Tuesday, May 11, 2010


There is no way to describe it. God is good to us. Our trip just seems to go from great to even greater. Thanks to all of you who have wished us well. Again, no time to tell details. Here are some shots from the last two days or so.
Yesterday we spent most of the day lounging at the beach. We hung out next door at Nesbit Plantation. We went snorkeling and saw a lot of stuff. There's no way we can bring back the huge conch shells and other treasures we have found. Beautiful fish abound. Don't know if I mentioned it, but Lobsters are everywhere. I've caught
one but lost it swimming back in. They're not easy to catch...and can cut you up if you're not careful. Darla had an awesome lunch on the beach (Mahi Mahi sandwich with a tropical salsa on top, salad, & fries) and we shared a dessert.
A rich chocolate brownie with caramel, nuts, and coconut, served with great vanilla ice cream. Darla's favorite!!

This is what the beach is all about...reading a good book about American Christian history! I also finished a book about Eric Liddel, the Olympic runner about whom they made the movie, "Chariots of Fire." Awesome book. It's called Pure Gold. I highly recommend it.

It was not all paradise, however. Me being the adventuresome type, must push the envelope. I started getting coconuts for eating and drinking the coconut milk. Got a little obsessed with knocking them out of trees and figuring out how to get them open, etc.

Anyway, when Darla and I were leaving the beach to take a shower before dinner, I grabbed a rock bigger than my fist, said to Darla, "Watch out honey, I'm going to get a coconut." I threw it hard at a big coconut about 20 feet off the ground. It hit the coconut square and bounced right off AND RIGHT AT DARLA'S HEAD!! Thankfully she had her visor and sunglasses on which shielded her from the brunt of the blow. I thought she would have a concussion or her head was split open or worse! I couldn't have done that again if I tried all day for a year! She has a little bruise, but nothing serious. Whew! Thank you Lord. Stupid me. She's so patient with my A.D.D.

We went to town to eat and many restaurants were closed (go figure...we're learning that there are certain Nevis cultural ways). We finally found a place we had heard about called Seafood Madness. Sounds totally different than it is. This was actually a very peaceful place, and we had it all to ourselves. I totally splurged and got fresh lobster. UNBELIEVABLE. This was the MEDIUM!

It makes my mouth water just to see the pictures again. It was the best lobster ever. It's my favorite food, and I haven't had it in many years. I savored every bite. Does it seem like we're talking a lot about food?

Today we planned to hike the 3232 ft. Nevis Peak. It's in the center of the Island and is a huge inactive volcano. You can see it wherever you are on Nevis and there is almost ALWAYS a cloud on it. We've only seen the peak cloudless twice the whole time we've been here. I don't know why...something meteorological.

We had been told that it was very difficult and VERY dangerous to go without a guide. Stories of people who have been lost abound. Interestingly, when we tell locals we're hiking the peak, they respond with emotion. "Whoa...you're crazy!" kinds of responses. But you know me...it's there...we've got to hike it. Poor Darla. She's been dreading this the whole time.
We booked a guide (great guy, his name is Sheldon) and met him this morning at 9:45.

Let me tell you: I've hiked most of the hardest trails in the Smokies. This was SO hard. Over half of it was crawling STRAIGHT up on all fours, pulling on ropes over mud, tree roots, and slick rocks through the thickest jungle you can imagine! Darla is one of the toughest women I know. She wasn't feeling well for the first (less difficult) half because we ate a big breakfast before coming. But she sucked it up and made it! The whole time I was thinking about how sorry I was to get her into this.

This is one of the many flowers we saw on the way called "Bird of Paradise." The flora is amazing--like a big botanical garden--huge ferns, vines, trees that are nothing if not exotic. There were NO bugs, and Sheldon told us there were no dangerous animals of any kind (no snakes on the island due to the many mongooses...er...mongeese...you know). As to hunting, Sheldon said, "Open season, all the time." He told of an old guy he knows that kills and eats monkeys. There are small wild hogs, two different kinds of doves (one big, one little) but nothing dangerous.

Here is a typical part of the trail, in this case a hole in the mud, rocks, and roots that Darla is crawling through. What doesn't show here is that this is STRAIGHT up (most was like climbing a ladder), and behind us is a drop of about 50 feet into the dark jungle!

The views on the way up were astounding. We were blessed to have less cloud cover until the very top.

I can't overstate how difficult this was. My arms are sore as I write for pulling myself up with the many ropes necessary to climb this trail.
Sheldon, our guide, was young and talkative. He had a lot of opinions about religion and many questions. We found out much insider Nevisian stuff that was really interesting. He was brilliant and engaging. Not to mention athletic. He climbed the whole thing in Reebok tennis sneakers.
We were beaten up and covered with sweat and mud when we finally got to the top. Drew would have absolutely LOVED a challenge like this. He would have been in heaven.

And of course...it was covered in a cloud. The only other disappointing thing is that we couldn't see into the crater (did I say this is a volcano?). Here we are faking a smile, acting like we're ready for more. Truth is, it was in many ways harder and more dangerous to get back down the mountain. I fell twice, Darla fell a few times and has some bruises to show for it. We were filthy we we got done.

When we were almost to the bottom, Sheldon showed me some red-orange fruits that he called "cherries." Not like ours, but they were so sweet and juicy and sooo good. The redder the better...the orange ones tasted like hot pepper/tomato mixed. I ate many of them. Tasted a little like red raspberries to me. I wish my kids could have been here. They love to eat berries we find while hiking. Aren't these beautiful? They're shaped like tiny pumpkins.

After hiking we ate at a little place called Peak Haven where the trail starts/ends. It was really good. I had a curry chicken stew that was spicy. It was a colloquial dish--that's what I love more than anything, trying the native food. Darla had a grilled chicken sandwich that was on some great homemade bread. We got salads, Thick yellow sweet-potato fries, some kind of orange squash. All delicious! The people were so nice and courteous. We spoke with each of them and thanked them for such a lovely experience. And the view...the pictures don't do it justice.
While eating we talked about how people who take cruises or all-inclusive resort vacations to the caribbean never get to experience the REAL Caribbean like we have on this trip. I wouldn't have changed a thing.

We were soooo tired. But the view...magnificent. Check out the seat of Darla's pants in this picture. I'm telling you...we were battle-scarred.

Finally...what kept Darla going...the HOT TUB. We stayed in it until the sun went down. Another beautiful sunset with an incredible 360-degree view.

Hard to believe there's just two more days.


Bryan Parris said...

Chad Sparks on the beach reading a church history book! Who woulda thunk it? :) You guys look like you're having a great time! So glad you got to do this!

Phil Breedlove said...

I'm not sure why, but I love stories about food! Thanks for sharing!