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MITSUGIRLYS FREEDOM OF THE SEAS REVIEW & PICTORIAL

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APRIL 24: ST LUCIA 9-6PM

 

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We looked out of our extra large room windows and Sakari immediately said "there's the volcanos!" I'm not sure if we were actually sailing by the pitons or not, but it sure looked like it. She was super excited!

 

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We headed off to breakfast and I threw caution to the wind and decided to get waffles with whipped topping this time. They were yummy but I put way too much "topping" on it this time.

 

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I "think" this is the St Lucia port...if it's not, then here's a random picture of one of the ports. LOL (This is what happens when you switch cameras back and forth and the other camera didn't have the date saved on it).

 

 

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So here we are...the big day in St Lucia. We absolutely loved St Lucia the last time we were here. We had booked a tour with Spencer Ambrose to go to the Pitons last time and it has some AMAZING snorkeling there! Like amazing! This place holds a special place in our heart because this is the place that our little mermaid, Sakari, decided that she wanted to become a scuba diver. The last time we were here, they had several divers there that day and she watched them from above and tried to dive down to where they were at and insisted that this is what she wanted to learn to do. We immediately came home to check into diving for a child her age, at the time she was 8 years old, and found that they had a class for 8-10 year olds. She started taking monthly classes and she was the first at our scuba shop to "graduate" and become Master PADI Seal certified. She continued to take classes monthly, repeating the course, just because she loved it so much. We started diving at one port each cruise after that. She couldn't wait to get back and tell her instructor and the class where she had dove and what she had seen on each dive. When we were on Spring Break last year her class was moving on to become Junior open water certified and she did not get to do it. She has not went back since then and I believe they do not have enough kids to continue with the children's PADI course at this time. I've tried reaching out to them to continue letting her dive with the class with no response. So, we just continue to dive once each cruise instead.

 

Now Spencer Ambrose loved some of the pictures that I had taken with them last time we went and reached out to me about using some of my pictures on his website for advertising. We bartered for a reduced rate when we returned and he obliged. Sakari is actually pictured on his website with her monofin. (I really wished she had her mermaid tail on that day) So, when we booked this cruise, going to St Lucia, I immediately knew what I was going to do!!!

 

Last time we went to the pitons for a full beach day at Jalousie Beach. I tried to talk the hubby and Kendra into doing the mud bath (I had seen pictures online of others doing it and it looked like so much fun). No way-no how was he doing it he said. Well guess what...yes way-yes how he WAS going to do it this time and that's what I was booking! LOL  Kia had previously done the mud baths and enjoyed it so she decided she was just going to go to the beach at Jalousie and snorkel instead (which is what we did last time) and meet us there.

 

We were off the ship right away and headed for the port to find Spencers tour.

 

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The port here is very small and it's very quick to get out. We met Spencers daughter "She-She" to check in. We waited for awhile for everyone to arrive and check in. Then She-she came around to collect everyone's money. Spencer requires you to put a $10 pp deposit down when booking. So, we had put down $30 for us (and later added Shayla to the tour). Well, at the last moment, Billy and the kids decided they didn't want to come. So, it was just Kendra with us. I believe she had put a deposit down on all 4 of them ($40). So things got confusing somehow and She-she was trying to charge me some outrageous amount and I reminded her that we had the discount, which was significant, and then she was trying to add Kendra on to that. We kinda went back and forth and I couldn't understand that if there was 4 of us total, with the deposits already paid, plus the reduced amount for us (which was a certain dollar amount, not a percentage), then adding Kendra onto that...how could it be that Kendra was actually paying MORE for herself than what the normal cost was? Plus you get a discount (I think $5) for being a returning customer. In the end, Kendra ended up paying full price for her (and obviously she had lost her deposit she had put down on ALL of them, including herself) because of the confusion I suppose.

 

We headed out to their boat, which is a very short walk from the port. It's just right down the sidewalk.

 

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Looking back, this is how close it is.

 

 

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We got on the boat and found seats. This boat was PACKED! Like there were NO seats left, which makes me wonder how the heck would this have worked out if Billy and 3 other kids were with us like they were supposed to be???

