My sister, her husband, Sam, and I arrived on Saint Lucia on January 2nd, 2017. Saint Lucia is a mountainous island-country in the Caribbean, just south of Martinique and north of Saint Vincent & The Grenadines. We stopped here for a few days before taking the ferry to Martinique to go sailing. The Saint Lucia trip was a sh*tshow adventure from start to finish – from being held at the airport for having a non-existent address on hand, to everything being closed the first two days for New Year’s, to eating hotdogs from a gas station. It took nearly two hours to get to our Airbnb in a tiny fishing village called Canaries because the island is so mountainous and there are only a few roads.

We didn’t arrive at the house until nighttime, and there was nothing in sight. No stores, no restaurants, no street lights. That first night, we sent Sam to check out the village while the rest of us unpacked. An hour later (when I started to get a little nervous), he returned with nothing but a plastic cup of rum that he apparently got from an outdoor bar down the road. We didn’t believe him because we hadn’t seen anything on the way in, and decided to investigate ourselves. We walked down the road and quite suddenly, there were people dancing in the streets and sure enough – an outdoor bar. We were the only tourists, but the people we met were eager to talk with us and show us around the village, and we ended up on the end of a dock looking up at the millions of stars in the dark sky.

There is one major attraction in Saint Lucia, frequented by honeymooners, called Sugar Beach. (Side note: apparently Matt Damon spent over $1M to rent out the entire resort to renew his vows one year.) We wanted to check it out because it’s the first image that comes up when you Google Saint Lucia, and it’s where everyone talks about. But the locals in Canaries told us the white sand is actually imported and that the place is really only for tourists. It soured my feeling of Sugar Beach a bit, but we had already scheduled the taxi to take us there. I’ll say that it is gorgeous and the seafood at the restaurants is fresh (we saw fishing boats coming in with just-caught marlin). The beach is located between two peaks called Gros Piton and Petit Piton. It was amazing to lay out, play cards, and eat great food – though it was a pricey place compared to the cheap fried chicken in Canaries. I didn’t hate Sugar Beach, I would just recommend getting off the beaten path one day if you stay there.

Me & Sam at Sugar Beach. He loves carrying me.

On the way back from Sugar Beach, we noticed people dancing in the streets and another outdoor bar along the dark and windy road. We asked the taxi driver what was going on and he abruptly stopped and offhandedly remarked,

“These are my friends. Want to party?”

Obviously we couldn’t turn that down. We got out and everyone was incredibly friendly (especially for us having crashed a birthday party), filling our plates with fish and chicken, and keeping our cups full. It made me think about how I would react if someone showed up uninvited to my birthday party, and what my initial reaction would be. I think my mom is one of the only people who invites true strangers in these days… I understand why there is hesitation, but moments like that inspire me to be kind and keep my door open more often to new people and friends.

A birthday party in Canaries.