Someone grabs us by the arm and drags us into a small room. “You can take that off. It’s hot here.” We just landed on the island of St. Lucia in the Caribbean and it is hot. They annexed our luggage and the little room is blissfully air conditioned with chilled water flavored by fruit and snacks to eat while we wait for our luggage to be loaded onto the bus. I remove my sweater to reveal a tank top. Our luxurious vacation has begun. The airport was basic, but clean and the room we walked into owned by Sandals Resorts and therefore beautiful.
We board a small bus and get whisked away across the island through some gorgeous rain forests and a wild ocean on the other side. It is a 90 minute ride that goes by quick. The scenery is beautiful and we smile at the rather strange driving habits.
We get to the Sandals Halcyon all inclusive beach resort and are welcomed with a glass of bubbly. The staff is friendly and the service spectacular. Welcome to the tropics. It is our first ever all inclusive resort vacation and I start to feel like a pampered rich woman on honeymoon.
The resort is small and intimate and the smallest of the three Sandals resorts on the island. It is perfect for what we wanted. The benefit of staying at the Sandals resorts is that going to visit the other two resorts on the island, is also included in the price, as well as the food and drink, so you can visit a different resort every day and enjoy the same benefits. There are two swimming pools with swim up bars. The ocean is bath tub warm. You can eat and drink from morning to night. The beach is gorgeous and there is a small island off shore where we kayak to every day to laze about in a pristine azure ocean. We sail a Hoby and go scuba diving and in the afternoons we sit by the pool and read the afternoon away while sipping tropical drinks and eating cake. In the evening I enjoy dressing up and going to one of the four restaurants in the resort and a special dinner on the beach for a little bit extra. We make sure to go and eat at each restaurant before we left. There is a restaurant built out over the ocean that’s upscale and serves seafood. There is an Italian restaurant with incredible food and great service. The buffet restaurant’s food is versatile and deliciously Caribbean with live music every night and the Sushi restaurant has a fun hibachi grill where we meet new people. Needless to say, when I got back to reality, I had to go on a serious diet!
One night a reggae band started up and there was entertainment every night, including a night with a steel pan band, fire eaters and limbo dancing.
Our days carry on like this for ten days and it was wonderful not to have to worry about a thing. It was the most stress free and relaxing vacation I ever went on, thanks to Joanne from TravelOnly. She is a superb travel agent that truly cares about your needs and she took care of everything for us, from the plane reservations to the accommodation, to the complex visa questions for South African passport holders. We simply walked onto the plane, landed in paradise and had a spectacular Caribbean vacation to the likes of which I think we will be hard pressed to find again. The service at the resort was amazing and I blinked away a little tear when we said goodbye to the staff and one of them hugged my husband.
At the buffet restaurant I get introduced to Aloo Gobi, a dish with wonderful Indian spices, popular in Bangladeshi, Pakistani, Indian and Nepali cuisine. We’re in the West Indies where the use of Indian spice has been perfected. The dish is a cauliflower and potato curry with the perfect spice blend. Then there is the scotch bonnet Baron hot sauce. It stands everywhere on all the counters and the staff call it the yellow sauce. I ladle it on my plate with the Aloo Gobi and is hooked. It produces a fire in the mouth unlike any other hot sauce I’ve ever experienced, but the after taste is like an expensive wine. You inhale and a tremendous party of flavor takes off inside your mouth. I immediately buy a bottle to bring home and was happy to see that it’s available on Amazon and comes in pairs.
When we came home I find the Aloo Gobi recipe in one of my Indian cook books and amended it slightly to place in my own cook book. For a sample recipe from my book, go to the Recipes section of this blog to learn how to make Aloo Gobi. It is so simple and easy, yet it is healthy and the taste is complex and interesting. Also, click on the Books section where you will see a bit of an update as to how the book is coming along and don’t forget to contact Joanne for your travel needs.
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