Location: Petit Piton, St. Lucia

Dear loved ones, welcome to the 38th edition of the Ocean Star blog. I awoke to the unfortunate thought that I had missed our morning free dive meant to be led by Ash, something that had been discussed at dinner the night before. I entered the salon to meet a couple of early risers and quickly learned that I was not the only one who had missed the dive. In fact, nobody had been able to convince their body that a morning dive was more valuable than some precious sleep on this particular morning. Luckily Ash was not mad (just disappointed). I have higher hopes for tomorrow morning. For the majority of the crew, the day began with a ten-minute early wakeup. I always try to find humor in the death stares I receive when stealing people away from their beloved slumber; somewhere between, “I’m really trying to get up right now, and I can’t wait for today’s adventure,” and, “Why would you do this to me you monster one more word from you, and I’ll rip your head off.” It is not a mystery to me why some of us fear this job.

Nonetheless, soon enough, everyone made it on deck with smiles and good attitudes for a 15-minute early breakfast. Yogurt parfaits and make-your-own-lunch supplies were set up on the chart-house, the classic excursion day setup. Breakfast was enjoyed briefly before some announcements and a swift cleanup, after which we were ready to head to shore for a semi-wet entry. Once everyone was on shore, heather guided us along toward a secret path. eager to explore some of the anticipated grounds of St. Lucia, we made quick work of the path toward our pickup spot. When we arrived, I remember hearing Kiki jokingly say to David, “You ready for our 3-hour hike?” to which David responded, “Of course! You know I’m always ready, Kik’s!” It’s awesome to see the attitude of the group so open and ready for whatever is in store on a day like today. Soon enough, we were received and brought to our first location.

The delicious smell of hardboiled eggs that everyone knows and loves filled our nostrils as we stepped out of our vehicles, a scent that would only grow stronger as we walked closer to the sight we had arrived at. Steaming pits could be seen in the near distance with muddy sulfuric liquid bubbling up. A guide informed us about some history around the massive sunken volcano that we were standing in, which I was not savvy to pick up on as I had become focused on a Minnesota tattoo being sported on the ankle of a young lady very close to our group. I was excited to hear that she graduated from my high school not too long ago. It’s Crazy to think about how a world that keeps getting bigger every day can still seem so small. After our history lesson, we strolled down a path that led us to a collection of hot mud pools where we were to enjoy some relaxing spa time. All kinds of new sensations introduced themselves to me as I stepped down into the mud bath, the most memorable being the thick layer of sedimentary ooze that sat at the bottom of the pool. The warm mineral and sulfur-rich water were said to do exfoliating wonders, and as I’m writing this now, I can still feel the effects on my smooth skin. After we had warmed up in the pool, we hopped out for stage two of our treatment. Stage two was the most fun stage, where we took turns lathering ourselves in this thick grey mud meant to dry onto the skin. We let the first coat dry, and a second coat of black mud was used to apply some personal style to our look. Some chose tiger stripes, while others chose artistic patterns. After getting some time to dry we re-submerged into the original pools to wash off our layers before finally getting a freshwater shower to rinse clean. This was the first real shower a lot of us have seen in a while. Feeling ten years younger, we headed to the busses for our next location.

Our second location was a botanical garden where we peacefully enjoyed some tropical scenery and lush plant life. This excursion was shaping up to be a relaxing and much enjoyable change of pace from our usual jungle treks and mountain climbs. After we had seen a plethora of local and foreign plants, we took a quick lunch break before leaving to head to our final destination on land. Last but not least, we had some relaxing swim time at a spring-filled and volcanically heated pool just under a small waterfall. Some of us played pool games while others explored a bit. It was strange not to feel so buoyant in the freshwater. A little pool break, and it was time to keep moving again. We walked down a steep road accompanied by a new fluffy friend who got lots of pets and loved from everyone. Our canine companion followed us all the way to the dinghy dock, where we gave him a few bites of leftover lunch meat. We shuttled back to the Ocean Star and took a snack break before preparing for a biology class. Provisioning followed soon after, something that has become a routine part of our lives at this point in the journey. We had pasta with red sauce for dinner, and I was excited to implement a musical activity to end the squeeze tonight. Everyone had to come up with a sound to add to our collective song one by one until we all came together in beautiful angelic harmony, or maybe a chaotic discord, depending on who you asked. I was so appreciative of everyone’s great attitudes and kindness today. I can’t wait to see what we have in store for tomorrow. We’re nearing the halfway point in our journey, and things couldn’t be looking better.

Thanks so much to all those following us and especially my personal friends and family. I miss you guys all the time, and I wish I had more moments to catch up with you. We’ll continue to stay happy and healthy out here on the Ocean Star, making every moment a memory to last a lifetime.

This is your skipper signing off until next time – Casey