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St. Lucia

St. Lucia Construction Update

We have water, power & a driveway. It’s excavated and staked, and they’re prepping to start pouring the foundation in the next week.

How to Spend a Day in St. Lucia

My family and I lived in Soufriere, St. Lucia for 4 months last year. A friend just emailed and said his parents are on a Caribbean cruise and will be stopping in St. Lucia for a day. What should they do? Here's how I replied...

St. Lucia is not Hawaii. It can be raw and gritty and pretty unforgiving.

A couple of things to NOT do:

  • Don't go shopping -- there's no selection and everything is overpriced.
  • Don't go to the Castries market. The people working the market are very aggressive, and they're mostly selling made-in-China stuff.
I think there are two options for a day in St. Lucia: stay in the Castries area, or go south to Soufriere.

Option 1: Stay in Castries area

I'd hire your own taxi to do this. Taxis are everywhere, and if you go with a group you're herded like cattle and it costs almost as much. Discuss the price up front, and pay in U.S. dollars. You can hire a taxi for the day for about $100 U.S. if you stay in the north part of the island (Castries & Gros Islet).

  • Go to Pigeon Island in Gros Islet. 30 minute drive from where the ships dock. I've never actually been, but most of my friends who visited us when we were in St. Lucia did, and they all said they really enjoyed it.
  • Go to Cas en Bas (a little past Gros Islet). 10 minute drive past Pigeon Island. It's a raw, natural beach on the Atlantic side. Not groomed or maintained and no services, so pee first and bring your own water. Nice place to see the power of the ocean and to pick up some souvenir natural sponges washed up on the beach.
Option 2: Go to Soufriere

Soufriere is where most of the natural beauty is.

You can get there by hiring your own taxi. Expect to pay about $120 U.S. to have your own taxi for the day that drives you there and back. Negotiate up front. The drive is absolutely nauseating. It takes 90 minutes to 2 hours, and we almost always have one of our kids throwing up on the trip. If you're not the kind to get car sick, the drive can be interesting because of how ridiculous the road is. There are also several vantage points to see the coast, the little fishing villages, and the mountains.

You can also get there by boat if you go as part of a tour. The boat ride is faster and much more pleasant, and affords beautiful views of the island from the sea. On the downside, you may not be free to set your own agenda, and you get herded like cattle everywhere you go.

People either love or hate Soufriere town itself. It's very "real". It's dirty, smelly and run-down. But it lets you see what life in the Caribbean is like for the average islander.

Once you're in Soufriere, there are several options I like:

  1. For an expensive lunch or cocktail with incredible views: take a taxi to Ladera Resort. About 10 minutes outside Soufriere.
  2. For snorkeling: take a water taxi to Jalousie resort. About $40 US roundtrip, and you get a spectacular view of the Pitons both in the boat and at the resort. Also has an overpriced but excellent restaurant right on the water.
  3. Soak in hot muddy water at Sulfur Springs. It's best if you can get there at a time when there aren't another 100 tourists arriving at the exact moment -- try before 10am or after 4pm.
  4. Ask a local taxi driver to take you to Jerusalem Falls. It's a little-known, natural hot springs, about 5 minutes from downtown Soufriere. I like it because you get to hike through the jungle for 5 minutes to get there, and you often have the place to yourself. It costs $2 US and it's a small, family-run place. They keep the pools extremely clean. It sounds funny to go to hot springs when you're in the tropics, but it's actually very enjoyable and soothing.
Taxis in Soufriere cost less than in Castries. Christopher's Taxi is always very fair with prices: 484-1927.

Reuben & Kitty

3 kittens were born shortly before we arrived in St. Lucia. Reuben's gotten used to them. More importantly, they've gotten used to Reuben.

Ana & Sam Conquer Gros Piton, St. Lucia

Ana writes:
We climbed Grows piton. There was a rock about 20 feet high. There is a old mango tree that is 300 years old. We had a guide her name was Suanne. You can see the hole island from the top. It takes 4 hours to go up and down. And I made it!!

Sam writes:
We hiked Gros Petone it is a mawtin we so a volcaroo wuts that roc floo throo the eur ene was is.S [Um, your guess is as good as mine.]

Soufriere Primary School "Marathon"

Ana & Sam raced the annual Soufriere Infant School (K-2) "Marathon" on Friday. It's a 3km foot race around town with most of the 300 students participating.

[Ana] [Journal] Pick up

We rode in the back of a pick up. We saw lots of stars. I squatted!! My Dad rode in the back of a pick up. He saw in Shuawzell a this is what he saw: ocean, the view, houses, sun and feilds. It was buityful!! And my mom and dad went out for a date.

[Ana] [Journal] New Jewrewslem

We went to New Jewrewslem. There are 3 pools. Ones Hot with 3 showers coming in to the pool. The second one is warm with 2 showers coming in to the pool. The third is cold with one shower coming in to the pool. The Hot is up High the warm is down low the cold is the lowest. Were you have to get to the pools is like the botanical gardens. Aha!! (its a jungle) my friends were suprised cause I stayed under the cold shower pretty much the hole time. Ann!!



[Ana] [Creative Writing] Masschivyes Nancy

One day Nancy was geting ready for a party. She thot out loud I'll steal my mom's braslet and Ipod. So she did. Meanwhile her big sister was liesting as youshwell. Ok now she snuck out to the party and had a great time. But when she got home her sister was waiting for her and then marched her to the mom and the mom was mad. But Nancy felt bad gave the stuff back. so the Mom for gave her!! So they lived happily ever after!! The end!!  

