Caribbean Travel Roundup

Newsletter - Paul Graveline, Editor


Caribbean Travel Roundup
Paul Graveline, Editor
Edition 71
January 1, 1997

Last updated 28 Dec 96 1300ET

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MONTSERRAT BY LINDA BUSH

Returned  last  Saturday(  in the midst of a bad snow storm in the 
NE)  from  a  week  on  Montserrat-yes  the island with the active 
volcano,  and  we  had  a wonderful time. Arrived on the island on 
November  30  after  spending  a  week  on Virgin Gorda with other 
friends  to  discover  that the volcano alert had been heightened, 
and  they  was  the  possibility  of  an imminent eruption. Did we 
leave,  no,  because  we  were  in  the  safe zone, and yes, after 
listening  to  scientists,  the  government,  and the residents we 
spoke  with, we felt that we were. Is was fun driving daily to see 
what  the  volcano was doing, and if you could see the top. It was 
often  shrouded  with  clouds. We did pay special attention to the 
twice  daily  volcano  updates  (  we  called them our twice daily 
volcano scares). 

Montserrat  is a small island, and half has been evacuated because 
of  the  possibility  of  an eruption. They have had several small 
pyroclastic  flows  since  the  volcano  became  active in July of 
1995,  but  because  of  the evacuation, no one has been killed as 
the result of volcanic activity. 

We  rented  a  villa through Tradewinds Real Estate on the island, 
and  were more than satisfied. We had two bedrooms, two baths, and 
large  kitchen  with  microwave and dishwasher, and swimming pool, 
and  a  lovely  solarium  with  comfortable furniture and a TV for 
$850.  Yes,  it  is  an affordable island, and I don't believe the 
house  rentals  were reduced in price because of the volcano. Most 
of  the  houses  are in neighborhoods that are occupied by British 
and  American  expatriates,  although because of the evacuation of 
the  capital,  were  most  of the businesses were located, you may 
have   an  odd  neighbor.  We  shared  a  street  with  the  Water 
Authority,  and  banks  and  other  services had also relocated to 
available locations in the safe zone. 

I  have  visited  numerous  islands  in  the  Caribbean,  and  the 
residents  on  Montserrat  were the nicest and most helpful of any 
place  I  have  visited.  The  only  draw back to the trip was the 
weather.  The  sea  was extremely rough the entire week, and I was 
not  able  to  snorkel, which I love, but other than that it was a 
very relaxing vacation. 

Don't  expect  night  life even if there is no volcano. Montserrat 
does  not  appear  to  want  to attract the resort set. but if you 
want to visit a lovely island, try Montserrat. 

ST. BARTH BY LLOYD DEVIGNE

Uneventful  trip  from  BWI  to  SXM.  Smooth  connection  through 
transit  gate  to Winair,(we had carry on stuff) and we got to SBH 
an  hour  ahead of schedule. First impressions- the island is much 
greener  than  last  year, we were told that a fair amount of rain 
has  fallen  since  May producing a lush appearance. Our villa was 
in  the  hills above Corossol. A new location for us. Nice, breezy 
enough  and  a  good view of Gustavia and incoming boat traffic as 
well  as  the  village  down below. And in the distance, you could 
see Saba, Statia, St. Kitts and Nevis. 

Restaurants--L'Escale,  went  twice, great for casual dinner, nice 
location  on  water in Gustavia, tasty food and an energetic staff 
that  makes  the meal fun. Italian Specialties mostly, but we also 
had grilled fish. 

Eden  Rock.--A  great place for lunch overlooking and seemingly in 
the  middle  of  St.  Jean Bay. Excellent food, nice people, and a 
nifty decor. 

Cups----A  new  place across from Filao Beach. Very pretty, tables 
set  around  a  pool,  a  younger French crowd seemed to be there. 
Great  food,  friendly  owners, they have only been open for three 
weeks  and are still feeling their way, but a good stop for dinner 
especially  if  you are a fan of sailing. The name Cups comes from 
the  America's  Cup  racing  series. Marc Pajot of the 1994 French 
Challenge  team  was  in  town  with  his  two boats, France 2 and 
France  3.. The crew dined at Cups and had a sailing exhibiton out 
of Gustavia. 

Au  Port---Our  favorite  for  the  week.  Small and intimate, the 
food,  service and presentation was wonderful. Our first time ever 
in this restaurant, we would definitely go back again. 