 

Everyone look this way and smile...even those that are not with us or know us. LOL

 

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Now I hadn't even been in water yet with my camera and it was already fogging up! What the heck!

 

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Away we went...

 

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Now I have seen plenty of questions about how rough is the boat ride there. Well, I took a video. Everyone has to remember that sea conditions change all the time and you can never be sure if the ride is going to be smooth or bumpy. You are on a speed boat...so...I thought (both times we have went) that it was a fairly smooth ride. I did see a recent review/comment about this tour and how someone said the word "St Lucia" is a dirty word in their house just because of the speedboat ride there and how bad it was and they never want to return again. So, no one can ever predict what it's going to be like. This was just our ride and day...pretty darn smooth if you ask me.

 

 

 

 

 

We got to the area that you could see the pitons.

 

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Then we pulled up to the bat cave. You could hear and see them in the crack...

 

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Then the smell of sulphur...you know it instantly. It's such a distinct smell and you know you are by the volcano's.

 

This would be the area that we watched everyone on our last tour get off to go to the mud baths while we continued on. Well, not this time...we are GOING TO THE MUD BATHS!!!

 

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It's the little town of Soufriere .

 

 

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We all piled out of the boat...except for Kia and the kids. They were going on to the beach.

 

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Our van ride to the mud baths...

 

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Our driver told us...this is where you are going...

 

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To get into the mud baths, you have to purchase a ticket. This is included in the price of the tour (which is why this tour cost a little more than just the beach tour).

 

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$10 for each adult and $5 for kids.

 

 

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The little area outside the springs and mud baths

 

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We did have a guy that followed us asking us to buy stuff and we told him that we didn't carry any money on us (which was true) and we only had our towels. He said "you left your things in the van and when you return from the mud baths, you can get it and buy stuff". LOL 

 

 

 

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Headed down to the mud baths...we were so excited.

 

 

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Oh my word!!! It was SO CROWDED!!!

 

 

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So Sheshe was our tour guide for the mud baths today. We put our things in some little cubby holes they had and headed over to the baths.

 

We were at the top bath. Sheshe said "now they are hot". I LOVE hot water and take scalding hot baths/showers and the hubby can't stand it like that. He says I come out looking like a lobster.

 

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We attempted to get in. OH EM GEE that was HOT!!! Now FYI, the top bath is the hottest coming down off the mountain from the volcano. There are several baths and each gets cooler and cooler. Now when I say cooler, I'm not talking cooler as in bath water...they are still super hot, but more tolerable. 

 

Now I don't know what I pictured, but this wasn't it. I thought "MUD" "BATHS" and thought the baths were the mud and you get in them and cover yourself with mud. Well, that's not the case. These are man-made square "baths" and they are black water from the volcano and people getting in them with the mud, and there are steps going down (about 5 each bath) and of course you can't see them. I was so scared thinking I was going to fall or break something...because that's how I roll on vacations. LOL

 

Well, Kendra and I got our feet and eventually our legs in the water and we just couldn't do it. It was just too hot! It was already hot outside and this wasn't going to work.

 

We headed down to the second bath and attempted it again. There were other people in it, so this one had to be better.

 

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Well Kendra and I made it...the hubby and Sakari...they were a little slower at it.

 

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Now Sheshe said that you have to get wet (and I'm just assuming the heat of the volcano water opens your pores up like when doing a facial) and then you do the mud. The mud is supposed to be good for your skin. It helps exfoliate and remove dead skin...making it soft, and the minerals (like the sulfur, zinc and magnesium) is also good. Sheshe stated "It make you look 10 years younger". Of course I inquired where could I buy some to take home with me. 😀 It also detoxifies the body: helps with sunburns, eczema, arthritis, sore joints and so on. The hubby ended up just taking the water and splashing it all over his body to wet it and I believe Sakari eventually got "most" of her body in.

 

Then we headed back out for the mud portion of it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Now remember I said this is not what I pictured for the mud baths? Well this is why...they have buckets of mud (2 different types) and you get out of the water and apply the mud to your body.  😲    Um ok. I thought you sit in it somewhere. This was going to take some effort.

 

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As you can see, Sakari dug right in and was enjoying this. She came out looking like she swam in mud at least.

 

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Big sis helping her out.

