Sunday, 22 November 2009

Thursday 19th November

The journey to St Lucia. Well in theory this should be a piece of cake. It can't be more than a couple of hundred miles north from Grenada to St Lucia, but there are ways to make it far far more difficult...

Your initial step is to decide that the airline hub should be in Barbados. Now at first glance this isn't necessarily a bad idea. Barbados is fairly famous so surely it's a sensible place to have a hub. Then you look at the geography of the area. Barbados is pretty much as far to the south east as it's possible to get and still be a Caribbean island, so no matter where else you're flying from and to it's going to be in the wrong direction.

Your second step is to be late. Everywhere. All the time. To the point where your pilots are getting fed up of waiting for the plane they're meant to be flying.

The third step is to ensure that your passengers and their luggage are on different planes.

So what started out as a couple of 45 minute hops Grenada - Barbados - St Lucia, ended up being a Grenada - Barbados - St Vincent - St Lucia without luggage marathon that took rather longer than it should have and we arrived on St Lucia not long before sun down.

Leaving Leysa and Caroline at the airport trying to track down the all important suitcases (contents included the uber-important rum), the boys headed off to the hire car place. The first vehicle on offer was a Nissan pick-up truck. Apart from the fact that Caroline and Leysa would both need double amputations at the knees to fit into the back seats, it had no cover over the pick-up bed. Now when one considers that it is just at the end of the rainy season, whilst beautifully sunny during the day, it invariably tips it down in the evening and overnight. Soaked cases wasn't high on our agenda for improved fun. The second and last vehicle on offer was a rather ropey-looking Daihatsu 4x4. By "ropey-looking" I mean that the front bumper pivots suspiciously along its top edge and there are a couple of impressively substantial holes through the radiator. Despite some trepidation we set out in our Daihatsu-thingy to see how the girls have got on at the airport. On the way there we see our first accident, which is conveniently right on the entrance to the airport. Following some impressive chicane driving from Olly, we manage to get onto the airport road. The girls have managed to persuade someone from LIAT that we would quite like some clothes and we are assured that they are likely to maybe turn up later in the evening on one of the two flights that should probably if we're lucky be arriving at some point. Oh good.

Having taken a couple of photos of the worst of the visible damage on the Daihatsu-thingy we set out sans-luggage to the Balenbouche Estate where we will be staying for the next week. The local airport is right at the north of St Lucia. Balenbouche is right at the south of the island. Despite it being obvious from the map that heading down the west coast is a far shorter journey than heading down the east coast, we are assured by several locals that the east road is much easier and better. This proves to be good advice as we get underway on some very good roads and make good time down the coast as darkness and the rain descend. The Daihatsu-thingy however is not sounding so good and as we hit less well finished roads there are some very strange noises coming from the front of the vehicle - which stop when the brakes are applied. Hmmm; nasty clankings associated with braking. Why am I not feeling particularly reassured?

We arrive at Balenbouche after about two hours on the road. We're lucky that most of the roads were so good. Now that there's an opportunity to get under the Daihatsu-thingy (which I wasn't going to do at the side of the road - you've got to see some of the driving here to believe it) it's rather obvious that the front right brake caliper isn't quite as well attached as it should be.

We are greeted at Balenbouche by the owner; Uta Lawaetz, who came to St Lucia from Germany 28 years ago. Having managed to telephone her from the airport to say we would be late, Uta has prepared a Chow Mein dinner for us which is not only welcome, but very good as well.

The cottage we're going to be staying in is very different to the one on Grenada. Thoroughly surrounded by lush greenery, it's very open plan - the kitchen and front room area could almost be called a veranda with no glass or shutters between the uprights supporting the roof. The bedrooms are airy and rely on through drafts to keep cool. Mosquito nets will be the order of the night. One of the bathrooms is quite literally outside. It's great!

Just before retiring to bed, some good news: the luggage has been found and will be on its way to us tomorrow after it has been cleared through customs. We go to bed to an incredible cacophony of animal noises - frogs, insects and lizards all competing to be heard.

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