Saturday, November 23 - Anse Ivrogne and Asa’s Nature Trail & Parrot Watching
We slept in pretty late, so I recorded the previous day’s account before enjoying our typical breakfast of eggs and bacon on toast before preparing for our day. We freed a leafy green grasshopper that was stuck in a window all night.
We planned on going to Sugar Beach, but after speaking with Verena in the morning, we were dissuaded and decided to go to Anse Ivrogne instead. We also discussed doing our laundry.
We packed a lunch and headed north. We accidentally missed our turn in Choiseul to follow the coastal road, and continued past the series of hairpin turns to turn around at the Jean-Baptiste Batik studio we had tried to stop at on Thursday (and again on Friday, but it was seemingly closed).
For the first time, the door and windows were open. We parked and made our way to the entrance. We could hear somebody inside, and after a few tries, we got this somebody’s attention. This somebody was not the artist himself, but a man named Dennis. Dennis was there to sell the pieces of art.
We were actually very impressed with the Batik pieces. Each piece could take the artist as much as a month to prepare. For the first time on the island, we came across artwork that Ruby would consider technically proficient. Dennis tried to sell us a piece, but we simply did not have the cash on hand (or the drive to use it) to afford such pieces. They were more than fairly priced. We were not sure Dennis was really all there. It always felt a bit like he was speaking to a fourth person in the room that wasn’t actually there.
We got back in our rental Jimny and turned on the road we intended to the first time, and went along the coast on a windy road until eventually we reached an overlook with a restaurant on the top called The View. There was a small rocky road from here that led to the beach. The first turn was pretty intimidating, but the surrounding billy goats showed their support.
After parking, we discovered this is also a starting point for the Gros Piton hike.
We made our way to the beach and saw a few locals, and also saw that the coast was fairly rocky. We headed south on foot a bit across a small stream to where the beach appeared to have more sand. This appeared to be where the fishermen hung out.
We talked to two friendly locals who directed us to swim a little further because it was nicer (less lion fish and sea urchins). We began to settle under a tree when one of those friendly locals came by to tell us to not sit under that tree because the falling (and poisonous) almonds from it could be a bit unpleasant. We moved to the shade of the safer adjacent tree and put on our sunscreen and enjoyed the view.
One fisherman came by with a 5 gallon bucket with colorful fish inside, and used as colorful language to describe his dissatisfaction with the day’s haul. It was pretty hard to understand him, but we could tell he was unhappy with the Trump Administration, and kindly showed us his marijuana without our request.
The sky opened up and it began to pour. We waited around for a bit, and when it lightened up we went to the car to drop off some of our things, and headed back to the beach to take a walk north up the coast (directly next to Gros Piton). It was very rocky, and in a few instances I would use my hands. We made great conversation about our times in high school, discussing PE class and cell phones.
When we made it back to the car, we started discussing what to do about our dwindling cash problem. We were down to about $180 USD, including ~$75 saved to give to Verena for our dinner from the other night and laundry.
It’s enough for us to survive on, but it would be really nice for us to be able to withdraw some cash. I also came to the realization that while I informed my credit card institution that I was travelling, I never actually informed my bank…
To make matters worse, my debit card hasn’t really worked for months. I had stopped by my bank last week about this, and they said they fixed it, but I never actually got a chance to check. I started to feel a little silly.
We went to Soufriere, as there is an ATM there. No banks are open until 8 AM on Monday. Upon our arrival, a local made conversation with us before either of us were even out of the car. I left Ruby in the car to fend him off (and more importantly, keep me from fumbling for keys while potentially holding a wad of cash), and accessed the ATM, which was in a little room behind a door next to the main entrance.
I put in my card, punched in my PIN, and requested $300. The machine buzzed and made flipping sounds, and to my surprise, money came out. It worked! What I (stupidly) did not anticipate was that it was in EC, which meant I withdrew just over $100 US, which wouldn’t last all that long. I did some very quick mental math, and withdrew another $500 EC, which also worked (thank God). Only at the point of writing this have I realized how close my mental math was ($800 EC ≈ $296 USD).
