Tuesday 22nd January To St Lucia 12km The alarm went at 3.00am and we were off to Gatwick by 4.00, heading for our 6 week trip to the Caribbean. We have only ever visited Cuba, so wanted to see more of the Caribbean islands. My idea of cruising around the islands on a small boat didn't seem feasible, so Adrian had set about organising it all himself, spending days (weeks) on the internet booking the hotels (apartments), car hire and flights for the six islands we intend visiting – St Lucia, St Vincent, Grenada, Trinidad, Tobago and Barbados. I found the idea quite daunting, but have learnt to take one day at a time. After spending New Year at Simon & Laure's in Geneva with all of our children and grandchildren we had had a busy three weeks, including selling our beloved little 1929 caravan to a nice couple from Germany. However we had had time to get ourselves organised and prepared for our trip. Adrian’s fear of ice and snow which was originally forecast didn’t materialise, and it was a calm run to Gatwick, with little traffic at that time of day. We had booked ‘Meet and Greet’ to park the car, having obtained a very reasonable price for the six weeks. The man wasn’t there when we arrived, and I had a great need of the loo. There were no toilets in the car park so I set off into the terminal building in search of one. An anxious time, as the loos were at the far end, well hidden and not marked from our direction. We triumphed in the end, meeting up with each other before proceeding to Virgin check in. We had booked Special Assistance as usual, and both had a buggy ride out to the departure lounge. We boarded the plane early and made our way to our seats – the two rear seats. This was good, except that the loos were only in the centre of the plane, and also it was unexpectedly cool - I had to get an extra blanket. The flight took off a bit late for our 8½ hour flight – the pilot said later it was because the plane had to be de-iced! No wonder Adrian was worried about snow as it had rained heavily through the night. We headed off over ‘green and pleasant land’ towards the southwest of England, but then it became cloudy. It was clear however when we flew over the Azores, so we both had a quick glimpse from the other side of the aircraft. The pilot announced that it was usually in cloud. The flight was OK - we both watched things on our individual screens, but we were disappointed when the flight plan packed up towards the end – we do like to see where we are. It was nice to have ‘service’, including wine on our flight. We landed at Hewannorra airport, in the south of St Lucia, at 1.30 local time- 4 hours back. We walked in the warm sunshine around the building to immigration, hearing birdsong and passing hedges of tiny red flowers like we remember from Panama. We’d had to fill in immigration forms - a horrible job, with all the details of passport, flight number etc. The lady official insisted that we put a phone number for the first hotel, which entailed Adrian fumbling in his luggage for the right piece of paper. Once through customs, porters rushed up to take our bags. We were only going a few yards to our car hire representative, but it was no good – we weren't allowed to take the trolleys outside and had to give in!
Once with our car, we set off for the few miles to Laborie. The sky was blue, with fluffy white clouds. The island appeared very green. At Laborie we followed the sat-nav along the front to Sunset Lane, our hotel at the far end of the lane. We were welcomed by the lady owner, who led us up very many steep steps to the accommodation. The lane beside it was so steep and rough that Adrian tried to reverse the car up it but had to leave it at the bottom. This meant a long haul up for him and the lady with the luggage. We were shown a choice of rooms, but decided on a larger room with a balcony outside overlooking the water. We took a long time settling in and finding where to put things – rarely is there enough storage space to unload some of our stuff. It was hot and we were both feeling weary. I had an anxious time when I couldn’t locate my camera and my sandals, but with these sorted, we sat on the balcony with a reviving cup of tea. We were pleasantly surprised to find that there was a new communal kitchen area on the large open balcony, with a fridge where we could put our few perishable items. We now felt able to drive up into the village to locate a small supermarket for milk, orange and water. Opposite was a good smelling bakery where we bought a strange long loaf. The village was full of character – very much a local place and not at all touristy.
Our plane at Hewannorra airport
When we got back we spoke to a young German girl from Hamburg who is visiting some of the same islands as us, with her boyfriend. We ate a snack ‘tea’ on the balcony, using bits we had brought with us, including a small bottle of wine from the plane. After that it was an early night after our long day.
