St. Lucia/Santa Lucia/Svata Lucie
|If you look at the lower right, you will see little St. Lucia|
I'm not quite the Caribbean type, so to end up in this little island it took the motivation of a good friend. You see, my dear friend Sharla is a Lucian, and it was for her and her alone that I went down to this island. I am definitely not a tropical convert, but this trip didn't hurt the case for the tropics.
The trip was a mix between doing some touristy things and being around friends of Sharla and her family. The first special trip we made was from our base of Vieux Fort (in the south) to the Sulfur Springs or, as it's been advertised, "Caribbean's only drive-in volcano." To make this journey, we met up at 4:30 AM, and, crammed into two vehicles, we glided through the dark blanket pulled over the island. Driving on the left side of curving island roads, the vehicles issued occasional honks on particularly blind curves to avoid collisions. There was one instance in which a collision was only narrowly avoided.
Once there, we walked toward the spring. There was a stream that led to a pool of water. After this pool, the water continued in a stream. The water was warm and had the color of a child's paintbrush water after hours of mixing colors. I enjoyed the warmth as my feet tread over the sulfur sediment. Feeling fresh in my smelly clothes, I jumped into the back of a pickup afterwards and we drove past a viewing point of one of the Piton mountains. These peaks are stony and steep. Unfortunately, we didn't climb either during the week. We got a quick look at the town of Soufriere before moving on.
Then came one of my favourite parts of the whole week (and it was only my first full day!), one of our hosts Chris took us to his mother's house in the country. Machete in hand, he collected all sorts of plants, fruit, and flora for us to examine and sample. We observed some beautiful flowers including a torch lily, and we tasted fresh, juicy sugar cane and dried coconut. He gathered bread fruit, pumpkin, sour sop, bananas, and more to bring home. At a second stop, I tried a golden apple and some avocado. Chris also picked some limes and then got some bark from a cinnamon tree for us to examine.
There were various miniature trips throughout the week, including Castries (capital city), Vieux Fort's downtown and fish market, and a couple of beaches. But my favourite moments clustered around food or fellowship. One particular afternoon, I joined Sharla on a "bus" to her mother's family's place.
How to ride a Lucian "Bus"
- Walk along the line of 15-passenger vans, observing the destinations printed on white printer paper and stuck to rear side windows.
- Don't look for a timetable; it's not applicable.
- Choose a van as full of passengers as possible.
- Get as far back/inside as possible. Perhaps greet all those older than you with a "good afternoon."
- Once the van is full, it will depart, honking at roadside walkers to see if they want to be picked up.
- At any point, yell "stop" in order to get out of the van.
- Pay the driver (seated on the right side) after exit.
The girl's generosity and familiarity were very appreciated, but were aspects of Lucian culture that were quite shocking after nearly a year in the Czech Republic. You're expected to greet strangers on the road with "good afternoon" and when accompanied by someone like Sharla's mother, every other phrase is, "Hey sweetie, you okay?"
The sense of community was strong, as were the delicious tastes of acai, mango, coconut, sour sop, sugar cane, bananas, curry (many people of Indian descent in St. Lucia), roti, tuna, and more. These two aspects--people and food--were strong, perhaps strong enough to outweigh one major aversion: the cultural perspective on time. I am a person who likes a plan and likes to be organized, so to be on an island that is not time-based--to the point that there isn't a public transit timetable--is enough to drive me mad.
I am blessed to have been able to see the island that my dear friend and my adopted parents call home, but next time, I'll bring many more books.
|Tuna, fresh from the sea|
|Terry enjoying some sour sop--that spiky fruit from the earlier picture|
|Till next time|