Six months ago, life changed. And at this point in the COVID pandemic’s relentless progress, we are uncertain whether the ‘normality’ we used to recognize is gone, or whether life has changed forever.
Looking back over the past months, what have we learned? What can we say about Saint Lucia and those on whom we rely for our livelihood; North America and Europe, mainly the UK?
In common with our neighbors, St Vincent, Grenada, Barbados, Martinique, and Antigua, we rely on tourism for the more significant part of our income. Our target markets’ protocols prevented travel, but as islands, we also had the challenge presented by a lack of flights.
.In Saint Lucia, however, even before lockdowns overseas, the government was swift to act. Closing our borders and introducing strict internal protocols was a wise yet brave decision. Other than supermarkets and other essentials, every business closed down. In the tourism sector, all hotels, restaurants, bars, entertainment places, and tours ceased to function, resulting in thousands of staff sent home.
We had the stress of a 7 day, 24-hour curfew, along with a temporary ban on alcohol, but this is the Caribbean, and so somehow, rum was always obtainable if you knew where!
Although the government managed to finance a furlough scheme, we learned which hotels and resorts were ready to stand by their employees and provide support, some even launching guest appeals to raise money.
Most impressive was the overall response of Saint Lucians to the crisis and to appeals made by the government. Everywhere you looked, masks were being worn willingly, social distancing observed, and frankly, a determination to cooperate and get through the ordeal the best way possible.
Crime has been at an all-time low, and in general, a bonhomie existed along with a spirit of caring for one’s neighbor. At that point, we knew we’d probably come through this reasonably unscathed. Having said that, closing down the economy is not without consequences. Businesses have failed, many people have been impoverished by the calamity and no-one can say life isn’t tough right now.
We’ve been spared the embarrassment of selfish people, arguing about wearing masks in stores as in first world countries. We’ve learned to be patient in our inimitable Caribbean way. (“Don’t worry ’bout a ting. Cos everyting gonna be irie”). St Lucian’s will persevere.
Unlike a bomb or a natural catastrophe, a virus doesn’t destroy the landscape. Saint Lucia is as beautiful as ever. Is it possible that the beauty we wake up to every day, coupled with a global realization of how quickly the planet can recover with such a dramatic drop in carbon emissions, has focused the hospitality industry on sustainability?
It would be fantastic if that were so, but it is noticeable that some hotels in Saint Lucia are looking to sustainability as the next big thing. We’ll see some evidence of this as travelers themselves are statistically more interested than ever before on the sustainability rating of where they will stay.
We’ve recently begun welcoming visitors back to the island at this moment in time, providing specific protocols are observed. So if you are someone compliant with those rules and are coming to visit us, you will receive a warm welcome.
Don’t just come for the beauty, the soft sand, and the suntan. Come and get happy. Our island is full of smiles.
Footnote: Officially, Saint Lucia is the only country to date with a 100% recovery rate. (eg, No deaths have resulted from Covid-19)
Only a day into our stay at Calabash Cove, we felt our Watersedge Cottage had quickly become a second home. Was it the smell of coffee freshly brewing? Or the comfortable king size bed? Our own private pool? What really was it that made me feel such comfort on vacation?
To begin with, imagine drinking fresh coffee on the patio daybed while your partner swings in a nearby hammock. Every morning we looked over into the vast ocean fascinated by the different shades of blue. These shades, only a stone?s throw from our beachfront cottage, changed with the angle of the rising sun. Who would have thought there were so many shades of blue to be seen?
Majestic St Lucian Flora
Of course, the exuberance of life in St Lucia did not end there. The blues only competed with the shades of green exploding from the lush gardens all around us.
Naturally, the garden is made up of a variety of local flora. Most plants I encountered bore exotic names like Bougainvillea named after French Navy admiral and explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville or Allamanda in honor of?Swiss?botanist?and physician?Fr?d?ric-Louis Allamand. Every one of these names meant to tell a story, the story of St Lucia.
Remembering these names now, with their histories described to us by Alban, the properties head gardener, I’m disheartened to be away from our perfect getaway at Calabash Cove. I often wish I had written down every plant name.
Comfort We Couldn’t Resist
We are not usually the type of people who stay within the walls of our room… and this wasn’t even our honeymoon. With the warm feel of the living room and it’s (believe it or not) old fashioned books, we were too cozy to leave. Even with all of our technology, the books added such comfort on vacation. Although, I will also admit that the all-inclusive bar with a real fridge may have contributed to our feelings of happiness and occasion.
For now, I can only dream about our Watersedge Cottage with the coffee smell and the old fashioned books. One thing is for certain, we will be back.
