Aaaah St Lucia…
This was my first ever Winter holiday, and I soon learned that they’re not at all like the Summer kind. First off, they are met with very different reactions to a trip in say July or August. No one reading this needs reminding that January and February are miserable months and that everyone unites in feeling a little glum and a lot fed up of the darkness and cold that at this point, starts to feel like it will never, ever go away.
When you mention that you’re going away during the Summer, the reaction from people is chirpy comments of how lucky you are and how lovely your holiday will be. Going away in the Winter on the other hand is met with a rather comical (and ultimately good natured) expression of betrayal and abandonment! Those classic jokes of, “Can I come in your luggage?” almost peppered with hints of a serious question.
So anyway there I was in January, abandoning my fellow Englishmen and women (sorry!) and taking off to the Caribbean, which with its bright blue waters and thirty degree heat might as well have been on another planet as I pictured it under the dark grey skies at Gatwick. Breaking through the clouds to meet the sun as we took off was genuinely quite surreal…
And that wonderful wall of humidity as you walk off the plane felt better than it had ever felt before in my life: Q and I threw our heads back and closed our eyes like little lizards that had been hiding under a rock for too long!
So you might already know that Q’s parents live in St Lucia. They have a lovely yellow villa to the North of the island near Gros Islet, in a secluded cove with green hills on either side that channel your eye down to the water. Very peaceful. Every time I arrive I have one of those “Aaaaah” moments.
This was my fourth visit to St Lucia and I started it the same way as I always do: a bit pissed off. (yep, bear with me)
It’s an odd one, it’s as if you bring along with you this little cloud, that you perhaps didn’t even know was there until you air it out in the sunlight and the sand. It’s an amalgamation of alarms and deadlines. Of career analysis and five year plans. It’s years and years of savings plans for a house. It’s worrying that you’re thirty and you don’t have your house. It’s every day responsibilities and impatient aspirations that secretly stress you out without you realising that they have… until you take some time to step back.
We all know it. And honestly there’s no place I’ve yet experienced on the planet that’s a better location to unwind. Problem is I arrive in fast-paced, UK mode. For the first few days I’m an uptight little English ball, getting annoyed at the traffic that’s slowing me down, or wondering what I’ve forgotten to do as I lie on the beach, or thinking that I must get out of bed because… because I need to… I’ve got to do… nothing! I have got to do nothing.
It takes a while for my brain to adjust and then it hits me like one of those big waves in the Atlantic ocean and I can physically feel myself melt into relaxation mode. This year it happened on Can Em Bas beach with a rum in my hand, where I disappeared off from the group and found myself a little rockery which looked out onto the ocean. After some time I turned around to find a local man sat near me doing the same thing. He asked me, “How are you enjoying the island?” with a knowing smile, like he’d seen tourists having ‘the moment’ before. (Oh no I’m such a cliche!)
Nothing clears your head like nature. Nothing.
Once you’ve entered St Lucian holiday mode, responsibilities suddenly feel very far away. Priorities now are good conversation around the BBQ, listening to the sound of the waves in bed (Oh hearing the ocean in bed is so enjoyable), finding the sweetest coconuts and searching for the happiest Caribbean song on the radio stations to match the weather.
My first ever Winter holiday, and I am a convert. Absolutely, 100% more cathartic than any other time of the year.