Tuesday, January 17, 2012

St lucia II

January 16, 2012 St Lucia

Weather windows have kept us sitting in St. Lucia but we have not suffered from boredom. Since arriving we have fixed parts of the boat, read 7 books, worked on projects, organized a 16 boat dinghy raft up night, participated in happy hours, women luncheons, toured the island, and have entertained and been entertained on other boats.

One of our goals when visiting a new island is to find THE LOCAL HANGOUT! Here we accomplished that in the first week. Last week we found a great hole in the wall for lunch and local food. Right behind the coffee house named Rituals is a L shape lunch counter place. They serve your choice of 6-8 home cooked entrees, inspired by local cuisine, which come with 4 side dishes—for $5.00. Root vegetables and green bananas are quite versatile. Walking between tourists’ sites help us to work off the starches.

Saturday we hired a taxi for the island tour. Having seen the twin volcanic columns, known as the Pitons, from the ocean we wanted a back side view of these magnificent towers like giants. We left at 9, hit the local market in Castries, walked through all the vegetable/fruit stands and a few of the touristy t-shirt stalls. We drove by the central square and catholic church and then it was up the hill to the Government mansion and the college. What a clear view of the bay, the cruise ships, and the ocean. Down the hills we bobbed and weaved following the curvy roads and returned to sea level. Along the way we saw small towns clustered near the water and the French plantation influence in the waterfront housing designs in Soufries —homes there were designed to be taken down and carried to a new location as the occupants were often sold off to a new owner, the middle class homes were higher up the hillside, and some of the homes for the upper status group we saw along the vista viewpoints or tucked into the valleys. Yards are well maintained, cultural influences (French, Indian, British) are reflected in architectural details, and most of the homes have beautiful views. We followed the western road through a few more towns and settled on a local restaurant for lunch. Creole cooking is big on this island and fish is readily available. It still seems “sinful” to have a beer for lunch—but then I remember I am retired, and the guilt goes away with the first cold gulp.

After lunch we went to the Diamond Botanical Garden at the base of a waterfall. A local man “offered” to be our personal guide. He was very knowledgeable and gave us the deluxe tour with humor included for no extra charge. There were many gorgeous blooming plants and a few fruits were growing as well. Our favorites were a q-tip plant and a waxed rose. Having walked a bit we were ready to rest our feet. So off we went to La Soufriere Sulphur Springs for the mineral pool and mud bath, built by the French a few hundred years ago, located at the foot of an ash mound still steaming. The pool was 4 feet deep and oh so warm and soothing. The mud was black if you took it from the bottom or white if you bought it from the attendant—Dave went with the black mud.

From there we drove to a third waterfall and soaked our bodies once again.This time we had to walk a hand hewn path up and down and up again. It was tucked away from the public road and we were alone with the birds, and flowing water for about 15 minutes. Here the water was just air temp and not filled with minerals, just a touch of liquid healthiness being temporarily contained in concrete square blocks. Noticing the fading light from the sun, we pulled ourselves back into responsible thinking and returned to our cab driver. The ride home was quiet as we all collected our thoughts and experiences together in an attempt to command them to memory for retelling. When one gets so relaxed, the brain follows suit, and some days become more of a blur than a clear Kodak picture. This trip was one of those hazy, blurry days where the brain felt thoroughly massaged and relaxed. We returned home with no worries, and no energy.

Sunday night we went over to Pigeon Island and the fort. If you wait till 5 there is no park fee and the bar serves 2-4-1 drinks that knock your socks off—if we were wearing any. The seafood lasagna comes in a dish big enough for 1 ½ and they have octopus as an appetizer that we are going back for another night. We lucked out and it was a Jam session night. Local artist come together and play. The Caribbean jazz and blues combo was perfect accompaniment.

Tonight was the dinghy raft up which we started at 4, it rained at 4, so most everyone showed up at 4:30…but being the hosts we sat in the rain from 4 to 4:20 alone. Yet, down here it is no problem. We were dry 5 minutes after the rained stopped and having 15 other boats come out was a great show of cruiser support. It also helps that the weather has been so bad for over a week that most of us have spent way too many hours on our boat and needed the comradely of “new” others and the wealth of stories that get shared at such an event. P.S. Also a great way to off load finished books and exchange movies.

Day after tomorrow is another ladies luncheon. Last week I sat by a Brit named Amanda who had sailed from the Canaries or Azores for 1,500 miles with a broken off rudder. Five hundred miles out to sea and on her watch is when it broke. Being in radio contact with other boats she and her husband soon learned how to make a drogue from buoys, line, chain and a spare anchor. I also met a woman who makes jewelry, lives here for part of each year, and is a joy to converse with. Marsha is the organizer of the event and Fiona was the first participant. Eighteen ladies attended last week and more are sure to come this week. We get lunch, pool time, and the companionship of others who are figuratively speaking in the same boat that we are each day.

We are learning that this is another place that can suck you right into staying, but the winds are due to change by the end of the week and we feel the pull of the north on our sterns…so Thursday we will provision, and head north to ??? well, north is a good enough start J.

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