Author: Heidi? Berger
When in Saint Lucia, you’ll be struck by the variety of birdlife on the island. The more common or garden varieties such as the Grackle and the Lesser Antilles BullFinch, can be annoying ss they are inclined to steal food right from your plate. That is when you are dining al fresco, which tends to be the norm in the Caribbean. All in all though, Saint Lucia’s birds are beautiful. One of our favourites at Calabash Cove is often mistaken for a Hawk and indeed there are plenty of those as well. We like the Kestrel however.
They look similar to the average hawk and they swoop majestically through the air in search of prey just like an eagle. They are the largest native bird of prey on the island and hoteliers love them for a reason. They tend to scare away the annoying Grackles.
At Calabash Cove, their favorite perch (to take off from for long glides through the air above the resort) is the Pimento tree next to the C-Bar. In spring, they can easily be seen, while you are enjoying sundowners at the bar. If you have the patience, you can watch them put on a hunting show – chasing other birds, lizards and sometimes small critters.
Guests at Calabash Cove like them for their looks, of course.
The manager loves them for the simple fact that they make life miserable for pestering black birds. These black birds, called the Greater Antillean Grackle, seem to be addicted to sugar, fake or real, and given the chance they love to eat right off of your plate!
Helping to keep these annoying birds at bay, the Kestrels like to plunder Grackle nests when on the hunt, which serves to keep their numbers down or to encourage them to move away altogether.
THE WOODMAN OF CALABASH COVE
Introducing Stanfield Dolcy,- a joiner by trade, lover of gardens and finally a wood carver with passion. Fifty seven years young, he started his career as a forest officer for the St. Lucia Government. He’s happily married with four girls. Furthermore he has been one of the most loyal, respected and lovable ?Calabashies? since the Cove?s opening ten years ago.
An unassuming and charming ?Saint Lucian?, he delights the guests with his endless knowledge of indigenous plants and trees of exotic wood. Now and then he opens a fresh cut coconut with his machete to have guests taste this truly healthy local libation straight from the palm. Doing so. reciting a famous Caribbean Song?drink, drink Coconut water, drink, Coconut is good for your daughter, think, etc?;-) You can probably figure what that means. Every Saint Lucian will tell you it works ! ?Moreover, Dolcy also knows, where the best Mango and Pineapple grow.
One encounters his work as a passionate wood carver immediately on entering the property. An artistic sentry post carved from a massive single branch of a Saman Tree, sits next to the Calabash Cove sign. Exiting from the taxi, you are faced with a magnificent Welcome Sign before entering the lobby. He’s expert in utilizing exotic local woods like Mahogany, Saman, Bamboo, White Cedar and White Wood.
Dolcy created and carved all the hotel?s room numbers, wooden menu covers, bill presenters, paper towel holders and most signage around the property. He also creates special commissions from a single piece of wood, for guests. Some of his creations are on display and for sale in Memories of Calabash.
In September, which is usually the end of the Turtle laying season until next April, we announced a photo competition. We were looking for guests with the best images and the best story from the Calabash Cove beach.
Among the entries there were two we like a lot, from John Groeger and Jesse Williams.
Here’s John’s story:
John Groeger My wife and I spent a truly AMAZING week in paradise at Calabash Cove for our honeymoon in August of 2013. On one of the days we decided to take the kayaks out and paddle to rat island. When we were about halfway out a storm looked to be heading our way so we turned around and high tailed it back home! As we approached the beach, we saw what looked like 60+ crabs running towards the water. As we got closer we realized they were freshly hatched sea turtles! The experience of watching the sea turtles hatch and head to the water was truly a once in a lifetime experience for my wife and I and made our week in paradise that much more magical!
Here’s one popping up from the nest…
All of the nesting and hatchings and excitement take place here between April and September approx, on the little pretty beach at Calabash Cove.
Then another story from Jesse Williams
Jessy Thompson On August 1st, 2013, at approximately 9:07 am island time, I witnessed a once-in-a-lifetime moment of perfection. My wife and I had been staying at Calabash Cove (Cottage #5) for our honeymoon. It was truly one of the best weeks and adventures of our lives. As the time of our stay was winding down, I decided to walk down to the beach to soak in as much of the Saint Lucian sun as I could, while my wife was finishing her shower. When I approached the beach, a garden attendant called my attention to a hole in the sand from which baby sea turtles were emerging. I quickly went back to the cottage to grab my wife. With her in hand and freshly robed, we delicately made our way back down to the ocean front where the turtles seen in the attached pictures were making their way from their nest and into the ocean. We were witnessing an event that most people will only see in documentaries. We were witnessing life, untouched, vulnerable, and breathtakingly beautiful. From a safe distance, we quietly snapped pictures of the baby turtles. Like Saint Lucia, the pictures are not photoshopped or doctored, there is no need, they are as perfect as the moment my wife and I shared witnessing their journey to the sea. The metaphor is not lost on us. Our marriage was only seven days old and very much buried in the sand when these pictures were taken. But, like the baby turtles, we have been bravely, unabashedly, and with our eyes on our own ocean, making our own journey ever since. The innocence and hope captured in these photos is, for us, the essence of island life, the beauty of Saint Lucia, and symbolic of the love we shared at Calabash Cove. And that, my friends, is a picture of one beautiful turtle.
