Objects may appear smaller than they actually are

Next March, I will acknowledge a significant matrimonial milestone with my better half when we celebrate 40 years of wedded bliss! Back in March 1979, we spent our honeymoon on the island of Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands and to this day, it is still one of our favourite destinations. We spend a week there almost every year with our grandkids on the Costa Adeje. With that significant anniversary coming up, we wanted to acknowledge it in some way by booking a holiday somewhere ‘nice’. We considered Cuba; the Maldives, Sri Lanka and even Namibia before finally opting for St. Lucia at my wife’s insistence.

She had been to the Caribbean twice before — once, when we spent a week on New Providence and Paradise Islands in the Bahamas some years ago and again when we did a week-long Caribbean cruise out of Miami — but she felt that she had never really experience the Caribbean as such, hence the decision to opt for St Lucia. All we knew about it was that it is very beautiful and is famous for its twin ‘Pitons’ which dominate the landscape on part of the island. In much the same way that when a doctor takes ill, he or she needs to visit another doctor; so too is it with travel agents. Having decided on a destination, I had to choose an appropriate travel agent to book it through but not before I conducted a little more research on whether there would be enough to do and see on the island; how expensive it would be, both to get there and when on the island itself. I also needed to check out the landscape — both literally and metaphorically — in respect of car hire as I am not your typical lie on the beach type of guy.

It was at this point that I was struck by how large (in relative terms) St Lucia was, as an island. My reference point was Jersey, the main island of the Channel Islands, located just a few miles off the French coast near St. Malo. Along with the Isle of Man, it was my first introduction to putting a tour operating programme together many years ago and I visited it many times over the years, when I was contracting properties for inclusion in the programme I was putting together. Jersey is only 9 miles wide by five miles deep and yet when you’re there, it feels relatively large as there is so much to do there. In contrast, St Lucia is over five times that size at 238 square miles to Jersey’s 45 and yet it appears as a small dot on any maps of the Caribbean.  I had somehow got it into my head that because St Lucia always appeared on a much larger map of the Caribbean area as little more than a pinprick, that it must be a relatively tiny island, but 238 square miles is not tiny at all.

This got me to thinking about whether our perception of how small some places are, based on how they appear on a much larger map of the general area in which they are located, creates a bias in our minds that might cause us to discount them in the mistaken belief that there won’t be enough to see and do there! I’ve already started to do my research on the destination and have been pleasantly surprised by what I’ve found out so far but unfortunately, you’ll have to wait until I experience it all first-hand next March before I start putting my thoughts and impressions on paper for you to read all about it!

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