Chapter 5: Reggae, Rastafarian and Rat Island

beach

Early morning on Halcyon beach

I am not a morning person.  I like to wake up slowly and until I have coffee coursing through my veins I have been accused of being quite antisocial.  No biggie.  I can live with that.  The resort had a little feline community.  In the ‘open to the elements’ buffet, while sipping on St. Lucian coffee, I was entertained each morning by the calico cats that darted in and around the flower beds scaring the wits out of each other (and sometimes the guests).  They were lean, active and well looked after by an in-house veterinarian.  They would sit by your chair and unless you made eye contact, they just sat there.  I could tell it was disconcerting to some guests as cats have an unpredictable habit of jumping up on your lap.  But no, not these cats.  If you gave them a morsel they would eat it and move on…to the next table.  Too funny!  I was secretly hoping they liked frogs.  Frogs croaked from sunset to daybreak.  Never have I experienced such noisy tropical nights!!

Cat watching made for a nice easy laid back way to wake up each day.

cats1

Petite calico

In the early morning the beach is deserted and the music around the pool and breakfast buffet more often than not carried the melancholy sax tunes of Kenny Gee.  Nice.  It had been awhile since I played his music and it seemed fitting to hear it here where guests expect a relaxed atmosphere.  But wait.  If you are a pool going person, this music is ramped up quite a bit by mid morning!!  God forbid that tourists should lay about sunbathing or immersed in that book that has been gathering dust on a night table!!  I don’t blame the pool staff.  It is their job to entertain.  By all means, just go ahead and entertain and if I don’t feel the need to be entertained then the unspoken language of ‘face in a book’ should mean…just that… I want my face in my book.  But, oh no!  I swear there must be an invisible message scrolled across my forehead that says; ‘pick me’!  Anyway a polite smile and shake of the head when asked if I was partaking in ‘pool volleyball’ was usually enough to send them away.  But not far.  My better half is MUCH more diplomatic and accommodating.  Off he goes to splash around the pool with a bunch of guests (who were probably as antsy as he) to play the water game.  No problem Mon!  I am exercising my brain, and my right arm.  Those mimosas can be heavy when full right?

pool activities

Pool volleyball…naahh no thanks!

Reggae music is delightful at first.  We don’t listen to it at home so ‘when in Rome’.  What I loved was to hear the entire staff shuffling along to this music and singing it as well…sometimes at the top of their lungs.  Hmmm…it’s only mid morning and it is not my imagination that the music is now quite loud.  One selection seemed to go on and on forever.  Not my imagination – when it ended several guests exclaimed, “Finally!”  Enough said.  Later in the evening the steel drums came out.  These too were delightful.  The band members looked like they were truly enjoying what they do.

DSCN2233Our information session at the resort included some cautionary advice from the manager in regards to the ‘beach bums’.  I wasn’t sure I liked that reference to the locals who patrol the beach selling their wares.  A couple of days in, though, I understood perfectly fine what he was trying to tell us.  These locals do not leave you alone.  They constantly ‘chat you up’ in their Rastafarian lingo and seem to think it is their duty to talk…and sell…nonstop.  They are friendly enough but after a day or so hearing the same line, it can get tiresome.  They don’t take no for an answer and when some guests attempted to ‘shoo them away’ they were quite insulted.  “Relax Mon, no problem” was usually their standard retort.  But like pesky flies they would be back minutes later.

Rastafarian

Local fellow riding off into the sunset

These same beach people do not like getting their picture taken…unless you pay them.  I zoomed in on this one fellow riding a horse at the water’s edge.  It was the horse I was photographing really.  When he rode closer, the rider shouted to several people, ‘no pictures, I have to feed my horse!”  “If you take picture you pay me five dollar.”  Not likely!  He rode up to me and offered to take MY picture on HIS horse… again for ‘five dollar’.  I declined.  Can you just picture it (pardon the pun)?!

The pool was right on the beach’s edge so it was a daily occurrence to hear a local (Rastafarian type) fellow trying to lure the guests over to his (garbage can) full of handmade trinkets.  His tattered hair hung to his waist in dreadlocks. I asked him how long he had been growing it – and he said twelve years.  It looked more like his entire life but I wasn’t going to question it.  I didn’t take a picture – cheapskate me! What I found interesting was guests fed him drinks from the pool bar- all day long.  By evening he was downright tipsy and the chatter got louder and sillier.  He would exclaim that his father tells him he likes ‘the drink’ too much.  No kidding.

beach cleaners

Hotel staff are kept busy raking up what Mother Nature leaves

The beach itself was not big but the breakers crashing on it steadily over our entire stay were huge.  Most days the beach was red flagged.  Resort staff was kept busy raking the seaweed from the beach almost on a daily basis.  Apparently some tourists thought the seaweed made the beach look dirty.  A fact – but this is a beach on a Caribbean coastline – what do you expect?

Rat Island

Rat Island

Rat Island. Photo taken from Sandals Halcyon beach.

A small island not far from our resort in Choc Bay caught my attention.  I asked a staff member if it had a name and of course he replied in their official language.  I asked what it meant in English and this seemed to stump him a bit.   He said it was called after a little animal that runs really fast.  “A rabbit?” I asked.  “Yeah, he said that’s it – a rabbit.” Turns out it wasn’t called Rabbit Island.  I learned later it was ‘Rat Island’.  It is more notably connected to a St. Lucian poet and playwright Derek Wallcot who received a Nobel Prize in Literature in the 90’s.  In conjunction with the government and various other parties making up the ‘Rat Island Foundation’, he has proposed the Island become a retreat for artists.  It is uninhabited right now and resort staff was quick to discourage anyone from getting too close to it – kayaking or otherwise.

Stay at One – Play at Three

There are three Sandals resorts on St. Lucia.  They really don’t care where you spend your time – a shuttle takes you to the other two resorts every half hour.  You can use their facilities; pool; beach; golf – whatever is your pleasure.  They only ask that you come back and ‘sleep’ at the resort where you are officially booked.  No problem!  If you are bored…then you can only blame yourself.  The other two resorts were lovely and will warrant a visit in the years to come!

pool sandals halcyon

Pool – Sandals Halcyon

DSCN2243

Sandals Halcyon

la Toc st lucia

Sandals Regency La Toc – a huge property!

La Toc

Waterfall at Sandals La Toc

La Grande Sandals

View from lobby at Sandals Grande St Lucian

DSCN2327

Waiting for our shuttle – Sandals Regency La Toc

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Relaxed, tanned and happy

Coming soon:  Chapter 6: The Best for Last

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