St. Lucia: Days One and Two
St. Lucia is part of the Lesser Antilles and is located north or the islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, northwest of Barbados, and south of Martinique. The island sits on the boundary between the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. The original inhabitants of the island were the Carib, an Amerindian people whose origins lie in the southern West Indies and the north coast of South America. The first Europeans to reach St. Lucia were the Spanish who arrived in either 1492 or 1502. The first European colonizers were the French who took control of the island in 1660. Control was soon taken over by Great Britain. As the countries were frequently at war European rule of this small island was frequently switched back and forth between two competing powers. Britain took definitive control in 1814. St. Lucia became an independent country in 1979. Today, this lush and mountainous island has a population of around 160,000 people.
Like all the islands of the Lesser Antilles, St. Lucia is the product of a volcanic past. The island began formed from a series of submarine volcanoes. Over millions of years and countless eruptions these volcanoes formed the mountainous island we see today. It is still actively volcanic, which can be witnessed at the south side of the island where sulfur springs are evident in a large caldera near the town of Soufriere (“Sulfur in the Air”). The highest peak Mount Gimie stands well over 3000 feet above sea level.
The island has a tropical, humid climate and receives abundant rainfall. The island is covered in oceanic rain forest. Someone told me the flowers are the size of your head there. They are indeed. The trees are taller than many apartment buildings. And birds, lizards, and insects abound in plentiful numbers.
This Traveler and Traveler Five flew into Hewanorra Airport in Vieux Fort. The airport is located on the south coast of the island. Most resorts are located in the northeast near the capitol of Castries, Gros Islet, or Rodney Bay. You have to take an hour and a half drive, preferably by taxi, up most of the east coast and then cross over the mountains, through the rain forest, and the up the west coast to where the main resorts are located. It is an adventure as vehicles defy the laws of physics passing each other on the curvy mountainous roads in giant games of chicken. The local drivers are good. You don’t see many dings and dents on the vehicles. But be prepared for the ride before you get here. It can be very exciting and probably isn’t much fun for those who suffer from car or motion sickness.
The island is a bit dry right now. It has been experiencing a drought for the past three months. This is most evident in the low-lying areas where the moisture from clouds obviously doesn’t help feed the vegetation as it can along the sides of the higher peaks.
We stayed at the Almond Morgan Bay Resort. The resort sits on twenty-two acres. The grounds are lovely and covered with tree and flower lined walkways and gardens that are immaculately kept.
Our first afternoon and first full day were taken up by laying around the beach and enjoying fruit punch, rum punch, and getting to know the local wildlife (tree lizards, land crabs, and various birds, most of which seemed happy to share your dinner with you).
Male Carib Grackle
My first impressions of the people here are the St. Lucians are some of the nicest people you will ever meet. My first impressions of the island itself is that I have landed somewhere special, in a landscape I have never seen before, the alien trees and flowers spilling down slopes calling me to investigate them further. To explore, to explore, to stay a long, long while.
Night. Looking toward Castries.