 

 

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We were applying the lighter colored mud at this point. Kendra was getting serious about looking 10 years younger and went for the face. (Kendra has her dads skin obviously...I think she has more wrinkles at 30 years old than I do at 53, especially around her mouth and above her lip). 

 

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Time for a little of the black mud now. This is where it gets creative and fun.

 

 

 

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Kendra was putting on her "socks" 🤣

Then later a pair of "gloves".

 

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Once we were done, it was picture time of our creations.

 

 

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Sakari did my face and gave me a mustache and beard.

 

 

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Sakari had to get a hold of daddy too. She put her dogs name on him (Loki).

 

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We were a hot mess I tell ya! Sakari was enjoying it so much that she just kept putting more and more on.

 

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Now it was time to let it dry. We stood there...not knowing what to do at this point. haha

 

Then it was time to get back in the pool of scalding hot water.

 

Here was the sign they had. I can guarantee it's not just 100 degrees in the water. We get in Kendra's hot tub, which is set to 104 degrees with no problems.

 

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We decided in order for us all to make it in the pool, we'd have to go down a few baths lower. I think we ended up in the fourth bath. It was still very hot, but tolerable.

 

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Now I just wanted to say that when we first got there and was getting in the top bath, Sheshe said "you can't take your camera in there and I'll hold it and take pictures for you". Um...I can guarantee that handing my camera off to someone doesn't sit well with me because she will probably snap a few pictures and be done. You all know me, I'm going to snap a picture at every angel and using multiple settings until I get the perfect picture. Well, when looking at the pictures, I barely had any. Just a few. I'm not sure why she said you're not "allowed" to take the camera in there. I mean it's my camera and responsibility if something happens and it's on me.

 

So, when we went to go wash the mud off...I took my camera in with me and got in real quick before she got down there. So, if I wasn't "allowed" to have it in there, she's gonna have to come in the water with me to get it back. lol

 

 

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You can't get this angle and picture from standing up above with my camera. You have no idea that the water is flowing from each bath to the other...unless you are down in there like I was. 😉

 

 

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We decided to wash off the mud (as we were supposed to) but keep it on our faces. I mean that's really where we needed to be 10 years younger...well, some of us. LOL Our skin was so smooth and exfoliated now. But our faces were still very tight! It was almost hard to smile.

 

 

At some point I decided to hand my camera back to Sheshe so that we could get a group picture and don't you know it turned out blurry or foggy or something. You see the picture I took above (and others) and the minute I give the camera to someone else...this is what I get. My camera knows my touch. hehe

 

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After the water flows out of the baths, it goes down the hill

 

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Of course there HAS to be that one group that does the unique (why didn't we think of this? Oh that's right, because I would have probably broke something).

 

Sliding from one bath to the other...

 

 

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Sakari decided to apply a little more mud after washing off. She's now a two-face...

 

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This is the little hut that you keep your things in. They did have showers as well.

 

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Back to the van we went and off to the next event. Now our group was split up into two groups. Some of us went to the mud baths and others went to the volcanos. We all met back up to continue on to the next event...the waterfalls.

 

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Kendra says "My face is hard...I can't move it". Sakari tried her best to smile for a picture.

 

 

 

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She's still in the process of drying...

 

 

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Then we made it to the Toraille Waterfall. This waterfall has a drop of around 50 feet and goes into a decent sized pool area below.

 

 

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There is an entrance fee of $3.00 pp here as well.

 

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It was also very crowded here too, just like the mud baths. It was a busy day in St Lucia this day.

 

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I did not realize I had this setting on my camera. Oops

 

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Now getting in the water were some stepping stones. They were in the water as well at the entrance. They were slippery and we took it very easy. There were a lot of stones in the water, so very tricky walking around the pool area without slipping or hurting your feet.

 

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Now I seriously can not believe this but the hubby talked Sakari into going into the falls. Everyone around us was doing it and there was a small line. We waited our turn and then a HUGE tour group (led by the guy heading toward the falls in the picture above, herded everyone in the water and jumped in front of us and his photographer was taking pictures of the couples one by one in his group. Now wait a minute...we had been waiting on others to finish up and standing close to the waterfall for our (meaning hubby and Sakari) turn and they just jumped right in. At that point I told the hubby and Sakari to just walk right in and if they didn't get their turn, they would end up in everyone's pictures from the other group. Well, they moved and the tour guide got the hint and backed off while they took their turn.

