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Cheddie’s and Sand Messages

June 16 – Wednesday

We did some cleaning up this morning and a little laundry in the sink. Kind of fun washing by hand, but wouldn’t want to do it all the time. Yes, they have laundry services here, but at $9.50/load we decided to do our own in the sink this month.

We headed west again today with our destination in mind: Cheddie’s. He has an art gallery and carves things out of drift wood that washes up on the beaches. He’s also got a little restaurant called Klassik Cafe that is essentially outdoors, but all the tables are in little tiki huts. Really neat! We had garlic shrimp and shrimp pasta and boy was it good! Mmmm! Definitely worth the 25 minute drive to get all the way across the country. :)

After lunch we walked through the gallery and it was amazing. Make sure you see photos from this day. We also walked through this small nature trail that had some pigeons, an iguana and some crabs. Short, not much to see, but fun for the boys to see.

We headed back to the Viceroy Beach Club to live it up like royalty again for $10. Unfortunately the waters were choppy so we didn’t get to do any boating activities. Apparently a tropical storm had been building out at sea and was headed our way and then broke up leaving choppy waters and scattered showers. Instead we enjoyed VIRGIN strawberry daiquiri and pina coladas. The boys liked both flavors. One of the attendants brought them their own flavor ice popsicle thing each. It rained on us at the beach today for the first time since we got here June 1st and only for about 3-4 minutes as we were getting ready to leave.

We headed back tot he Arawak and cooked dinner then went up to the pool for the Wednesday night acoustic guitar singing.

June 17 – Thursday

Today the waters were still choppy so we headed to Shoal Bay East (closest NICE beach to us) where we get free chairs and umbrellas courtesy of the Arawak and Tropical Sunset Beach Bar & Restaurant. Despite the choppy waters we still got plenty of beach time and fun. We also managed to create some sand messages (see photos). We came back for a dip in the pool mid afternoon. Then we got cleaned up, made dinner, and headed to the grocery – only one open past 8pm and it only stays open until 9pm. Another nice day, but nothing much new to report today.

If the waters are rough again in the morning we’re going to a beach on the other side of the island. The side we use most often is actually part of the Atlantic Ocean. The other side is part of the Caribbean Sea and should be calmer, or so we’ve heard.

Shells, Pool, Reggae, and Snorkeling

I have several really fun videos to share today so I thought I’d just do a very brief recap of the weekend and get on to the videos!

June 12 – Saturday

We did a mid-morning walk along a more secluded part of Shoal Bay East and collected shells and pieces of coral reef that had washed ashore. We took a quick dip to get cooled off, but didn’t stay long since there were no umbrellas and the sun was really bothering Gabriel. We went back to the room for lunch and naps. I did some grocery shopping while they napped. Then we went for a swim in the pool, made dinner and went to bed.

June 13 – Sunday

After breakfast we did some cleaning up while trying to figure out what beach we wanted to visit (talk about hard decisions!). Gabriel was all out of sorts so we laid him back down at 10am and he slept until 1:30pm! Obviously we didn’t get out of here. It was kind of nice just hanging out on our porch, reading, relaxing and listening to the waves. After Gabe woke up we got him lunch and decided just to go to the pool since it was so late in the day. I captured all of Ezekiel’s tricks and swimming advances on video (see below).

After pool time we got cleaned up and headed to Gwen’s Reggae Grill on the beach. We ordered a cheeseburger and snapper and shared both. Both came with fries, cole slaw, very small side salad with vinegar & oil, and a spicy pasta salad that neither of us could eat much of (not spicy hot, just spicy flavors that we were not accustomed to). Shauna was afraid she wouldn’t like the snapper (she doesn’t like strong fish flavored fish like Salmon), but she did and everything was very good. The best part was the live Reggae band. People were dancing and having an all-around good time. I’ve added a brand new category of pictures just for this. Now on to the videos!

Here are Ezekiel’s tricks in the pool (4 videos). We mentioned previously about how far he has come and now here is the proof!

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Here are 4 videos from Gwen’s Reggae Grill. There is one girl in short white shorts who kept messing up my shot. I apologize in advance (I tried to avoid it as much as I could), but I did want you to see the fun Reggae band.

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Here are 8 videos from our snorkeling adventures on Shoal Bay East beach. It was a bit challenging to hold the camera in one hand while swimming/navigating with the other and add in being hit by the waves so its a bit shakey. We tried our best. Oh, and on Shauna’s video “The Big One” – after the first glimpse she couldn’t find it so the rest of the video is nothing much to see.

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Boys Are Getting Bolder

June 11 – Friday

Friday was a completely lazy beach day for us. We tried to do a ride on the Glass Bottom boat to see fish, turtles, reefs, etc., but the travel guide we had said $20/ea and kids free. We got there and it was $40/ea and kids free for a short 30-40 minute ride. I tried to negotiate with the boat owner and he said he’d take $40 now and come get the other $40 from us at the Arawak the next day. Well, that is still $80 so that wasn’t any help.

