|Posted by yachtmoonlight on January 19, 2010 at 9:28 AM|
Becky and Jono headed into Castries on the bus for the day and we spent the morning with Ron, going through charts and pilot guides for the Grenadines and pointing out the best spots for Ron to visit when he heads down that way.
We then had a walk around the marina shops and popped into a small art gallery / shop. There were paintings and artworks all around the walls of a small room, which were quite colourful and John really liked them, although they looked to me like an elephant had snorted copious amounts of oil paint and then sneezed at the canvas. The lady in the gallery explained that the elephant snort painting was in a series, priced at 75,000 to 150,000 US dollars per painting. I’d want the elephant as well for that. She then went on to show us some rather pleasant but very abstract paintings and said that you could clearly see animals in them. I was about to agree and excitedly tell her I could see a trout in one of paintings when she pointed to the same abstract blob and explained that it was an iguana and a dog.
In the afternoon, we spotted a boat called Moonshadow Star, which was flying an Ocean Cruising Club flag. As it we are also members of the OCC and it was a Moon-boat, we popped round to say hello and were invited round for drinks on Wednesday night.
We picked up the hire car on Tuesday morning and found that they didn’t have the small jeepy thing we had booked, so we had been ‘upgraded’ to a kind of mini-bus truck monstrosity.
It had more room in it though, and as we would have five people in the car each day, this wasn’t a bad thing.
(The bus-truck monstrosity)
We had planned to meet Annette in her home town, Mon Repos, at 12pm, so we headed off in the morning, stopping at Bagshaws screen printing factory on the way.
We watched some Bagshaws workers screen printing t-shirts and then bought some wall hangings in the shop. There were fabulous views from the shop veranda and we admired the beautiful bay below before heading onwards to Mon Repos.
(The view from Bagshaws)
We met Annette on the main road in Mon Repos and she directed us to her house, stopping briefly to introduce us to a lady called Mama Beck, who is 92 years old and still makes straw hats by hand.
Annette had prepared a fabulous lunch for us of fresh vegetables cooked to traditional St Lucia and Trinidad recipes, washing down with homemade sour sop and sorrel juice.
(Lunch with Annette)
We also met her dad, who is 91 and a half years old and her lovely dog Ching Ching!
After lunch, we helped Annette collect mangoes from her garden and she gave us some of these to take with us, along with some guavas, a sour sop and some star fruit, all grown in her garden.
(John collecting mangoes in Annette's garden)
In the afternoon, we took to the road and Annette guided us on a tour of small towns and fishing villages, stopping at great viewing spots along the way and we stopped in Choiseul for some fresh fried fish, which Annette treated us to.
Heading back after a long, wonderful day, we drove through the rain forest on beautiful winding roads and dropped Annette off before stopping at a Domino Pizza on the way back to the boat.
Wednesday morning was an early start as we had arranged to meet Annette in Castries at 8am. We drove up into the hills, stopping to admire fabulous views and spotted a small hut selling carved wooden masks. Jono collects masks from all around the world, so we stopped for a look and met the artist who was carving a mask inside. He also made wonderful wood carvings of scenes of St Lucia and we bought one of these, while Jono bought a couple of the beautiful painted masks.
(The mask shop and the artist polishing the carving we bought)
Carrying on our way, we drove through Anse la Raye and Canaries before heading on to Souffriere where we stopped at the sulphur springs.
(The sulphur springs)
Volcanic activity creates the sulphur springs and heats spring water that runs into natural waterfalls and pools and we enjoyed a hot muddy bath in one of the pools, followed by a shower under one of the waterfalls!
(John having a waterfall shower! - more pics of the sulphur baths are in the Photo Gallery)
After a rather smelly guided tour of the bubbling sulphur springs, we headed to the Dasheene restaurant, which is part of the Ladera resort, perched high up in the hills between the Pitons.
The restaurant was very posh, apart from the bright green plastic water pistols placed on each table. I assumed these were to keep the small birds at bay which were happily fluttering around the open restaurant, rather than to start a water fight with the next table.
(Lunch at Dasheene)
The food was excellent and we enjoyed the stunning views out over the Pitons.
(The view from Dasheene)
After lunch, we asked to have a look at one of the hotel rooms (at Annette’s suggestion) and were shown an amazing three bedroom duplex suite. All the rooms are open to the elements (with a mosquito net over the bed!) and each has its own private swimming room. We were given a price list for the rooms and any thoughts of treating ourselves to a few nights there soon evaporated when we saw the prices!
After dropping Annette off again, we headed back to the Rodney Bay and spent a very pleasant evening with Brian and Sandy aboard Moonshadow Star.
We have now been on our sailing adventure for over six months and you would think that my nights would be filled with dreams of the wonderful people we have met and the amazing places we have seen. But no. On Wednesday night I dreamt I was Ernie the Fastest Milkman in the West. Sometimes my brain really scares me.