Sunset from our balcony
Wednesday 23rd January Enjoying the extreme south of St Lucia, with a surprisingly wonderful ending 30 km
We both awoke after a good night’s sleep. There had been one or two very short showers, which sounded loud on the tin roof. Soon we had warm sun. The cocks had been crowing, which reminded us of Tahiti. We ate our breakfast on the balcony, chatting to a very pleasant Swiss couple from near Lake Constance. Getting ready to go out in the car always takes longer than we imagine, especially on the first day, so we didn’t get going until 10.45. I was amazed at the deep gullies on either side of the road, making driving, and walking, hazardous! We headed first for a large supermarket which our lady had told us about, to stock up with items for the next week. The store was very western, and even had some Waitrose items! We bought, amongst other things, a huge grapefruit like we had in the Marquesas, but declined the breadfruit which had been such a staple on Ou Pou. We bought far too much, as we realised when we got back later, and it all had to be lugged up to our room. We now headed for a nearby idyllic beach, near the airport, to sit on a bench and enjoy our tea/coffee with a shared pastry. A dumped ‘cotton reel’ (ex cable) made a suitable table as we sat under the trees before both having a cooling paddle from the sandy beach. Lots of terns were photogenically lined up on the stumps of an old pier. It was time to go though, when a group of young locals arrived and began playing their loud, booming music.
We now took the road through the spread-out town of Vieux Port on the peninsula south of the airport, taking a winding road which led up to radio towers, and with good views down.
Lovely coffee stop at Black Bay
When we drove back down, we headed for ‘Sandy Beach’ on Anse de Sables, on the other side of the peninsula. We ate our cheese and chutney sandwiches sitting under shady trees, watching an energetic kite surfer. This beach, always windy, is renowned as a kite surfing beach. We had noticed a bird here, and some at the previous beach, which reminded us of a grackle, and on looking up, they certainly do reside here. We were looking across to the Maria Islands Nature Reserve, where migrating birds stop off. I walked over to read a board about it.
View down to Anse de Sables
We now drove a short way up the east coast, taking rural inland roads through the hills back to Laborie. This was the real St Lucia. Simple little dwellings lined the road. School children in their neat uniforms were happily walking home from school.
Lunch at Anse de Sable
Back in Laborie, we first drove down to view the old pier before visiting the large, well kept catholic church, dating from 1914. There was also a small colourful market square. We saw a mother hen with her large brood of chicks. We walked down a lane onto the simple beach, cheerily greeted by friendly locals.
In the hills of southern St Lucia
It was 4.00 when we got back to Sunset Lane. After hauling all the stuff up, Adrian was particularly hot and had a cold shower. An unexpectedly wonderful evening followed. On the balcony we met a lovely young German chap from Hamburg called Jan, who was travelling with his mum Birgitte and also staying at Sunset Lane. He had long blond hair and vivid blue eyes. They both spoke good English, and were certainly different from one’s image of Germans. We got chatting and decided to go for a meal together, although we had planned to stay in. We all made our way to ‘Mama Tilly’s’, a simple eating place in the village, where they had eaten last night. We all decided to eat lobster which had apparently been caught today. Then along came another couple, British, who had met the others here last night. They – Jane and her husband Alan from near Welshpool, were staying even further up the lane behind us. All were keen travellers, so conversation flowed easily with these kindred spirits. Even if I found the very reasonably priced lobster difficult to swallow, the atmosphere, helped by the rum punch we were drinking, was great.
Jan was keen that he/we experienced a local bar, so on our walk back we stopped off at a simple little bar where we all drank a different rum punch, made by the owner. He was a ‘one-off' – a real chatter and philosopher with plenty to say. When we’d arrived, two younger ladies with two tiny girls were there but then it was just the man and his wife. It was just what Jan, in particular, was hoping for - meeting the locals. It was 10.30 when we got back to our room, ending a good first full day on St Lucia.
