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Mitsugirlys FASCINATION with San Juan-review & pictorial


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I knew she would be excited! She will love it!

 

The next month will seem like forever to Sakari, I'm sure, but it will also give her something to look forward to her. I am glad you were truthful about her ear problems. Actually, I have never known you to be anything other than truthful. That is one of the things I like about you.

 

The ability to release the pressure in your ears is really important in scuba diving safely, so I hope Sakari checks out OK. There are a number of reasons why some people are unable to clear their ears no matter what they're taught. Hopefully, Sakari is not one of them. I had a lot of problems with my ears when I was Sakari's age, but I have been able to learn to clear them successfully and have never had a problem over my many years of diving.

 

Yes, scuba can be expensive, but to me it is so worth it! You are probably going to find yourself wanting to join in the fun, and it wouldn't surprise me if Kendra did, too.

 

The program outline sounds like a good one, and I think it will be perfect for Sakari. It sounds to me, based on what you have said about the shop and the program that you have a good local dive shop. Good diver training is really important to insure that you're diving safely, and I know you want her to be safe.

 

They did give Sakari a book, with Chapters in it, and she is to work on the first 3 chapters before coming to class (although she has looked over the whole book already). :p She's definitely excited. I'm almost tempted to make her a countdown thingy, like we do for cruising where you pull off something every day, just to keep her from asking me daily when she gets to go. :eek:

 

Yea truthful sometimes hurts me, but it is what it is. I have already set up her appointment to visit the doctor and have the forms sign.

 

I know the hubby wants to do it, me...undecided. Kendra, I'm honestly not sure if she would or not. Now I know if we all got certified she would.

 

We are going HERE for the classes. Tell me what you think. I found it neat that they had books (like the ones I make for each one of our cruises using Shutterfly) on their counters and they were from all the places they go scuba diving and trips they all take. They had books from Belize, Grand Cayman and a bunch of other places. It was so cool to see all the places we have been before.

 

Hi there! We are cruising out of SJ in November. I had wanted to do the Bio Bay but everything I'm reading says it is still at only 30%.

 

With Zika in the news how bad are the mosquitos? Do we need to get bug spray in addition to sunscreen?

 

Yea, until I hear better reports on the bio bay, I would not do it. I am going to monitor what people say over the next few years and if it gets better, I will give it another try in the future.

 

We never had any problems with the mosquitos there. We did have problems with the sand fleas (no-see ums) constantly when we were at Fajardo and Isla Verde. No problems in OSJ. But I always take my bug spray as a precaution.

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Your reviews are awesome and I thoroughly enjoy them!!!!

Chris

 

Thank you Chris. I appreciate it.

 

 

Our first time to Roatan the seas were incredibly calm. I went up before our whole group to watch us dock. We were sitting out there and I went back downstairs and said...we are not going. Everyone thought I was crazy. The captain came on and told us that we were not docking because of the weather. It was soooo calm and seemed weird. I had booked because of your reviews for LFK. I actually cried. Fast forward two months later we got to go and loved it. I will be there in two weeks and hopefully be at LFK for my 3rd time.

 

 

That's weird and not the first time I heard that the seas were calm and they didn't dock. Maybe they were expecting the weather to change at some point during the day? It's hard telling. Super glad you have been able to make it to LFK.

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Great review as usual! I was curious what Kendra's shirt says, you said she has a tattoo shop, is it from there? It's cute! The matching tattoos too!

 

Yea it says something like Diamonds and tattoos are forever. I think this is a shirt she bought on vacation in South Carolina a few months ago. I don't think she has her company name in it. She does have company shirts though. I'm obligated to wear them to advertise of course...so I picked up 3. :D

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Hey there, me again. :D

 

RE: Shipwreck at South Friars. So glad you at least got to see the black sand and that it was back. I also loved how it sparkled when the sun hit it, it was just so cool. I brought a baggie of it back and I still see those flecks of sparkle when the light hits it a certain way. I just need a cool jar to put it in (still in a baggie). I remember the post on the St. Kitts' board here on CC where we were going back and forth when you were trying to decide. Even though we are one of those few who liked it, I do try to make sure to let others know that it's "not for everyone". We liked that it was rustic and although there were others there, it was not crowded at all and we felt we had the whole place to ourselves. The "crowds" there were up in the restaurant/bar area. We also loved the views, but you had pretty much the same views from Carambola. And yes, at Shipwreck there is a side that's sandy when entering the water way over to the left (the swimming side). I didn't get to the snorkeling side, only swam over it when I heard there were sand dollars on the sandy bottom beyond the snorkeling area. We actually spent most of the day hanging out in the swimming side with several cold beers...just a nice, relaxing beach day.

