Friday, April 01, 2011

St Lucia one of the British Virgin Islands, is not tremendously well developed. I found it to be one of the poorer of our ports as well. This was a fairly startling difference from St Martin/Maarten the day before where they have govt provided education, medical treatment and social services. Again, we had booked a private excursion with a group from cruise critic with a guy named James. It was a very long and exhausting day. I actually think G dealt with it better than I did. We started out by visiting the island’s main cathedral, a beautiful roman catholic church with stained glass windows, painted ceilings and carved wood pews. It was explained to us that about 95% of the island’s inhabitants are roman catholic. James, our guide, joked that they used to have two muslims but they “ran them off.” Hmmm. He also joked that the island government had to change some laws to get rid of all the Chinese that had been moving in and buying up land. Hmmm again.

We then made our way on a very twisting turning road to the rain forest which was gorgeous. We stopped at a banana plantation and ate bananas just picked off the trees. James said that these were “sweet bananas” sold to England only and not available to the US. They did taste a bit different. G seemed to enjoy seeing the banana trees. She loves bananas!!

We drove past the Pitons (which I learned is pronounced Pee-tawns not Pie-tons as I’d always believed), through an extremely poor village where there were women washing selves and clothing in a dirty little river and eventually to a beautiful botanical garden and waterfall. We also passed by some of the devastation from Hurricane Thomas which blew through there last October. The side of a mountain came down taking with it several homes and a few families. Apparently the bodies have not and will not be recovered due to being buried by so much earth. Very, very sad. We also went through a fishing village –which looked fascinating. I’d love to spend a day there just wandering the narrow roads filled with shops and homes. It reminded me a bit of the Hutongs in Beijing. BTW, Rastafarians are everywhere. I asked James about it and said “ah yes, they love the gangi, mon”. Too funny! We then drove back about an hour and half on the same twisting turning road. I had to ask to stop once due to queasiness. Like I said, it was a very long day. I’m glad we did it but I wouldn’t repeat the experience. Too tiring.

My overall impression of St Lucia is that it’s just a very poor place. People are really scrapping to make a living here and it shows. We encountered by far the most aggressive vendors at the various stops. The people, however, were kind. I asked James if it would be safe for tourists to wander in the fishing village area alone and he assured me it would be. In fact, I did see several tourists (read as white people) and they seemed just fine. I’d like to visit St Lucia again but, like most of our stops, now that I know a bit more I’d probably do it differently.

Dinner was the best we’d had so far. I started with the antipasti plate and seafood risotto followed by a fantastic rib eye and cheesecake for dessert. G had her usual shrimp cocktail and then the always classic grilled cheese and fries! Bobby had two shrimp cocktails (hey, they’re small and he’s on vacation, right?), turkey with pasta (I think), and also the cheesecake. Yum!!

As always, G was dying to see the show which starts at 9pm. W always get there early to scope out a good spot –although I don’t really think there’s a bad spot in this particular theater which is very nice. At about 8:30 I looked over at Bobby and told him I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to make it. I was so tired from the long day. But G really wanted to see the show and, of course, she’d taken a pretty long nap in the car that day so she’d had some rest. I remember the show starting –some kind of electronic xylophone player guy --but about 20 mins later Bobby tapped me on the shoulder. G and I had both fallen asleep!!! I guess party animals we are not.

As usual we started with the official St Lucia photo!G was always really excited about having her pic done with whatever character they had for the day!

First stop was the main church. It was actually quite pretty for such a poor community

Notice the stained windows feature dark skinned people
but the angels were white
One of the overlooks on the way to the rain forest. The vendors were very aggressive here. Some in our group were very annoyed. It doesn't usually bother me. I just give them a smile and a confident sounding "no thank you" and that's that. The sad thing is that you're afraid to even express any interest in what they're selling or they attack you. I think they'd sell more if they'd give you a little space. But that's just not the way they do it there I guess.
G at the banana plantation. They wrap the bundles of bananas up in those blue bags to protect them from bugs and stuff.
Me holding a boa constrictor. Along the road there would be these random guys just standing there holding snakes. You can hold them and take pix for like $1 or so. G told me earlier she wanted to hold one but when we stopped, she was asleep. I'm not sure whether or not she would have gone through with it had she been awake.
Here's the guy who was holding the snake.
This is the dirty little river that they village women were washing in. It looked like a hard life.
Us in front of the Pitons. This picture doesn't do justice to how pretty it was there. Again, there were trinket stands here and very, very aggressive sellers. Our guide warned us that they would try to shove jewelry and things into your hands in some effort to force you to buy it (I'm not sure how that would work actually). In fact while we were there a woman from another group was sort of left holding a necklace of some sort. She finally gave it to a security guard who was there and left. I have no idea why there would be a security guard at a roadside trinket stand. The whole thing was a little confusing.
We finally ended up at a botanical garden. This sign attached to the tree near the entrance amused me.
The flowers were really beautiful. It made me wish I'd taken my big camera instead of my little pocket camera. This is a pink torch ginger.
Red torch ginger
There was a name for this little waterfall but I don't remember what it was
more flowers
This one fascinated me. It was called a Jade Vine.
These were G's favorite, Lobster Claws.
This was a good day but super long. The other problem was that our guide tried very hard to make everyone happy but in doing so, he really oversold the trip and what could be accomplished. The biggest issue to us being that he said there would be some beach time. On that basis we all wore swimsuits and I told G that she'd be going to the beach. After several hours it became clear that we were not going to be making it to the beach but even after having it explained to her several times she still didn't believe it and kept asking. Below is a pic of her saying "daddy, there's the beach, let's go" we finally fibbed and told her that the beach was closed. That worked. "Closed" is a concept that G gets.
Just a picture of the coast. The rock formation looks like a high heeled shoe!
Food pix: this was my antipasti starter
Seafood risotto starter.
G was thrilled with her grill cheese and fries!
Rib eye and wild rice, yummy!
Bobby with his turkey and pasta
After dinner G begged to do pix. So cute!!
I love this one. The look on G's face is so her!
More cuteness!
The photog (same guy every night) tried several times to get a good one of her jumping. I think this one was probably the best!
Tomorrow Barbados!

1 comment:

Tanya said...

I've heard that in Jamaica, the venders are VERY aggressive also, to the point of trying to separate people in parties and being physical with them. I am a bit nervous about that but can handle my own and will be mean if I need to. :)