Our jolly barman
Alan, Jane & Birgitte
Jan & Rosie
Thursday 24th January Up the west coast as far as Canaries and another great evening 53 km
We ate breakfast on the balcony, starting with a large sweet grapefruit, reminding us of Ou Pou, and chatting to the Swiss couple. It was after 10.30 when we left, stopping first at lovely Rudy John Beach Park around the bay. After descending the ultra steep track, we had a paddle from the beach in the idyllic surroundings. The 'park' was well looked after, and very clean.
We'd decided to drive up the western coast, so continued northwards, passing one or two 'real' villages. At the coastal village of Choiseul, there was a massive church. A man flagged us down, but just wanted to say to park there to look at the church! As we drove on, we had good views of the two 'Pitons', the tall conical peaks just before Soufriere - Gros Piton 798m and Petit Piton 749m.
Rudy John Beach Park, Laborie
Taking a small coast road, we crossed a bridge over a stream which led down to the sea. It looked idyllic, and as we had a 4x4, Adrian decided to try driving down to the beach. I was a bit surprised, as I thought that it was only a footpath! The going was extremely rough, but we reached the sandy, rocky beach where the stream came out. It was quite beautiful, making us think of our time in Australia. We knew that this was the place to have lunch, so sat on a sand heap to eat our sandwiches. Colourful butterflies flew about. It was exquisite, with not a soul about.
The two Pitons
Ruins of a former sugar windmill
When we drove back to the road, Adrian had trouble joining it, despite the 4x4!. We wiggled on to Soufriere, stopping to view Petit Piton and then at a viewpoint, where women had set up stalls, to look down to Soufriere nestled below. It looked pretty with its white houses and roofs of pink, green and blue.
What a lovely place for lunch!
We drove on through the town then continued winding up and up over a huge hill and back down to Canaries. This was a sleepy little coastal town a bit like Labories. It was colourful, but grubby. We managed to find our way to the grey sandy beach where brightly coloured boats were lined up, one still wet inside from fishing. It made us think of the fishing villages in Cape Verde. Locals were sitting around - one lot playing dominoes, and another lot cards. A chap called out to take their photo '20 dollars'. Hence we have no photos of them!
On the way past Petit Piton to Soufriere
We walked as far as a simple pier before returning through the village and back to the car to begin our homeward journey. We stopped at a rickety, unloved viewpoint over the pastel coloured village, where the large church stood out, as did the immaculate football pitch! We continued back through the lush, steep green country to Soufriere. Here we parked with difficulty while Adrian went to get some money from an ATM and for a fruitless search for tonic for his gin. I stayed in the car, getting very hot, and watching small children make their way home from school. We now took an 'alternative' road back for part of the way, which was pleasant, but the pot holes were worse than ever. We reached Laborie at 4 o'clock. Adrian went on another fruitless search for tonic, being told that no-one drank it in Laborie. At the little supermarket he was offered hair tonic! It was lovely sitting on the balcony as the sun went down. I actually saw the 'green flash' as the sun disappeared. Another unexpectedly great evening followed. We were sitting drinking our expensive beer on the balcony when Jan and Birgitte returned. We had spoken to the Swiss couple Sergio and Astrid and were about to join them at Mama Rose restaurant to eat. Jan had wanted to return to Mama Tilly's, but in the end we all ended up at Mama Rose's. Sergio and Astrid were soon leaving, as they were flying early tomorrow to Dominica. We were joined though by Emily, a girl from Michigan who was travelling on her own. We enjoyed our meal of tuna/monkfish amidst much chat. How strange that on all our travels we rarely meet 'soul mates', but in two days here we had met so many. We discovered that Jan and Emily had both recently had life-changing experiences. Jan had been robbed and beaten up in Greece and 'left for dead', and Emily had had a serious car accident from which she wasn't expected to fully recover. Adrian then told of my brain tumour situation. We decided to make a return visit to yesterday's bar, where again we all enjoyed a rum punch, while the owner once more 'entertained' us, supported by his pleasant wife. It was 11.30 when we got back to our room!
The fishing village of Canaries
Back to the bar - Jan, Birgitte, Emily, Rosie
Friday 25th January Back to Soufriere with mixed success 67km
After breakfast on the balcony, we said a quick goodbye to Birgitte & Jan, who were leaving today, and then we left at 10.00. At the bakers we bought a huge chelsea bun and some scones. Today we were driving back to Soufriere to visit some of the sights around there. As we left Laborie there was a road race taking place – older schoolchildren, reminding me of Bishopshalt cross-country.
