Countries Visited

Svalbard Spain United States of America Antarctica South Georgia Falkland Islands Bolivia Peru Ecuador Colombia Venezuela Guyana Suriname French Guiana Brazil Paraguay Uruguay Argentina Chile Greenland Canada United States of America United States of America Israel Jordan Cyprus Qatar United Arab Emirates Oman Yemen Saudia Arabia Iraq Afghanistan Turkmenistan Iran Syria Singapore China Mongolia Papua New Guinea Brunei Indonesia Malaysia Malaysia Tiawan Philippines Vietnam Cambodia Laos Thailand Myanmar Bangladesh Sri Lanka India Bhutan Nepal Pakistan Afghanistan Turkmenistan Tajikistan Kyrgyzstan Uzbekistan Japan North Korea South Korea Russia Kazakhstan Russia Montenegro Portugal Azerbaijan Armenia Georgia Ukraine Moldova Belarus Romania Bulgaria Macedonia Serbia Bosonia & Herzegovina Turkey Greece Albania Croatia Hungary Slovakia Slovenia Malta Spain Portugal Spain France Italy Italy Austria Switzerland Belgium France Ireland United Kingdom Norway Sweden Finland Estonia Latvia Lithuania Russia Poland Czech Republic Germany Denmark The Netherlands Iceland El Salvador Guatemala Panama Costa Rica Nicaragua Honduras Belize Mexico Trinidad & Tobago Puerto Rico Dominican Republic Haiti Jamaica The Bahamas Cuba Vanuatu Australia Solomon Islands Fiji New Caledonia New Zealand Eritrea Ethiopia Djibouti Somalia Kenya Uganda Tanzania Rwanda Burundi Madagascar Namibia Botswana South Africa Lesotho Swaziland Zimbabwe Mozambique Malawi Zambia Angola Democratic Repbulic of Congo Republic of Congo Gabon Equatorial Guinea Central African Republic Cameroon Nigeria Togo Ghana Burkina Fasso Cote d'Ivoire Liberia Sierra Leone Guinea Guinea Bissau The Gambia Senegal Mali Mauritania Niger Western Sahara Sudan Chad Egypt Libya Tunisia Morocco Algeria
Map Legend: 28%, 75 of 263 Territories

Friday, November 14, 2014

Hey, remember that time we went to the Caribbean and didn't blog about it for a year?

Greetings, friends! Well, look who's strapping the backpacks back on? Yep, it's the best (or, more likely, only) world-traveling couple you know, Tara and Andy!

We fly out of Denver tonight on the first of four flights that will ultimately deposit us in our longtime dream vacation destination: the mountain kingdom of Bhutan. We'll be there, with a side trip to Nepal, for the next two weeks.

But before we ship out that, I figured that we should finally share some pics from our last international adventure--our trip to three Caribbean countries in October of 2013. Yes, over a year ago. Pathetic that we haven't managed a post about it until now, I know, but the last year has been a little busy with stuff like weddings and a move and a book launch.

So, we ask you to forgive us...and, in penance, present a few snaps of tropical paradise.

Why the Caribbean?

So, Andy and I aren't really beach people. How did we end up in the Caribbean, then?

To be honest, for the same reason this post is a year late in going up--we were lazy. We waited until the last minute to plan a trip, and we only had 10 days off, so we didn't want to go halfway around the world. We also decided that we needed to go somewhere where we could use our long-neglected scuba diving certifications (because when you pay that much money to get certified in something, you should occasionally pay even more money to use those skills, right? Ah, the Catch-22 of scuba.).

So we asked around, and received many recommendations for Dominica. It's not your stereotypical beachy island, people said. Good diving, lots of hikes in the interior, and not terribly touristy since it's small. So small, in fact, that you can't get a direct flight there from the states.

Okay, we thought, so we'll fly through another island. A chance to add another country to our list! We found out that JetBlue flew from New York to Barbados, where we could connect to Dominica. Excellent.

