Friday, November 22 - Grocery Shopping, Tet Paul Trail, Volcano Sulfur Baths, Diamond Botanical Garden
I woke up and recorded yesterday’s account on my phone before we ventured out to the supermarket to get groceries. We’ve been burning through cash pretty quickly (as expected) and opted to save some cash by making all of our own meals for a couple of days.
We headed south, through Laborie and on to Vieux Fort. Verena had given us directions at dinner the night before. Upon arrival, we were actually pretty relieved that the supermarket was fairly similar to what we would have at home, albeit smaller. We grabbed breakfast, lunch, and dinner foods. We opted to get the same boxed milk imported from France and bacon imported from Barbados that Stephanie had bought for us when we stayed at La Batterie.
Upon checkout, our total rang up to $159.66 EC, or $59.13 USD. Unfortunately for us, we walked in with $57 in USD and maybe $1.75 in EC. We briefly discussed what we could put back (as we were some odd $1.50 USD short), but a kind man behind us gave is a $5 EC note to get us by. At first I refused, but he insisted that I take it, so I did. I gave him all of the change we got back and thanked him again.
It’s the little things.
We made our way back to the Waterlilly Cottage and made brunch — egg and turkey sandwiches with a side of quartered grapefruit.
We set off to hike the Tet Paul trail. It was a short drive north, and on the same side road as the Fond Doux Plantation, but instead of going there, you hang a left before the gate and take a windy road up the mountain.
Tet Paul is at the end of the road. It was $10 US a person, and I paid with my VISA card because I was trying to conserve my cash. We went without a guide, which would have been extra.
The nature trail was beautifully maintained and provided us some of the best views we’ve had so far. The vantage points have you a couple thousand feet above sea level just a tad east of both of the Pitons (inland). We only saw a few other tourists. We were unfortunately making the climb in the heat of the day, so we did not see any parrots (I had read that sometimes you could see them here).
There was a rain storm on the southern tip of the island. I was surprised that despite being able to see Saint Vincent and the Grenadines from La Batterie, I was unable to see it from this higher vantage point [I’m pretty sure it was behind Gros Piton].
We left Tet Paul Trail feeling that our money was well spent, and headed off to the “drive through volcano” and sulfur springs.
Finding our way was not too hard, as it was just up the street and on our first right. Upon arrival, we paid our $30 USD entry for both of us to tour the volcano and take a dip in the mud baths.
We drove along the road across the collapsed volcano and were directed to immediately park. Lo and behold, we parked right behind another Jimny in the same color! It looked as though it were a bit newer, and was driven by a couple that appeared to be 30-40 years older than us. I won’t pretend like I didn’t have some envy. Suddenly our little Jimny had been downgraded from perfect to almost perfect in my mind.
It wasn’t much of a drive through, but I cannot complain. We got out and were assigned a tour guide, Marianna, to show us the collapsed volcano and answer our questions.
There was no visible lava or anything like I had seen at the volcano in Nicaragua, but there were dark pools of water boiling and shooting water high into the air. We were told that tourists used to be able to actually walk on the surface of the collapsed volcano, where they could boil eggs very quickly. This all came to an end (in the 80’s?) when a tour guide, Gabriel, jumped up and down to demonstrate to his group how firm the ground was. It wasn’t, and Gabriel collapsed the ground beneath him and was submerged up to his waist, obtaining second degree burns, but was thankfully quickly pulled out. He has retired from giving tours and is now a fisherman in Castries, according to Marianna.
Thus, the closest boiling water pit to where we were was dubbed Gabriel’s hole, the only manmade one there.
Our tour guide (who was clearly fighting a cold) often reminded us about the “healing properties” of the sulfur. I asked her if anyone had taken one last bath to permanently cure all of their conditions. She laughed, “Not yet”.
We got back in our Jimny and parked back at the entrance, where I struck up conversation with the other Jimny driver, as I do. He told me he had ordered a Chevrolet Spark (for shame!) and was pleased with the upgrade he got when he arrived.
Ruby and I took turns putting on our bathing suits in the changing rooms because the latch didn’t work. After doing so, a very helpful worker directed us to put our belongings closer so that he could take pictures of us using my phone. I was a tad paranoid about not being able to protect our things, but thankfully the sulfur pool area seemed to empty out as soon as we arrived.
We got in the first pool, which was honestly uncomfortably hot. The printed sign said 100° F, but it felt a good deal hotter than Ruby’s parents’ hot tub, which supposedly lives at 101° F. I never really got used to how hot it felt. When we pulled our arms above water, we could see that any body hair was much darker and more pronounced, because of the mineral deposits in the water.