We stopped first at Sulphur Springs, which we had smelt as we drove past yesterday. Were told that it is good when it smells, and dangerous when it doesn’t! We drove up to the Interpretive Centre. Then it was down to the actual springs, where a lady guide accompanied us down and up lots of steps to view the bubbling springs. Having seen similar in other places in the world – New Zealand, Iceland, Yellowstone, we weren’t sure why we had to have a guide.
'Cross country' along the main road
It was fun to see, but then time to move on to the sulphur pools. Adrian had changed into his trunks in the car, but luckily there were individual changing rooms by the pool – but only three, so a bit of waiting. Most people opted to cover themselves in the grey mud before washing off in the warm pools. We just soaked in the pool for a while, but still had thick mud on us.
We thought that we’d now have our lunch, but after yesterday’s delightful lunch location, today’s was a disaster. It was now late, and we didn’t see anywhere to stop. We headed off, and seeing a sign to Sugar Beach – supposedly the loveliest beach on St Lucia, which we’d wanted to look at, we followed the road through a ‘private estate’ up and down and round about, finally coming to a barrier. Sugar Beach - a public beach - was a long walk down (and up) but we couldn’t drive any further! Getting hungrier and hungrier, we disgruntledly turned round and drove all the way back. We continued on towards Soufriere, trying to remember from yesterday anywhere where we could stop for our sandwich. We could only remember the viewpoint, where there were a lots of stalls, but we had forgotten one looking towards Petit Piton, so here we stopped, sitting on a welcome bit of stone wall. Next we set off to find Diamond Falls and Gardens – just along the road, Adrian thought. Well, it didn’t happen - it seemed that the road they were on wasn't on his sat nav, so we drove this way and that and of course didn’t find them as we were on the wrong road! I had one of my ‘stomach crises’, so things were pretty dire. We realised that we had just past Toraille Falls, so drove back to find these. It was just a (very pretty) waterfall near the road, with a pool at the bottom which you could get into – not swim, it was too shallow. However, it was very beautiful – and there was a loo, which I could use first! Then when we got to the pool, we were the only people. Access was difficult, down some rough ’steps’ made of sand bags. The water was quite cool, but we came out feeling wonderfully refreshed. It only cost $3 US each and in fact the man only charged us $5 total. I don’t think he expected us to go in!
The mud pools
Now it was time to drive back through the verdant green countryside to Laborie, for our last night here. I’d wanted to drive up Mont le blanc, behind the town, supposedly a good viewpoint. The road up was extremely steep. We drove much further than I’d expected, as we didn’t know where we were really going. We turned off onto a rough track for quite some way, but turned round when we realised that to go further would be impossible! So not a success! And then back into Laborie, Adrian missed the turning, just as he noted that we were very low on petrol! Trying not to worry about this, we passed a petrol station just before getting back! It was now 5.00 and Frances, the owner, told us that she was having a water pipe mended, so there was no water. Luckily we found that there was! We could have a cup of tea with our scone, and Adrian could have his shower. And I saw the green flash again at sunset.
Cooling off in Toraille Falls
After our wonderful but busy couple of days, it was lovely to have a quiet time, with just us. We ate a simple meal of mushroom omelet and corn on the cob followed by melon. All a bit difficult in a strange kitchen. We enjoyed our wine in this fabulous location above the bay. We came in and started working on the website. We’d loved this untouristy place in the south of St Lucia.
Our last evening in Laborie
Saturday 26th January To Gros Islet in the north 80km
We prepared to move north to Gros Islet. A group of Americans were in the breakfast area - 3 ladies of varying age, and an older couple. We talked to them a bit. They seemed to be doing voluntary work here on St Lucia, and were having a weekend off. Adrian wondered if they were Mormons or Jehovah's Witnesses. They all seemed very pleasant. When Adrian went down to pay Frances, the owner, he mentioned how pleased we were with the kitchen. She said that it had only been finished last weekend. He then drove car up the wickedly steep drive so that we could load it up . It was now 9.30, but 9.50 by the time we drove down the 1 in 3 hill, having said goodbye to Frances. She had put rocks under the wheels of the car while we had stopped to load! We'd really enjoyed it here.
