Tuesday 12/19/06 - Departure

We woke up at 7:30 a.m., showered, made coffee, and packed. At 9:30, we headed to breakfast. We decided to get a full breakfast today, as we didn't know what we may or may not be doing for lunch. I ordered French toast and sausage. It was served with a very yummy apple cinnamon chutney. Craig ordered the "American-style" breakfast (we hate having to order something with that name in another country as we fear it makes us sound so provincial). Our waitress, Lisa, convinced Craig to try everything on his omelette, which was served with bacon, sausage, and potatoes. We chatted with Lisa about how much we had enjoyed the hotel and our trip. She said that if she had met us earlier in the trip, she would have taken us dancing one night. She used to work at Sandals, and employees there are not allowed to fraternize with guests. Some would do it on the sly, but the guests invariably talked and the employees got in trouble. We much preferred the friendliness and openness of the Coco Palm staff. We had some orange juice and toast from the continental breakfast bar. There was no moist banana or coconut bread today. They did have raisin bread, but it was dry and not as good.

We finished eating at around 10, and we returned the car to Cost Less at Harmony Suites. We passed by the village green on the way, but none of our friends seemed to be around. We hoped we would be able to hook up with them one last time before leaving. Returning the car was a very easy process and the staff were very friendly. We had driven 250.5 km since we had reset the odometer when we got gas on the first day. We had just about 1/4 tank of gas left, which is exactly what we had started with. Things had a way of just working themseleves out around here. As we were walking back to the village green, we saw a familiar figure walking towards us. It was Ania. He was heading down to the mini mart neat Harmony Suites to pick up the honey that he had promised Andrea. He was wearing a bright green Rodney Bay Village Green T shirt. He told us he would be right back, and that we should wait for him at his market. He said he had a surprise for us. We waited at his market, looking at all of his carvings. We noticed that there was a small sign on the side of his stand which said "Welcome to the Down to Earth hand craft carvings". Ania was back momentarily (they hadn't had honey at the mini mart). He went to his stand, picked up a really nice carving which had not been stained or shellacked, shined it up with a brush, and presented it to us. We were so touched. It was absoluetly beautiful, and depicted the Pitons, the sunset, a sailboat, and banana trees. We were speechless.

A St. Lucian woman walked by pushing a white toddler in a stroller. The toddler was blonde and wearing red plastic sunglasses. Ania was happy to see them and called out to them. He walked over to the baby and the baby initiated a Rasta fist-punch. It was so adorable. They repeated it so that I could take a picture. After they had left, Ania posed with the carving in front of his stall. My mind was racing as we would soon be saying goodbye, and I wanted to make sure that we said everything we wanted to say. I noticed that his name was nowhere on the carving. I fished through my pocketbook and dug out a Sharpie, asking if he could sign it on the back or bottom. He said sure but immediately just began carving his name onto the bottom front. I felt pretty silly about the Sharpie thing. Too many concert autographs, I guess. It's what I immediately thought of. Ania carved "St Lucia One Love ANIA" on the bottom. He said that the indented top of the carving could be used as an ash tray.

Another Rasta came by and started chatting with us while Ania sat on the back bumper of his car and continued to shine up our carving. He told me about his kids, one of whom had a birthday a couple of days before Christmas. He wanted to sell me some volcanic bead jewelry, like I had bought at Soufriere View. I did like some of his designs, but he was asking too much money. He offered to make me a custom anklet on the spot and throw that in. I negotiated the price a bit and figured I'd just do it. The necklaces would make good Christmas presents anyway. I felt a little bit bad afterwards, because Ania told us that guy had a permit to sell his wares on Reduit Beach. As such, he had access to more customers than Ania and his friends on the Village Green. By coming to the Village Green and soliciting Ania's tourists, he was kind of stepping on Ania's toes. I felt bad about playing into this, but I told Ania that I wanted to buy one of Ania's bird carvings all along.

We sat with Ania on a bench near the water, enjoying the breeze. This sure was a great spot. No matter how hot it was, there always seemed to be a nice breeze blowing. At a little after 11:00, he said it was time to "check the birds". We went over to his stand and I picked out the coconut bird carving that I liked best. I asked how much he would normally charge for it. He kind of laughed and said $20. He took the legs and wings off, and stored the birds inside the coconut husk. I joked with Ania that it would be like putting together a puzzle when we got home. Then he grabbed another coconut husk and carved a special bird for us on the spot. He picked beaded eyes out of an existing carving, and held them in his teeth while he bored out holes for them using match heads. He started to get a bit antsy, because he still needed to get honey and hook up with Andrea and Mike before they left for the airport. We were saying goodbye when Lawrence (the musician) appeared. We all chatted together for a while, and we learned that Lawrence's Rasta name is Future. We said our goodbyes and promised to come back to visit soon.