Eddy's---Good  food,  but service lacked a little which is too bad 
as  this  place  is  really  a  great  addition  to  the  Gustavia 
restaurant scene. 

Lunch  at  Le  Select was the usual crowd watching event it always 
is. Marius is still around 

Beaches--Saline--very  busy  on Sunday, almost 'crowded', but that 
term  is  relative  on  this  beach. Beach has built back up after 
storm and looks great. 

Governeur--A  bit  quieter  all  week but similar to Saline, built 
back up, clean and crystal clear water. 

Flamands--Storms  continue to take toll here, it looked like a lot 
of  sand  had  been  recently scoured away. Very few people on the 
beach. 

St.  Jean,  popular,  but facing the north, it suffers some of the 
same problem of Flamands. Hotels in good shape however. 

Cruise  ships----A  lot  of  them. Each day but Tuesday there were 
ships  in  port. Ranging from very small, elegant Cunard liners to 
much  larger  Club  Med  and  Winward,  Corsica Victoria and Costa 
Classica.  Many  more  windjammer types as well, Polynesia and Sea 
Cloud  (square  rigger).  The  effects  on the island varied. Some 
days  almost  no  impact  to  the day when a total of five were in 
port  at the same time and the town was bit hectic. On those days, 
it  pays  to  make  reservations  for dinner because it seems that 
some  of  these  ships  are  staying well into the evening perhaps 
allowing the passengers time for a meal in town. 

Other  observations---  There  seems to be a lot of "Public Works" 
type  of  activity  underway.  The  road  in front of the Anglican 
Church  has  been  totally  rebuilt  with new lights, planting and 
palm  trees.  The  church  itself  has  new  roof and all over the 
island  there  seemed  to  be work cruise sprucing up, perhaps for 
the  holiday  rush. Much more traffic and activity than last year, 
but that should be expected. 

St.  Barth  looked  good, the weather was great and we had a great 
time 

ST. THOMAS BY JOHN BOLLES

We  left  RDU  at  8:00  in  the morning and it was 38 degrees. We 
arrived  at  St.  Thomas  at  3:15  and  it was 84 degrees . . . a 
significant  change,  and  it  only got better. By the time we got 
out  of the airport, Carolyn had signed us up for a tour of one of 
the  properties on the island, and we had picked up information on 
about what felt like everything on the island. (It wasn't.) 

They  drive  on  the  left side of the road in the Virgin Islands, 
which  really  takes  some time to get used to. The transportation 
to  the  hotel  was  in  an open air vehicle, this and some of the 
taxis  are  25  passenger vehicles. They are pick-up bodies with 5 
rows  of  seats  replacing  the  bed  of  the pick-up. Covered and 
entered  from  only  one  side, they reminded us of some amusement 
park  rides.  It's not as bad as it seems . . . the speed limit in 
Charlotte  Amalie is 20, and the rest of the island is 35 mph. The 
only  place  where  there  are  four lanes of traffic are from the 
airport  to "downtown" (~3 miles). It also the only area where the 
roads  are relatively flat . . . the rest will remind you of rural 
West  Virginia (nothing on one side and curves in front), but they 
still  drive on the wrong side. We believe the hardest part of the 
left had driving is intersections and pulling out of a driveway. 

It  was 4:30 by the time we checked into the Sapphire. We had been 
upgraded  to  an  Ocean  Front Villa, which was a two level condo, 
that  would  sleep  6 . . . more than enough room for just the two 
of  us. Each level had a patio which looked out over the water. We 
didn't  get  to see the sunset (because we were on the eastern end 
of  the  island), but we could see St. John in the distance (turns 
out  it's  about 2.5 miles). Breath-taking, romantic, and just the 
two of us. 

Dinner  Saturday  was  at  the  Seagrape,  the  restaurant  at the 
Sapphire,  and  it  was all patio dinning. They featured a special 
entree  or  a  local  seafood dish daily. The trees that are along 
the  water  are  Seagrapes,  which  is how the restaurant got it's 
name.  Saturday  they  offered  Atlantic Salmon, which Carolyn had 
broiled.  It  melted in your mouth. John was tired, so he just had 
BBQ  ribs  and  chicken,  not  as exotic, but still excellent. The 
only  drawback  to  dinner was the French fries with the BBQ . . . 
they were cool. 