We got out and were given a bucket of light grey mud. We took turns covering each other’s body with it, and sat for a little while until it was close to dry.
We were given a second bucket with darker mud, and were able to dip our hands in so we could paint on each other. Ruby drew a bird on my back, and I made her into an adorable kitty (if you squint).
We dipped into another pool, which was thankfully a bit cooler, and washed all of the mud off. I haven’t felt so smooth in my life. The guides made many claims about the healing nature of the sulfur springs on your skin, and how breathing it in was healthy. I’m always a skeptic when it comes to armchair prescriptions, but, at the very least, the mud was very exfoliating!
With still some daylight to burn, we headed north (downstream from the sulfur springs), through Soufriere and towards where Terry had taken us, to the Diamond Botanical gardens. We arrived at 4:25 or so with only 35 minutes until close. We were the only tourists inside. The gardens were surprisingly well kept and featured.
We took a quicker pace than we normally would so that we could make it to the falls, but still stopped to take some pictures on the way.
The waterfall was actually really beautiful! Ruby joked how yesterday’s proposal would have been much better done here — completely alone, at a bigger, more beautiful waterfall, and the sign even says Diamond Falls!
We made it out shortly after 5PM after checking out their composting setup and the fountain. Even though we didn’t get to spend too much time at the Botanical Gardens, we were very impressed with them. Highly recommended.
We headed south back to our AirBnB in Laborie. On our way, we decided to stop at Sugar Beach to get the skinny on visiting the beach. All beaches on Saint Lucia are public, but that doesn’t necessarily mean all accesses are public.
Two workers stopped us at the entrance and asked where we were going. They told us that you can’t just drive in and check out the beach for free, and if we went on the people up ahead would try to charge us $50/head. However, he also told us that he ran a water taxi service, and we could “go see what they say”, which told me it’s probably better than he was making it out to be, and he wants a slice of the cake…
We drove along the road to the beach, which actually had more going on than we expected. After driving a mile or so (and up a really big hill!) we reached a paid parking area and another gate. I drove to the gate and asked about the public access to the beach. His response was fairly convoluted - something about parking for $5-10 USD but also something about a $50 shuttle and meal vouchers. After getting him to clarify, I was pretty sure we could just drive up here, park for $10, and access the beach without the expensive stuff. All about getting a slice of that cake…
We returned home to the Waterlilly Cottage to make dinner. I was tempted to get gas on the way, as the gauge now showed 20%, but it was getting dark. Tomorrow’s problem.
Before really settling in, we went to the main plantation building to mooch the Wi-Fi. I caught up on some notifications and we downloaded the first five episodes of Stranger Things.
Finally, we got back to our bungalow and made dinner consisting of diced potatoes, green beans, and sausages. The bagged ketchup we got was produced just down the street at Vieux Fort, and, like all the other ketchups we’ve tried outside the US, is much sweeter. It’s ok, but not necessarily as good as some Heinz or Hunt’s.
After eating, we showered and got ready for bed. But first…we had the scare of our lives. Not a spider, cockroach, or snake (thank God), but…a cat! The poor thing was under our bed. Ruby was in our bedroom and saw it dart out and towards the door, and could hardly exclaim “CAT!” before it turned the corner and collided with me (and broke traction on my foot, giving me a little cut). It darted to the kitchen counter, failed one attempt at escape, and on the second try made it on top and out the window. It was twice as terrified of us as we were of it. After the fact, we wish it stayed to fight off critters.
We snuggled up in our bed and played through the first 22 levels of the game called “here” that I had downloaded on my phone the other day (good ole Google Play Store game roulette). It’s kinda like the old “impossible game”. We got stuck on level 23 and resorted to the first episode of Stranger Things. I liked it, but Ruby was falling asleep, so we went to sleep as soon as the episode concluded.
- Day 1: Monday, November 18 - Traveling to Saint Lucia
- Day 2: Tuesday, November 19 - Enjoying La Batterie and Some Light Exploration
- Day 3: Wednesday, November 20 - Rainforest Hike with Terry
- Day 4: Thursday, November 21 - Choiseul, Font Deux Plantation, and the Balenbouche Estate
- Day 5: Friday, November 22 - Grocery Shopping, Tet Paul Trail, Volcano Sulfur Baths, Diamond Botanical Garden
- Day 6: Saturday, November 23 - Anse Ivrogne and Asa’s Nature Trail & Parrot Watching
- Day 7: Sunday, November 24 - Gros Piton and New Jerusalem Hot Springs
- Day 8: Monday, November 25 - Castries & Sandals Adventure
- Day 9: Tuesday, November 26 - Snorkeling and Board Games
- Day 10: Wednesday, November 27 - La Maison Creole and Flying Home