Who can describe the feeling of excitement preparing to land in a country you’ve never been to before?  You get that first glimpse out of the airplane window of the numerous green mountains seemingly dropped from above competing to be more grand than the crystal blue Carribean.  St. Lucia—Where are we? What are we doing here?  Whatever it is, it was intriguing enough to pilgrimage volunteers from all corners of the world to focus on this place.


About 10 volunteers assembled over a three-hour period at the Hewanorra International Airport, all grateful to have landed amid reports of over 3000 flights cancelled yesterday in the U.S. Northeast.  We learned some didn’t make the cut before the snowstorm closed the area and they will arrive over the next two days.
Three vehicles of people and one vehicle of bags headed out, and I’m trying to be objective here, on a harrowing ride of significant ascent on very winding roads up and around to Marigot Bay.  Our first clue of events to come should have been when driver Ean asked if anyone gets carsick.  But the fascination with the country was evident.  Lush green palms and ferns and lilys and tree tulips surrounding small brightly painted houses clinging to the sides of cliffs, some very near the road where we could first site the St. Lucian men, women, and children we will work beside and share life with.  Of course it is often the children who catch our eye and we wonder when and how we can interact.


On to JJ’s Paradise Hotel near Marigot Bay. Now descending down the driveway –can this really be this steep and rocky and narrow?  But abruptly we arrive and take that one step from van to hotel where manager Susan greets us with an icy drink of pink punch.  Rooms were assigned and we all found our cabanas-wood or cement, structures up and down the flowered paths, some old, some new, all unique.


Very soon after we walked through the mangroves downhill towards the setting sun to JD’s restaurant, whereupon we gasped with delight at the beauty of the bay sparkling in the setting sun behind groups of palm trees and between the mountains on each side.  Ean says this is the bay where the boats are brought to be protected from hurricanes.  It is truly a safe haven from the sea and one can see that the inhabitants of this area must feel that too.  We shall see if the two weeks here engenders the same safe-haven feeling in us-as volunteers in this wild and seemingly uncontrolled place where not a straight line nor a flat surface nor a numerical grid of any sort exists.


We were greeted by the dynamic duo of Bud [Philbrook] and Warren [Williams]. Warren is the logistics person here and has cradled this project from the beginning.  He has success and vast experience leading Global Volunteers teams all over the world.  Bud, the driving force in all senses of the term will lead this team. As President and CEO and vision-master-in-chief, he is the reason many of the volunteers chose this team.  Why not be lead by the President directly?  Why not hear the vision first hand? And why not see the community response and interaction of two forces in development as it is actuallydeveloping.  All present were anxious with anticipation of the upcoming stage-setting and thinking of the honor of being here on the ground floor.


Next, a lovely fish and chicken and vegetable dinner, and did I mention the first ten volunteers has now grown to twenty-two people around the table as we met our Poland, India, and Tanzania Global Volunteer friends and other volunteers who came early.  This made for a challenging name game followed by introductions.  Some of us have experienced before the excitement and awe when first hearing of the diverse backgrounds and personalities of the volunteers. What an opportunity for new friends working together!


Well now the sun has set, the stage has been set and most of the players have assembled and the journey begins.  If the definition of “happiness” is “shared experiences”, it will indeed be a very happy journey.



– Kathy
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