 

That thread under St. Kitts...I got back on it the other day to answer a question a question about Cockleshell since I posted some Cockleshell Beach pics from 2013. I totally missed your comment about me knowing the different kinds of sand dollars (the Caribbean ones having 6 holes compared to the typical east coast USA 5 holes) and how you knew all of the fish, yes, if I ever need help with identifying fish, I'll be sure to ask. So sorry I missed that then.

 

That is great that Sakari is going to be taking scuba lessons. From what I you share about her in your reviews, she will LOVE it! She really is adorable. Our friend's got their son snorkeling lessons and he was getting certifications when he was about 12 or 13. I asked him once how it compared to snorkeling. He said he really loved snorkeling, could spend all day doing it, and that's why he got into scuba. He said with scuba you see so much more than you do snorkeling and he loved it. He said after experiencing scuba, he was bored with snorkeling. :) Unfortunately I probably wouldn't be able to scuba...my eardrum ruptured as a baby and although I really haven't had issues, I feel pressure/pain in it if I dive to certain depths, but fortunately my "free diving" for sand dollars in St. Kitts didn't affect it. To this day, I have a very difficult time "popping" it, even though I know the tricks. On flights it's weird...it usually tickles but once in a while it will hurt some. Chewing gum helps.

 

 

Hey there! I wondered when you would chime in about St Kitts. I knew you were the one that said they loved the Ship Wreck and with your description of it, I knew that even though I decided on Carambola, I still needed to go down and see it and the sand. I'm so glad I did. The sand was just simply amazing! I can now say I'm a lover of black sand! :D I remember all the talk about some don't like the black colored sand because it might look dirty to them...but wow was all I could think. It definitely pleased me.

 

Yea, our scuba place said a lot of kids start taking classes around 10 years old and get certified around 12. However, he does have a lot of 8 year olds doing the classes now so that when they turn 10, they are ready for the certification. I just hope she decides she likes it and sticks with it. It's just too darn expensive for just a "let's try it and see if we like it" type of thing. But of course I would never force her to stay in it if she didn't feel comfortable.

 

The hubby has a missing ear drum and has always had issues with his ears. They get infected a lot. He says he can still remember the day he messed it up as a kid. His mother never took him to get it looked at and he suffered from infections in it all the time. When I met him, his infection was still going strong...every day of his life, with stuff leaking out of them and the worse smell ever! He finally went to a specialist about 2-3 years ago. He has so much testing done it was crazy. They gave him medications and instruction on keeping the infection away and it finally managed to clear up and he has not had a problem since...and still gets in the water. But fortunately, he has never had a problem with his ears when flying.

 

I don't know what Sakari's problem is. She never had any ear problems either. Not even an ear infection as a baby or child.

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So continuing on with the review because I really don't want to work on my paper and B is on his way over to spend some time with "sissy" and I know I won't be able to accomplish anything with that about to happen. LOL

 

DAY 7: ST MAARTEN vs SAINT MARTIN

 

Now I have always wondered what the difference between St Maarten and Saint Martin. Saint Martin is the French side and St Maarten is the Dutch side. I found this article, which I thought was interesting:

 

Saint Martin is known as “the friendly island,” a Caribbean paradise amiably split between the French side (Saint Martin) and the Dutch side (Sint Maarten) since 1648. There’s no border patrol, customs, or fences between the two independently governed territories. The two sides say they’re friends, but after 366 years of being neighbors, don’t doubt for a minute that each part of the island has a few things it would like to say about the other one. Both the French and the Dutch are convinced that their portion of the island is really the best place to visit, live, and play. So here’s a smackdown of what each side of Saint Martin would say about each other if they weren’t quite so friendly.

 

St Martin:

The French side of Saint Martin is what island life is all about: a laid-back attitude, fine food, pristine beaches, unspoiled nature, and an appreciation for the finer things in life. There’s no need for the cruise ships, casinos, and nightclubs of the Vegas-meets-Caribbean Dutch side of the island. We have culture, nature, French and local cuisine, outdoor fun, and, oh yes, topless beaches. Want McDonald’s and soulless time shares? Go to St. Maarten, or just stay home. If you want to experience a unique taste of France flavored with some hot Caribbean spice, come to Saint Martin.

 

So obviously this article was wrote by someone that lives on the Saint Martin side.

 

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This was another day that the ship pulled in by 7am. However, since this is also a place that we had actually "booked" something for the day, we still didn't have to be up early and wasn't supposed to be at our meeting spot until 8:30am.