 

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Sakari really didn't want to go at first because she wanted to keep her face on. But eventually said "ok, I'll just rinse it off". Kendra and I stayed back and didn't go in because truth be known, we had just had our eyelashes done the week before this cruise and very little water is to be applied to them to maintain them. We had already had a speed boat ride over and trying to block the wind from that was challenging enough and I'm sure we had some flying lashes during that trip. LOL They are individual lashes and you can't tell where they are applied and looks like they are real and actually are coming out of your lash line...that is unless some fly off during a speed boat excursion and you have some missing. 🤣

 

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Kendra and I agreed to wash the mud off our faces so that Sakari would not get upset about not having hers anymore.

 

Then back up and out of the pool we went.

 

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We headed back to the van and ready for the next...only the next never came (thank goodness). We were also supposed to tour the banana farm, but we've been seeing the banana trees this entire cruise and all I wanted to do was get to Jalousie Beach and snorkel. With each minute gone by, we were losing time there. I was pleasantly shocked when we pulled up to the banana plantation and stopped, they told us that's what it was and went on. Yippee!

 

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Back on the boat, we headed over to Jalousie Beach.

 

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As soon as we arrived, lunch was being served. Their lunch is amazing and you get to try so many things. It was all yummy and much needed after our long day of exfoliating and looking younger. Now if they just had a treatment for eating food to make you skinnier then I would have had a few plates.

 

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I scarfed that lunch down like I was in a marathon because I couldn't wait to get into the water and snorkel. Everything that my momma told me about eating and waiting for 30 minutes after that to go in the water was thrown out the door. No time to waste. This is my favorite snorkeling spot.

 

I motioned the girls to grab their gear and "come on!" Out I went...without waiting on them because they were just taking too long and wasting time and there was no time to be wasted at this spot.

 

NOW...I'M ABOUT TO SHARE A LOT OF PICTURES!!! Remember, this snorkeling spot is awesome and I'm only probably sharing 1/4 of the pictures I took. So be prepared........

 

They have some of the biggest sponges here. It's so hard to tell, from pictures, just how big they are but you could stick your head in most of them.

 

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I love snorkeling spots that have a variety of colored sponges and corals. They just make things interesting. I was also very glad that the sun was out and bright. That makes the pictures turn out good and clear for the most part...not to mention you can see deeper as well. 

 

 

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This was pretty far down even though it appears as though I'm fairly close to it. They were huge. 

 

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A lot of times I would dive down to get closer. The pictures turn out so much better the closer you are to the coral.

 

 

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Last time we were here, there were TONS of squid. This time would be no different. They were located in the same exact spot they were last time...it's like they never left.

 

It's much harder to get a picture looking across the water than it is looking down to take the picture. So you can always tell the different in my pictures because they are not as clear and more blue the further out it looks.

 

In the picture below, you can see all the squid (black long dots with tails I guess) if you look good enough.

 

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There's two in this picture as I went over them. (The rusty copper looking creatures in the picture below)

 

 

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Now a bigger group of them.

 

 

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Moving on and out...

 

A nice sized parrot fish around the coral. I will have to say that I always seem to find "unique" animals here but not an abundance amount of fish. There are always some, but not many.

 

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Ahhh the colors on the ocean floor...I just love it here. Greens, yellows, orange, reds...

 

 

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Now I have read many comments, or seen pictures, of people snorkeling at various places in the Caribbean. I've seen them say "this place was like swimming in an aquarium" and think "hmmmm, really?" When I think of snorkeling and swimming in an aquarium...THIS IS WHAT IT'S LIKE!!! Seriously...it really is that good.

 

 

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Now last time I was here, I found some amazing coral that I referred to as "cheerios". They were just covering the rocks there.

 

According to scuba diving expert that gives me advise (ABQrobin)  these are very hard to find and are a scuba divers dream to locate. She believed they are called "Orange Cup Coral" and they usually only come out at night. They do not like the sun and they have flowers that "bloom" (tentacles) that come out at night to feed. (Hopefully ABQrobin will read this and see the ones that I got this time around...I believe they were blooming...in later pics I'll share.

