Loc: Portland, OR
Saturday and Sunday, June 23-24
I think there’s a sister disease to sand gravity. In my case, it’s Divi Gravity. The symptoms are waking up in the morning with a plan to go somewhere, having breakfast on the deck overlooking Little Bay, enjoying the fabulous weather, noticing how quiet it is at the resort (turnover day), realizing that it will be weekend traffic all over the island, and just deciding to stay put at “home.” It was interesting on Saturday to see the transformation of the SeaBreeze pool into a setting for a wedding that was taking place that evening.
I did manage to go out for dinner, though. Saturday it was to Bajatzu, where I had orange duck. The service was extremely attentive up until the entrée was served. After I realized I couldn’t eat all of the meal, I had to wait for about 15 minutes for a server to come by so I could request a to-go box. The Casino Royale dancers were going to perform in about half an hour after I left Bajatzu so I killed time at Haagen-Dazs enjoying a mudslide. The four white female dancers were beautiful and energetic and were dressed in all white. It was quite a contrast to the last time I saw the dancers, where there were four male and four female, all black, and dressed in orange and black.
Upon returning to Divi, the after-wedding party was in full swing. A portion of the pool had been covered, and the bride and groom were dancing on the pool.
Sunday I went to Chesterfields for dinner, where the service was just top-notch. I had the crab-stuffed mahi mahi, which I thought was so so.
Monday, June 25
Had breakfast on deck and worked on trip report for Week 2 as it was raining out. My netbook was giving me fits and choking up when using Photobucket, but I was able to get the report posted.
I had been having trouble with my phone not taking voice messages and had emailed Sharon. She called me back from the States as she was en route to a follow-up visit with her knee doctor; what service! She thought it was a problem with UTS but suggested I drop by her office so her assistant could make sure my settings weren’t preventing messages being left. I did, and they weren’t. I noticed for the first time that there’s a salon next door to Sharon’s office that advertises acrylic nails and made a mental note.
Went to Karakter for lunch and had the Caribbean Karakter (shrimp on a skewer); delicious.
Spent the afternoon there; a bit windy, but still a nice beach time. I thought the “ice bucket” they brought my bottled water in was interesting. It was appealing to someone else, also.
I attended the Divi Managers’ Party and then gave Toucans their annual opportunity to show me their food had improved. While the remodeled restaurant is very classy in appearance, I’m sorry to say the food is still mediocre at best. I also learned Toucans will be closing for dinner on Wednesdays; I don’t know if this is permanent or just a low-season change. Probably the latter.
Tuesday, June 26
I think Anse Marcel is the most underrated beach on the island: there’s just nothing not to like. The water is calm, and entry into the water is gentle with no drop offs; the beach is quiet and not at all crowded, unlike the madness that I think Orient can sometimes be.
Some have talked about how scary the drive up/down the hill is, but I didn’t find that to be the case. You just have to make sure to stay on your side of the road going around curves. I wish, though, that at the top of the hill there was room to pull over to take a picture, but there isn’t.
I settled in front of Leroy’s Kfé (in front of Le Domaine) where a chair and umbrella were $10; as the afternoon wore on, I was given a second umbrella gratis. The chairs had a thick cushion and were very comfortable. I had a lunch of steak tartare with frites and felt very French. Lunch was a little expensive but only because I had two BBCs during the afternoon. Hands down, this was the best beach day of my trip.
Back to Divi for a quick shower and then on to the SMYC to meet up with AnnandSteve for a sunset cruise on the Passaat. Upon arrival, I was delighted to see that Ann had persuaded BillandElaine to join us.
This was Ann and Steve’s first time on the Passaat, and she told me later in the week that she enjoyed it so much that she and Steve were taking the Passaat’s day sail on July 4. I’ve written about the Passaat several times before, but it’s a beautiful sailing experience – real sailing, no motor or music. This is not a party boat, which is what makes it so special to me. The sunset cruise is two hours, with rum punch and snacks served. It was a lovely time.
Wednesday, June 27
Art tour day. One of the artists I most wanted to see (Jean-Pierre Straub) was off island, and an artist Ann wanted to see (Mounette Radot) was also unavailable. So we visited just two artists, starting with Marie Moine of Les Exotiques in Oyster Pond (just around the corner from BZH Creperie). I met Elaine, Ann, Gretchen, and Larry there. Marie is a ceramist-designer who makes plates, bowls, small boxes, giclées, and prints; her work depicts primarily Caribbean scenes, flowers, and birds. She’s often off island in June, and I’m glad we were able to catch her; I think she found it worth her while to open up for us.
Then it was on to Lady Ruby Bute’s Silk Cotton Grove Art Gallery. Ruby likes to sit down and visit with her patrons before she allows us to look around and purchase her work.
Ruby didn’t remember that Elaine and I had been to her gallery before on the art tour SXMNorm organized in early 2011. When looking around the gallery, I didn’t realize that one of the pieces I purchased on my last visit was actually done by Ruby’s granddaughter, who spends afternoons after school with Ruby. Ruby has a generous heart and asked each of the ladies to take one of the necklaces she had for sale. I was especially taken with the tiles of her work that Jeff Vanderpool recently has had made up; something about the tiles really accentuates the vividness of colors Ruby uses.