And then we found out that JetBlue ALSO flew a St. Lucia-New York route, and that you could connect from St. Lucia to Dominica, too. So why not fly in through Barbados and out through St. Lucia? One week, three new countries! Yup, that sounded about our speed.

Off we went.


Barbados is gorgeous. Look at that water, so blue. How can I not smile?

Water, schmater says Andy. But there are lizards!

And free food on the beach! All you have to do is smash it against a rock for about 15 minutes until it cracks open. But totally worth it if you love free food as much as Andy does.

We spent two days in Barbados. Much of it spent playing on the deserted local beach near our B and B.

Though we did get out and explore a bit. Who wouldn't like to live on Risotto Ave.?

Here we are with our host in Barbados, Mona of Comfy Lodgings B and B. Highly recommended, you guys, especially if you only have a short time in the country. Mona picked us up from the airport, drove us ALL around the island, cooked us tasty meals, and supplied fascinating conversation and insight about her country (where she's also a longtime schoolteacher).

But, of course, Barbados was merely a stopover. So we headed back to the airport to board our LIAT flight to Dominica.


Goodbye, paradise. Hello, torrential downpour!

Okay, but let's back up for a second and talk about LIAT. Officially, it stands for Leeward Islands Air Transport. We heard many nicknames during our week in the Caribbean, though, including "Leaves Island Any Time" and, my favorite "Late Is Always Timely." Our Barbados-Dominica flight only left two hours late, but we would come to know the real pain of flying LIAT later in the week on our flight out.

But that adventure is yet to come. At this point, it is raining so hard in Dominica that there are literally crabs dancing across the asphalt. (Very pretty crabs, though!)

We rent a car. Cute little jeep probably from the 1980s. Does have seatbelts, though. And a steering wheel on the right. Adventure time!

Sticking with the 1980's driving theme, you can still get leaded gasoline in Dominica!

So, once the rain clears up, Dominica becomes quite attractive. Lots of dramatic hills tumbling into the ocean. Here's a view from the pier in Roseau, the capital--a city of a whopping 16,000 people.

We head into the interior to visit a waterfall. Honestly, I don't remember the name of it, as Dominica is famous for its lovely falls, but I assume this is one of the bigger/famouser ones. We went early in the morning to beat the cruise-ship daytrippers and were the only ones there. 

Back in Roseau, some schoolgirls are out for a very syncopated walk.

The main attraction of the botanical gardens is not a plant, but this school bus, which was crushed by a baobab tree in Hurricane David in 1979. (No one was inside at the time.)

Okay, I guess there are some cool plants in the gardens. Like this one, which automatically turns you into a Rastafarian.

What the heck is a mountain chicken, you ask?

Apparently, a giant frog. That tastes like chicken. Seriously.

I believe that this is a picture from the dive boat--and, I contend, a much better picture than anything we actually saw underwater. Though Andy claims to have seen many seahorses. I saw a lot of murky water. We ended up diving less than planned and spending more time exploring the island.

Behold, a lizard eating a cricket. Nice shot, Andy.

The open road of Dominica! And surely the nicest-paved one. This runs up the west coast of the island.

Modesty in the forest.

I loved these tiny waxy flowers.

Lovely skies.

And now it is time for our  major Dominican expedition: the trek to the boiling lake. Rated strenuous--which usually is a no-no for me, but a boiling lake did sound pretty cool. Apparently it is the second-largest boiling lake in the world, after one in New Zealand.

Anyway, six-hour hike. Very steep. Rain pouring on us much of the time. Though you do get to cross otherworldly geothermal landscapes like these.

And at the end, you reach a boiling lake!

No, seriously. That disturbance at the center is from BOILING.

The hike was totally worth it, but boy was it grueling. I could hardly bend my legs to go down steps for a week afterward.

But it was worth it going down the steps the next morning at these hot springs. The cruise ship had left the island at that point, and the springs were deserted.

Andy, making himself look even lovelier than usual.

Back at the hot springs check-in, you could literally buy a bottle of snake oil.

And with that, our time in Dominica was up. Off we went to the airport to fly to St. Lucia.

