Balenbouche and Laborie

Published: July 4th 2018
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Sunday July 1 - Terrible sleep. Still thinking about moving into a tent, but will see what happens when I get back from St. Lucia with Erika gone. I got up around 9am and of course can do nothing since everyone is asleep. They were all woken up to go somewhere for lunch with Erika before her flight in the evening. Once they left it was just me and the guys who work there until 2pm, or so I thought. Just after they left, we heard Lisa sprained her ankle and was coming back. Fortunately, she wasn't on the other side of the river yet. I finished packing and at 1:30pm Ben helped me get my things and myself across the river. I still find it difficult and a little scary to cross, holding the line, trying to find a foothold. Since everyone was out, Charlotte ordered me a taxi with Martin, a driver that they normally use. He got me to the ferry in plenty of time. It took a while to check in, but I had to show everything, then pay a departure tax, then have my bags searched, etc. While waiting to board, I sat next to an American couple. They are Jehovah's witness(es?) and have been living in the Caribbean for a while, building Kingdom Halls and houses. They'll probably be in Dominica for another year before moving on to St. Vincent. We took some sea sickness meds together and sat together on the boat. I listened to some podcasts and dozed a little. The journey was far less traumatic than the last, and I don't know if it is because the ship felt more stable, or because of the pills, but either way I am pleased.

When we departed the boat in Castries, the capital of St Lucia, I went through immigration and the others had to fill out the entry form that they hadn't been given earlier. They had to borrow my pen, so it took some time to wait, but eventually, I made it out and found Tom, the guy who was picking me up. He owns the house I rented for the night. It was quite large for just one, shame I arrived around 10pm. I asked if there was somewhere for a quick meal, so he took me to Kentucky. KFC, that is. Not the culinary highlight of the week, but fine when needed. It was super crowded at the time, and I realized it has no seating. Just a kitchen and the ordering line.

Ate dinner while checking wifi and got to bed as soon as I could. I needed the sleep.

Monday July 2 - Out of bed before 8am. Took care of some more emails, etc and then stopped at the owner's house to get directions into town. It took about 10 minutes of downhill walking and then I went to the bakery for breakfast, the bank for some cash money, and the grocery store for some emergency rations. Found the bus stop and got on a bus to Vieux Fort. The buses are minivans that leave when full. There was a full one about to leave but mine was full right away, so it didn't take long to get going. The ride went through the middle of the island to the east coast, and then south to Vieux Fort, the second largest town after Castries. Here I got some groceries since I knew I would have a fridge. I then had to walk to the second bus, and I took that one to Balenbouche, the old country estate where I would stay for the night two nights. The driver passed it, but luckily I saw it and asked him to stop. I arrived around 1pm, about an hour earlier than my room would be ready, so she gave me some cold water and set me up at a table on the veranda at the big house. I ate the lunch I brought while using the wifi, which is not in my cottage. I also ate it surrounded by 4 of the 5 dogs on the property and a cat on the table, meowing and trying to bat the food away from me and into her. It was nuts. I chatted with Jeroen and then had a tour of the property. The main house is 180 years old. There is also the sugar factory and water wheel in ruins, as well as an old barn, converted into a yoga building, and the cottages like the one where I am staying that have been modified. They also have access to two small beaches. They have five cottages and I booked the smallest one, but Verena gave me the largest one that was free, since it's not a busy time of the year. It's much bigger than I anticipated - two bedrooms, two baths, including the one in my room with an outdoor shower. There is an outdoor kitchen and a large sitting area and table. Very nice. I was going to stay three nights, but realized I double booked and could not get out of the other reservation, so Verena kindly changed the dates of my reservation for these two nights instead.

After the tour, I wandered around taking pictures with a dog in tow and then moved into my cottage. I decided to go into Laborie village to get dinner since I didn't really have anything. I took the bus at 4:15pm and it only takes about 10 minutes to get there. I walked through town and around the beach, where a guy named Titus tried to get me to take a tour up the mountain to the viewpoint with him. I declined, but he kept me company for a while, until we parted ways when I got to Mama Rose's for dinner. I ordered grilled fish, fries and salad. It was very garlicky and quite tasty and came to about $12. Not too bad. Buses stop after a while, and I did not want to get stuck, so I ate early and got the bus back at 6:15pm. I picked up a few mangos from the ground as I walked in, set all five dogs barking, and then walked to the second beach to have a look before it got dark. Two dogs accompanied me. The beach was small, with black sand. Got a few more mangos and will try to eat my body weight in the fruit before bed tonight. Got back and had to use my headlamp to find the light switches. I'm listening to the frogs that sing every night, enjoying this peaceful place. OMG - I just watched a little frog climb onto my laptop to eat a fly that was attracted to the light from the computer! He got another one on the table later.