Instead we rented snorkeling gear for $12 and Shauna and I had a blast snorkeling while the boys had fun in the sand and are getting bolder and bolder with the water. We got tons of snorkeling video that I’ll have to work through and find the best ones to put up.

We’ve also been working with Ezekiel in the pool. He’s now out of the inner tube and only wearing his arm swimmies. I had him hold onto the ladder and practice holding his breath under the water. Then I moved him away from the ladder by about a foot or so and let go of him and he doggy paddled back to the ladder. Until yesterday he’s wanted us to catch him when he jumped into the water so his head wouldn’t go under. After holding his breath by the ladder he decided he was ready. He jumped in with only the arm swimmies, without being caught, went under the water, resurfaced and doggy paddled to the ladder without any assistance. He’s come so far in less than two weeks!

For now, here are a couple of videos of the boys getting more comfortable with the water. Remember the one early on in our trip where I said, Who’s chasing who – and had Ezekiel running back and forth with the waves. Well, Gabriel was doing that exact same thing yesterday and we caught it on video! Ezekiel ventured out deeper into the water, up to his neck at times with the waves. One time he got knocked off his feet and couldn’t touch. He rotated around belly down and chin up like he’s been doing in the pool. He looked up at me with surprise and a tiny bit of fear. I made a paddling motion with my hands and he started paddling like in the pool and rode the wave back into where he could touch. I was so proud! Of course, I could have reached down and grabbed him if he was in serious trouble, but decided in that split second to see how he handled it and he did great! We stayed at the beach until 5pm, headed back to get cooled off in the pool and then cooked dinner in the room.

Anyway, here are a few videos including a sample of the Wednesday night acoustic guitar here at the Arawak.

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Video Tour of the Arawak

One note before starting this post: I’ve added photo galleries so make sure you check out the pages from the main blog menu. I’ll be updating throughout the trip. Back to business: I wanted to make a video tour of the Arawak for us to look back on with fond memories for years to come and decided to go ahead and share with everyone. Some of the commentary is a little hard to make out because of the wind. There is always a breeze here that makes the heat so much more bearable. When I get to our little blue house you cannot hear me at all. What I’m describing are all the conch shells Ezekiel decided to gather and line up on our porch. At last count I think we’re up to 25 or so. Because of the constant winds and breezes most places do not have air conditioning. The nicer 4 and 5 star resorts that cater to us spoiled Americans have AC. The small inn we are staying in does not. The last several days have been unusually humid so the inn keeper brought us a couple of floor fans from her home for us to use in our room. She is super nice and super helpful. It’s like a big extended family. I’ll have Shauna give an update of the happenings over the past several days sometime today or tomorrow.

After our video tour we all jumped in the pool so I added that video too making a total of 5 short videos below. Enjoy!

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Our First Day on the Beach

We woke up this morning to the bright sun and the sound of waves. We spent some time on Shoal Bay beach. Gabe was a bit tired still from yesterday and was not himself. Both boys fell asleep in the car so we took the opportunity to go the grocery store and stock up on some supplies. Shauna sat in the car and napped with the boys while I shopped. Prices were in EC (Eastern Caribbean) dollars which is fixed at $1 US to $2.68 EC. Most restaurants are in US dollars so this was a bit confusing. For example, I bought 24 cans of pop for 31 EC. All the prices look super high and I was mentally dividing everything by 3 to try and figure out how much things were. Then when you check out you tell them what currency you are going to pay with and they bring up a menu to convert to US dollars in my case and tell you the new total. Very challenging.

Speaking of a challenge – It is very hard driving on the left. I thought it would be simple, but my mind is so programmed to drive on the right that it takes a lot of concentration, especially when making turns. But I managed to navigate pretty well today. Road signs are terrible. I have no idea what most of the road names are. Directions from the Arawak to the grocery were as follows:

Go to the end of the road and turn right. Turn right on the first big road (with blacktop) and go past Serenity. Go to the end of that road and turn right. Then at the end of that road instead of turning right to go to that beach turn left and go up the hill. When you get to the round about (very tricky to navigate driving on the left) go to the right. Go past the first stop light and the grocery store is on the right. If you get to the second stop light you went too far.

We said OK thanks and drove away and said, can you remember that? I somehow managed to follow them.

We made it back to the Arawak and went swimming the pool, which is really cool to be able to see the ocean while swimming. Then I cooked some penne pasta alfredo for dinner and we went back to the pool this evening to listen to some local musicians sing and play acoustic guitar.

Anyway, check out the videos below for a sample of our first day on the beach.

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