St Lucia is lovely. The view from the ship was amazing, nothing but green treetops, punctuated by the occasional red-tiled house roof, as far as the eye can see. But St Lucia is HUGE. The official thing to say is “twice the size of the Isle of Wight”, which means nothing to most people. But it is MASSIVE. It’s not a cute little island you can drive around in an hour or so.
St Lucia is one of the volcanic islands that make up the Caribbean Curve of islands. Hurricane-prone, rainforest-covered volcanic rock. Yes, feel free to read that again. Rainforest-covered. Whatever anyone tells you about the Caribbean, it is mostly rainforest, and, as a consequence, the humidity is ludicrous. It feels like we’re all suffering from very low level pleurisy. The air is so moist, our lungs simply can’t process it, and I know of at least one elderly friend who has ended up in the Medical Centre on oxygen, because his heart can’t clear the liquid from his lungs fast enough. Even I’m finding it a little harder to breathe than normal. The end result of which is that every step you take takes more effort that you ever imagined possible. Luckily, all the recent islands are used to this and provide LOTS of places for mum to sit down and take a breather. I’m even having to take a few, myself.
We took an early morning boat ride out to look for dolphins and whales. The size of the island only really becomes apparent when you try and sail around it. We sailed for an hour and a half and barely made it a quarter of the way around. We saw some dolphins, but unfortunately, our boat captain was an idiot and whenever he saw a pod of dolphins, he put the engines on full throttle and drove straight at them. Needless to say, they scattered. Surprise, surprise. What a fool. He got precisely no tip whatsoever. But we saw a few and it was a pleasant enough morning. I did, however, get very, VERY burned, particularly on my arms, despite applying and reapplying my sun cream several times.
The shops on St Lucia’s quayside were a delight (except for the karaoke bar with the REALLY loud microphone, which was disturbing us before we even got off the ship). A mixture of touristy stuff, clothes, jewellery and handicrafts. I bought two t-shirts and had to deliberately stop myself buying more. I am particularly happy to say that one of them was manufactured in Haiti. This is cool, because it means that their economy is boosted by my tourism here (Haiti is also in the Caribbean Curve). It is possible to be a tourist with a conscience, and to bring benefit to the world, whilst still travelling and exploring. We all joke that we aren’t shopping, we’re boosting the local economy, but in fact we are really doing both and the benefit is genuinely mutual.
Mum bought a hand-carved duck from the artist himself, who had a little stall of his work and he amended the beak to mum’s requirements, which proved they were really his own work. It was made of white cedar stained with brown Kiwi boot polish. How creative is that?! His cousin is also an artist and is making something to be presented for the Royal Wedding, apparently. See? There’s no escape the approaching nuptials, even here!
The sailaway party today was all about patriotic songs – a bit of Welsh, Irish and Scottish before the Englishness kicked in for St George’s Day. We did Jerusalem, Rule Britannia, even the National Anthem (and, yes, most people did stand!). Even dinner was “British” – roast beef and Yorkshire pudding.
Today was Hayley, Ted and John’s last night, so we went out for a drink with Sheila and Dave at the pub. Sheila and Dave then invited us to their suite, which was immense! They have the back left-hand corner of the ship, essentially, with an L-shaped balcony, a butler and his and hers bathroom sinks! All very swanky. They then turned in and Hayley, John and I went up onto Deck 9 for further drinks and talking until 2am. They had to pack before they went to bed, so that their suitcases could be sorted overnight. Apparently, it took a hour! I’m going to miss them dreadfully, and can only hope we don’t lose touch. They’ve been told that their flight is delayed, so they are being put up in the Marriott overnight. Huzzah for Thomson inefficiency! Ironically, the flight is delayed coming in, which means we have to stay as well, to wait for our new passengers. This will make us late into Aruba. Marvellous. Oh well, can’t have everything, I suppose.