Saturday, December 02, 2006

Rodney Bay, St. Lucia

Rodney Bay is over a mile long. At the northern end, an artificial causeway connects Pigeon Island with the mainland, providing the bay with protection. And now there is an enormous Sandals resort there. This was once the main British navy base in the area and on the island was a fort, hospital, barracks etc. The St. Lucia National Trust conserves it as a wonderful park. There are two peaks, one with the fort and the other called Signal Hill. The first photo shows the fort taken from the hill and the second looks back from the fort. Scott and I motored over from the Marina in our dinghy on two different days. The hikes are great and there is a lovely sandy beach. After our hot hike, we jumped in that water very quickly and stayed in a long time. There was even a fresh water shower there to rinse off in afterwards

The Jambe de Bois restaurant is another reason to come here. This charming combination of bar, restaurant, art gallery, hip coffee shop and bookstore is run by a local animal rights activist - and the food is good. They have a jazz group on Sunday and after I fly back to the States today, Scott will be over there tomorrow. Actually he already has plans tonight to hit the local music scene with friends.

The choices for lunch are varied: stuffed potato with shrimp, seafood salad, French bread sandwiches, roti, grilled fish, lamb curry etc. We came prepared the second time with six books to trade as they have one of the best book exchanges we've seen. This is a cruiser specialty - marinas, restaurants and other establishments that cater to the boating community have shelves where people leave old books and pick up new.
The selection here was wide; classics, mysteries, science fiction and thrillers. The first three are my favorites and Scott likes the last. But this place also had non fiction, magazines, and foreign language books. This is a place where you can hang out for a long time. Of course the view outside isn't bad either.

Friday, December 01, 2006

James' Visit - St. Lucia

After that great evening we continued celebrating James' birthday by renting a car and driving down south to the Pitons. This area has been decalared a World Heritage Site. Two volcanic piers stand 2500 ane 2600 feet high only a short distance apart - tall and steep, they don't look as though anyone could climb them, although it has been done. Just before them the charming town of Soufriere spreads along a white beach. We drove down the narrow road from Rodney Bay and passed more hairpin turns than we've ever imagined.
   This first view was taken at a popular photo spot where many St. Lucians on vacation were waiting to have their pictures taken. The foliage is very green and dense with flowers everywhere. Once down off the mountains we stopped at a lovely hotel, The Hummingbird Resort, to have a cold drink and walk the beach. It was a Sunday and everyone was out, swimming and enjoying the beach. A little girl was building a sand castle with her father and I stopped to talk to them. James and Scott were up ahead walking (our next picture). The walk took us into the town where a big political rally was occuring. Being British, they have a parlimentary system and the government has been dissolved and an election is imminent. The two main parties are the Labor (ruling) "Red" and the Workers' Party contesting "Yellow". Hundreds of people in yellow and red shirts were milling around in town and a big march was forming. Since then we've had these rallies almost every night.

It was very interesting to us to talk to people about the election and everyone was very open about it. Vans were roaming the streets with election music and campaign speeches and many people were wearing the colored Tshirts with their party colors and slogans. Still most of the people we've really had talks with are discouraged with the existing partys and more pragmatic about what need to be done.
We have enjoyed being part of that process, but another destination was calling. We had heard about the Dasheen Restaurant at the Ladera Resort from many sources, but they all had been unanimous - it was fantastic. And so it was. Our definitive guide book says "it has the most awesome view of any bar in the Caribbean; just to walk in is unforgettable. And they are right. Added to this is the Sunday, all you can eat, Buffet and you've got perfection (especially for my meat eating men, Scott and James).

The table looked out on the two Pitons and the beach between them from about 1000 feet up. A wonderful local band of 70+ year olds who have been making music together for a lot of years played down below us. We had a nice discussion with them about the music and they had all, at one time or another, lived in the States. A buffet of salads, vegetables, and a lot of grilled meat was arranged out in front: a roast pork leg, lamb chops, pork chops, several fishes including tuna, and a host of various sauces - each more delicious than the last. After that the dessert table was spread out attractively.

We ate are all too much but the lovely endless edge pool beackoned. We inquired from the hostess and spoke to the manager, and were allowed the use of the pool. We all changed into our suits, jumped into it and then laid out in the lounge chairs facing the view - and ordered expressos. What a life! By the time we left it was late and it was hours before we returned back to Rodney Bay.
 On the way through Castries we saw a wonderful sunset. It also marked our last night with James and it was bittersweet.

The next morning was hard. We woke up early and had a good breakfast. Although we thought we'd left early, the "rush hour" traffic was much worse than expected. We arrived barely on time and James was rushed into the gates. We know that it will only be a few weeks before we'll see him again. But the hardest part of what we do is missing our family and friends.

James' Visit - Thanksgiving and a visit to a Pirate Lair

This was the first Thanksgiving we had on the boat but it couldn't be other than traditional for me. So we had a whole small turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, squash, cranberry sauce, salad, and apple pie - all made with two burners and a small oven (our generator is on the blitz, which means no microwave). I believe the turkey was the last one in any of the islands. All of our other friends here went out to dinner but I've never been to a restaurant for Thanksgiving (yet). It was a rainy stormy day so we sat around the boat, playing cards, backgammon and dominos. James and I particularly had running games for two weeks of gin and canasta.

We had forgotten to check out of customs that day and so had to wait to leave until after they opened the next morning. With that late start we decided to stop in St. Vincent for the night. This is a beautiful island but has a bad reputation for theft. With it's steep and wild terrain, it was one of the last to be settled by Europeans. The Caribs (called so by Columbus) were in residence when a slave ship wrecked off the coast. They attempted to subjugate them and managed for a time but they revolted and took Carib women with them and formed a colony, calling themselves the Black Carib. They put up a fierce resistance to British settlement. Finally, in the late 18th century, they were defeated and shipped en masse to Honduras. There are a lot of terrible deeds done in these islands for sure.
Natural Arch off Wallilabou Bay, St. Vincent
As soon as you approach, island men in very small row boats come out to "help" you anchor. These "boat boys" are only trying to make a living but they've put off many cruisers from coming. We refused assistance until we were close to the moorings and realized we needed help with our stern line. So we chose Sean. The anchorage area is small and everyone wants to be close to each other and the restaurant for security purposes, so you take a mooring and then have a stern line tied to either another mooring or the shore.
The harbor of Wallilabou has much more recently been famous as the principal location for "Pirates of the Caribbean". Much of the stage set is still intact and the restaurant was remodeled for the movie as well. We had a lovely lunch there under the Styrofoam and plywood arches, painted to look like stone. After we had sat down our (boat boy not our youngest son) Sean came to our table and asked to borrow our dinghy to bring the police out to the large catamaran near us. Their dinghy motor had been stolen the night before. Needless to say we locked everything down tight that evening. We have dinghy davits and can bring our dinghy up each night and tie it down well.
Restaurant and pirate lair at Walliliabou Bay
Before that though we motored out to the natural arch at the end of the bay and snorkeled around the rocks. There was a wide variety of fish and colored vegetation. Early the next morning, 6:30AM, we took off for St. Lucia and as there was very little wind, motorsailed the whole way - 55 miles. Luckily we had a very positive current with us and pulled into the Rodney Bay Marina by 3:30PM. It was James' birthday and after perusing the guide book, he decided on "Razzamatz" for dinner. This was a terrific traditional Indian restaurant and they sang a rousing Happy Birthday afterwards.