Travel: Caribbean memories, part 1

A month ago, I was in the Caribbean, to forget the daily stress and to take full advantage of the landscapes, the sea, the fine sand, and the heat. If I did not specifically mention this adventure on my social media, it was a highly anticipated event. During this trip, I left my comfort zone in more than one way, I learned a lot, and I discovered beautiful and spectacular places. I offer you to go with me and discover this adventure made of gorgeous sunsets, beautiful beaches, turquoise waters, and colorful flowers.

 

1/ The trip

 

I was lucky enough to go to the Caribbean on a cruise. A friend was offered a trip/seminar by one of her suppliers and then offered me to go with her. It was so kind of her, and it was something utterly unheard of for me. I never cruised and never went to the Caribbean islands. It was an adventure for me, and I can not thank her enough for offering me to join her on this trip. It included the one-way flight (Paris Orly – Pointe-à-Pitre), the eight-day on the cruise boat, and the return flight (Pointe-à-Pitre – Paris Orly). We traveled with the company Corsair. I have nothing to say about Corsair, except perhaps a relatively limited choice of entertainment to watch during a long flight.

 

The plane journey to the Caribbean islands lasted 8:40, while the return flight lasted 7:55. Everything went pretty well, even if it was long. Very. Long. When we arrived at Pointe-à-Pitre, we collected our suitcases, and we went to the port to reach the boat. For a week, I traveled on a cruise boat named the MSC Preziosa, a colossal ship, to say the least. I’m not used to going on cruise boats, and the size of this ship surprised many times.

 

When boarding in Pointe-à-Pitre, we had to pass a checkpoint, you know, to present the papers and show we are not criminals. The staff was not especially smiling, but I think I was dramatically exhausted by the trip, so my patience was equal to that of a spoon. After this final step, we got our little blue MSC card: this Cruise Card was a passport, a room key, and also open bar and restaurant access. How convenient! (I was so scared to lose it during my trip). Once the administrative side achieved, we got our room and settled with our bags (yay!). We then visited the boat, we lost our way a few times, and then, mojito! After the meal, we went straight to bed because the next day the adventure would begin, with our first stop on an island, Saint Lucia.

 

2/ Saint Lucia

 

NB – If you don’t choose the MSC company and its tours/excursions during the cruise, you have to organize your vacation and the places you want to visit all by yourself. It very often involves taking a cab or a minibus if you are a group. This is the choice we made throughout the week, and to St. Lucia to start. Also, you have to respect a strict schedule, and you can’t afford to be late (in general you’re on the island from 9 am to 6 pm). So the visit and your day must be very well planned if you want to enjoy thoroughly (one day goes very quickly).

 

Saint Lucia is an island that confuses me. As soon as we arrived, it was difficult. There are approximately 4000 passengers on the boat. Imagine when the colossal ship arrives on a new island: the docks soon become crowded. Local taxi drivers who offer tours seak for tourists (money), and of course, this leads to a massive brouhaha.

 

Of course, we were fooled on our first day. A cab driver approached us, and we paid 45€ a day per person for 6 hours on the road. Well, more precisely on a winding and shitty road (yes), with a taxi driver who apparently thought he was driving a race car. All we could do was to see the landscapes from a distance. Otherwise, we had to pay significant fees: baby waterfalls that are crowded and charged, charged mountain views and charged banana plantations. I know, I do not sell a beautiful postcard. I’m pretty sure Saint Lucia is gorgeous: we only had a quick overview of the island, and maybe other areas would have been more fun to visit/discover.

 

My friend Elodie and I got along with other cruise passengers the first night on the boat; consequently, we spent the week together as a group. Lucky us, because our first day was also made of discussions and laughter. After spending our whole day being disappointed and sick in the car, we returned to the town of Castries. We made a beach stop before returning to the boat, and that, however, was a good time. We weren’t in the car anymore, and we could walk on the beach and enjoy the sea. How precious!

 

3/ Barbados

 

By far, my favorite island. I say it now, but I already knew it when first walked on the island. I immediately felt it, and it was confirmed as the hours advanced. Of course, the context strongly influenced my appreciation. I liked everything on this island, and all the places we saw were amazing. When we arrived at the port, our group decided that we would not do the same as the day before, that is to say, spending the whole day in a god damn car.

