From St Lucia
Robin and Sue carter
Mon 5 Mar 2012 15:53
Here we are in Rodney Bay Marina again after 2 months travelling in the more northerly islands. As we promised ourselves we have journeyed at a much slower pace than in previous years and feel we have learned a little about the Caribbean people and culture of the different islands. Each is quite distinct.
While we were in Martinique we hired a car for day partly to shop in the hypermarket in Fort de France and also to visit some of the interior of the island. As it is officially a department of France and therefore an EU member so it was very organised with good roads and signs, regular rubbish collections and appeared wealthy. The agriculture was mainly sugar cane production with intensively mechanised large plantations and distilleries for da rum man! Hundreds of white egrets play ‘chicken’ with the harvesters looking for the grubs churned up.
The architecture is, sadly, typical urban French concrete – high rise blocks of flats in tidy grassy areas. Even the electricity pylons are the ugly ones they have in France. Occasionally some towns have not been completely redeveloped and there are some old single storey wooden buildings with shutters, verandas and overhanging roofs.
For us a most disappointing difference between Martinique and the other islands is the schoolchildren. Here the kids seemed bored, disaffected, scruffy and hung around in large groups not making eye contact with passing adults. We had previously been most impressed by the children elsewhere who wear quite old fashioned uniforms (gymslips) but were immaculately turned out and wore them with pride.
They were engaged, articulate, gave up their seats for adults on the local bus and generally seemed to enjoy their schools and be proud of them. We were told on Antigua that if an adult sees a child in uniform not in school during the school day they can ask them why they are not in school and report them if playing truant! Admittedly there is little opportunity for further education in these islands and what there is is via scholarships in foreign universities. I suppose the French islands have access to French unis and ultimately that is why they are much wealthier generally. What do we make of it all? Maybe the non French see education as a privilege still?
Any thoughts on the subject gratefully received!
Lastly, we experienced traffic jams for the first time here, many cars leave the capital on the ‘expressway’ and come to a stop! All in all it seemed very little like the laid back Caribbean we had experienced elsewhere, what a shame.
So we are enjoying St Lucia again and the slightly shambolic way of doing things, some poor roads, random refuse collection, variable water pressure, lovely, helpful, polite people (except in the supermarkets!)
We are going to be moving on to Bequia in the Grenadines at the end of the week where the water is supposed to be crystal clear.
I enclose a photo of the lampshade we asked Rasta Gary to make for us out of palm leaves. It is very well done and he knocked it up in about half an hour. Within a couple of weeks it will dry out to a straw colour. There is also one of the sugar cane harvest.
With our best wishes
Sue and Robin