Thursday was our last day exploring the island and we met up with Ron in the morning and headed to Marigot Bay, where we enjoyed croissants and tea in the marina café.
Driving on through Souffriere, we stopped at Anse Chastenet and snorkelled from the beautiful beach there.
The water here was deeper than anywhere I had snorkelled before and was incredibly clear. As well as a couple of turtles, we saw lots more, much larger fish than I have seen anywhere else, including apparently a small barracuda.
I spotted a large shoal of blue fish and dived down for a close look, not realising how deep I had dived until I looked up and saw how far away the surface was. I was about 30ft down and scared myself a little, so I swam back to the surface very quickly!
After the swim, we drove back into Souffriere and found a local restaurant called The Creole Pot for lunch. We had fish, local cooked vegetables and salad and it wonderful and very cheap.
We were all tired after another long day and had a drink with Ron back at the marina before heading out for a meal for Becky’s last night with us.
Becky and Jono spent the morning on Friday packing and then we had an early lunch in a café at the marina before heading to the airport.
We were both really sad to see Becky go. She has been with us for two and a half months and we have got used to her being around. The boat won’t be the same without her.
From the airport, we drove to Annette’s house in Mon Repos as John had promised to put a hammock up for her on her veranda and he also fitted a new lock onto one of her doors. I did my usual very important job of passing screwdrivers while Annette showed me the photos from her recent trip to China, which looked wonderful.
(Annette relaxing in her hammock!)
We headed back in the late afternoon (with more fruit from Annette’s garden!) and stopped off to see Mama Beck again so I could buy one of her straw hats.
Yesterday, we tidied and re-organised the boat, which seems very quiet and has a big Becky-shaped empty space in it.
I took the washing to the laundry and John cleaned some new fungal life-forms out of the fridge and made a mosquito net for the companionway (as we have been keeping the net in place with a tins of spaghetti hoops up until now!).
Happy hour at one the marina bars proved irresistible and we met Ron there for drinks before having a quiet night on the boat and listening to the kind of cheesy 90s pop music I hadn’t wanted to inflict on Becky in case I scarred her for life.
We had another quiet and relaxing day today, I caught up with blogging, sorting photos and trying to persuade my computer that crashing when I’m in the middle of something isn’t amusing, while John wandered around with a hammer doing boy things.
In the evening, we met up with Ron and caught a bus into Castries. The buses here are all small minibuses run privately and the one that stopped for us had obviously seen better days, which became apparent when Ron tried to slide the door shut behind him and pulled a bit of the bus off.
We met up with Annette in Castries and she walked with us to the National Cultural Centre for the opening night of St Lucia Nobel Laureate Week.
St Lucia is very proud of its two Nobel Laureates, Derek Walcott and William Arthur Lewis and recognises them every year with a week of events.
The opening night was a free event attended by the Governor General and Prime Minister of St Lucia and Derek Walcott was also there.
We sat with some of Annette’s friends and I sat next to her friend’s daughter Selene who was eight years old and adorable. She kept asking me about snow as she has never seen it before.
After the opening speeches, there was a production of excerpts from one of Derek Walcott’s musical plays performed by youngsters from a local performing arts group and a play written by Derek Walcott’s brother, Roderick, performed by a theatre group from Souffriere, with music provided by the St Lucia Police Band in between
We struggled to understand the play at times as the performer’s had strong local accents and they sometimes spoke in Patois, so we missed some of the punch-lines that had the rest of the audience in stitches, but we still really enjoyed it and had a great night.
After the show we said goodbye to Annette who we won’t see now for a few months until we come back to St Lucia on our way south for the hurricane season and headed along the main road in the direction of Rodney Bay looking for a bus stop.
A local lady I recognised from the Cultural Centre pulled up next to us in her car and said it was dangerous to be walking around the city late a night. We told her we were heading for the bus stop just ahead and she told us we must stay in lit areas and still seemed genuinely concerned when she drove away.
We waited at the bus stop and a local chap who seemed either drunk or just mad as a box of frogs started shouted at us from the opposite side of the road. As he walked over towards us, a security guard from an office building next to bus stop shouted over to him to leave us alone and he walked off.
Another local chap was walking past in the opposite direction and stopped to ask if we were ok. We assured him we were and were going to catch a bus and he carried on his way.
After a few minutes an empty minibus pulled in and said he was a bus and would take us to Rodney Bay, but the minibus didn’t have an official bus number plate (which I had been advised by the marina office to always look for), so we declined his offer and carried on waiting.
The security guard having seen this happen, came out to the road and said he would wait with us to make sure we were alright and help us flag down a genuine bus or taxi. It was only a few minutes before a bus appeared and we were soon back in Rodney Bay.
I was touched by the kindness and genuine concern shown to us by complete strangers and although I’m sure their concerns were justified as it was late at night and we stuck out like a sore thumb as tourists, it was another example of the how warm and friendly the St Lucian people have proved to be.