Isn’t it amazing that our two entries are both from August 2013 and both from two couples on honeymoon. I am not going to look up whether they were from the same town, cos that would be spooky. Still it is not only an interesting coincidences but also I think proves that sharing an event like this is most definitely romantic. That’s why we think Calabash Cove is a romantic place all over and for many reasons.
How many times have any of us said that we should write a book. In answer to a question such as ” How did it go with such and such?” you answer “Oh,I could write you a book!”
It is something all of us aspire to do at some time or another. Taking time whilst away on vacation could be just the thing to get your ideas in order and make a start.
Here’s a cool article in Atlantic.com, I found the other day…hope you find it interesting.
How to Write a Book Without Losing Your Mind
Since then, I have:
Called my mom rejoicing.
Called my mom crying.
Considered changing my Twitter bio, then thought better of it.
Considered emailing all my ex-boyfriends and mentors to let them know I?m an impostor, then thought better of it.
Extensively researched three different long-form writing softwares, only to find that I prefer the first one I ever tried
Researched and bought several different types of special German pens, only to find that I prefer good old Paper Mates.
Now just one task remains: Write the thing.
To that end, I recently consulted with some productivity experts to figure out how it is that people?such as, hopefully, myself?are able to accomplish big, long-term projects, within the time allotted, and ideally with minimal psychiatric help.
I reached out to Laura Vanderkam, who has written several books, most of them about the art of getting things done. (She sees your Lean In and raises you I Know How She Does It: How Successful Women Make the Most of Their Time.) She has a book come out every 18 months to two years, but most of the writing gets done in six months, she told me. After that, she?s editing and promoting the book. And between everything, she?s blogging, podcasting, speaking, and traveling. Oh, and she has four children, ages 11, 8, 6, and 3.
?When you write a lot ? you know that the first thing you write is not going to be perfect,? she said. ?You?re going to be writing all sorts of stuff that won?t be in the final draft, including writing ?insert this thing here? in brackets. You will make it better, but it?s so much easier to turn something into something better than to turn nothing into something.?
Phew, that?s reassuring. The ugly sentences I see on my screen aren?t really my writing, they?re my little book embryos, with flipper hands and a tail. My beautiful word baby won?t emerge till months from now.
What not to do? Wait till the last minute, Vanderkam says. Besides, if you get done early, you can take a break from your work and come back to it with fresh(er) eyes.
Not that you would ever put things off, anyway. Joseph R. Ferrari, a psychologist at DePaul University, told me that most people are just occasional dawdlers. ?Chronic procrastinators,? Ferrari said, make up only about 20 percent of the population, and the only way to help them is therapy. I don?t know if I?m in that 20 percent, but getting special anti-procrastination therapy seems like exactly the kind of thing I would do to procrastinate. I might also clean up my desk?which, it turns out, might actually work. In one study?Ferrari recently did with colleagues, people?s level of clutter predicted their tendency to procrastinate.
Sometimes, though, I clean because I feel like I?m not in the right ?mood? to write. But mood is meaningless when it comes to getting things done, as Timothy Pychyl, a professor at Carleton University in Ottawa, told The Washington Post in 2016. ?I have to recognize that I?m rarely going to feel like it, and it doesn?t matter if I don?t feel like it,? he said. It?s also a myth that you need a ?good chunk of time? to really get going on something. The famously productive business writer and Wharton professor Adam Grant says he?ll even use the eight minutes between meetings to get started on a project.
Getting started?and other small victories?might be all it takes. Linda Houser-Marko, a research psychologist at the Johnson O?Connor Research Foundation, once did a study in which she found that it?s better to measure your progress toward large projects in terms of smaller, incremental ?subgoals??whether it be a chapter of the book or a small portion of your dissertation?rather than the larger objective. This is especially helpful when you struggle, she found. ?The higher-level goal might give you more meaning, but the lower-level goal is better when you have setbacks or when you?re not making as much progress,? she told me.
?If you?ve written 800-word articles in a day,? Vanderkam assured me, ?you?ve already written a book in six months anyway. You just have to do a little, then do a little bit more.?
At least, that?s how she does it.