smoke two joins in times of peace and in times of war, smoke two joins in the morning and at night, etc. etc. Except in this case, you’ve got a woman in mourning for a man with a dead big bamboo, a Chinese man with no bamboo (is it really that bad for Chinese males?), bartenders mixing drinks with their big bamboo when no one’s looking, and the singer fielding calls for his big bamboo. Anyways…
It was around 10:30am when we arrived at Soufriere. We could see that the views of the Pitons were rather shrouded in mist and had a mysterious quality to it. It was quite a contrast to the views we got yesterday. Boy, what a different 24 hours makes.
In any case, once we got onto the land, we were whisked into vans, which then proceeded to drive us to the Sulphur Springs, which was the so-called drive-in volcano. Now after hearing the tour guides give their tour and explanations that we were essentially standing in the middle of a caldera and calling this place the only drive-in volcano in the world, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that that’s a false claim because Yellowstone National Park sits within the caldera of a massive supervolcano and you’ve got roads going right into it making that also a drive-in volcano, too!
We didn’t have a whole lot of time to linger around and take photos (especially of an interesting small mineral waterfall), and we didn’t want to miss the bus so we were quickly whisked back into the tour van, which then proceeded to head to the Diamond Botannical Garden.
Once there, the familiar face of Peter Simon came up to Julie and I and exchanged pleasantries with us as well as a handshake. Indeed, he was the one who was to guide our tour.
And so he immediately got into his tour guide mode and it was kind of funny to hear his jokes since we had heard them already.
The tour itself was made more interesting by the fact that the rain seeemed to be relentless and the canopy of tall trees provided some relief from the raindrops.
Eventually, we’d get to the end of the tour where we were given a chance to see the Diamond Falls. Unfortunately, it was rather crowded, hard to take couple photos, and hard to have a peaceful experience with all the humanity here.
At least, Peter Simon made this the last part of the tour before souvenir shopping so we used some of that time to stay behind and take more photos of the falls in the rain.
Finally, that part of the tour ended and the tour van proceeded to take us out of Soufriere and up to some lunch spot further up the road on the way back to Anse La Raye. It wasn’t what Julie and I anticipated as we had thought we’d be going all the way to Anse Chastanet.
Anyways, the food was pretty fulfilling and we had some opportunities to take more photos from that lunch spot. Again, with the misty skies, the view had more of a southeast Asian feel to it rather than the clear skies of yesterday. Still, it was scenic nonetheless.
Afterwards, we returned to the boat and pulled away from Soufriere heading back north. The tour operators decided to play “Big Bamboo” again before the boat ended up stopping in some kind of area where the waters were more or less calm for some snorkeling.
Meanwhile, a local came paddling up to our boat with his carvings and trinkets. It was clear he was trying to sell them to our boat putting them one-by-one on the deck of the boat. This totally reminded me of our experience on the Nile Valley Cruise back in the summer. Except at least it was only one guy doing the pushing instead of a whole team of row boats surrounding the cruise vessels.
After the 45 minutes or so of snorkeling time, the boat proceeded further up the coast making a brief entrance into Marigot Bay (apparently there’s lots of “financially able” people who live here) for some photo opportunities. There was also a rainbow that provided a decent backdrop to the exclusive hillside homes of the area.
From there, Julie and I got cleaned up and decided to take one of the complimentary hourly shuttles to the Sandals Regency to fulfill our dinner reservation at La Toc Restaurant. We wanted to go to Kimono’s, but it was sold out apparently until Tuesday, which was the day after we would leave and go home.
The dinner reservation was made the day we arrived at the Sandals Grande on Thursday afternoon, but they told us the only slot left was for 9:15pm, which was rather late – especially considering the last shuttle leaves at 11pm.
So at around 6pm, we made it to the sprawling Sandals Regency Resort. Then, we made a beeline straight for La Toc Restaurant, which was rather empty with a handful of couples here. We requested if we could eat earlier instead of waiting till 9pm and well it worked!
As we ate the mostly French fare, we couldn’t help but notice how empty the restaurant was. We couldn’t figure out why we were only offered the 9:15pm slot back at the Grande. In any case, we were glad we got our early dinner, then we were able to walk around the extensive property, and finally shuttle back to the Grande at around 9pm for some late night snacks at the Olde English Pub (for more jerk chicken wings and BBCs).
This was the very last night we’d be spending at the resort and so we mind as well make it count. The weather seemed to have also let up even though the ground was quite wet. All in all, Julie and I were in a celebratory mood though reality was just around the corner.