 

Once again, up at 6:45am and got the crew together, made my obligatory phone call to Kendra's room to tell her to get moving. We headed to breakfast and obviously we ate the same thing and I didn't feel the need to repeat a photo, therefore I didn't take one.

 

Around 7:40am, Kendra came strolling up to the buffet and once again, I gave the "you're late" mom look and told her I was heading to my room early because our room steward had collected our wet beach towels the day before and did not give us clean ones.

 

I headed back to the room and for the first time, I was unable to find our room steward roaming the halls. So, I called housekeeping and told them our towels had not been replaced and we needed some so that we could get off the ship. I did mention that we had a tour planned and needed to get there to meet them (hoping they would rush the towels and hear the urgency in my voice). That didn't work. You know you've waited too long when Kendra is able to scarf down breakfast, go to her room to pick up her bags and meet me at my room and is waiting too.

 

After waiting awhile, I went looking for my room steward again. Once again, he was no where in sight, so I approached another room steward who immediately got them for me and off we went.

 

Off the ship and we allowed the paparazzi to take 1 photo of us and then headed for the port exit.

 

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The port was dead and it's so weird to not see anyone out this early.

 

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Hey there! I wondered when you would chime in about St Kitts. I knew you were the one that said they loved the Ship Wreck and with your description of it, I knew that even though I decided on Carambola, I still needed to go down and see it and the sand. I'm so glad I did. The sand was just simply amazing! I can now say I'm a lover of black sand! :D I remember all the talk about some don't like the black colored sand because it might look dirty to them...but wow was all I could think. It definitely pleased me.

 

Yea, our scuba place said a lot of kids start taking classes around 10 years old and get certified around 12. However, he does have a lot of 8 year olds doing the classes now so that when they turn 10, they are ready for the certification. I just hope she decides she likes it and sticks with it. It's just too darn expensive for just a "let's try it and see if we like it" type of thing. But of course I would never force her to stay in it if she didn't feel comfortable.

 

The hubby has a missing ear drum and has always had issues with his ears. They get infected a lot. He says he can still remember the day he messed it up as a kid. His mother never took him to get it looked at and he suffered from infections in it all the time. When I met him, his infection was still going strong...every day of his life, with stuff leaking out of them and the worse smell ever! He finally went to a specialist about 2-3 years ago. He has so much testing done it was crazy. They gave him medications and instruction on keeping the infection away and it finally managed to clear up and he has not had a problem since...and still gets in the water. But fortunately, he has never had a problem with his ears when flying.

 

I don't know what Sakari's problem is. She never had any ear problems either. Not even an ear infection as a baby or child.

 

We also loved the black sand and because of that, we just had to get there. I'd never seen it before, but always heard about it from those who have been to Hawaii and seen them there.

 

OMG, your poor DH, that would have been miserable and to have issues that long...so glad it finally seems to be over with. Mine busted as a baby, 6 months old. My mom had no idea, I was not screaming at the top of my lungs like most babies do with an ear infection and never fussed or cried. She only realized something was wrong when getting me out of my crib one morning, she kissed me on the cheek and I screamed bloody murder. The doctor YELLED at her, but she let him know that I was happy and apparently when she had me in his office, I was smiling away so I he realized it wasn't a case of neglect. I've been lucky in that I've never had any issues other than "swimmer's ear" a couple times, but drops consisting of half rubbing alcohol/half vinegar take care of that. The only time I even think about it is when I get that pressure/pain in that one ear, kind of like you mentioned you felt, if I dive to a certain depth.

 

Sakari probably doesn't have anything wrong with her ears since you said she's never had problems before. I'm pretty sure with planes it's the change in pressure from the changes in altitudes. I even get that when we drive over the mountains to get home to the Pittsburgh area and yawning (or gum) usually takes care of that (those are the tricks I know).

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We walked outside the port and our instructions said to meet by the white tent.

 

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In the parking lot, there was a lonely vehicle. The driver approached us and we told them who we were and where we were going. He said he was there to get us and we piled in.

 

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The girls didn't look too thrilled.

 

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The reason why? Because it was SO HOT and after that very short walk out of the port at 8:30am, we were sweating and roasting. The driver did not have the a/c turned up and the controls to the back would not go any higher without him turning it up from the front. We panted, we threw comments out like "man it's hot", and fanned ourselves. However, he just didn't get the hint and never did turn it up.

 

It was a 20 minute drive of pretty much silence. The driver didn't talk at all. I would just continue to snap some pictures along the way. Nothing too interesting. There were a lot of nice houses along the way and we played the game "If I lived here, I would live in that house". LOL

 

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Of course I played "If I lived here, I'd probably be here from the heat." The graveyard...