A  nice  stroll  along  the beach was just the thing after dinner. 
While  we  were  meandering, we noticed these strange tracks going 
all  over  the  beach.  As  with  all things, we got distracted by 
tracking  down  hermit crabs, but returned to our stroll along the 
beach.  The  largest  hermit  crab was about the size of Carolyn's 
fist. 

Sunday  morning  greeted  us  with  the  sun coming in through the 
patio  windows,  at  about  6:15  am. That's what happens when you 
sleep  with  the windows and patio doors open. When we went to bed 
we  were  enjoying  a  wonderful  breeze (that was also warm) that 
came  off  the  water.  It turned out that we were overlooking the 
Pillsbury  Sound  and  the  Windward  Passage  that  separates St. 
Thomas from St. John. The breeze was there for our whole stay. 

When  we  were finally moving together, we gathered our snorkeling 
masks,  and  went  to 'Dive In', the dive shop at the Sapphire. We 
were  able  to  get  the rest of our snorkeling gear free by being 
guests  of  the Sapphire. The snorkels were a simple 'J' tube, and 
the  fins  were  the  shoe  type. From there we went to Snorkeling 
101. 

Snorkeling  101  .  .  . getting the equipment on the correct body 
part,  and  walking  backwards to the water. Followed by, learning 
to  spit  into your mask, and getting a good seal. Finally, how to 
purge your snorkel, while breathing 20 (to 200) times a minute. 

Snorkeling  102  . . . how to relax while floating facedown in the 
water.  It  took some doing, but Carolyn finally relaxed enough to 
swim  over  the  coral  reef at the Sapphire for about 35 minutes. 
Then  back to the beach for some sun while, John spent the next 45 
minutes in the water. 

It  was  breath-taking,  and  the colors were vibrant. You have to 
try  it  at  least  once.  There is Staghorn coral, Elkhorn coral, 
Brain  coral  (including Smooth, Giant, Grooved, and Butterprint), 
Long-spined  sea urchins, Common sea fans, Venus sea fans (they're 
green),  Barrel  sponge,  Giant  tube  sponge,  Sheet  coral, Club 
finger  coral,  and this just included the stuff that didn't move. 
There  were  Spiny  spider  crab,  Parrotfish  (including Redband, 
Stoplight,  Midnight),  Groupers,  Bigeye,  Blackbar  soldierfish, 
Sergeant  major,  Bar jack, Yellow jack, Blue tang (and the yellow 
juvenile   Blue   tang),   Spotted  goatfish,  Trunkfish,  Spotfin 
butterflyfish,  and Reef squid. There were more but you could only 
remember  so  many  new  things at one time. We would float on the 
surface  in anywhere from 2 to 12 feet of water, and still be able 
to see ahead over 25 feet. 

After  swimming,  we went to the gift shop to check on stocking up 
on  some  necessities . . . soda, milk, coffee, food. Well, almost 
everything  is  imported  to  the  islands  and the prices reflect 
that.  Cans  of  soda were $1, or $3.95 for a six pack. A quart of 
milk  was  $1.60.  A  single Dove bar was $2.75. OK, time for just 
the  basics,  sodas,  milk,  and  granola bars ($3.25 for a box of 
12.) 

The  Sapphire  supplied  a welcome basket, which included a bottle 
of  Brut,  champagne  glasses,  crackers, cheeses, jellies, smoked 
oysters,  bottle  of Virgin Island Rum and a can of coke. For just 
the  two  of  us  . . . just the cheese, jellies and crackers were 
plenty.  Let  us  back  track  for a minute. These villas have two 
levels.  On  the  first  level,  from the door in, there is a full 
bath   with   shower,   closet  with  a  safe,  dining  area,  and 
kitchenette  -  sink,  full refrigerator, four burner stove, oven, 
microwave,   toaster,   coffee   pot,   fully  equipped  for  six. 
Proceeding  toward  the  patio  is  the  TV  and  king  size couch 
(convertible  to a king bed) and several chairs. The patio has two 
lounges  and  a  small  table.  The  second level has another full 
bath,  closets,  king  size bed with end tables, a dresser, coffee 
table,  and another king sized couch which also converts to a king 
bed.  The  patio  on  the second floor again has two lounges and a 
small   table.   Better   equipped   that  most  hotels  and  more 
comfortable than camping. 