When it was time for bed, I took a shower in my outdoor shower. The wind was blowing, and the curtain that separates my bathroom from the rest of the world was over my head. I'm not sure if anyone could see me, but I'm hoping not. It was also quite late, which may explain why I did not get any hot water out of the solar shower. But the water at 3 Rivers is cold too, so it was not quite a shock.

I'm not clear about security, so I decided to lock my front door for the night. I left the dogs on the other side of the door, but next thing I knew, there was a dog in my room. She came in through the bathroom. I hadn't even considered that. I left her inside and locked the bathroom door and closed the shutters so it wouldn't be too bright in the morning. I tucked myself into the mosquito net, and it was a little warm, even with the fan on. I read a little but fell asleep quite quickly, listening to the frogs.

Tuesday July 3 - I slept pretty well but got up around 6:30 to let the dog out. I slept again until almost 9am and woke up looking at some flies that were trapped in my mosquito net. Except they weren't flies. There were about 8 well-fed mosquitos who had spent the night draining me and were now looking for their escape. I don't know how they got there - if they were there before I went to bed or not, since the light in there is so dim - but I made sure each of them died before I got out of bed. My legs look like I have measles, and I am so itchy.

I decided to spend the day doing pretty much nothing, which was easy. I took some pictures of the water lilies, as they are only open in the morning, and then I ate some yogurt and granola for breakfast while skyping with my mom. Just before noon I walked over to a little shop about 10 minutes away and got some take away lunch. It was quite a lot of food - chicken, rice, beans, salad, potato salad and root veggies - for about $5. Amazing. Verena said to get there just before noon, as they often sell out quite quickly. She and her boyfriend left about half an hour before me, but they were still waiting for a bus to take them to Vieux Fort when I was leaving, so we walked a bit together. They were able to get one that wasn't full just at the shop I was heading to. I ate lunch back at my place and skyped with Jeroen and Mars, the only cat I can engage with over the internet.

In the afternoon I headed to the beach with one of the dogs, but the first beach was hardly there with the tide and the second beach is a bit rough for swimming, so I only went knee deep. We walked back via the sugar mill, and then I came back for my camera to try for some new angles, but none of the images looked as impressive as what I saw with my eyes. The jungle is really taking over the ruins. It reminded me of the trees growing out of the temples at Angor Wat in Cambodia, or Tikal in Guatemala. Or even Indiana Jones. Something on every trip seems to get me feeling like Indie.

I took a shower and this time I had scalding hot water, but was able to get it moderate with the cold tap. I was exposed to the whole world out there, but am hoping the whole world wasn't watching. I washed my hair for the first time since leaving home, and I'm hoping it will dry before bed. Unlikely. While in the shower I noticed a frog that looked like it was trying to move away, but not having much success. I pushed it a bit on its way, but it doesn't look like it will recover. I'm a little traumatized thinking that maybe the scalding water hit it, but I just don't know. I got a better look at all the mosquito bites and there are just so many. I'm wearing pants this evening and already had mozzies trying to bite me before I could even get dressed. I put some spray on and I'm hoping for the best.

My lunch was large enough that I wasn't interested in a big dinner, so I just had some yogurt and granola that would have normally been my dessert, as well as a few mangos I picked up today. A lot of times they are overripe, but I got a few good ones. After dinner, I was invited for a drink with Verena and her boyfriend Josh at the big house, and we had a nice chat for a couple of hours. They told me a lot about the island and things to do while I'm here, since I leave Balenbouche tomorrow. There was some rain and some really crazy wind while we talked, and Josh checked the weather just to make sure there was no tropical storm brewing. I've been here a short time, but I will miss it. It's a very peaceful place, and my dog guardians have been wonderful, though I could leave the mosquitos behind. Apparently, I am the only one they bite.

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7th July 2018

St Lucia
we are scuba divers and this island is still on our list. So many great things to do on these beautiful islands.

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