 

 

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Can someone tell me what the heck this pink thing is? I'm looking at it and wondering what the heck? I have several pictures of it but no clue what it is. It was huge.

 

 

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Banded butterfly fish

 

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Ok ABQrobin....here ya go....it's confirmed....orange cup coral. Look at them!!! So beautiful and they were out!!! In the sun. So amazing.

 

 

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I want to say these are oysters. Maybe clams? I'm not sure what the difference is but I'm going with oyster I guess. They are always hard to spot because they look just like the surroundings. If you get close enough, they'll close. They had some pretty big ones here (just can't tell from the pictures).

 

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This HUGE sponge was out in the very deep portion of the snorkeling area (past the ropes). I really wanted to get a picture of this massive sponge. But with it being so far out, the pictures end up not being very clear and they are deep blue and I tried to zoom in (which never works on my camera).

 

 

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Now the red sponges in this area are AMAZING! Especially if you can get a picture when the sun is shining down on them.

 

 

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About this time, I caught something out of the corner of my eye. It was coming from out of the deep area. Could it be some ancient sea creature? Could it be a extremely large fish? Was it a dolphin?

 

Nope, it was a mermaid. We will call this segment of pictures Sakari the mermaid posing for pictures.

 

 

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She's got this pose going on.....

 

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I continued on exploring with Sakari. We came across a bunch of "feather dusters" or worms. I love these things...especially the ones that look like Christmas trees or multi-colored.

 

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This purple and yellow coral...so beautiful.

 

 

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Then I spotted an eel. I was super excited of course.

 

 

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3 hours ago, mitsugirly said:

Now I have seen plenty of questions about how rough is the boat ride there. Well, I took a video. Everyone has to remember that sea conditions change all the time and you can never be sure if the ride is going to be smooth or bumpy. You are on a speed boat...so...I thought (both times we have went) that it was a fairly smooth ride. I did see a recent review/comment about this tour and how someone said the word "St Lucia" is a dirty word in their house just because of the speedboat ride there and how bad it was and they never want to return again. So, no one can ever predict what it's going to be like. This was just our ride and day...pretty darn smooth if you ask me.

 

 

Kim -- I am the one who said "St. Lucia" is a dirty word in our house. We weren't on a speed boat, though (I think we would have been fine if we were). We private chartered a catamaran for the day and the seas were definitely not smooth. I normally don't get sick on small boats, but this was an experience. We were tossed around and two of us got sick.

 

The weather that day was a factor -- part of the day it was 80+ degrees and beautiful. Other parts of the day were in the 60s and raining like crazy.

 

I'm really enjoying your review. We're going to St. Lucia and St. Kitts next year, along with the ABCs. I'm getting into planning mode now and love all of your beautiful pictures.

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How long does Sakari stay underwater and how deep does she dive? I notice she doesn't  use a snorkel.

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P4241508%20copy-L.jpg

 

 

Another oyster

 

 

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At the base of this green sponge, you can see a fireworm...they are the devil and will put a hurting on you.

 

 

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Along came Kendra....flying like superman.

 

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Another oyster...very pretty

 

 

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Once again, not good at taking pictures "up" in the water. See the little needle-nose fish at the surface?

 

 

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More squid

 

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Look how many....they just lined up and they go on and on forever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then I found my first trumpet fish. I couldn't believe I was just now finding one. The last time we were here, there were tons of them and I had spotted my very first YELLOW trumpet fish here as well that time. But there sure wasn't many this time around.

 

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Then I caught a glimpse of a triggerfish. They are so cool to watch swim.

 

 

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About this time, my camera died. I told Sakari and Kendra that I would need to swim back to the shore and change out my batteries and to hang tight and explore and I'd be right back. Well, we were pretty far out and it was quite the swim. I went as fast as I could, switched the batteries and headed back out.

 

Along came Sakari getting out of the water and said "Hey, we just seen a huge porcupine puffer fish out there"....um, SAY WHAT????? I asked where and she pointed way out there and said Kendra was out there with it.

