logo Lady Stardust Faro-Portugal to Barcelona - 2010
Date: 27 Dec 2006 04:10:04
Title: Christmas in the Caribbean

Friday night in St Lucia is 'jump up night' when everyone lets loose and
parties. Street vendors line the roadside selling barbecue food, fish,
local rum cakes and cold beers while reggae music thumps out of speakers set
up on street corners. The jewellery representative on the bus that had
taken us to the shopping mall that day recommended it as an event not to be
missed especially as it was so close to Christmas. We missed it! We had
every intention of going but after a dinner that consisted of considerably
more than we normally have due to my cooking some of the local veg and using
up the last of the potatoes, we became quite lethargic and by the time Bob
called round at 8 to see if we were going, Paul had just woken up and I was
just falling asleep. After promising to meet up later we carried on lazing
in the cockpit until 10 o'clock when the music of a band on the stage behind
the marina caught our attention and we decided to go and look at them. They
were absolutely fantastic, a very charismatic and talented reggae band who
were so good they actually got me and Paul dancing - no mean feat that! We
stayed for two hours, enjoying the atmosphere and a large rum punch before
getting tired (not used to the dancing) and returning to the boat.
On Saturday we intended to set off early to a supermarket across the road
from us to get some last-minute items that this laid-back lifestyle had
caused us to forget (or is it simply down our failing memories). Instead we
spent a pleasant hour with our friend Richard from yacht Fleck and his wife
and daughter, planning what we'd do on Christmas day. We settled on the
idea of visiting the volcano and sulphur springs at Soufriere which sounded
fascinating and looked great in the guide book. It was beer time after they
left so we had that then went to the supermarket and treated ourselves to
another one when we got back to ease the tension of all the Christmas
shopping ;). I promised to do the much put-off stainless steel cleaning
later while Paul, clearly feeling much more energetic put me to shame and
set about polishing the hull of the boat sitting in the dinghy. Just as I
was about to get the cleaning materials ready he suggested we make a packed
lunch and go out in the dinghy to a nearby beach so I reluctantly put all
the rags and polish away and got beach stuff ready instead. We spent a
lovely couple of hours swimming, drinking more beer and lounging on the sand
before wrangling with the rather drunk and grumpy sun lounger attendant about the hourly
price of his sun loungers and umbrellas (he wanted the full day's rate even though we'd
arrived at 3 30). I kept having to remind myself that it was the almost
Christmas Eve and we'd been sunning ourselves on a beach!
In the evening we went for dinner in the restaurant opposite with the other
small boat owners, including the crew of Whimbrel II who were the last to
arrive and had very interesting experiences to relate (details on Arc
website). After a nice but calorie-laden pizza and more rum punch I
resolved to eat and drink a bit less the next day!
After deciding it was a bit unrealistic to diet during this festive period,
I had few qualms the following afternoon about sharing a beer or two with the crew of Temptation, a
lovely German couple who sail with their two elderly cats. We had had
regular radio contact with them on the journey so it was great to visit
their boat, meet their beautiful cats and learn about their future plans.
After that we went to visit Stuart and Sue who had kindly invited us to
share Christmas dinner with them, to discuss times and what to bring etc.
Their boat had a distinctly festive atmosphere with Christmas music,
presents, decorations and party nibbles and we spent a pleasant hour
chatting and drinking with them.
Later, we met up with Richard, Connie and seven year old Hannah for a
Christmas Eve dinner at a restaurant called Spinnakers, picturesquely situated on Reduit Beach. We
took a water taxi there which was a novel experience for all of us and also
enabled us to see more of the decorated boats in the marina and the Christmas
lights in the waterside bars. More delicious food and several drinks later
I began to wish I'd stuck to my earlier resolve to limit my intake a bit!
Christmas day dawned sunny and hot and we got up early to get things done in
time to meet Richard at 10. Paul had got the internet working the day
before so was busy with that for a while before we opened presents, washed,
dressed and made our phone calls home. Our plans had to be altered slightly
when Richard came to tell us that Connie, who had hurt her foot the day
before needed to get it checked out at casualty as it had got worse. While
we waited for them to return I made a few veggie things to take to Stuart's
later and we (or rather I) listened to the omnibus edition of the Archers on
radio 4's listen again and a wonderful reading of Coleridge's 'The Ancient
Mariner' by Ian MacCellan. Connie was pronounced ok at the hospital and we
were able to set off at 1 30. The drive there was marvellous, taking us
round hairpin bends, climbing quite high up and through some fascinating
towns which had both very nice and well-maintained houses as well as
ramshackle shed-like ones which were charming and colourful nonetheless. We
stopped many times to take photos which I'll include in a separate entry.
The Pitons looked spectacular in the hazy sunlight. In Soufriere town
centre we were stopped by a guy waving his arms and gesturing at us. After
asking where we were headed, he said he knew we were Arc people and that he
was from Rodney Bay, too and so he wanted to help us by telling us our way
would be blocked by a commotion in the street a bit further on and he would
give us alternative directions to the volcano. This he did in a very
friendly and helpful manner, even warning us not to stop for anyone who
gestured us to!!! As soon as he said he wouldn't be asking us for money I
knew he was about to do just that. It was all very plausible, he said it
was for the local cricket team who needed balls for their practise, joking
that they wanted to form a good West Indian team to beat the English. Paul
and Richard gave him what he asked for - and then he wanted more! He got
quite insistent and I got worried - he was leaning further into the window on the driver's side
although still apparently smiling and friendly as he 'told' us why he needed more. I was relieved when Paul
gave him the extra he wanted and when we drove off we were able to laugh
wryly because obviously there was no 'commotion' in the street and the
directions he gave us led to a dead end. Needless to say we didn't stop for
anyone else, even those genuinely warning us we were about to enter a dead end
By the time we reached the volcano it was shut for the day so we decided to
drive to a nearby waterfall instead. We took a road marked on the map as
the quickest way and found ourselves on a very steep hill in inches of loose
gravel! It was touch and go whether the tyres would grip enough to climb the road
and I thought we might roll back but we made it. The road was quite precarious in that it got scarily close to the edge at times but it was well worth it for the views. It was raining by the time we got to the waterfall but not cold, and once in we were whisked around at break-neck speed by a guide eager to tell us all about the exotic plants and flowers lining the short walkway near the waterfall. Unfortunately, due to his accent and the speed at which he talked none of us understood a word he said, though we all pretended to and thanked him warmly for the information at the end of it. On the drive back we saw the clearest rainbow we'd ever seen - it stood out so vividly against the lush green foliage that we stopped to photograph it.
It was almost six by the time we got back so after a quick change of clothes we set off for Stuart's boat armed with the food I'd made, some champagne and chocolates. The table had been laid beautifully, Christmas carols were playing and appetising aromas were coming from the galley. Sue had made a lovely meal - we feasted on avocado and beetroot salad to start, a Cornish game hen each for the meat eaters with broccoli, wild rice, stuffing, and homemade bread and cranberry sauce followed by Christmas pudding and brandy butter. Trying not to think of how much weight I'd put on and thinking 'well it is Christmas' I allowed myself a couple of brandies when we went up to the cockpit to enjoy the cool night air (such a glorious change from falling asleep in front of the TV on Christmas afternoon). Naturally we had a nightcap when we got back to the boat to finish the day off nicely. It was a fabulous day and nice to experience such a completely different Christmas. I'm sure I'll be remembering it this time next year wherever I am.
I'm off to do some strenuous exercises now - maybe :)

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