ST LUCIA - RODNEY BAY
In all we spent six weeks in St Lucia – three of those weeks were spent in the boatyard living on board on the dry dock. There were many changes to Rodney Bay since we were here five years ago. The marina has doubled in size thanks to a takeover by IGY – the boatyard has been upgraded with new equipment and has new facilities that include new showers. The marina has many new stores and restaurants and fortunately appeared to be busy. There were lots of boats and not too many empty slips available. A good sign – Antigua appeared to be suffering from a decline in tourism and less cruisers visiting the island. There is also a new mall containing higher class shops and stores, many of them were the duty free boutiques and jewellery and perfume shops that cater to cruise ship passengers, and of course a new casino. We noticed a lot of staff in each of the stores, especially security staff, its good to see so many people working
Many of the same boatyard staff were still working, Dwayne and Jermaine especially, and they were delighted to see us again. I think they remembered us more than other boats because we took one of their own – Melvin- back to Canada with us five years ago. We met up with Melvin and his partner Noa and their beautiful baby girl Siam, who is six months old. During our stay, we were introduced to Melvin’s Rasta friend John John, who is a tour guide. He was a wealth of information and he patiently answered many of my questions about the island, the people and the Rastafarian way of living.
I think one of the highlights for me occurred on our last Sunday in St Lucia. Our local friends had arranged a day out for us and them. It began by us meeting Melvin, Noa, Siam and John John and Charlie, who was to be our driver for the day, Charlie then picked up Jermaine, then Dwayne and his lady, Abbey. The van was full of people and we stopped for beer and sandwiches and snacks at a grocery store. First stop was Zip lining. We were taken to a scenic site in the rain forest – John John had arranged this tour for us, he worked there as a guide and got a great deal for us all. We spent some time getting equipped with the gear – harnesses, clips, helmet and gloves and a brief introduction lesson was given, then we were off! There were 12 lines of varying heights. The scenery was amazing as we zipped through deep valleys, over rivers and over the tops of coconut trees. It certainly was not for the faint- hearted. All around us was evidence of the hurricane Tomas who had devastated parts of the island six months ago. Many trees had fallen and landslides occurred all over. Apparently over 200 inches of rain had fallen causing massive flooding and destruction. Our experience zip lining was amazing. John John was a perfect host, he photographed us as all as were zipping, and kept us informed about the scenery around us, while making sure everyone was having a good time.
After zip lining, our next stop was to a waterfall. The twelve of us made our way to the falls, wading through the river and climbing over rocks – it was good to be able to relax and enjoy the company of our local friends. We stopped beneath the fall to have lunch – there were two trees that had fallen during the hurricane and this became a seating area for our group. At one point I looked over at everyone chatting smoking and laughing, I contemplated the diversity of our group and wondered how it was possible that we had all managed to come together on this sunny Sunday afternoon. The different backgrounds , ages, and nationalities and cultures and here we were, a dozen people just chillin on two fallen trees beneath a waterfall. It was one of those “moments”.
We continued our ‘day out” by driving around the island. Charlie was a very competent tour guide, so between him and John John we were kept entertained and informed. Charlie would stop frequently to pick fruit or flowers to show us, and explain the medicinal uses, especially within the Rastafarian way of living. St Lucia is very beautiful. We visited Vieux Forte again and drove to the lighthouse to appreciate the 360o view, back to Soufriere – a last look at the mighty pitons. Here we were able to see just how devastating Tomas had been. Huge chunks of the mountainside had been washed away in the landslides – 13 people lost their lives – and roads and bridges simply crumbled under the weight of water and were washed away in the heavy rains. Whole communities were isolated for weeks and without power and running water for over a month. The island is back in business, but still has a ways to go before the damage has been fully repaired, but I am sure that the memory of Hurricane Tomas will be forever etched in the minds of these lovely people.
We continued driving until 8PM that night. We saw many little fishing villages and communities that go into making up this diverse island what it is. It was an amazing day out for us all. We returned to the boat, tired, with lots of stories to discuss and memories to share.
Posted by Amoeba Sailing Tours on Tue, March 08, 2011 at 10:45 AM