Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Using buses to get around St Lucia

These are some of the mini buses that are privately owned, that provide the public transportation system around the island. These ones are in Castries, lined up for the 40 minute trip to Vieux Fort. What they do is line up and wait for 14 passengers to get on before they leave.
I must have caught about a dozen of these and so far I have been the only foreigner.  They cost about $2 a trip and what with the hilly terrain, the terrible roads and fast drivers here, you really do take your life in your hands. There are 4 main routes out of the capital Castries.  One north to Gros Islet,  one south on the east coast to Vieux Fort and a couple south on the west coast of the island servicing the towns as far as Soufriere.
They really have been a godsend to me to allow me to look around the island. I have been careful traveling only during the day and carrying a limited amount of cash just in case I do get robbed. So far so good. I could have rented a car or caught taxis everywhere which is what all the other tourists do here but I wanted to see the real St Lucia. I have only 2 other things I want to see here. One is the local rum distillery and the other is Vieux Fort which is quite a way away from here.

The Morne, St Lucia

There are lots of "mornes" here in St Lucia, but when referring to "the" Morne, people know you are talking about Morne Fortune just south of the capital city of Castries. Morne is Patois for mountain, where Patois, pronounced Patwa, is the local language spoken by the locals. They call it Creole and it is mostly French in origin even though the official language is English. Here is a view from the lookout just down from the top of the Morne. As you can see, the cruise ships, love to come here.
Now, the reason why this particular mound is so important, is historical. The English and French used to fight over St Lucia, way back when, and in fact the island's sovereignty switched 14 times. If you look at the photo that I took from Morne Fortune, you can see that it overlooks the city, so the French and English had a gentleman's agreement, that whoever won the battle for the Morne, also won the sovereignty of the island.
Today, there are lots of leftover armaments gracing the steep hill.
I am not sure if I would want this cannon pointed at my house.
The Governor general's residence is near the outlook just down from the top.
A military man in a spotless white uniform, shooed me away from the back entrance to the front.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Make a mend

On a boat, there is always something to do, so every morning, I know that I will have to repair something around the boat for a couple of hours to keep her ship shape.
This morning it was sewing the fender covers. They cost $70 and to order some new ones from a long way away, would be a hassle so it is easier just to sew them up.
And while I have my needle and thread out, I noticed that my staysail sail cover also needed repairs.
Meanwhile, my neighbor was also doing boat chores. He was attempting to climb the mast to fix his flag halyard. Very painful to watch. I guess we all start out with methods on the boat that we gradually improve upon. The hardest part for me, was to just sit, knowing full well that there was a much easier and safer way to do it. I have long learned about judging others though because context is everything. Sometimes too, there is just no way around it. You have to learn by your mistakes. With boating, it's not always about how much you know because technology especially these days, is constantly changing. It's all about the learning process and making the right decision. For example, when presented with multiple options, being in a marina next to a boat yard as opposed to the middle of nowhere makes all the difference. They say walk a mile in another man's shoes.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

10 common vegetables/fruits grown in gardens here in St Lucia

The market gardens and back yards near my marina grow lots of different plants and I wanted to document the ones that I saw today.
1. Tomatoes
2. Peppers.
3. Ocra.
4. Melons
5. Red spinach.
6 and 7. Taro and breadfruit.
8. Cabbage.
9. Prickly pear cactus. Yes you can eat them.
10. Watermelon.  Unfortunately hurricane matthew devastated the crop this year.

10 common Fruits of the Caribbean

While walking around St Lucia, there have been so many fruit trees growing that I decided that it would be interesting to catalog the main ones you see.

1. Banana called a fig here in St Lucia. Over 1000 varieties mainly the Cavendish but one that you have to cook, the plantain is on the right.

2. Mangoes. A juicy stone fruit originally from south asia.

3. Paw paw or papaya.
4. Coconut, green or yellow.
5. Guava, mainly made into juice.
6. Bread nut, similar to the bread fruit tree. Small brown seeds that you can boil in a large green seed pod.
7. Lemons. The variety here is lumpy compared to the smooth ones you see in the store.
8. Pineapple 
9. Pistachio. Not in season yet but just starting to flower.
10. Grapefruit. They grow like weeds here.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Jacmel, St Lucia

The small community of Jacmel was not far from my marina here in Marigot Bay, where i am staying, so I resolved to takeep a walk and look around. It is 2 miles inland and mainly an agricultural area with a large river called the Roseau nearby. There are about 200 homes there with an Apostolic, Baptist  and Catholic Church.
This is the Holy Family Church and much better looked after than the ones in Castries or Soufriere.
The mural behind the alter was painted by the late Saint Lucian painter and cultural icon, Sir Dunstan St. Omer.
The people are very friendly and i met Carlton who promised to show me around town. Here we are sharing a ginger beer and fried banana slices together.
He just about knew everybody and was very knowledgeable, having lived there his whole life.
The local health spa was closed because it was Saturday. 
This was the Catholic school.  Tell, show and involve is true the world over.
This was the local community center where Carlton said they have a weekly get together with the Baptist congregation just up the road.
The yellow building is the Baptist Church. 
The houses here are painted all different colors and are more spread out compared to the city. 
 He also gave me a tour of the farms in the area.
Besides lots of banana plantations, there was a shrimp farm.
As well as market gardens growing tomatoes.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Video of my journey up Gros Piton

I put together photos and clips of my trip down the island and up the mountain called Gros Piton yesterday. Hope you enjoy.

Climbing Gros Piton

I didn't set out to climb one of 2 mountains here in St Lucia yesterday. All I wanted to do in fact was to see Soufriere, but that's what I did. There are 2 Pitons overlooking the town of Soufriere, Petit and Gros and when climbing Gros, a government guide, walks with you to the top of the 2,619 foot mountain.
Here is my guide, Damascus, a newly married 22 year old, renting a house in Laborie, so that he can save enough for a down payment on his own house in the country.

Even though it is not far from my marina in Marigot Bay, the roads here have some difficult terrain to cross, so getting around is difficult. Here are the steps I took to get there and back.
1. Got a lift from the bakery truck at 8am out to the main road.
2. After waiting for 30 minutes and having a full minibus to Soufriere pass me by, I got a lift from a joint smoking 20 something year old guy in a fancy car to Anse La Raye.
3. Caught a minibus to Canaries for $2.
4. Got a ride from Maureen in her pick-up, to Soufriere where I had a good look around.
Petit Piton is the mountain closest.
5. Maureen drove me south of town to the turn off to the hike.

6. Walked about 30 minutes before catching a ride in the back of a pickup truck to the base of the mountain.
7. Climbed 2019 feet in 74 minutes to the top for $35 plus a tip.
8. Climbed down the mountain and walked for an hour back to the main road. I actually passed by an amazing forest of banana, avocado, grapefruit, breadfruit and coconut trees.
9. Caught a bus back to Soufriere for $1. The bus stop is next to the Church of the Assumption. Over 61% of the population are Catholic.
10. Caught a minibus back to the main road near Marigot Bay for $3.
11. Got a ride to the marina with a young guy in a nice new Honda Fit.

Will post a video of my excursion and plan to do some serious relaxing by the pool today.