Friday, March 8, 2013

The Big Trip - Part Two

Click here to read Part One
St. John's, Antigua
For our next stop, St. John's, Antigua, we had booked an excursion. It was a guided safari tour of the island ending with a stop at the beach. Our guide was very informative showing us all kinds of vegetation and sharing some of the local history. We saw aloe, many different types of flowers and plants, we smelled lemon grass which smelled like yellow pez candy. Some of the interesting things were the level of poverty, at least in our spoiled, American opinions. Two things that stuck out were the locals there did not take out a loan to buy a house but instead would save up their money to buy a piece of land. Once they purchased the land they saved money until they could build a room or two. They would then save more money slowly finishing it off one room at a time. There were many houses where people were living in a few rooms and you could see an upstairs or an addition was in the process of being built. The government also leases land to farmers for a year, each year they will have to reapply but will only be granted another year if they have proven they are profitable. I really enjoyed this part of the trip because it is easy to forget that the Caribbean is more than just a great vacation stop with beautiful beaches but it is a home for people with another culture and way of life. That has always fascinated me about visiting other places.

St. John's, Antigua
Our safari ended with a trip to the beach where we were given two hours to enjoy the water, sand and sunshine. I am not a good swimmer, in fact I don't know how to swim which leaves me a bit terrified of the water. Each time we would go to the beach I would only go in so far. Dustin can swim and would go out further. At this beach the water was deeper closer to the beach and so I stood on the edge with my feet firmly (at least I thought they were) planted in the sand. Dustin warned me but I was convinced I was okay. I apparently wasn't though because the waves kept getting bigger and bigger and the next thing I knew I was doing somersaults in the ocean, tasting salt water and scraping sand to go as I washed up on shore. It scared me big time and it took me weeks to get the sand out of my hair! Regardless, lesson learned. Don't stand at the edge of an ocean, it's better to just dive right in or not at all. I'm sure there is sermon in that somewhere!

St. John's, Antigua
Castries, St. Lucia was probably our least favorite island. When we got off the boat we took a water taxi to the mainland where we explored some shops. We then decided to head out into the main city. It was crowded, very busy and chaotic and honestly not very clean. The dead rat lying outside of the outdoor market pretty much ended the day for me and we didn't spend much time there. The one neat thing though was a local who wove hats out of long blades of grass. He made an angel fish for me which was really unique and pretty cool. We didn't stay there long though and ended back up where the shop was docked. This is where we bought our souvenirs, our favorites were small characters hand crafted out of wire and mesh. The man creating them was making some as we tried to narrow down our favorites to buy. It was really neat and we were excited to have something so unique to take home.
Bridgetown, Barbados
We also had booked an excursion for Bridgetown, Barbados. It was a submarine which dove 145 feet deep down into the ocean where you could view the coral reef. Once we arrived at the office of the submarine company we loaded a boat and they took us out in to the middle of the ocean. The submarine, which was currently underwater on another tour, slowly surfaced. When it did the boat moved close next to it and a smaller boat which communicated with the submarine captain, moved close to the other side. They placed a gang plank from the boat to the top of the submarine, once they did the guests currently in the submarine unboarded and we boarded after them. The submarine was small with two rows of seats facing back to back. Each seat was in front of small round windows giving each person enough of a view of the ocean. It was pretty neat, though I spent most of the trip sniffing Dustin's shirt, the smells of being in close quarters weren't too great. We saw quite a bit of coral and fish, we even saw a ship wreck which was pretty neat. Needless to say, I was relieved once the submarine surfaced again and I was able to get in fresh air and on dry land! 
Atlantis III, Bridgetown, Barbados

Coral Reef, Bridgetown, Barbados
We had a great time on our cruise and it definitely felt like a full vacation! Our last day was a day at sea which we spent roaming the ship and participating in the many events they had planned. Our favorite thing to do on the ship though was to sit outside on the lower deck. It was so peaceful and relaxing and we really enjoyed the time together. Our "big trip" was something we both were really glad we stuck with. But as fun and relaxing as it was there is something about going home. We were excited to be back in our own home with our family and friends. Now we get to enjoy planning for the new member of our family! 
Sunset view from the ship

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