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Published: February 5th 2015
Dateline: St. Lucia, Eastern Caribbean
Today we woke to the lush and beautifully tropical island of St. Lucia. St. Lucia is one of a string of volcanic islands, tropical and with (once you are out of the downtown area) beautiful beaches.
We have docked in Castries, south of Rodney Bay and north of Marigot Bay. At the edges of town there are luxurious resorts and villas. The, rain forested, iconic twin mount peaks called the Pitons are just down the coast and include the worlds only “drive in” volcano-one can drive right up to it!
Historians date the settlements on St. Lucia back to 200-400 BC from artifacts of the Arawak Indians. As with many islands here, the Caribe Indians arrived and took control from 800-100 AD. So, who really discovered St. Lucia? Some say Columbus landed here in December 1502 on his forth voyage here. Others say Columbus’ navigator who actually discovered it when they sailed by in 1499. Yet others say it was the French when a group of shipwrecked French sailors landed here in December 1502. No one really knows for sure. However, St. Lucia
appears on a Vatican map in 1502. We’re just glad it was discovered at all ;-) St. Lucians celebrate Discovery Day on December 13 (1502).
St Lucia has a “Pirates of the Caribbean” history! The real excitement began in the mid 16th
century when the pirate, Francois Le Cler used St. Lucia as a base to plunder and raid the Spanish fleet as they sailed by St. Lucia. Then, to further complicate the history of St. Lucia, the island changed hands 14 times over the next 150 years and switching between France and England numerous times. As we walked the streets of Castries the changing nationalities are clear as many streets have English names and interspersed are streets with French names. St. Lucia became an independent nation within the British Commonwealth in 1979 and continues so today.
This island is rich in nature from black sand beaches to gardens bursting with colors. This emerald isle boasts the National Rainforest consists of 19,000 acres or green valleys with giant ferns and brilliant orchids. The magnificent St. Lucia parrot nests in the forest’s canopies and is commonly seen. Here one can see the Diamond Botanical Gardens
which is part of the Soufries Estate, a 2,000 acre land grant issued by King Louie of France in 1713. If you want a wonderful history of the Caribbean pick up an old copy of James Michener’s “Caribbean”, you’ll love it.
So what did we do here ;-)? To be honest we’re getting lazy. The days are hot (82) and humid (80%) so we are slowing down. Shade is our friend ;-) We are leaving the ship later and later…today its 9am after the large groups have disembarked for their shore excursions. Since we’ve been to the islands many times we are not doing excursions. We’re just enjoying relaxing days. First was a trip just down the gangway and into the small terminal where we paid $6 for all day use of the high speed internet. Cope taught his class sitting at a counter. Once that was done we returned to the ship to drop off the computers and return to the dock to take the ferry into town ($5 per person R/T). Some of you have asked what things cost or how we do some things so I will try to include more natty gritty information
at times. In any event our suggestion would be to take a cab into town. As fun as the tiny ferry is to ride around the harbor to town, there are just too many people lining up and it takes up an awful lot of your day. A quick cab ride is $5 per person each way and well worth saving the time.
First things first…COFFEE! As is usual the ship’s coffee is horrible LOL… so we’re off to “Rituals” in the Blue Coral Building. We had coffee here last time we were on St. Lucia and they make amazing island coffee. It is a tiny place in a large commercial building at the corner of Laborie and William Peter Blvd. It is air conditioned and feels great. It is winter here but you would never know it. We are 14 degrees from the equator so there is no such thing as winter…works for me.
We decide to make this a shopping day. No not trinket shopping but everyday errands ;-) Normally the cruise ships have nice hair conditioner on board so I don’t bring any. Whoops, no hair conditioner so that’s on the
list. Also diet cokes, ginger ales etc. are quite pricey for a trip this long so we need to pick some up at the store to bring aboard. And a few other things. So we head down the street to find a drug store and a grocery store. First the drug store where a really nice woman helps me find hair products. Done. By the way you can use US Dollars in the Caribbean however; you will receive your change in Eastern Caribbean currency or the local currency… so bring small bills unless you’re collecting foreign money ;-)
As most of you know we are avid readers and love books. We notice the local library is having a book exhibition and sale. We take the escalator to the second floor and then the stairs to the third floor as the next escalator is not working…. As we emerge we see a large open area that has been set up with tables and displays of books written by local authors. I could stay here all day. A local volunteer takes us in hand and tells us about the authors, their books and some history of the islands. She
is very proud, and rightly so, that St. Lucia has two Nobel Prize winning authors. We would like to spend a month on St. Lucia just reading all of these books, but we must move on.
Cope remembers where he saw a grocery store so we trek over a block or so to stock up on soda. The cashier is really nice and takes a combination of US and Caribbean dollars for our purchase. If you are compulsive about knowing exactly what the exchange rate is or need to know that you’re getting back exactly the right amount of change…hummm you will be stressed all the time. Best to know that what you are paying and what you are receiving back is in the ballpark of “reasonable” ;-) You’ll have a better time. No one is trying to cheat you… it’s just too hard to calculate an exchange rate of say $2.63 to the Eastern Caribbean Dollar. Ballpark works fine ;-)
We have only been our 3-4 hours but we are hot, hungry and tired… that sun and humidity have attacked us today. So we head back to wait on the ferry… unfortunate choice… we just miss the ferry and have to stand in line in the sun for another ½ hour. Hard to be unhappy however as we are looking at an amazingly beautiful harbor with clear aqua waters and happy beautiful people all around.
The ferry finally arrives and we board. Oh gosh, it is time for the Captain’s lunch break (of course) LOL so we sit on the ferry watching the people on the dock and the harbor traffic. Half an hour later our good looking captain returns with a smile and tosses his lunch up the bridge, climbs aboard and we’re off. Relax… we’re on Caribbean time ;-)
Back at the Seraphina dock, which is full of shops and a bar called “Rum Therapy”.yes!, Cope checks on his Economics class once again, I spy a cute cotton sundress for only $12 US that I can’t resist. This day is coming to a close all to fast. We’ll be back. Next Stop: Bridgetown, Barbados
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