[Ana] Lots of stuff

We went to a beach cold Margotout. We went to that beach twice in a row. The first time we went for dinner and my mom wished she had brot her bathing suit. The seocond time we went my Dad did not come he had to work. My grandma and grampa liked going to the beach. We sow a cow running from a cowboy at the beach. Boy that was a site!! I went snorkeling!! It was fun. My mom spent pritty much the hole time in the water. Grandma whatched Reuben. ok by!!

Soufriere logistics

If you want to get your car washed in Soufriere, you go to Car Wash Man 1 block north of the Catholic Church. If you want to buy rotis shells, you go put in your order with Sabrina -- she's on the second floor of the white house with brown doors a block up from the hospital. Her curtains have a floral print. Yell, "Sabrina!", she'll come out onto her balcony, and place your order.

If you need fish in any quantity, go to the dock when you hear the loud horn. If you have beer bottles to return, you give them to the guy with the shopping cart at the Saturday market. Get there by 9am. If you want tamarin balls, see Lucy at the clothing store a block north of the supermarket.

Need bananas? Let Margarita know; she'll drop them by your place on the way to her job at the auto parts store. Fresh bread? Get to the bakery by 8am. Cake? To the bakery between 10am and noon. Rotis? To the bakery between 1 and 2.

If you want fresh beef, you're too late -- they slaughtered the bull last Thursday.

Making peace with bugs

When we first arrived in St. Lucia, the Canadian health nurse's warnings of all the loathsome diseases awaiting us were fresh in mind. We were terrified to step foot outside.

The paranoia lasted about 24 hours. You know what, there are disease-carrying bugs in North America too (e.g. Lyme disease) and there are more mosquitoes in my backyard in Nelson than there are in my backyard in Soufriere.

We're getting bitten (those are Ana's legs in the picture above) but we're adjusting too. We're wearing more bug repellant and we're experimenting with earth-friendly stuff like lime juice and lemongrass. We're closing the doors when we can and keeping the fans on. We're encouraging the geckos to go about their bug-eating business, and we're letting the landlords fumigate on their schedule, even though pesticides bother Gina's conscience.

But most of all, we're just not worrying. So far, the only thing that's infected us is the happy, relaxed disposition of the locals.

Where to NOT stay in Castries / Rodney Bay

[Update] I complained to Hotwire about the experience, and they sent me a $130 credit! Yay Hotwire!

We thought we'd check out the "big city" over the weekend, so we booked a last-minute hotel in Castries on Hotwire for $105 USD/night (incl. tax): The G* Resort (omitting the name just in case they have mafia connections).

My initial impression when we arrived was, "Meh." It's on a hill with a decent view but a boys' correctional facility is across the street.

We went to the restaurant and the waiter didn't seem to speak English (St. Lucia is an English-speaking country). I picked what I wanted from the menu but he didn't understand -- he asked me to write it down for him. So I did.

10 minutes later he came back and said that they don't use the menu (??). He said they had fish. I asked what kind? He took out a cell phone and called the chef (!) and said they had Snapper and something else that I didn't understand. Then he handed me the phone, and _I_ talked to the chef. He was in his car, and said he'd get to the restaurant in 5 minutes (it was 5:30pm?). He asked me what kind of fish. Not knowing what the other kind was, I answered, "Um, half of one, and half of the other, I guess."

I saw the cook arrive 10 minutes later.

I had given the waiter a beverage order, but it still hadn't come. I returned to the bar twice to ask about it, and after a half hour we were able to pick the drinks up ourselves from the bar. It was just pineapple juice; not sure what the hold up was.

After 90 minutes at the restaurant our meal arrived. We were treating locals, and I hope they enjoyed it, because it sure didn't suit Canadian tastebuds. The bill was EC 260 (as there was no menu I had no idea what it would be).

You know, I wish the restaurant was the reason the Glencastle is an awful place to stay, but it's not. The restaurant was perhaps a highlight.

The A/C in the room was broken. Now, it's okay to be without A/C in St. Lucia IF you have windows on two sides of the room, so you can get a cross-breeze, and IF those windows have screens, to keep out the (plentiful) bugs. At the Glencastle, neither of these preconditions applies.

I went to the front desk to ask about it. (Incidentally, there was a Hotwire booking confirmation on the desk with Hotwire's full credit card information and the amount that Hotwire should be billed for my reservation. Hotwire's profit margin on my stay was $75.) They said there was nowhere to move us and the repairman lived outside the city. So we sweltered!! And I mean sweltered. Our 15-month old was absolutely dripping with sweat all night long. The temperature in the room stayed in the 90s; it was difficult to get any sleep.

Speaking of my 15-month old, the hotel is not child-proof. In St. Lucia, it seems that about half of the railings in use have 6-8" gaps between rails, and that was the case from our 3rd-story balcony. The electrical outlet by the floor fan was also broken, so the repairman bent the plug to get it in, leaving lots of prong exposed. There were also 1-foot steps into the bedroom and then into the bathroom. Lots of areas for little kids to get hurt.

The next morning I asked about the A/C. The front desk staff told me it wasn't their fault, because we had done a same-day booking on Hotwire...

We left the hotel, even though we had paid for 2 nights. We moved to the Coco Palm Resort -- which was fantastic! It has a wonderful Creole theme with cheery Caribbean colours, painting and handcrafts, a magnificent pool, and great food.

[Ana] [Journal] Anse Chastanet

We went to Ance chastanet. We got there by boat! I went snorkeling. It was fun! I saw lots of fish I saw schools of minos and other schools of fish. It was all fun!! We had french fries it was $15 ec. We went to the beach with Chancy and Dario they are my friends. but they left now to there house in new Jersey. It's sad. ok see you later guys.