St Lucia, Wednesday, 18/12/2013

David Batten
Wed 18 Dec 2013 21:11
We have been here a week now and anyone still interested in our blog will have noticed we have already adopted a Caribbean attitude towards life. Actually, we were really busy while the crew were still here trying to fit in as much as possible before they left.

Thursday did improve as the day went on, but we didn't achieve much other than suss out the Marina and find a good restaurant via a contact of Venetia's. A bit of tidying the boat, then showers and a walk into town for great cocktails and a really good Indian meal. All amused by the skipper who kept grumbling about not really liking the food, but who kept eating long after the rest of the crew finished. He has admitted it was much better than he expected. Then a great ride home on one of the local buses, very cheap, very efficient and the locals all very helpful.

Friday, we did a morning tour around the local hotspots, Pigeon Island, some view of the North East coast and then a visit to The Edge, a gourmet restaurant on the water front with a winning cocktail. Female crew decided that was the place to go on Jane's last night, so booked a table. Then a quick visit to the beach, bank and supermarket and back to the Marina.

Boats coming in all the time, all with stories of difficult seas, so being thrown around, having to motor and then making good but not easy progress as the winds got up and gusted from varying directions with varying strength. We are not feeling so bad about our distance motored, which was considerable, or the boat needing vigilance when on the helm.

Friday night is street party night in Gros Islet. From about 7.30 pm they start cooking fresh fish on huge barbecues by the beach or meat on the street, while the crowd drinks its way down the street to "techno" music. The fish was out of this world, barracuda or red snapper, they had run out of tuna, with rice and garlic sauce, just what we came for! We met the crew of Heart of Gold there and heard some of their stories, particularly about the fish they caught. Just as well as their skipper turned the deep freeze off to save power. We did tell them a bit about the comfortable way to do the crossing, as they also had to hot bunk it and with no showers. Still, they made good time and then were going to set to and do all the cleaning and repairs so the boat was in good shape for the owner when had came back to the Caribbean. Good guys!

Saturday was a crazy day, with more tree planting to help put something back to nature. First we drove to the Capital, Castries, to pick up some local girls up who were meant to be helping as part of some community service project. Then we were driven miles to the south of the Island to an area to an area that was covered in trees, well most of St Lucia is covered in trees. However, it transpired that it had been a banana plantation and the trees now growing were not native and not good for the wildlife. We set to with the aim of planting 400 native trees that would be good for birds etc, not a bad number as we were about 40 with the girls. Digging was easy as it was wet and fertile soil, but it was on the side of a mountain and very slippery. The community project girls very quickly decided staying on the road was the order of the day, so the ARC contingent did the majority of planting. Our male members of crew worked like Trojans on the digging, with the girls planting and fetching more trees. After a break for juice, bananas and grapefruit straight off the tree, we were a bit horrified to hear they were fetching another 200 trees to plant amongst some banana trees. Stiff upper lip and carry on until it started raining, when everyone lost interest and we scrambled back to the bus.

The journey home was enlivened by a short cut down what gradually deteriorated into a partially "paved" road with large pot holes and just banana trees for company. The bus driver was very calm as the bus came to a grinding halt on a particularly bad section of road and we all helpfully got out and cheered him on as he drove the bus out of the pot hole, with much screeching and grinding from underneath the bus. We made it out to the main road eventually and then went to "dead" Dennery for God knows what. There was meant to be a fish festival at 6.00 pm, but it was about 3.30 and Dennery has nothing to recommend it other than a beach on which we could wash our very muddy feet. Not a very nice beach and the bar at which we were supposed to be buying a drink did not believe in customer service and were obviously having a very bad day. Eventually, we were allowed to leave and got back just in time to put the lamb on for supper.

Sunday, Jane, Venetia and Sally got up at 5.00am to go bird watching. A lovely interlude away from boats and sea and noise, with a charming guide called Peterson, better known as Rambo. Humming birds provided the most entertainment, visual and auditory, with their speed and agility and flashes of brilliant colour and frequent chatter. They were everywhere. Also seen were the St Lucia warbler, St Lucia Pee Wee, Banana Quit, Grey Trembler, Bullfinch, Zenaida Dove and Broad Winged Hawk. Not seen but heard where the St Lucia Parrot and Oriole. Sad, as the parrot is particularly attractive.

The 2 David's in the meantime, were cleaning the boat, replacing the broken batten and working really hard!

Sunday night was a gourmet meal at The Edge, with a free mango cocktail to start and lots of wind to remind us, as we sat at our waterfront table, that the weather is still unusual and there are still boats out there who have not got in yet. We are very glad not to be one of them.

A good place to finish the blog for today, as cocktail time approaches and we have been asked to join the Axonite crew who are having a farewell drink party as they leave tomorrow.

Ps will try to get the photos sorted and put some up tomorrow.
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