There  apparently is only one K-mart on the island, and it is in a 
mall  with a grocery store. It is located at Tutu, which is inland 
and  about  halfway between the east end and Charlotte Amalie. The 
Sapphire  can  arrange  a  shuttle to various parts of the island, 
all  with fixed times. So we signed up for the shuttle to Tutu for 
4:30.  The  shuttle is slightly cheaper than the taxis for getting 
from  one  place  to  another,  but apparently not as reliable. We 
were  waiting  from  4:15,  and  at 4:45 we took a taxi. If we had 
realized  that  everything  closes  (except K-mart and the grocery 
store)  at 5:00 p.m., we might have left earlier, but we got there 
just  as  all  the stores in the mall were closing. Well, a K-mart 
is  a K-mart, but one of their advertisements mentioned snorkeling 
equipment,  and we had decided to get Carolyn her own snorkel with 
a  purge  valve  (to cut down on the salt water ingestion). K-Mart 
didn't  have  it.  A  12 pack of soda was only $3.95 here, and the 
coffee  was  also  cheaper  .  . . everything was cheaper than the 
Sapphire's  gift  shop  (surprise).  The  groceries  were  another 
story.  They  were still cheaper than the Sapphire, but bring some 
of  your  own.  For  example, the polish kielbasa that you can get 
locally  for  $2.00  at  times,  were  $4.00 each. Milk was in the 
upper  $3  range,  and  the  cereals  were  $  .50  to  $1.50 more 
expensive.  Now on the other hand the Vodka was between $5 to $8 a 
fifth (or a liter). 

Now  loaded  with  groceries,  the  adventure back to the Sapphire 
began.  The regular taxis sort of bypass the mall after 6:00 p.m., 
so  that  leaves  it  open  to  gypsy cabbies. The majority of the 
taxies   are   full  size,  9  to  15  passenger  vans  with  air-
conditioning,  clean,  comfortable,  and licensed. The gypsies are 
small  cars,  and  not  licensed  as  a  taxis,  and generally not 
allowed  to  wait  at  hotels,  resorts, and the airport for fares 
(the  Sapphire usually has at least 2 waiting at all times). Well, 
our  ride  back  was  in a small car that at every time the driver 
slowed  down, the engine stalled. I'm not really sure how much was 
holding  the  car  together.  We've  been in worse vehicles, but I 
can't  remember  when. It's also another sensation to sit lower to 
the  ground when at night all the traffic is on the wrong side and 
they  haven't  reaimed  the  headlights.  All  the  headlights are 
pointed  at  the  oncoming traffic (except those with dented front 
ends, and then anything goes.) 

As  long as we are talking about taxis . . . the islands have what 
appears  to  be  a  zone  system,  and the rates are lower for two 
traveling  together  that apart. For example, from the Sapphire to 
downtown  Charlotte  Amalie  the single person fare is $7, but the 
two  of  us  cost  $11. Would a car rental be cheaper? For two, we 
don't  believe  so. We rarely went more than one place else during 
the  day.  So  a  downtown trip cost $22, but for four it would be 
$44  round  trip.  A car rental averages $49/day plus gas, and gas 
is  $1.58  to  $1.70  for a gallon of regular ($1.78 on St. John), 
plus  parking  in certain spots. We wouldn't suggest even taking a 
car  from St. Thomas to St. John, leave it at the dock at Red Hook 
and  take  the ferry ($3.00/person/one way), and rent a car on St. 
John (but more on St. John later.) 

Sunday  evening,  after  the taxi ride, was a nice relaxing dinner 
for two, with wine and a wonderful view. 

Monday  dawned  and  promised to be overcast all day with a threat 
of  rain  in  the  evening.  What  better time to view a property, 
listen  to a spiel, collect a voucher for $50 and some two for one 
offers  and  free  cab  fare. We called up and made an appointment 
for  10:00  at Bluebeard's Castle. Great, listen to someone for 45 
minutes,  collect our vouchers, and go shopping downtown. Well, we 
listened,  we talked, we discussed, and we bought. It's a one week 
deeded  time share at Bluebeard's Castle during week 51 (Christmas 
week,  except  in  election  years). There is a Bluebeard's Castle 
and  a  Blackbeard's  Castle on the Island, and Bluebeard's Castle 
is the resort that is open. 

