Christmas gifts from St. Lucia

“Where they Went” by Diane Daniel
(Published  May 11, 2008, in the Boston Globe)

From Di’s eyes: After 30 years together, this was one of Gene and Carla’s most romantic trips. That is too sweet!

WHO: Gene Hunt, 52, and Carla Ramos, 51, of North Andover, Mass.

WHERE: St. Lucia.

WHEN: 10 days in December and January.

WHY: “We’d never gone away as a couple for the holidays and this year we thought we’d be a little selfish, as our children are grown,” Ramos said. “Being away New Year’s was a highlight because you could be outside and enjoy it.”

NAME GAME: “We’ve traveled extensively but this was our first trip to the Caribbean,” Hunt said. “I just got out a map, and we starting naming the islands. St. Lucia just kind of resonated. We liked that it was formerly British and that Creole was spoken there, as we like languages. A lot of my information came from TripAdvisor.” As it turned out, most of their fellow tourists were British.

Gene Hunt and Carla Ramos, in Rodney Bay, St. LuciaMILESTONE INCLUDED: The couple, also celebrating the 30th anniversary of their meeting, stayed at the Rendezvous Resort in Castries, the capital. “We’d never done an all-inclusive trip, but we both really wanted to relax and not have to deal with anything. This was all-adult and geared toward couples,” Ramos said. “It was one of the most romantic trips we’ve had,” Hunt added.

Carla Ramos with Petit Piton peak in the backgroundACID AND AZURE: “The water was so beautiful – clean and clear and that color you see on a commercial,” Ramos said. They snorkeled at a marine park and Hunt took photos galore using a waterproof case for his point-and-shoot digital camera. An excursion through the resort took them to the island’s twin peaks, called the Pitons, and nearby Sulphur Springs, site of the world’s only drive-in volcano. “There are bubbles and all this gas escapes,” Ramos said. “It’s got a really horrible smell.” They stopped at Fond Doux Estate, a working cocoa, banana, and citrus plantation.

OUT AND ABOUT: The couple enjoyed the large marketplace at Castries, which was crowded with tourists. “It’s the big port of call for cruise lines,” Hunt said. They mingled with locals later in the week at the regular Friday night Jump Up street party in Gros Islet.

Carla Ramos, with Santa (who just waterskiied into shore), Rendezvous Resort, St. LuciaSPECIAL DELIVERY: As for Christmas in the Caribbean, “I can tell you it’s the only time Santa has visited me on water skis,” Ramos said. “In the afternoon they told everyone to go to the beach and sure enough he skied in and right onto the beach on his skis with gifts for everyone.” In the background were Christmas carols performed by a steel-drum band. “Around 10 we all went out and sat on the beach and watched fire eaters and performers doing the limbo under bars on fire,” Hunt said. “At midnight it seemed like every resort was shooting off fireworks. They kept trying to outdo each other.”

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