Being Saturday morning, it was very busy when we visited the supermarket near the airport for essentials like orange juice and tonic! We then drove up the east coast of the island, on a good road, but not right by the sea, and with no stopping places. We wanted to visit Mamaku gardens, and arrived there at 11.00. In the car park we saw a little bird - we think a lesser Antillion bullfinch. We made our way through the gate and started walking up the steep track. It was obvious to us both that in this heat we were not going to be able to walk about the steep terrain, so sadly had to give it a miss. At Praslin Bay we drove down to an attractive but unloved area in a lovely situation, but marred by thick piles of red seaweed. It was quite windy so felt much cooler than at the gardens.
Loading on the steep hill
A bit further on we stopped to look down to Dennery, where our cleaner at Sunset Lane comes from. We could still see seaweed here. The pastel coloured houses were mostly single storey, dominated by a huge church.
We drove down to the busy harbour, where locals were cutting up fish in the open shed.
Looking down to Dennery
There was a bit of beach nearby, but no seats or shade so we continued and ate our sandwich sitting on a stone plinth high up above Fond d'Or Bay which had a rocky islet at the end.
The road now traversed the island to the western side. It was steep, green and verdant, but there was never anywhere to stop. As we neared the western side, we were immediately aware of how busy it was - nothing like our little backwater Laborie. There was a lot of traffic, and traffic lights, and we got into a traffic jam! We continued to the north of Gros Islet, to our property Bay Guesthouse. It was a pretty little turquoise painted building, right by the shore. A man came across from the bar opposite and went to book us in. Trouble! Adrian had been a bit concerned when his recent emails hadn't been answered. It appeared that they were using a different website, and the information hadn't been transferred! Hence our room was double booked! We were offered a smaller 'studio apartment' on the ground floor, which was fine, but the air conditioning didn't work despite the man's efforts. Then Adrian felt in his pocket and found the keys to Sunset Lane! Things were not good! We asked about the little cafe opposite, which one of the ladies this morning said did good food on a Saturday, but apparently not! Then we couldn't find any matches for the stove (there were some, but high up) We had to make good, so unloaded our things - no steep climb here - and attempted to settle in. The situation was certainly gorgeous, with a little lawn area next to the beach. A river flows out, and I saw a colourful heron on the rocks. We had our tea and scone on the terrace - it felt very hot.
View down to Fond d'Or Bay
Later we had our ‘sundowners’, watching the sun go down – into a bit of cloud, so no green flash. Our neighbour Peter, from the Esssex/Suffolk border, had joined us on the terrace. I then mastered another new place and cooked a cheese/mushroom pasta dish, with corn on the cob and we ate it watching the nice sky. Peter later went over to the bar opposite, and found that it was not even open!
Bay Guesthouse, Gros Islet
Sunday 27th January Rainy St Lucia 31km
This was different – a grey and wet St Lucia! It had rained sharply last night when we were on the terrace. Now it did so again, and it continued damp and rainy all day. We had slept in separate beds, as the main bed was quite narrow, and with no air conditioning we needed space! We ate our boiled egg breakfast on the terrace, having fashioned egg cups out of the plastic egg box! We said goodbye to Peter, who was moving on today to Martinique and left at 10.15. He seemed a lone soul. It was very wet as we drove to the northern extremity of St Lucia, passing all the smart houses, hotels and ‘all-inclusives’. However the roads were dreadful. We came down to Cas En Bas, (Cotton Bay), on the north-eastern side. This pleasant sandy bay is known as a kite-surfing beach. We watched as one surfer prepared and left, and thought what an energetic sport this is. We had a little walk along the beach. A man was thanklessly clearing up the thick seaweed. There was a beach cafe, with no takers today. Outside there was a piece of rocket booster from a French rocket launched from French Guiana. It had drifted ashore in 1994. A sign said that this was used as the original cafe!