 

I swam and swam as fast as I could and then ran into Kendra. When I asked her where it was she's like "Oh out that way". UGH!   "Why didn't you stay with it? I want to see! I want pictures!"

 

So, she took me back out there and we found it hiding under a rock. I took so many pictures of it before I could get a decent one and then it finally came out for better pictures and a short video.

 

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Now he was a big boy! I just really wished that pictures could show how big he was. Pictures just make them look so small.

 

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Then we spotted a cute little smooth trunkfish. I love to watch them swim. They are just adorable.

 

 

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Now remember the red-orange cup coral? Well the ones that were closer to the shore were nice and colorful. The ones that were way out (the same place I found them last time we were here) looked very dull and almost a brownish-pink color. I remembered them a lot brighter for some reason and didn't understand why they looked dull this time around. But, since they had the yellow-orange flowers on them, it was a good trade off.

 

However, I didn't notice something else (by mistake when I came up out of the water to clear my goggles) that when the water went back and forth, the coral that was at the top when the water went away from it was really super bright! They were like a bright fluorescent reddish-pink-orange. But, once they went under water (when the water went back up) they were dull looking. Hmmm...ok, so the water made them look as though they weren't as bright as they really are.

 

 

Above water: 

 

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Below water

 

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Big difference huh?

 

Swimming back to shore...along the way.

 

 

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I spotted some purple sponges...I love these! But it was just too far down to get a good picture of it and how purple and bright it was.

 

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This mixed green and blue something or other was pretty cool looking. I don't think I have ever seen anything like that before.

 

 

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This was a HUGE rock covered in coral.

 

 

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Then I spotted another trumpet fish

 

 

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Then I spotted this huge rock with coraline on it. It is always amusing to me when I find rocks with this on it because I normally don't see it (or maybe it's just hidden because of the coral growth over top of it). But coraline is a red algae, that actually looks purple, that's grows in a saltwater tank in the home. When you have this (and the more the better) it's an indication that your tank is doing well, it's healthy, and that the tank has matured. One of my tanks has tons of this on it and it is just so pretty and that tank does really well.

 

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More squid...hanging out in the same spot as before.

 

 

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I was almost to the shore, and in the sandy area, when I looked down and spotted an octopus.

 

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Others in the area caught on to what I was staring at and started making a commotion for others to come. Well, this was scaring him so he tried to switch off.

 

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It was cute to watch because he'd come to a small rock and wrap himself around it and start to blend in with the colors and then do it again somewhere else.

 

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Once I made it back to shore, Sakari had found something herself and couldn't wait to show me.

 

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It was almost time to leave and people started packing up their things and getting on their boats and leaving.

 

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I think we were pretty much the last to leave the area that day (meaning our tour).

 

 

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This kid (and some others) would come around and make things with the palm tree leaves. They were very talented. They would tell you that they were free, but you could tip if you wanted to. This particular kid would tell you he NEEDED a tip. LOL

 

 

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Sakari and Xander playing on the dock

 

 

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They do have a shower here to rinse off. I know the last time we were here, they dripped...this time, one of the two was working.

 

There's a guy (he was here last time) that pulls up in a canoe and the canoe is loaded down with various fruits. We remembered him. He would cut up fresh fruit and put it on a plate for $5.00. Well, it was the end of the day and Kendra really wanted to try it. He cut up everything he had left and we all shared it.

 

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Sakari discovered that she REALLY likes mango. So, I now have one sitting in my refrigerator for her to eat when we get home.

 

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It was time to head out and we had thoroughly enjoyed our day. I couldn't have ask for a better day or excursion. It was amazing!

 

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I still had my "mask face" with the imprints on my forehead from the day...while blowing more eyelashes off I'm sure.

 

 

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Well it looks like Kendra enjoyed herself.

 

 

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There were times that Spencer would turn the boat and the waves would go up really high along the sides of the boat. We never got wet, but it was fun.

 

 

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We went down the coastline and were told various things about the area.

 

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Of course, we were told this story last time...the hotel at the top is where the Bachelor t.v. show was shot with Jake Pavelka and Vienna Girardi  back in 2010. 

 

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One thing they didn't show this time around was the "fish rock". There's a rock that looks like there's a fish carved in it.

 

 

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