The  salesman  at  Bluebeard's  Castle  treated us to lunch at the 
Terrace  restaurant  (one  of  three I believe at Bluebeard's). As 
with  most  of  the Island restaurant food, excellent. Carolyn had 
the  pasta  salad,  and  John  had  the  Caesar Salad with grilled 
shrimp.  Again  excellent,  worth  the trip to Bluebeard's Castle. 
Then  on  to downtown and "Shop till you drop," or at least that's 
what  it  ended  up  being. Carolyn had definite ideas of what she 
wanted  to see and look at, John was just looking. Lots of tourist 
stuff,   and  lots  of  tourists.  The  liquor  was  significantly 
cheaper,  as  was  the  jewelry,  watches,  electronics (+/-), and 
camera  equipment.  Shirts  are  shirts,  just  the  imprints  are 
different,  but  then  again, that's why you buy them. Into Little 
Switzerland,  Royal  Caribbean, and dozens of similar stores. Some 
of  the  small  side  streets  have  been closed, and converted to 
shopping  areas  or  mini-malls.  People  are  out  on Main Street 
hawking  the  shops  down the side streets or restaurants off Main 
Street.  We  looked  at  diamonds,  aquamarines, and opals, opals, 
opals.  In  Amsterdam  Sauer, Carolyn found a brilliant 3.35 carat 
Opal  that  she really liked, and she was able to walk out with it 
(yes,  it  was  paid for) as a 25th anniversary gift (not the trip 
wasn't).  Now  all  she has to do is decide on a setting for it (a 
ring has been decided). 

Around  4:30  to  5:00 the downtown area started to clear out. The 
taxi  drivers  kept  offering  "Back to the ship, mon?" Apparently 
all  the  cruise  ships want everyone back on board by around 5:00 
for  dinner  and getting ready to set sail for their next port, so 
the  downtown  shops  really clear out, and everyone closes. We're 
talking  about  rolling  up  the  sidewalks on the stroke of 5. We 
walked  around  until  5:30-6:00  and then decided to head back to 
the  Sapphire.  Bluebeard's  Castle was having a small guest party 
that  evening that we were invited to, but we were too tired to go 
there, and besides it really looked like rain. 

And  rain  it  did, buckets and buckets. Wise choice. Another nice 
little dinner for two with some more wine. 

The  next  morning, we awoke to rain, drizzle, and clouds. Another 
excellent  day  for  shopping, or so Carolyn says. It really isn't 
great  for swimming in the salt water, because the sunshine really 
makes  the  swim. Carolyn dragged John back to the Royal Caribbean 
and  bought  John  the  camera he was looking at on Monday. One of 
those  hawkers  had  a  coupon for a free drink at the Greenhouse, 
and  he  hit  us  twice  before  lunch, so we had two coupons. The 
Greenhouse  is  on  the  harbor of Charlotte Amalie, real close to 
the  Hard  Rock  Cafe. It is an open restaurant, with a moderately 
priced  menu  and  great food. Carolyn had the fried shrimp, while 
John  had  the  pasta  and  shrimp. Worth going to and worth going 
back to. 

Further  shopping  brought  us  to  the  famed "99 Steps", just as 
everyone  else  was  leaving  town for their ships. These steps go 
from  main  street  up to Blackbeard's Castle. And they go up, and 
up,  and  up.  Unfortunately,  Blackbeard's was a restaurant-hotel 
that  has  not  reopened  since hurricane Marilyn in 1995. So it's 
also  a  long walk down. Guest services at the Sapphire was having 
a  presentation that evening so it was back to the Sapphire. Their 
presentation  included, "Here are the trips and things we can help 
you  arrange  while  you  are here," but they also had some nachos 
and  Carolyn  discovered  the  "Painkiller."  Carolyn, who for the 
last  25+  years  has  liked  Harvey  Wallbangers, has found a new 
drink.  A  Painkiller  is: 151 rum, orange juice, pineapple juice, 
Coco  Lopez, and nutmeg. Tuesday was topped of with a quiet dinner 
for two in our room. 

Wednesday   greeted  us  with  sunshine  pouring  in  through  the 
windows.  With  seven (7) cruise ships expected in the harbor, the 
planning  for  today was simple . . . snorkeling and sunshine, and 
more  snorkeling  and sunshine. There was a manager's special that 
evening  with  drinks, snacks, and music. Out on the patio, (there 
is  no  enclosed  lounge  . . . everything is open.) The music was 
typical  and  as  expected  ( a touch louder than we care for). We 
retired  to  the  Seagrape for dinner, near enough to hear all the 
music,  but  not  so  near  that  our hearing was damaged. Carolyn 
tried  the  Veal  Scalopini and John went after the Blackened Mahi 
Mahi.  This  time we talked to the waiter and related our concerns 
from  Saturday  evening,  and everything was perfect. The veal was 
tender  and  the  blackened  fish was outstanding. Again a walk on 
the  beach  chasing down hermit crabs, and waves were the end to a 
perfect  day.  Just for the record, we don't believe the temp ever 
dropped  below 75 degrees in the nights, and the 85 plus days were 
not humid or uncomfortable. 