After that we drove along many really badly surfaced roads, up and down, round and round the steep, verdant hills. We were amazed at the amount of habitation in this remote and vertiginous landscape. A group of ladies wearing brightly coloured clothes walked by, two carrying small children on their backs. We imagined that they were going home from church, although there were none nearby. With nowhere to pull off for lunch, we just stopped at the side of the road to have our sandwiches. Not being able to find any roads down to the east coast (the one we really wanted said ‘no through road'), and with the poor visibility, we got some petrol (the car has a small tank, and uses lots) and decided to give it up as a bad job and head back. We had success then in phoning all four of our kids.
Cas En Bas, (Cotton Bay) with its rocket booster
We had thought of eating out tonight, but the damp evening didn’t entice us. Instead we stayed here and I cooked enchiladas, which we ate on the terrace, enjoying the quiet. Adrian had gone out trying to get some orange juice for me, and had found it very quiet, although we could hear music.
Making the most of Bay Guesthouse on a damp day
Monday 28th January Pigeon Island and our first swim in the sea 9km
Despite the bland food we ate yesterday, I developed a bad stomach in the night. Not feeling great in the morning, coupled with the fact that we were supposed to be moving to our upstairs apartment today, we spent the morning enjoying our surroundings. We had to wait until the cleaner had been before we moved, so we caught up with doing more of the website. The sky was blue again today, so we just enjoyed the view! The manager was very much an 'OK' sort of person, but we did get to move at lunchtime, and quickly tried to get all our stuff organised once again for the next 2 days. We were amazed at the size of the apartment - it was the whole of upstairs. There were two bedrooms, a loo and a large lounge/kitchen area, with a big balcony affording great views. Adrian spoke to a new couple who had moved in downstairs. They had stayed here before, and we found out that it had changed hands. This is what we had thought, and explains the room mix-up. At 2.20, we set off to have a look at Pigeon Island, just north of us. It is no longer an island, having been joined to the mainland. It contains many ruins, including a fort, from the battles between the English and the French. It is owned by the St Lucia National Trust, but unlike other countries, our National Trust cards weren't valid. This was rather annoying as it cost us $7 US each, and we didn't see very much! The island was steep, and the weather hot, so we didn't walk far.
There was a lovely sandy beach, but it was just as good outside the park. We opted to have our swim there. It was only 3.00pm, but there was virtually nobody else around, and all the sunbeds had been stacked up. It was a lovely swim. Adrian tried out his new snorkelling gear, although as he expected, there wasn't much to see here.
Kitchen and limekiln from the fort on Pigeon Island
We drove to find a supermarket for something to eat tonight, as we thought it best to eat in, with my dodgy stomach. We were disappointed not to see fresh fish, and ended up with tinned mackerel. Back at Bay Guesthouse we had read that we could have washing done here, so gathered up some stuff and handed it over to Dyson, the manager. We did get it back, much later. It’s the first time that I’ve hung out washing at 8.30pm! We ate our simple meal of mackerel, potatoes and courgette on the balcony, enjoying the lovely warmth. We then had a ‘games evening’ - yahtzee, 5s & 2s, dominoes and ‘beat your neighbour out of doors’. Marvellous to be sitting on the balcony in January!
A swim in the sea at last!
Tuesday 29th January Enjoying our last day on St Lucia 33km
We looked out at 6.30 to see the most beautiful pink/blue view of the bay, then after the sun came up, it was blue and green with the white of the boats.
We had breakfast on the balcony. Adrian went down to check the washing and found that it was almost dry. After that there was a short shower of rain, so we brought our things in. Adrian spoke again to the English couple who are staying downstairs. They said that it had definitely gone downhill after changing hands. The previous owners (French/English) had lived up in our apartment with their two children and two dogs. Elusive Dyson, the present ‘caretaker’ had been the night watchman. Adrian was glad to have sought him out last night to collect the washing, as this morning he was nowhere to be seen again! We didn’t leave until after 10.00. Fishermen had come in with their catch of fish, and were selling it by the beach.
