Friday, November 06, 2015

A day on St. Maarten

Another lovely island and another lovely day.  We shared our tour with a couple of young Brits who were as delighted by our tour and tour guide as were we.  St. Maarten is half Dutch and half French.  Our guide was from the Dutch side and told us all about the relations between both sides of the island.  Our guide was great about stopping at beautiful views and making sure we got in the shots.

We headed over to the beaches on the French side of the island with amazing surf and gorgeous views.  He told us all about the US airstrip on an island nearby used in WWII.  The airstrip was most recently used by drug runners until the islands nearby tore up the landing strip and positioned obstacles to deter landings.

Our first stop was to visit with a friend of our guide.  This man was a self taught expert on sea life and, while we have lived on the Gulf for about 15 years now, we got to hold live specimens that we had not seen before.  The young Brits enjoyed it even more than we did.

 Our next stop was up the road a bit to meet some other friends of our guide.

From the iguanas, we head to the beach for an hour or so.

While Gene lounged in the shade with a local brew, I played in the waves.  The young British guys took pity on this old gal and let me hang out with them for a bit.  The changing rooms were very nice and the whole place was so beautiful!

We stopped to get pics from both sides of the dividing line and then it was on to the rest of our adventure.

The airport on St. Maarten is renowned,  The planes approach directly over a beach (high tide so it was hard to see more than rocks) and we were just in time to witness this phenomena 

Before we knew it, our day was drawing to a close and our guide took us back to our ship through some beautiful country.

Next, and last stop, Tortola

Sunday, November 01, 2015

Back to the Islands

We've had a mixed bag of good and not so good and some 'just deal with it' days.  But, life is looking up and I'm bound and determined to finish this cruise posts.  Today, we'll be

We had a wonderful time in St. Lucia.  Our guide was amazing.  He was fun, articulate and knowledgeable.  Thanks to him, we got to experience some of the true flavors of the island.  There were two buses of us and, once our guide saw E with his cane, once again, E got to be the "navigator" which enabled him to get in and out of the van with much more ease.

One of our first stops was a road side banana plantation.  It was really an interesting stop...picked right off the tree bananas, local crafts and we really learned a lot about the banana...

The blue bags protect the young bananas from insects and small animals.
We roamed from the top of mountains to the beautiful beaches and even got to take a boat ride to the Pinions.  We had a lovely breakfast stop before heading to the top of the mountains with local fruits and typical breads and snacks.  It was all yummy.  My favorite was the passion fruit and E's was the breadfruit!

I think St. Lucia was one of E's favorite islands.  When we got on the small boats that would take up to the beach between the Pinons, the crew was right there to help him on and off the boat.  On the trip back to the vans, the crew even ran the boat up onto the beach to make it easier for E to get off.  These people were simply AMAZING.  When we tried to tip them, we were repeatedly told, "This is our job".  We tipped anyway.

 Sampling the local brew!
 This is where we had our island breakfast in a local's home.  If we ever renew our vows, I am thinking here...or the Amalfi

And the gorgeous Pinons 

We spent a couple of hours here on the beach just loafing around.  I did find two tropical printed shirts for the twins for their sister's 4th. b'day party (a Luau themed one) and we sampled a 'couple' more of the local brews.

Our next stop was the "drive through" volcano, still active on the island.  E elected to stay with the van as it had started to sprinkle and the steps up and down were steep.  The volcano was small compared to the Thermals in New Zealand but the tour was interesting and the views amazing.

 Our guide for the volcano tour

 Next stop, the waterfall where I got to cross another item off my bucket list....

 When my ex took me to Hawaii on Maui, all I really wanted to do was see the whales off the coast (did that) and swim under a, nope.  That was not something he was remotely interested in so, until this trip, years and years later, I finally got my wish.

 The pool was pretty shallow but very slippery.  Of the 12 people in our van, I was the only one to "swim" in the waterfall.  Many of the others from the other van joined me.  Thanks to this little gal who was, by the way, on her honeymoon, I made it out to middle without any serious injury and got to play!

Wet and happy, we had one more stop before heading back to the area for shopping and then back to our ship.  We stopped at the same place we had the wonderful island breakfast and we given home baked crusty and tasty hunks of bread and some local cheeses.  Wow.

 This is the airport in St. Lucia...we kept seeing planes landing and taking off behind the port but could not figure out where they were setting down til our ship pulled out.  Short runway and straight onto the water....eeek.

and two more islands to go!