Thursday  we  awoke  to  a  day  at  least  equal  in  promise  to 
Wednesday.   The  Sapphire  was  wonderful.  Good  location,  good 
facilities,  good staff . . . they were also offering time shares, 
so  Thursday  morning  we listened to their talk. Their plan was a 
floating  week  -  40 year lease at the Sapphire. That just didn't 
have   the   requirements   that  we  were  looking  for  (no  tax 
deduction). 

Then  over  to Red Hook and the ferry to Cruz Bay on St. John. The 
ferry  takes  all  of twenty minutes. After being bombarded on the 
dock  by the taxi drivers and hawkers for car rentals or tours, we 
walked  around  Cruz  Bay on our own tour. We visited the National 
Park  service  area,  and picked-up some postcards, maps, and fish 
identification  cards.  On  the  north edge of Cruz Bay is a place 
called   Mongoose   Junction.  You'd  have  to  experience  it  to 
understand  it.  Different  buildings, different levels, different 
walkways,  and  loads  of  different shops; all interconnected. We 
had  lunch at the Mongoose Restaurant, which is as close to a deli 
as  you  can  find  in that part of the world. Tuna salad on fresh 
bread  was  wonderfully  different,  yet  similar to home. For the 
next  two hours we walked and shopped, and walked and shopped, and 
walked  some  more.  We  found where we wanted to have dinner that 
night, we just had to take care of about two more hours. 

What  better  way  than  a  tour  of St. John. There were only two 
other  people  besides  us  on the tour, and we were on a open air 
taxi  again  - just marvelous. The driver would just pull over and 
stop,  then  get  out and explain whatever we were looking at. But 
when  the driver would pull over, it would depend on which side of 
the  road he wanted to show us something. No matter where we went, 
the  views  were  breath-taking,  just like the postcards . . . in 
fact  some  of  them  were  the same as the postcards. We saw some 
reefs  we  want to snorkel the next time we come to visit. We came 
down  the  hill  to  Cruz  Bay  and the end of the tour just after 
sunset.  A  very  enjoyable  tour.  We saw the Hyatt, which hasn't 
reopened  yet,  Caneel  Bay,  which just reopened. We were able to 
tour  the  Annaburg  Sugar  and  Rum  factory ruins, and visit the 
National  Parks  campground.  All the views of the island from the 
ridges  or  above  the  bays,  they  were just beyond description. 
Picture postcard perfect. 

Dinner  was  as Pusser's on Cruz Bay. A very commercial place with 
its   own   store  for  cups,  clothes,  rum,  after  shave,  even 
underwear.  Carolyn  was  able  to  have her Conch fritters, and a 
chicken  chef's  salad,  while  John  went after a White and Black 
Tuna  (white  and  black  sesame  seeds  on  a  filet of tuna) and 
Shepherd's  pie.  The  salad  dressing  was a local mixture of the 
chef.  Carolyn's  Painkiller  was  not  quite  up  to snuff. Their 
recipe  calls  for  95 proof rum and no Coco Lopez. (it's the Coco 
Lopez  that  makes  the  difference - john.) A nice stroll back to 
the dock and we were able to get right on the ferry. 

Friday,  we  were  originally planning on returning to St. John to 
do  some  snorkeling  on  their reefs, but John was slightly under 
the  weather (so to speak . . . it was still clear, dry and warm), 
so  we  spent the day on the beach and snorkeling at the Sapphire, 
dreading  the trip home on Saturday. The Sapphire had a steel drum 
band  Friday  evening  and dinner for two at the Seagrape, the way 
to  end  a  beautiful day. Carolyn went for the chicken and shrimp 
fettucine,   which  was  excellent.  John  ordered  the  blackened 
Atlantic   Salmon,   just  like  Carolyn's  Atlantic  Salmon  from 
Saturday  evening,  this  melted in your mouth, with all the taste 
of  a  blackened  dish (OOP's, I just drooled on the keyboard). Of 
course  there  was the required nighttime beach stroll back (still 
following the hermit crab tracks, plus other stuff). 