Early morning from Bay Guesthouse, Gros Islet
We followed the road south to Castries, the worst part of St Lucia with its ‘US grot’ lining the street, and lots of traffic on the one road. We turned off by George FL Charles airport, which we are leaving from tomorrow. It was just a single runway, with a glorious palm fringed beach, Vigie Beach, beyond. We stopped here, beside the aquamarine sea, to have our coffee, sitting on the sand, while a large yellow green crab kept appearing from his hole in front of us. In the distance was the island of Martinique.
Selling the morning's catch
A plane landed, and then two armed police vehicles came blaring along the road, accompanied by bank armoured vehicles. We wondered what, or who, was in the plane. We drove into large and busy Castries to look around, and to find the post office to send the keys back to Frances at Sunset Lane. We followed around the streets, until we found the Post Office, where there was a blue badge parking space right outside! Sometimes you have to be lucky! Adrian had the keys ready in a ‘made up’ envelope. The cashier was very cheery, and was singing away to the music which was playing! We passed the cathedral and the square. As we were driving along, one man stopped us and said that our back tyre was wonky and if we gave him the wheel spanner he would fix it! Another wanted to photograph our tablet holder. We didn’t trust either!We stopped by the large covered and open market. There was a parking space opposite, but in the ‘coaster taxi rank’. Adrian asked a nearby policeman if we could park, and he said yes, for 10 minutes. So we had a quick look around the lines of colourful stalls, reminiscent of some in Central America.
Mind your toes!
We drove on to a small well-kept park around the inlet and found a bench in the shade to eat our sandwiches. A couple were sitting on a neighbouring seat. After she left, he approached us. His name was Columbus, and he looked after this park, but today was his day off. He told us a bit about the trees, and showed us a hummingbird flitting through the Japanese orchid tree. Next to it was a Calabash Tree, the national tree of St Lucia. Columbus was wearing a Chelsea shirt, with ‘Waitrose’ emblazoned on it. He said ‘some people give me a tip, but it’s OK if you don’t’ (Adrian did). He said that he had two children, living in Cuba, where health care is better.
The colourful market in Castries
We drove back by the airport so that Adrian could look from the other side. On our way back to Gros Islet, we stopped at Reduit Beach on the southern end of the bay. Although it was built up further on, this bit was glorious, with wonderful sand and calm turquoise sea. We could see right around the bay, past Bay Guesthouse. We both had a delightful swim, while Caribbean music emanated from a small ‘boat bar’ in the water.
Purple throated carib hummingbird
A Calabash Tree, the national tree of St Lucia
We came back to get sorted for flying on to St Vincent tomorrow. There was a glorious sky at sunset, but no green flash. I made a meal with the rest of the mackerel, which we enojoyed on our balcony with its exquisite view.. Adrian had seen the couple downstairs – Esme and Kevin from Lewes. We all went over to the bar opposite and had rum punch amidst much chat. They had come here a lot, initially as volunteers for the National Trust here. We came back at 10.00, ready for our early start tomorrow.
Reduit Beach, looking across to Bay Guesthouse
St Lucia Very green Steep and hilly Some lovely beaches People are happy and welcoming Sugar grown in the past Lots bananas grown Breadfruit trees Instant short, sharp showers Really bad topes and pot holes English main languages Driving is on the left Virtually no signposts, and villages not named No pull-offs or parking places Coaster vehicles used as buses North of island more built up and western Abandoned cars left beside the road Habitation everywhere Many remote communities
Sunset Lane Extremely steep steps for access ’Shared’ balcony and kitchen (new) View right across the bay Situated at the end of a friendly village Rooms very clean, but not cleaned Female owner chatty and helpful We met other nice, like-minded people No storage space – small wardrobe, no hangers No shelf in bathroom or shower Neighbouring noisy dogs and cockerels
Bay Guesthouse, Gros Islet
Lovely situation, right by the sea Great views of the bay and to Pigeon Island Nice lawn area with loungers Long sandy beach either side New ownership and had gone downhill Muddle up of rooms – we spent 2 nights downstairs and two nights upstairs Upstairs apartment very spacious with a balcony Manager elusive and rarely there