Knowing I had access to my bank account made me overjoyed. I knew it would be ok either way, but knowing that money wouldn’t be an issue went a long way.
We hadn’t really planned this far ahead, and on a whim decided to head back up the mountain to the north of Soufriere and visit Asa, the Rastafarian parrot guy.
Upon making it up the mountain, we intended to split one of our sandwiches we packed for lunch, but Asa actually saw us parking and called out to us. Not extremely hungry, we decided to just eat afterwards.
We went through the gate and told him we’d do the hike for $20 USD. I ended up giving him $60 EC which is just a bit more.
We hiked up a little bit past his house. It was designed by himself and influenced by southeastern Asian architecture, particularly from Thailand. We took a brief stop on a platform overlooking the valley that held Soufriere and the Pitons. It was a spectacular view — perhaps better than Tet Paul, and while you could see much further than we could at La Batterie, that view was admittedly more picturesque.
We continued up his mountain path, and he pointed out various plants of interest, including pine trees he had planted to remind him of his time in Canada, a cinnamon tree, a fiddle-head fern (named for the curly end which resembles the scroll of a fiddle), the massive palms and bamboo that dwarfed us, and another frankincense tree. He actually went down to chop off a chunk of it to give us.
On our way up and down, we mostly discussed Rastafarian thought — how cities and venture capitalism are “a poison on society”. While we may not have shared all of our beliefs, we at least agreed on some of the main points. We were impressed that for someone living off the grid with such beliefs, he was well read, up to date, is fairly well travelled, and was actually open minded. He was very spiritual while having knowledge to back his ideas.
We made it back to his vantage point and kept an eye out for parrots while continuing making smalltalk. It was around 4:30 PM — an excellent time to see parrots, as the air was cooling down. Asa took out some delicious oranges for us to eat.
He told us about his daughter on the east coast of Saint Lucia, his son in Vieux Fort, his son in France (and thankfully not in a big city!), and his son in Nova Scotia.
We talked in detail about the hurricane of 2009, and how much that disrupted his nature trail and how building practices on the island were sent through the gauntlet those 48 hours as rain plagued the island.
We talked a lot about China and their negative impact on developing countries through “economic colonialism”.
He told us about how Saint Lucians are not very adventurous, and how many of them will have never even seen the sulfur springs.
I asked him about the effect of tourism on Saint Lucia. I had asked Terry this same question earlier in the week, and he only had positive things to say. As expected, Asa had some more thought out ideas on it - namely how it was making the younger folks lazier. That said, he was defensive of tourists, and said they are blameless in the damage that tourism creates, but rather that the government and locals are too quick to be taken advantage of by foreigners promising to invest in Saint Lucia. The result is that the tourist money goes right back off the island, and Saint Lucians give away their culture to cater to tourists.
I felt like I could relate to Asa a lot in the sense that he seemed to be what I like to call myself, that is, the “most optimistic pessimist”. He realistically saw the negatives of situations and did not brush them under the rug, but also was able to see the silver lining, had hope, and believed everything would be ok.
We did see two pairs of parrots. They had green backs and colorful, multicolored chests. Before taking flight, they squawked and chattered with their mates.
On our way out, he showed us his humble abode where he sips his tea, reads National Geographic, and listens to the BBC. As we left, he cut a lily flower for Ruby. He also gave us a bag of little bananas he harvested on his property. They were pretty great!
We hopped in our car and headed back south through Soufriere and to the Waterlilly Cottage, for our last night in Laborie (right on the border of Choiseul). It was a great day, even though it started a little uneventful. Visiting Asa and making great conversation with him had been something we looked forward to for a few days, and we were so happy we didn’t miss out on it. We both agreed that it was our favorite experience so far on our honeymoon.
A calico kitty joined us in bed that night as we watched a little more Stranger Things.
- 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