 

When leaving the port, we said no to all cab drivers, and we walked for a short time. We finally encountered freelance drivers, and especially a super calm, quiet, and polite driver who offered us to discover the island at $ 30 per day for one person. He was not persistent, which helped us decide. And we had a lot of fun, because not only was the price quite right, but most of all our driver was a true angel: he was kind, he drove very well, and was not stingy with information about this island that he knew by heart.

 

He was honest about what to see and what to avoid, and basically, he avoided the tourist stuff and made us see some great places: Harrison’s Cave, Bathsheba, Miami Beach, and Bridgetown. Being the only bilingual person in the group, as for all other English-speaking islands, I had to do the translation, which helped me to get out of my comfort zone. Above all, I had the extreme honor to be able to discuss further with the driver and to learn lots of valuable information.

 

I loved everything about this island, especially Bathsheba, the surfers’ corner with big waves, and, above all, Miami Beach and its reef. I am stressed by the sea and its immensity, which panic me literally. However, there, the water in Miami Beach being bright blue, I decided to go for a swim. After 5 minutes, two of the girls in the group who were swimming further on start screaming, pointing something dark coming in my direction.

 

I saw myself die eaten by a shark. And, of course, I was frozen: it was impossible for me to move until I finally realized that the black spot was, in fact, a (huge) turtle. I relaxed and went away to leave her alone. There were plenty of turtles all around, and I spent the whole afternoon in the water evolving with them (from a distance). The cab driver explained to me later that they live in the reef not far, and that they like to be carried away by the current to eat. As a result, they are also close to bathers. I guess they must have frightened other stressed people in the ocean!

 

4/ Trinidad & Tobago

 

I won’t say too much about this island and the city of Port-of-Spain as we stayed less than two hours. We mostly got sunburned and walked along the harbor. We were quite tired because of the previous days, so we decided not to move too far from the city. Moreover, it was very hot, and the first impressions of the town were not great (cab drivers harassing you, dirt, constant noise). So we decided to turn back quickly, and we opted for a pool day on the boat. Once again, I think that if we had landed elsewhere, our experience of this island probably would have been different.

 

5/ Granada

 

This is the last stop of this first Caribbean blog post: Grenada, the spice island. We arrived on the island’s Independence Day. When we came, we decided to do like for Barbados, namely no cab driver working for a tour company. We walk a little before finding a freelance one. The one we found was a bit scary at first. He had a massive scar on his throat that went from one ear to another. He was quite strange like he was on drugs or smoked some weed. But to be honest, he was pretty cool in the end.

 

The island of Granada is very volcanic and consists mainly of rainforest and beautiful beaches. On our descent from the boat, we walked a little before taking our freelance driver, and we went to Fort George which dates from the early 18th. After the climb, we found the famous driver, and we set off to discover the surroundings. We made several stops on the island, including one in the dense and humid forest at a super lovely spice seller. She made us taste different spices and flavors, such as nutmeg, cinnamon, chocolate, and ginger. She gave us lots of information and easy recipes ideas. It was a good time of exchange, and it was also, I think, a great way to start the day.

 

After this stop, the driver took our small group to the heights, and we crossed the Rain Forest, very green and lush. Then we went down through his village, and he showed us his house. After these adventures by car, we decided to end the day at the beach, and our driver who knew a policeman then made us go to a private beach. It was pretty nice of him. So from there, we did beach-sea-beach-sea-beach day. On the occasion of Independence Day, people on the beach cooked the Oil Down, the national dish made of many different flavors: meat, bananas, breadfruit, fish, dumpling, milk, coconut, spices. One very kind lady offered it to us, accompanied by fresh coconut water (to drink with a straw in the walnut). So we ate a local dish, and it was delicious. And then we spent the rest of the afternoon resting. In the evening, we went back on the boat, with lovely memories in the head, and scented spices in the backpack.

 

That’s all for this blog post. Soon, in a second article, I will tell you more about St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Martinique, and Guadeloupe, and especially my feelings and my impressions about this week of travel. I hope you enjoyed this little ride in the Caribbean, and if you have any questions, do not hesitate!

 

 

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