Our group of friends decided a few years ago that if you’re going to have to turn 40, you should celebrate that milestone surrounded by ocean air, cold cocktails and people you love who share your delusion that you’re still college-aged. And thanks to the extreme Type-A personalities among our crew, we put this plan in place a long time ago, giving us the ability to find the time and gather the resources (and bribe the husbands and children) to make it happen.
Side Note: If you’re in the market for a travel agent, we can’t recommend Ansley Bentley with ProTravel International enough. Her recommendations were spot-on, she was super organized, very responsive and got us great deals. As much as I love travel planning, I think I might be a convert to working with a professional.
When I count my blessings, these ladies — and the other rare gems who round out our group but couldn’t make the trip this time! — are always on the list. Life is so much sweeter when you can share it with people who forgive all of your faults, laugh at your jokes, and give you honest advice when you need it most but still swear they hardly notice the gray in your hair.
I’d love to start this post at the beginning of the trip, but Delta left me stranded for a day in Atlanta. Whoopsies.
Picture me with a sad face, watching our plane pull away after racing over from my delayed connecting flight.
Plan B came together pretty quickly, though! There were no other options for getting to St. Lucia on Wednesday so I asked for someone find my bag in the bowels of Hartsfield and the Velmers graciously took me in for the night.
Well, the Velmer boys took me in. Micki was safely aboard the plane, texting instructions on where to find the good wine. Lord bless her.
All in all, not a bad day! After all of our years of frequenting Brick Store Pub, I finally got to sit at the bar like a real grown up and I got to hang out with these two cuties with their matching smiles and matching jammies.
Meanwhile, the girls sent me photos and videos from Cap Maison.
It looked really awful.
I couldn’t wait to get there.
Thursday brought Take 2!
Delta got me to the island and the hotel sent a race car driver to take me the 90-minute route to the hotel. I made it with enough time to drop my bags, change into a dress and we were off to the sunset cruise which was included with our booking.
Friday morning, Kristen, Ash and Amy took off in a rented car for the other side of the island to hike Gros Piton while Micki, Viv and I headed for the beach.
First morning for me = much relaxing and very little documenting. We had lunch at The Naked Fisherman right on the beach and generally had a very lazy day.
After enjoying some cocktails at lunch, Vivian and I thought it would be a great idea to try paddle boarding in the ocean. Which was hilarious. And not like paddle boarding in a lake whatsoever.
We entertained everyone on the beach with our frequent spills into the salt water but we avoided major injury on the rocks just below the surface and eventually we got the hang of it.
Late in the afternoon, Vivian went off to join Micki at the Cap Maison spa and I went for a walk around the property with my little Fuji.
Around dinnertime, the hikers returned! They were exhausted, stinky and absolutely beaming from ear to ear with accomplishment. From what they told us, their experience was much closer to “scaling a mountain” than “hiking a trail.”
These ladies are kicking 40’s ass.
Feeling more rested, we beach bums signed up to take a shuttle from the hotel to a local street party. Apparently there are two towns on the island that make this a tradition every Friday night and we were excited to experience more of the local culture.
Dinner was at Duke’s Place — a fairly small open-air building housed the bar, colorful picnic tables and lots of stray cats and dogs filled the yard, and hungry party-goers waited in line to grab whatever was hot off the charcoal grills when their turn came.
For us, it was a big filet of Marlin, rice with some sort of onion-y slurry/salsa and a couple of cold Piton lagers.
Saturday morning, it was the hikers’ turn to be lazy at the beach and we went off on a full-day excursion to Soufriere, the first town to be settled on the island in 1746, organized by the hotel.
We started with a quick shuttle to the marina at The Landing, where we set off on a 90-minute cruise around the island to the Port of Soufriere.
After leaving the boat, we headed through the town to the Toraille Waterfall.
Our guide for the day, Chaka, was a pro at timing our stops to avoid the large crowds of tourists coming from the bigger resorts like Sandals which was nearby.
Next we headed to the Sulfur Springs.
St. Lucia is a volcanic island and warm, black, sulfur-rich water flows to these pools where you can soak, basically curing any ailment from bug bites to insanity. After a short swim, you paint yourself with white mud, decorate with black mud, pose for campy photos, then head back into the black pools to wash off.
Like Micki said, “If this place isn’t legit, how hysterical is all of this to the locals running the place?”
After our sulfur and mud bath, we went to see the source of the springs, at the Caribbean’s only Drive-In Volcano site. Word on the street is that it used to be the only one in the world before the park rangers at Yosemite stole their idea.
It was pretty smelly, but very cool to see the bubbling pools all along the rock face. Up until about 1990, tourists could walk right up to the hot spots and cook a potato (I’m envisioning them roasting on long sticks over the insanely hot vents in the rocks like S’mores). But then a guide slipped in while jumping up and down on some rock, demonstrating that it wasn’t totally stable (Here’s Your Sign) and they built some fences and changed the rules. The guide was able to escape serious injury and works in the Soufriere marina these days.
That mountain behind us in the photo on the right and below in the harbor shot?
That’s Gros Piton which the girls hiked. #rockstars
After a local lunch, we headed back to the boat and cruised about halfway back where we stopped to swim and snorkel. I don’t have a lot of experience snorkeling but it was so peaceful and incredible to see the reef and all of the sea life.
I might have been the only one who felt that way, though, being the first in the water and the last one to get out.
Sunday morning, we met for breakfast and then Amy and I went down to the beach for one last hour before showering and packing up. We squeezed in a little paddle boarding and made it to the return shuttle to the airport just in time.
We spent the rest of Mother’s Day together, traveling back home to our babies and husbands, shaking off some nausea from the ride to the airport, and mentally getting back to Work and Mom mode.
But what an amazing time it was.
Here’s to many more girls’ trips in the years to come! I love you guys! xoxo
P.S. Scroll past the rest of the photos I couldn’t leave out — many not taken by me! — for our Girls’ Trip Superlative Awards.
The Annual Girls’ Trip Superlative Awards (in alpha order)
Most Likely to Start a Rapping Career, Known as Lil’ Dirty Feet
Most Likely to Charm the Locals, Working “Y’All” Into Every Conversation
Biggest Champ on the Winding Drive to the Airport
Most Likely to Drain Your Aperitif for You
Most Likely to Be Carried Away By St. Lucian Mosquitoes
Best Janet Jackson Wardrobe Malfunction Impersonation
Most Likely to Recreate A Real Housewives Moment
Best Post-Champagne/Pre-Dinner Costume Change
Most Likely to Open a St. Lucian Animal Resort for Furry Friends
Most Comfortable Bosom for Snuggles
Most Likely to Lead an Expedition to Mars and/or Drive a Taxi in London
Best Floatie Flair and All-Around Zen Mama
Most Likely to Surprise Herself with Her Own Friendliness Toward Strangers
Best Late-Night Mac n’ Cheese Chef
Best Damn Wing-Woman During Travel Snafus
Villa DJ in Chief: Reggae All Day
Most Improved Paddle Boarder and Over-comer of Wildlife Fears
Best Honesty Bar Customer (When She Has a Pen)