Four years ago this week, my wife and I enjoyed a blissful 5 days and 4 nights in St Lucia at the famous Ladera Resort, which has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site. We needed this so badly. We had been through complete hell.
It wasn't just my cancer fight the previous year in 2011 that had been stressing us out. The year prior to that, my brother-in-law had been diagnosed with a rare neurological condition. He needed a few corrective surgeries at Stanford and was lucky to have survived, but ended up becoming permanently disabled and in need of full-time care. It was heartbreaking to see such a young man go through something like this and become disabled as a result. The year prior to that, my wife lost her elderly grandfather to cancer in Taiwan. We knew about his cancer, but it had been stable, only for him to pass just two weeks before we were set to make the journey across the world to see him. My wife was devastated. She had been extremely close to her grandfather, and to miss seeing him one last time by just weeks was hurtful beyond belief. And then came all of the challenges afterwards with her brother, job loss and then my cancer fight, and all of the new challenges after cancer. We made it through it all and our love for each other never wavered, but it was hard, life just hadn't been fair, and we needed to escape the world for a bit.
Without even telling me, my wife booked this little getaway for us at Ladera in St Lucia around our anniversary as a surprise, and it was one of the best things that we'd ever done for ourselves. This is the trip where we took care of ourselves for a change, and put our lives and ourselves back together. No work, no emails, no office, no kids, no cancer, no crazy world, no nothing. Just each other, in such a beautiful place, escaping a world gone mad.
We loved and cherished every second of this trip. Something about being in paradise and on island time helping you to get back in touch with the one you love, and getting your love and romance burning at full force again after so much hardship. There were rough times for me ahead. There was so much I'd yet to experience as a cancer survivor, and so much I'd yet to go through. No matter how dark things would feel, we would always have this trip, and we remember it to this day. What an amazing time it was, and it was from this St Lucia trip that we recognized the need for a couples only retreat every year. We needed this every year, for ourselves, for our love, and for each other. And so with St Lucia in 2012, a new tradition was started, and we always look forward to our annual getaway together. Life is really rotten sometimes. You don't need permission from anyone to go and enjoy, and indulge in life a bit.
As this is the photography section of my website, I figured I'd talk a little about that. I brought my Canon 5D Mark II on this trip, along with a 17-40L ultra-wide lens, 24-105mm f/4L IS mid-range zoom, and then a 35mm f/2 prime for lower light work, along with possibly a mini-flash of some sorts. This had been my world-traveling photography setup for a number of years, and there's not much you'll miss with such a setup, along with getting truly incredible landscape photos. For high contrast photos, no I didn't do HDR or multi-exposure photo-blending. I did it old-school, and used a good old-fashioned two or three-stop grad-ND filter! I've been shooting with a far more technically advanced Canon 7D Mark II for the past two years now and I've loved it, but looking back at photos like these has made me realize that there's an added dimension and feel to full-frame cameras that you just don't get with APS-C cameras. Full-frame photos are just sexier, and I'm actually going to be going back to full-frame for much of my photography!
Click the link below for the full gallery, or simply enjoy the slideshow at the bottom! :)