We recently returned from an idyllic 9-day trip to St. Lucia, where one of our high points was making the acquaintance of Mr. John Nestor, a local environmentalist who has worked to preserve the island's natural beauty and share it with others.
We first met John at the head of the Tet Paul Trail, a short (one-hour) but spectacular walk through woods and fields to perhaps the finest view on the island. This is a rather easy walk, but guides are required by local law on all trails, and the $5 fee for the Tet Paul hike is one of the island's great bargains. John is a walking, talking encyclopedia, and a very nice fellow.
We enjoyed our experience with John so much that we engaged him to lead us on a hike up the Gros Piton, one of the island's great landmarks. We had heard and read various conflicting reports about this hike--it can take from 2 to 5 hours round-trip, it is "a piece of cake" or "it is very challenging," etc.
Having a bit of arthritis in my hips at 55 years old, and since my wife ( age 57) has some old skiing knee injuries, I was inclined to pass on it, but John convinced us that we should give it a try. My wife and I were both serious athletes in high school and college, and we have stayed in very good shape, but things like arthritis and knee injuries have taken their toll over the years, so be forewarned--this hike is a workout, no two ways about it. The hike up is quite steep, rocky, and very aerobic, and the hike back down is hard on the joints (not as tiring as the ascent, but more painful). Unless you are in your twenties, you will probably sleep very well that night. John, of course, made it a fabulous experience with his knowledge of local lore, flora, and fauna, and was patient and encouraging when we felt like quitting, so we made it to the peak.
We enjoyed meeting John very much, and hearing him speak with such passion about the local ecosystem and its relationship to the evolving local economy was exciting and inspirational. We will definitely look up John Nestor and his associates on our next trip to St. Lucia!
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