The best way to experience the essence of St. Lucia (or any Caribbean destination) is to get off the resort even for a short excursion. This is not something everyone is comfortable with and I get that. In our case, a friend of a friend was introduced to us and they live in Castries, the capital city of St. Lucia which is where our resort was located.
To our delight, L and D offered to take us on a personal tour of St. Lucia; anywhere we wanted to go. Since it was ‘their’ Island we suggested they take the lead. Early on a Saturday morning they picked us up at our resort and they devoted an entire day being our personal tour guides on their beautiful Island. It is with great pleasure I introduce you to “L” and “D” (since I forgot to get their permission to use their full names in my blog)!
Piton: Up Close and Personal
It was a full day bright with hot sunshine and of course the unpredictable tropical rain showers. There were many highlights that day; this chapter is dedicated to our visit to the crater of an inactive volcano known as Soufriere Volcano and sulfur springs. It is considered dormant with the last eruption over 200 years ago (most likely forming St. Lucia as we know it). It is the only ‘drive in’ volcano in the world and it sits at the base of Piton, which are two volcanic mountains rising majestically from the blue Caribbean waters. It is one of their main tourist attractions and the number of vehicles and rain forest jeeps coming and going did attest to that. The smell of sulfur (rotten eggs like the old chemistry lab days) was really strong, so much so the inside of the truck still had the smell long after we left the area!
I was asked if I wanted to bathe in the mud springs. I declined the offer mainly because I was already hot enough and I really didn’t know what this would all entail. A ‘visit’ to the springs and baths was ample and I was glad I didn’t partake…the temperature of the springs was pretty hot with steam escaping from them and the outside air was +29. So I cannot imagine how hot they would have been! As well, the thought of volcanic mud (albeit a healing sulfur mud) in every orifice of my body just didn’t appeal. Watching mud bubble out of the center of the crater was surreal. A young local resident told me later “If you can’t smell the sulfur…run!” Thankfully she wasn’t handy when I was taking a video of the crater.
On the drive back, we stopped at various ‘look-out’ points for pictures and took in the majestic views. Not accustomed to the altitudes here, I couldn’t get enough of the landscape. One such view was a small fishing village called Anse La Raye nestled in a beautiful cove with little fishing boats secured by anchors or pulled up on shore. The village got its name from the ‘manta ray’ fish which was in abundance when the village was first founded. Today fishing is their mainstay.
The village itself had narrow streets with locals displaying their fruits and vegetables along the sidewalks. Dogs roamed freely and roosters squawked in alarm and fluttered away as our truck weaved in and around the streets. I managed to snap a quick photo of their Catholic church that seemed to take up an entire village block.
In stark contrast to the beautiful little children being bathed openly in tubs on the sidewalks and infants with curly little nubs of hair being cuddled in their mom’s arms was the other side of society. A young man, shirtless and bleeding profusely from the back of his head (apparently from an altercation with another fellow) was unceremoniously put in the back of a pick-up truck with “POLICE” written on the side panel. Sirens and lights were quickly engaged and we could only assume he was being transported to the nearest hospital. We assumed right. This is real St. Lucia.
Thank you L and D for your gift of personal presence. It was indeed a day to remember!
Tropical Rain and Rainbows
If you don’t like the weather in St. Lucia – wait 5 minutes. It’s a tropical island with rain forests and so it is a bit wetter and the climate is unpredictable. Rain pours straight out of the heavens and the sky is dark within minutes. Like someone hit a gigantic reset button, the sun comes back out and the daily rainbows appear.
Chapter 4: Calabash, Cassava, and a Cocoa Plantation – the tour continues…