Paradise can wait…. Chapter 28

There are times in life when you know beyond question what the right thing to do is. I found a wide range of blogs out there to ‘advise’ you what you might need to do if someone you love becomes ill when you are on holiday. We are never known to do things by halves, so you won’t be surprised to learn that in our case there were two people whom we love that had been admitted to hospital. This was also impacting on the family who remained at home trying to cope with the situation. In the end the blogs themselves were interesting but we didn’t need the advice really, if you have a dilemma it matters not a jot what’s in your mind, for us it was about what was in our hearts.

When the decision was made, all that remained was to light the blue touch paper and ignite the plans. Of course we had insurance but the mechanics of getting home, where to begin, were a bit of a mystery. I had a bit of an idea but my husband admitted if he had been on his own, he would have struggled to know where to start. Even if you have an idea it’s still a bit tricky when you are out with the UK, to know where to begin.

A sensible first stop was British Airways our carrier, then the insurance company, so I sent off emails. Given the time difference I sent them off on Wednesday morning at 5am St Lucia time, then spent the entire day checking my emails for their response. (For the record the insurance company have yet to reply despite being home 2 days now). It felt as though we were suspended in virtual paradise while we awaited the return emails to begin our descent into reality.

As we waited, we were able to receive hourly reports from home thanks to lots of texts on WhatsApp, which was free when we had WiFi (otherwise the phone bill would be off the scale). We were also able to make internet and video calls free that enabled us to get a real handle on the ever shifting sands of the evolving situation.

There were tears; emotions were constantly on show, we were on high alert to every ping and tinkle of the phone. The appeal of all Coconut Bay had to offer paled into insignificance. We drifted in and out of conscious awareness that the difficulties were ever present on the other side of the world, and these were having a massive impact on our ability to take any real part in our holiday. It was over as soon as we arrived to be honest.

By Thursday we had an email response from BA, only to find I’d cocked up and had contacted the wrong department. They apologised for this causing an administrative delay, (admitting they didn’t deal with urgent matters normally) and provided us with alternative contact information. Another discussion with family further confused our decision but that was momentary. No sooner had things started to sound hopeful in Edinburgh, when more bad news emerged from Glasgow. It was so obvious someone, somewhere was trying to tell us we should not be here.

Our minds made up we made an emotional approach to reception. It was clear this was not for the daily currency exchange and when the penny dropped staff stepped up to the next level from the usual laconic holiday approach. Although we had the number, reception took charge and helped us to place our call. After a few attempts it was apparent that the local BA office was not going to be able to help us promptly. Our second call was international and answered in a call centre, but they quickly realised that once again we were in the wrong place. Instead of starting all over again Raoul put us on hold and transferred us (and thankfully all our information) to the right place.

Albert, ( also worthy of a name mention) took no more than fifteen minutes to get us on the flight that evening, waived all costs, arranged airside assistance and our same flight seating that we had on the way out. This is when you are so grateful you have booked with British Airways. We had 10 hours to pack, grab the last of the Caribbean sunshine, gather our thoughts, build up our energy and hope that we would arrive in time to see and support our loved ones……

A little bit of paradise. Chapter 27

St Lucia is one of the smaller Caribbean islands, easily accessed by British Airways. Our hotel, Coconut Bay Resort and Spa, was situated on the Atlantic coast a mere 5 minutes from Henowarra International airport. We were here on a recommendation from my son and his wife and were looking forward to two weeks in the Caribbean sun.

The Atlantic coastal beaches have been plagued by Saragossa seaweed, making the beach almost inaccessible. This was a shame as the gardens of our hotel , with just a few steps, linked us directly with the Atlantic Ocean. Ever since we had arrived strong winds were whipping up foaming white surf, laced with Saragossa seaweed that it spewed out angrily, unrecognised and unwanted by its host, and directly onto our beach. Local information suggests the unusual appearance is as a result of climate change but is not entirely clear whether that has been proven. As a result the Hotel had arranged twice daily transfers to a Caribbean Sea beach located just 10 minutes away. I was looking forward to trying that out.

From our bedroom window a few hundred yards to the right a couple of large volcanic rock formations protruded from the ocean floor posing as mini mountains, or small islands. Brightly coated with a variety of green foliage they gave the impression of secluded islands decorated by white surf and sandy beaches. We were tempted out to these idyllic escapes with the offer of night cruises. It was a beautiful view and we were so fortunate to even be here to see it.

The hotel has two functions to serve those that don’t want to be disturbed by children and those children who don’t want adults spoiling their fun. For this reason the resort is split into Harmony and Splash. I will let you work out which is which. It is an all inclusive resort so peppered with cabanas, restaurants, swim up pool bars, jerk tree huts all feeding off the central lobby. The Coconut Walk buffet caters for most tastes and thankfully most children, leaving the fine dining to those of us able to actually appreciate it. Not that Coconut Walk didn’t delight in its range and variety of savoury and sweet delights, but the whole self-service school dining experience leaves me aching for silver service, especially on holiday.

Welcoming cocktails contain premium spirits so no chance of tummy upsets unless you over indulge. Wine, red, white or sparkling was also on offer and in the evening it was rather pleasant by the bar to take in the ambience of all types and characters disguised as holidaymakers gathering for dinner.

At the pool, staff aimlessly wander around taking drinks orders, impressively without pen nor paper, memorising the concoctions that needed to be delivered hastily just before the ice melted. Thankfully there were no quibbles about nabbing beds, there were plenty of options and more than a few swimming pools to chose from depending on your sun bathing needs.

We made friend with some Americans, here to be married, we shared a glass of bubbles in the evening with fellow diners, we sampled steak, tried out four other restaurants each with a Caribbean twist, found the staff courteous and helpful, always smiling and keen to know if you were enjoying your stays, they emanated a sense of pride and loyalty that was genuine in their conversations with guests.

Everything was as it should be; our sea view, spacious bedroom, balcony, swans crafted from towels and fresh flora fanned out on the bed welcomed us to paradise, and for a few moments we were.

Sadly its all over too soon, on the first actual day of our holiday an unforeseen drama which now bids us home began to unfold. Less than a week into our paradise we are waiting in the departure lounge of the airport not knowing what our future might hold……