St. Lucia

The flight from Dominca to St. Lucia is a 35-minute one, so we expected to have a solid day and a half there. We didn't count on the 9-hour delay at the airport. Ohhhh, LIAT.

So, not a lot of time in St. Lucia, and therefore not a lot of pictures. I've just looked through, and it seems that about 90% of the ones we did take were underwater. We stayed in Soufriere, about halfway down the island on the east side. It's home to some very fancy resorts, but they're  not allowed to keep their beaches private, so we stayed at a cheaper hotel in town and swam at a resort beach for free.

So, a great place for a bit of "poor man's snorkeling" (wearing goggles, holding your breath, and diving). Enjoy the fish and coral.


I didn't even leave the water for lunch. My legs were still so sore, and it was so much easier to swim than walk! 

Fancy resort cabanas on the beach. But sorry, St. Lucia--your water's got nothing on the blue of Barbados!

En route to the international airport, our taxi driver made a detour to show us his favorite view. This is from the south tip of the island.

St. Lucia is a very popular honeymoon destination, and I know people who have raved about their time there. Honestly, I thought the Barbados beaches were prettier and that Dominica had more varied attractions. But then again, we only spent one full day in St. Lucia, so it is really unfair of me to judge. It seems like a perfectly pleasant place.

Oh, right--the food!

The very first country Andy and I visited when we kicked off our RTW trip in 2009 was Trinidad, and we fell in love with the food there. We were excited to return to the Caribbean for more of it!

Number one on our list of things to eat again was roti, and here is one from the fast-food joint Chefette in Barbados. It's an Indian-inspired pancake-like bread wrap filled with spiced potatoes and other veggies (and sometimes meat). Yum.

Barbados is also known for its rum punch. Good stuff.
Flying fish is probably the national dish of Barbados. Here it is fried up in a tasty sandwich. I'm trying to remember what the salad was on the side--I think some sort of potato-like starchy vegetable, maybe breadfruit?

Another exciting perk of our return to the Caribbean: coconut sandwich cookies.

Our Barbadan host Mona cooked us up this lovely dinner of chicken and rice.

Coconut candies! Yes, please.

In Dominica, we had kitchen access and did some of our own cooking with provisions acquired at the market. Mixed in with this pasta I definitely see lentils and pumpkin!

 Homemade breakfast, Dominica-style: fried plantains!

We also tried the local village restaurant in Dominica that was near our lodgings. Rain on the rooftop sounded like drumbeats, it was so loud!

Local-style chicken cooked up for Andy.

Honestly, I don't remember what was in my dinner. I see lots of tomatoes, and pumpkins, and a vegetable-like sauce. I doubt it was all vegetarian, but I bet everything was grown locally.

Roseau might be a tiny city, but it has streets...and street food! Hello, fried banana strips.

Hello, tasty fruit shake.

Hello, Jamaican beef patty.

Hello, fish sandwich. (Okay, this one wasn't actually so good. Everything else we had from the streets of Roseau was tasty, though.)

On to St. Lucia. Soup from a streetside shack/restaurant. Mostly vegetables, though I definitely saw pig hooves and other such parts floating in the pot.

We kept seeing this drink and reading about it, so in St. Lucia we finally broke down and bought a bottle. Seamoss drink. Apparently an enhancer of male virility, though I can't attest to that, not being male myself. It tasted fine, as far as I can remember!

Appetizer from our last dinner in the Caribbean: bacon-wrapped plantains. Yes yes yes.

Concluding thoughts

You know, it's interesting to look back on this trip with a year's perspective. It certainly wasn't our most exciting international trip ever, but we did have some nice experiences. Dominica was just as friendly as we'd been told, and if you like hiking and jungle and nature, it's a great, not-super-touristy destination. The beaches of Barbados are pretty stunning, and we loved getting a bit of an insider perspective from our host. We've had more exciting food in other parts of the world, but cuisines with this much coconut and plantain in them certainly aren't something to complain about.

So there you have it: Our Caribbean adventures. More updates in a few weeks (hopefully!), when we return from the Himalayas!