 

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The one and only time our driver spoke:

 

"We are entering the French Side right now"

 

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We pulled in and there was no one there. The door was shut and no employees or anything. Gasp.

 

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The driver called them twice with no answer. You could tell the driver was getting a little upset and antsy. After his last call and no answer, he said "He'll be here shortly" and he jumped out of the van and opened the doors for us to get out. Um, ok, I guess we will have to stand in the blazing sun now until someone arrives. Great. It was seriously hot.

 

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They did have a table and bench there to sit on, only the problem was that it's sitting in the full sun, so that wasn't going to work.

 

We immediately smelled the most pungent smell ever created. It was worse than rotten eggs. It was worse than anything I have ever smelled working in the emergency room. It took your breath away. We kept moving to different areas, but it wouldn't go away. I figured it was the entire area and not related to a trash can or behind the building or anything, so we were stuck with this aroma for awhile.

 

I headed to stand in what little bit of shade I could find behind the little hut that still had some ground area to stand at. The hubby ran over to the parking lot, where there was a stand selling drinks, and picked me up this...

 

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At least it was something to quench my thirst. Only I wasn't drinking it at the moment, I was using it as a cold compress on my over heated body parts. Man did it feel good! This is going to be THE STAND to get your drinks at. They are CHEAP! Only $1 for a can. I couldn't believe it. I had wished that we would have stocked up on them.

 

As we were standing in the bushes, Sakari spots a bird. Do you see it?

 

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Yea, I didn't either. I had to get closer and zoom in.

 

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So if you haven't figured it out by now...we are at Caribbean Paddling and we are ABOUT TO RENT KAYAKS....and then attempt to paddle our way to 2 islands across the ocean. Ok, go ahead and let your minds run wild with that one. Me and my family (especially Kendra) paddling across the ocean...in the open water...in a "boat"...with children. HA! Yea, I know, this is our idea of extreme sports!! We are going to Pinel Island.

 

I can't believe I had never heard of this place before. It was highly recommended by others on the boards to go here. I did my research and I loved the pictures, that I seen online, of the beach. I knew I had to go there. However, I was going to catch a cab and go over and then get on the ferry to take me to the beach. People tried to talk me into renting the kayaks...don't think I didn't figure you people out! "It'll be fun they said" "It's easy they said" I know that you thought this would be funny to see me and the family trying to do this. I know you all would sit back and laugh.

 

However, the one and only thing that convinced me to book the kayaks over the ferry was that after I found out the price of the kayaks (you pay per kayak and not per person) and then I found out round trip transportation was included, I just knew I couldn't beat this price! I booked online, got my confirmation, and then broke the news to the hubby by using words under my breath. I showed him the beach we were going to, I showed him the area of the island THEN I told him we were actually getting there BY kayak and not actually kayaking while we were on the island. (insert evil smiley grin here!)

 

Kendra thought it was a great idea and was definitely game!

 

So as we are waiting, I noticed that the sign on the door of Caribbean Paddling said they open at 9:30am. Gasp. We are going to melt! However, he showed up at 9:10am and we were relieved to see him.

 

He pulled out the dry bags and told us to put our things in there while he pulled down our kayaks. I still didn't understand how this very long bag (probably about 4' long and round) was going to go on a kayak with 3 people in it. Do I put it on my lap? Do I throw it over on Kendra's since they only had 2 people? Nope, it attaches to the very back of the kayak. How cool.

 

We headed over to the dock, still dying from the smell.

 

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We were shown a "map" that was posted and told about being able to go to both islands. He explained the first island was small, but did have a beach and a sand bar. He said we could "park" our kayaks out by the buoys and walk to the beach on the sand bar. Then he said the other island (Pinel) we could pull the kayaks up on the beach.

 

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The water was an ugly brown and full of seaweed. AH HA! That's the smell...I think (it would later be confirmed that it is indeed what is causing the smell).

 

We would shriek as we put our feet down in the water and attempt to all get in the kayak. Then we pushed off and away we went.

 

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This water was so ugly. Kendra was asking me why I picked such a nasty place. Sigh (Notice who's doing all the work here?)

 

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Between the 3 of us, I think we were doing pretty good. Then I look back to take a picture of Kendra and B...and they are way behind and going in different directions. LOL

 

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Anyone know the story behind this half sunken boat?

