Kish is very good at spotting interesting places to visit, and she struck gold with Ti Kaye — but at first, it sure didn’t seem that way!
Ti Kaye is a resort on the Caribbean island of St. Lucia. St. Lucia is located far to the south, almost to the coast of South America. The island itself is rugged, volcanic, mountainous, and breathtakingly poor. We flew in to the airport at Vieux Fort, at one end of the island, rented a car, and set off to find Ti Kaye. The island, however, has extraordinarily poor roads, featuring bone-jarring potholes and blind turns and lacking any meaningful signs. We drove and drove on twisting roads, past decrepit shacks with corrugated iron roofs, trying to follow complicated directions. At one point, we drove through a tiny hamlet of silent, staring people and apparently starving dogs running through the streets.
Twilight began to fall, and our spirits sank along with the sun. Finally, after it seemed we would never find the right turn, we saw a Ti Kaye sign and turned off the “main” road into a rutted, stony, mostly unpaved driveway. After heading downhill through a narrow tunnel of vegetation — as I wondered what I would do if I saw a car coming in the opposite direction — we came to an apparent dead end. At that point, I felt the red surge of rage that only an exhausted, put-upon, bitterly disappointed traveler can experience. We realized, however, that we apparently were supposed to take a hairpin left turn and drive up a hill, and after we did so we found a slice of nirvana in the form of Ti Kaye Village.
Ti Kaye consists of a main building with a bar and dining room and a long, rickety staircase leading down to a small beach that has its own restaurant and bar. The grounds are filled to overflowing with gaily colored tropical plants and rich, deep, almost velvety shade. The guests stay in white wooden cabanas sprinkled throughout the Ti Kaye property. Each cabana has high interior ceilings and slow-moving fans, large beds with white mosquito netting, and fantastic outdoor showers. Our cabana had a long wooden porch with rockers and hammocks, and sitting on that porch first thing in the morning, reading a book and drinking a strong cup of coffee, was a glorious experience.
The food at Ti Kaye was fabulous and the staff were wonderful. We stayed there over Christmas and New Year, and they worked very hard to impart holiday cheer and good humor. Our days were long and languid, as we were content to stay on the grounds reading, sunning, and enjoying the excellent Ti Kaye hospitality. Like any good Caribbean island, St. Lucia has its own local beer, called Piton, and it was very fine indeed to sit on the Ti Kaye beach in the blazing sunshine, nursing a Piton and enjoying a good beach book. We also did some snorkeling in the little harbor and watched as cruise ships and large white-masted vessels sailed majestically past.
Our only bad experiences on the trip, in fact, came when we left the Ti Kaye grounds. We went to Soufriere, where one of the locals named Simon volunteered to be our guide, stuck to us like glue while we went to the ho-hum hot springs and volcano basin, and then angrily expected us to pay him an arm and a leg for the experience. We also went to Castries, the largest city on the island, where there was a pretty standard Caribbean market and lots of people trying to sell us trinkets. So we gladly beat a retreat to the friendly confines of Ti Kaye, cracked open a cold Piton, and had one of the wait staff smile widely, shake her head slightly and say: “Daddy be drinking!” And, magically, all was well once more.