A Devil Of A Time In St. Lucia


January 09, 1994|By DAVE BARRY

Recently my wife and I decided to put some "zing" back into our marriage by going to a "couples only" resort. This is a popular new type of resort that does not allow you to bring your children, the theory being that it is difficult for you and your spousal unit to get into a romantic mood if one of you has to pause every 45 seconds to shout "Jason! I told you not to squirt sun block into Ashley's ear!"

The resort we went to is in St. Lucia, a small and lovely island nation way out in the Caribbean, not far from Grenada, which is the island that Ronald Reagan rescued from the Communist Menace. I am frankly amazed that the Communist Menace was a problem in that area, because to get there you have to spend all day scrunched up in various airplanes. I would have thought that by the time the Communist Menace finally arrived and located its luggage, all it would have wanted to do was lie down and enjoy a refreshing local beverage consisting of rum mixed with rum.

That's certainly what we wanted to do when we got to St. Lucia, but we had to spend the first hour and a half riding in a small, couple-filled van from one end of the island to the other on the main road, which apparently also doubles as a strip mine. Technically, you're supposed to drive on the left-hand side in St. Lucia, but the drivers swerve all over the place to avoid the holes, which means that sometimes both your vehicle and an oncoming one are in the same lane. The only strict driving rule in St. Lucia is "No hurtling off a cliff into the Caribbean without a good reason."

Eventually we got to our resort. It is what the travel industry calls an "all-inclusive" resort, which means that you pay a flat amount of money per day, and the resort sets out large mounds of food, and you try to include it all in your body. "Hey, I paid for this food," is what you are constantly telling yourself, to justify the fact that you are already mounding your plate with lunch even though you have not, technically, finished chewing your breakfast.

The food was served on a veranda next to a lovely palm-fringed beach, so at every meal we enjoyed a breathtaking view of various guys' armpits. A lot of guys, when they are on vacation in a tropical climate, wear "tank-style" tops, so that if you happen to glance up from your food mound just as a guy at the next table raises his arm to signal the waiter for another rum and rum, you find yourself staring into his hairy armpit.

I think there should be a "No Armpits" section.

But getting back to our all-inclusive resort: For those brief interludes when we were not eating, we were encouraged to engage in a constant barrage of organized fun activities such as volleyball, water polo, sailing, hiking, sightseeing, windsurfing, snorkeling, scuba-diving, ball-hitting and bun-flexing.

At night there were talent shows, newlywed games, group singing, movie-showing, limbo-dancing and of course more food-eating. This level of fun takes a physical toll. If you are a middle-aged person such as myself, by the end of just one day, your marriage has about as much zing as a severely over-steamed carrot, if you get my drift.

To avoid total exhaustion, we left the resort compound several times. We went to the "Jump Up," a regular Friday-night event wherein people come from all over the island to a town called Gros Islet. Everybody gathers in a street lined with shoe-box-sized bars and people selling grilled food. In the middle of the street are some gigantic speakers, blasting reggae music. It's a fine place to enjoy refreshing beverages and watch your braver fellow vacationers doing a highly entertaining dance called "The Tourist," in which a person attempts to get down and funky while wearing a fanny pack.

On another day we courageously rented a car and drove around with another couple, Eileen and Steve. We drove to a village called Canaries, where we decided to stop, primarily because our route was blocked by a highway construction crew, probably constructing new holes in the road. We got out, went into a local establishment and purchased some beers from a bartender who was maybe 10 years old. Nearby, three elderly people, two men and a woman, were sitting by the side of the road, passing a bottle around. The woman laughed, leaned way back, and opened her mouth wide.

Luuuuve, she sang, is a many splendored thing. . .

The people in Canaries seemed very relaxed, despite the fact that they were not, technically, on vacation. I'm not sure what their secret is. Maybe it's an all-inclusive village.

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