We  had  just gotten there, it couldn't be time return already . . 
something  had  to  be  wrong. Yelp, it was Saturday and we had to 
come  back  to  reality  (read that as work). We had confirmed our 
airport  shuttle  on  Friday, and they were there 10 minutes early 
(surprise,  we  were  15  minutes  early). There was method in our 
madness.  After  another relaxing drive from one end of the island 
to  the  other,  we  were  at the airport . . . 5 hours before our 
flight.  We checked our bags, and got a taxi back to downtown with 
about three and a half hours to spend walking all over. 

Carolyn  was finally able to find a shirt with at least one iguana 
on  it.  Why  an  iguana?  Well  these things are everywhere . . . 
there  were  no less that five different ones at the Sapphire. You 
would  find them on the grass or large rocks in the sun. Including 
the  tail,  they  ranged from 18 inches to just over 3 feet, would 
eat  the  hibiscus  flowers,  and just leave if you got too close. 
They  seemed  to  be  just a little more sedate than their smaller 
relatives  . . . the smaller relatives looked like chameleons, ran 
like  chameleons,  but  we  couldn't see one long enough it see if 
they changed colors. 

We  returned  to  the Greenhouse for lunch and tried to soak up as 
much  St.  Thomas  as  possible . . . the sights, the streets, the 
people,  the  bay,  the  buildings,  the  warmth.  It was about 90 
degrees  Saturday  afternoon,  not like the 40 degrees that met us 
when  we  returned  home. We had packed long pants and sweatshirts 
in  one of our smaller bags, so we had something to change into at 
the  Airport. We put off returning to reality as long as possible. 

Are we returning? Fifty four weeks and counting. 

TURKS AND CAICOS: PROVO BY LOUIS YELLEN

Spent  the week of 11/17 on Provo at Ocean Club. Although there is 
no  night  life  at  this  resort it is an excellent property with 
very  friendly  and  helpful  staff. Highly recommend the half-day 
snorkeling/beach cruise with Sand Dollar tours. 

The  snorkeling at the reef is outstanding - beautiful coral, lots 
of  fish  and clear water. We were joined by two wild dolphins(not 
Jojo)  who  hung  around  for our entire hour of snorkeling. After 
snorkeling  we  were  taken to an uninhabited island for shelling, 
to  a  sandbar  to  snorkel  for  sand  dollars and then to Iquana 
island  to  observe  Iguana  in  a protected environment. The four 
hour trip with refreshments was $40. 

We  also enjoyed snorkeling off-shore at Smith's reef where we saw 
sea  turtles  and  more coral and, of course more fish including a 
large  barracuda.  We were disappointed with the snorkeling at the 
White  House.  Locals  claim  the  Club  Med  boats  have severely 
damaged the reef at this location. 

Restaurants  we  enjoyed:  Caicos  Cafe,  Coco  Bistro,  Tiki Hut, 
Banana  Boat and Gecko's. Avoid Dora's- the food was poor and cold 
and  the  place  appeared  unsanitary.  The night we went they had 
advertised  live  music  but  all  we  got  was  World  Federation 
Wrestling  on TV. The local lobster is excellent especially served 
grilled. 

Renting  a  car  for  at  least  part of the week is advised - the 
taxi's  are outrageous - they charge by the person. For two people 
to  go  to dinner at one of the nearby restaurants costs $16 round 
trip.  There  is  a  beautiful and secluded beach on the northwest 
corner  of  Provo  that requires a 4-wheel drive vehicle to get to 
but the bumpy 5 mile trail is worth it. 

Although  I  am  an  avid golfer and there was a beautiful 18 hole 
course  across  from  the  Ocean  Club, I couldn't get myself away 
from  the  superb  beaches,  pristine waters and the snorkeling to 
swing a club. 

I  already  miss  the  sunsets  and  warmth  of the island and its 
people and writing about it brings back wonderful memories. 

The Caribbean Travel Roundup is available worldwide via Compuserve and INTERNET and is distributed internationally through the facilities of America Online, GENIE, The Travel On Line BBS (Lake St. Louis MO 314-561-4956), and Delphi. Selected features appear on Prodigy.

Contact: Paul Graveline, 9 Stirling St., Andover, MA 01810-1408 USA :Home (Voice or Fax) 508-470-1971.

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