Thursday, December 30, 2010

Anse Chastanet

We're back from our delightful stay at Anse Chastanet resort in St.Lucia. Considering all the airline disruptions that have ruined so much travel this month, we were very lucky to have all our plans work just as we hoped.

Here are a few more photos to illustrate highlights that I didn't mention. At the Botanical Garden, we walked up to a waterfall and a sulphur bathing pool with lukewarm water from the caldera. Here's Len, enjoying the pool:


Yoga at Anse Chastanet is really wonderful, thanks to the instructor Kristen and to the beach setting where the classes take place. (I won't dwell on the way the waves washed over the shore and flooded the yoga hut one day -- it was cleaned up by the next scheduled class.) Kristen quickly adapts her routines to the widely varying levels of the individuals who show up each day. Here she is, getting ready for class:


And here's one more view of the resort. Anse Chastanet is the name of the little bay and beach, and also the name of the lower part of the resort, where we stayed. Above Anse Chastanet is Jade Mountain, the futuristic resort that I wrote about here -- Jade Mountain.


For a complete look at Len's best underwater photos see his Flickr page.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Volcanic Caldera


The caldera of the old volcano here is much smaller than those in Hawaii, but deep black water bubbles vigorously in the sulphur pools at the bottom of the deep crater-like surroundings. It's all private land, and has been built up with sulphur baths since the 18th century when the French planters developed it. At the nearby botanical garden (which we also visited on our tour) it's claimed that Napoleon's wife Josephine once bathed here -- her father was a plantation owner. More photos after we get home -- tomorrow and Tuesday we'll be hoping for the best with American Airlines.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Jade Mountain


Today we took a tour of Jade Mountain, the luxury resort on the hilltop above our (already luxurious) resort. The rooms and architecture are over-the-top fancy. Each room is very large with a private swimming pool near the bed, a sitting area, and a bathroom also completely open to the view. No glass, no screens, just mosquito nets on the bed. Each room has its own butler who will (according to our guided tour) fill your jaccuzzi tub (as distinct from the pool) or bring all your meals. You can arrive by helicopter, go directly to your room, and never emerge until it's time to fly back to whatever planet you came from with whoever you anonymously came with.


For more photos, see this Flickr set.

This is not a fish

Another good day of underwater pictures for Len yesterday. This coral head with a ribbon worm and strategically placed crevasses looks like a fish, I thought.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Birdwatching with Meno


This morning we went on a bird walk with Meno, who leads many tours. We walked on the grounds of Anse Mamin, the old plantation where once slaves grew sugar cane and boiled it down into molasses. Mamin, the owner, was a particularly brutal slave owner. The old buildings are still in place or partly so. Above, a surviving staircase seems to go nowhere, though some workmen were using it while drinking an early morning Coca Cola.

Here's Meno looking for birds. He is also very good at calling them out of the woods. We saw quite a few nice ones.


Meno told us about a recent tragedy, which other St.Lucians have also mentioned. The stream that runs through the old plantation is small and tame now, but at the end of October, a hurricane brought 24 hours of heavy rain to St.Lucia, and the stream became a torrent, unleashing a disastrous mud slide. Meno's good friends -- a couple and their children -- were swept away along with their house. The mud slide left a huge mud deposit in the reservoir above the plantation. Meno kept saying to the river "Where are they?" His friends were either buried or swept out to sea, and can't be found.


Last night's total solar eclipse was beautifully visible from the porch right outside our room, which is up on a hillside. I woke up when the eath's shadow had just begun to move across the surface of the moon -- around 2:45 AM. I watched as the bright light of the moon dimmed, and more and more stars became visible. The moon was fairly high in the sky above the Caribbean Sea, which was dark. Yesterday's clouds had dispersed, so I had a beautiful view, even of the Milky Way; I counted four shooting stars as I watched until the eclipse was total and the moon became dim, reddish, and insignificant, around 4:00. The shadowy forms of the two Pitons were visible behind me, and I could hear the waves coming in gently below.

It's a very rare occurrence for an eclipse to coincide with the Solstice. I found it thrilling.

Here is a photo just before the total eclipse -- our camera can't register the very faint light of the eclipsed moon, although it is very visible to the eye:


Monday, December 20, 2010

More of the Pitons

Here's the very tiny town of Soufriere, just around the headland beside the hotel beach. We can see the lights of the town from some of the places in the resort.

A few more photos from my snorkel boat trip, which included a stop in the town:





Len's Fish from Yesterday

For more see this flickr set: St. Lucia

Sunday, December 19, 2010

St. Lucia

Here's the view from our hotel room. The volcanic peaks are called the Pitons, and they are beautiful and (dare I say it) mysterious! Our travel day was very long, but fortunately unremarkable, and here we are. Len is getting his Scuba orientation, and I'm too lazy to do anything but sit around.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

My father would be 105 today

It seems amazing that he would be so old. I've written about him here:
Hyman Feldman (December 15, 1905)

Monday, December 13, 2010

More Silly Research on Mona Lisa

From time to time "researchers" (especially some bozos in Italy) discover new clues to the imagined mysteries of Mona Lisa. May I point out that much more is known about the painting than about most 500 year old art works? To me, the mystery is why silly stories about Mona Lisa sell newspapers.

Today's "discovery" -- Mona Lisa's eyes have "tiny letters" depicted in them -- see this article in the Washington Post: Mona Lisa's eyes reveal some secrets. No explanation is offered as to how Leonardo was able to paint letters so tiny that they are visible only with 21st century scientific apparatus. Oh, wait: Leonardo was also a genius inventor -- he must have had a 21st century gadget.

I think that the accompanying photo of an X-ray fluorescence spectroscope is a stock photo that's used in all Washington Post articles about solving these mysteries -- it's not even clear that it's the apparatus being used by today's so-called scientist (left). Adding a Youtube video of Nat King Cole singing the song "Mona Lisa" is another clue that there isn't any real story here. For proof of this: the last time I ranted about these silly stories, I included a screen capture with the identical apparatus -- see below and Mona Lisa Smiles for Science.

I'm sorry, I find this all pathetic. Why don't they do something useful?

F0r more links to absurd Mona Lisa fake science, see this: Mona Lisa Nonsense