 

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Kendra and B were really struggling...like REALLY struggling. We stopped and waited for them. I got the "Never again mom, how could you think this would be fun? This is hard!" She complained that it was because she only had 2 people and we had 3 that she couldn't keep up. She said "I'm only going to 1 island so where we stop, that's going to be our stop of the entire day. No way am I doing this twice!"

 

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That "look"

 

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Well at least we looked happy

 

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You are drifting again Kendra...keep it together. I would hear a lot of "Brayden!! Stop! Do it right!"

 

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I told the hubby to not move and let Kendra and B get ahead of us...they would need the head start. "I'll give you 10 cars and the go Kendra"

 

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She looked back to make sure we weren't moving yet and she was getting the lead.

 

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So, I said we would have to keep going and head to Pinel. We started to pass the other little island and there were tons of seagulls everywhere on the rocks in the water.

 

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Pinel Island was finally in sight and this torturous ride was almost over.

 

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We made it over to Pinel and you could tell that the water was clear and shallow. I looked back and at least Kendra was still in sight this time. Yep, we had passed her shortly after we gave her the lead. I made sure to get far enough to not be able to hear her moaning and groaning, but close enough to know they were still alright.

 

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There was a wide open space between the only 2 beach clubs there on the island. This would be where we decided to "park".

 

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It looked beautiful there.

 

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HERE AT LAST! Our arms were sore, our bodies ached, we were hot and drenched with sweat, but we made it. I would not let on that I was experiencing any of the above symptoms and had a smile on my face while I teased Kendra about it. "You are young, you should be able to do this easily" I think she put me on ignore mode at that point. LOL

 

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Immediately the hubby went to the water. It was so refreshing.

 

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The kids were quickly behind him.

 

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This would pretty much be where everyone would spend the.entire.day!!! Like seriously. Everyone had wrinkled fingers and hands and no one wanted to get out of the water due to the heat. Even the hubby spent the entire day in the water sitting. It felt so good. We didn't even bother to rent any of the chairs and it's a good thing because I don't think we would have used them at all.

 

Of course I had to go exploring after getting cooled off in the water.

 

There are 2 beach clubs there at Pinel, on opposite ends of the beach. One is Yellow Beach and the other is Karibuni.

 

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So there I was...standing at the edge of the water on Yellow Beach. I had my camera in one hand and my goggles in the other. What else is there to do but have a look around in the rocky looking area in front of me? Right?

 

In I went...

 

A few fish...

 

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Hey, at least I discovered a four eyed butterfly fish. There really wasn't much around.

 

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And a rainbow wrasse

 

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It was super cloudy in the water. I came up a few times and discovered two guys that were "snorkeling" (HA) kinda ahead of me...only the problem was, they weren't really snorkeling. They were basically walking and stirring things up. Just stepping all over everything and looking down. GASP! It was very aggravating. Even the fish were hiding.

 

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I guess we were all headed to the same place...over by the snorkeling path. There were guys at the dock, where you PAY to snorkel this path. I don't know what the path is like, but I did swim for a little bit beside the ropes and really didn't see anything that was worth paying for. For the sake of the people who pay to do it, I hope it got better.

 

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I really wish this picture would have turned out. It was pretty and red. (See, this is proof that I don't always take awesome pictures...I have my screw ups and I even took this picture several times from several angles and still didn't get it right).

 

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Woo hoo, I found an anemone, with a lot of guard fish.

 

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I finally turned around and headed back toward the shore. After all the awesome snorkeling I had in St Lucia, this just wasn't interesting to me.

 

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I always love to find things to "frame" my pictures with, such as trees, grapes, flowers, and so on. I just think (usually) it makes things look neat.

 

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But sometimes looking at the picture produced gives you a different idea of the area you think the photographer may be in. Like above...relaxing on the beach under the grape trees in a secluded setting, just watching the waves roll in. Peaceful right?

 

In reality, I'm down on my knees, crawling in the sand, under a tree, trying my best to find that one grape hanging from the tree to help frame a picture. Let's just say here's a behind the scene tour of Mitsugirly the photographer.

 

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So I go up a small hill and come to a trail.

 

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I didn't explore or take the trail. I really would have loved to, but it was just too darn hot and I'm sure if I didn't return soon, the hubby would come looking for me and not be able to find me.

 

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In front of Yellow Beach, they had this...

 

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I assume these were the lucky contestants today for the lunch menu.

 

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These tables were set up in the water and said reserved. I bet if you bought a lobster for lunch, one would have your name on it!

 

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By the time I got back, our beach looked like this now...

 

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A lot more people had arrived, but it really is a big beach and a lot of water, so it NEVER felt crowded at all.

 

 

 

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