Author: Haley Heinzelman
Tags: Caribbean, Quarter Finalist, Vacations
The Caribbean islands have long been considered the ideal travel destination for their beautiful beaches, sunny weather, and vibrant culture. The island of St. Lucia embodies all of these notions and so much more. In 2011, my family and I left our home-state of Indiana and embarked on our journey to St. Lucia
As our flight landed at the Hewanorra International Airport in Vieux-Fort, I took in everything around me; the mountains, the palm trees, and the sunny weather. We had a local man drive us in a taxi to where we were staying, a private cottage called The Treehouse, which we found on VRBO.com. The cottage was located on a hill in the rainforest outside of the town of Soufriere.
Our taxi driver told us everything there was to do and see in Soufriere in a very thick accent. We pulled up a long gravel drive, through the exotic vegetation to a breathtaking large, wooden treehouse. Staying in a treehouse? That was every kid’s dream! I ran up the steps and entered the beautiful treehouse for the first time. There was a balcony that overlooked the giant volcanic mountains of Petit and Gros in the distance! It was absolutely beautiful sight, much different than anything I had ever seen back home in the United States.
The city of Soufriere was not like the resorts you see on television. It was real, gritty, and authentic. That’s what I admired the most about it. The buildings ranged in color, varying in blues, reds, and yellows. The people were some of the kindest I have ever met. Along the way, they would tell us stories of their family and life on the island. Our housekeeper at the treehouse for example was saving money to send her grandson to tech school in Castries, the capital of St. Lucia. She made us an authentic local dinner one night that was simple and delicious.
In a place as amazing as St. Lucia, there is always something to do. The beach at Anse Chastanet Resort, was just a short hike down the hill from where we were staying. The most incredible moment I have ever experienced was swimming in the ocean on that black-sand beach when it started to rain. Nothing has ever been more pure. Day three of the trip, we went snorkeling and saw swarms of colorful fishes (and a barracuda, which wasn’t as cute to see.) On land, we went zip lining through the mountainous terrain of the island at the beautiful Morne Coubaril Estate, a real working plantation. The zip lining guides told us stories of their island, including how the hurricane the year before had impacted the island. Afterwards we had a meal of plantains and rice for lunch- a classic local meal on the island. At night, our family would sit on the deck overlooking the Pitons and watch the lizards play in the trees before going to sleep in our open air beds covered with mosquito nets.
Looking back, this trip was a life-changing experience for me. Not only did it broaden my horizons at a young age, but it allowed me to see our world differently. St. Lucia is a beautiful place with amazing people inhabiting it. I will never forget the sights I saw and how it changed my outlook on life.