After the tour, Gretchen, Larry, and I were going to meet at Loterie Farm for lunch. When we arrived, the parking lot was quite crowded. Since we all wanted to be able to see our cars when having lunch (art purchases in trunks), Gretchen and Larry opted to go on to the beach. I went on to Paradise View, where I had a nice seafood salad for lunch.
I was also able to catch up with Bernadine Ali of the Local Rums and Spices shop next to the restaurant. I don’t want to broadcast her personal situation in a public forum, but she’s in dire straits, is really living hand to mouth, and can use whatever assistance anyone is able to give her. She has taken on a couple of baby kittens who are being nurtured by a male cat, also very young, whom she also took on a few months ago.
After leaving the Paradise View hill, I went back through Simpson Bay to get a broken acrylic fingernail fixed that had been giving me fits. I went to the aforementioned Hair & Body Works in Royal Palm Plaza and was very pleased with the repair job. They have been there since 1996, and my person knew what she was doing. I would go there for a fill with no hesitation.
I attempted to go to Café on the Bay for happy hour, but they were closed for inventory through June 30. The owner was there so I asked her about reopening. She wasn’t certain if she would reopen on July 1 or just stay closed until they moved; at whatever point they do close for the move, she said they would be closed for three months. Friends of mine who went to Café on the Bay at my recommendation a few days prior reported that they were out of several items on the menu, probably drawing down their inventory. I suspect they will be closed until they move, but I couldn’t get confirmation of that one way or the other.
Divi Infinity Pool for awhile, then to Mark’s Place for dinner. I had lamb chop with veggies and scalloped potatoes and ran in to AnnandSteve who were also dining there.
Thursday, June 28
Sadness starting to set in as this is next to last full day on island. Spent some time in the morning getting organized to start packing; it’s amazing how things can spread out over a three-week period. Then headed to Orient for a beach afternoon.
Larry, Gretchen, and I decided to go to the new Thai place, Satara, for dinner. We headed home to shower and change, then met there. Dave and Adrianna, whose place is across the street, were having happy hour there. Copartner Brian introduced himself to us, saying he reads TTOL every day. The outdoor seating was completely full, and Satara seems to be doing a good business. I had the coconut shrimp appetizer (very good) followed by a duck curry. Larry and Gretchen had appetizers I can’t remember; Larry’s entrée was a seafood stir fry, and Gretchen had sweet and sour tofu. Larry and I would have liked a little less heat; Gretchen would have liked a little more. Service was very good until toward the end, when it was a bit of a struggle getting our checks. Satara does add a 15% service fee.
Friday, June 29
My last full day was spent at Divi, packing and enjoying the Infinity Pool for the last time. To bed early for an early-morning wake-up.
Saturday, June 30
Arrived at the airport between 5:30 a.m. and 5:45 a.m. I arrived early because I didn’t know what the parking gate situation was going to be, but you can enter the parking lot without assistance, or at least I could that morning.
This was the only leg of my flight where I wasn’t traveling first class (apparently American never released FF seats to Alaska, where my miles are) and I was hoping to check in at the first-class window anyway to avoid baggage charges and weight restrictions. It was no problem and the agent didn’t blink an eye; she tagged my bags as priority and then it was off to wait for the gate to upstairs which opens at 6:00 a.m. Passport control and security were quick; my plane departed from A-3, which had a jetway. The flight arrived in Miami about half an hour early, and we had to wait for a gate.
C&I at Miami is such an unpleasant experience, as you all know. There was no particular incident, just long walks, retrieving bags, redepositing bags, yada yada yada. I allowed myself plenty of time (three hours as I recall) and didn’t need that long; might try for an earlier connection next time. Flight into DFW was also early; again a wait for a gate. Flight from DFW to PDX was uneventful. By the time I arrived home, I’d been up for nearly 24 hours and was glad to be able to crash in my own bed.
The weather this trip was spectacular, perhaps the best of my six visits to date. During my three weeks, I experienced perhaps an hour of rain total. It was sunny and hot the entire time.
Service from TTOL sponsors Lesley Bruce and Sharon Harris was excellent.
Traffic seemed lighter than general; perhaps it just seemed that way in comparison to last year when the traffic was awful in the Cole Bay area. When going to Orient, I usually took the Sucker Garden route which was better for me from Divi than going through Dutch Quarter, as it had a ton of potholes.
Witnessed no crime. Was the victim of a petty theft, which was my fault. Every time I’ve stayed at Divi, I’ve put a small travel alarm clock on the deck’s table for the duration of my stay. Someone lifted it about halfway through the trip. I’m sure it was not the pool boys; they walk by several times a day and are the same guys I see every year. I did notice some young folks climbing up and down the rocks to go snorkeling and think one of them had sticky fingers.
My netbook gave up the ghost (“disk read error”) a few days before departure. Thankfully, my IT guy at work was able to recover photos I feared I had lost for good.
All in all, another wonderful get-away. Only 339 days until next year.
In case you missed previous reports:
Art Tour - February 2011