Craig and I walked back to the Coco Palm. We packed up our breakables, grabbed our luggage, and checked out just before the noon check-out time. They stored our luggage in the back room while we headed to Ti Bananne for a light lunch. We knew that the Castries airport was very small, and didn't expect to find much by way of food there. We were seated at the same table where we had eaten breakfast this morning. Craig got a cajun chicken sandwich with bacon and a final Piton. I got a wheat baguette with brie, onions, and sweet peppers, along with a rum punch. Both came with excellent fries. We finished our food, collected our luggage, and asked the staff to call a cab. It arrived momentarily.

We chatted with the very friendly driver as he drove us to Castries. He said that it normally only takes 15 minutes to get from Castries to Rodney Bay, but it takes much longer with the current construction. We talked about the Cricket World Cup, which would come to the island in the spring, drawing large numbers of tourists. We chatted about our visit and he was happy that we had enjoyed the local food. He talked about how a lot of the locals eat cheaper cuts of meat (for example, bony "chicken backs") which the rich buy to feed to their dogs. But the locals spice it up and make it very appealing, to which we could attest.

Once we got to the airport, we stood in a very short line and checked in. We waited in the main area for a while, then went to the bathroom, and went through security. The metal detector was very sensitive and both my cheap plastic watch and the rivet on my shorts set it off. Our carry-on bags were thoroughly hand-searched by security personnel. We sat at the gate and I went into the duty free store. I bought a few items: a book of St Lucian patois, some Creole hot pepper sauce, a bottle of the spicy "banana ketchup", a couple of magnets (one for our friend whose name is Lucia), some "digestive biscuits', peanutbutter Tea Time biscuits, and some candied tamarind balls (which turned out to be a lot less enjoyable than the tamarind juice we had had at Hardest Hard). When it was time to board the plane, our bags were thoroughly hand-searched for a second time. The line progressed outside and we all waited under a little roofed hallway until the plane was ready. We boarded. On the two-hour flight Craig got a cran apple juice and I had apple juice. We mostly just rested and relaxed, and arrived in San Juan at around 5:15. As we deplaned, two couples seemed to be in a big rush and kept muscling in front of us. Craig and I felt like we were on "The Amazing Race" and those couples became our "rivals". They ultimately collected their luggage first and beat us through security. We made a mental note never to audition for the Amazing Race. Although we love travel, the actual transportation and rushing around is our least favorite part, and we would never enjoy such a stressful whirlwind.

Although our bags had been thoroughly searched twice in St Lucia, by hand as well as X-ray machine, as a port of entry into the U.S., the search in San Juan was also thorough. The TSA guy asked me if I knew about the liquid and gel policy. I answered smugly that I did, and that my toiletries were of appropriate size and were packed in the requisite ziploc bag. He then pulled my two 5 oz bottles of hot sauce and banana ketchup out of my backpack. "But I bought those at the airport. In the duty free shop. In St. Lucia." He condescendingly said that St. Lucia was not a TSA sanctioned airport, and they were larger than the 3 ounces of liquid that were allowed. He suggested I either check them or throw them away. I was pretty annoyed, as I had just purchased them and they were still sealed. How much of a threat could they be? But the TSA guy at least gave us the option of checking them. We shuffled our carry-on stuff and Craig took the backpack back to check it. He would need to go through security again. I sat in a chair on the other side of security. The TSA made me move, and I was still more annoyed, as now I couldn't see Craig as he came through. But we met up again and rushed to the gate. We got personal chorizo pizzas at Domino's, and boarded the flight at 6:15.

We ate our pizzas onboard. The flight attendant said they had no cranberry juice, so I got orange, Craig asked for apple and were told they were out of that as well. He got orange juice instead. A few minutes later the flight attendant returned with a cup of apple juice. "I found some apple juice!" he said wth a smile, and presented it to Craig. This was a very nice surprise. We ate the snacks I had bought in the St Lucia airport. We noticed that our Tea Time buscuits were made by "Wibisco."I read the label. "West Indian Biscuit Company." So did that mean Nabisco was the...North American Biscuit Company. Aha, it all makes sense!

We could see twinkling Christmas lights as we made our descent into Boston. We arrived at 9:30 pm. Our luggage (including the newly-checked backpack) was pretty much first off the conveyor belt, and we were home by 10:25.
Ania's market

Ania's young friend sharing the Rasta love

Ania putting the finishing touches on our carving

Ania carving a spontaneous bird

Ania carving a spontaneous bird

Ania and Steph

One last glimpse of Bouble Happiness

Decorations in the Coco Palm lobby

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