Day five: LOTS of pictures

About damn time right! ><‘
I’ve been, not busy so much as lazy.
(Photo bomb will follow the diary entry. I’m tired of fighting with the blogger platform for layout. I’m also not putting them in any order.)
Day five in St. Lucia was our day out. We went on a tour. We drove around the west side of the island. Trust me when I say that the east side is straight in comparison. West side is mostly switchbacks. It was an interesting tour. It would have been better had they not over stuffed the bus. Of course our resort was the last on and I ended up with the jumper seat out in front of me. Like I couldn’t move one seat up and then I would have had leg room? I’m not asking for much when it comes to leg room, I can cram in with the best of them. But the jumper seat, when it was out, came 2 inches further back than the rest of the seats. Making so I literally could not sit. I also had sunburn on my knees so the seat pushing violently into my legs was not fun. So I made the best of it (complaining the whole time of course) by kneeling and looking out the back window. [We were in the very back bench of the little bus.] This made for some amazing, clear photos of the island. It also allowed me to see things that no one else on the bus got to see.
The first stop was at Anse La Raye. It sounded like the tour guide was saying Ansillery the whole time, it was quite funny. It’s a lovely little fishing village. We were told to stay near the bus and not go into the back streets… it was a little sketchy. That kind of was a bummer because Mom and I wanted to see more of the town, not the tourist shops. We met crazy Robert there. He started talking to me randomly. Looked homeless to boot. He has no teeth and made it very difficult to understand him. But I’m polite and smiled and nodded. He did tell me that he is 75 and has never left the island. Been here his whole life. He knew about Toronto and Montreal when he found out I was from Canada, but that was about it. There was a family of chickens in the road, very cute as there were babies with mom and pop. There was some beautiful handiwork on the houses there as well. It was a quaint little town. Oh right, the stilt house! Most of the houses in Anse La Raye are built into the mountain side. To make them level they built them out on to stilts. This not only helps keep the local animal & insect population out of the house but it makes it easier for hurricane winds to just blow underneath the houses without ruining them. Anse La Raye had the most amazing one we saw on our trip, the stilts had to be 3 stories high!
We stopped at a banana plantation. So amazing! The one we saw was a 1,700 acre plantation. Now in that 1,700 acres there are 213 farmers! It’s not a corporation that own the place, which is nice. Bananas took over the sugar cane fields long ago and is the only good exported from St. Lucia. Bananas are really neat, they have a 9 month gestation period just the way humans do. The farmers will cover the bananas in blue plastic when they first emerge from their flower form. They do this to, not only keep out animals and pests, but to allow the bananas to grow without them ripening. The bananas if left on their own will ripen right away and not come to maturity if they aren’t protected in the blue plastic. It was really neat to learn all of that!
We stopped for lunch in the town of Soufriere. It’s the town that houses the famous Twin Pitons. They’re really beautiful mountains. And the way the ocean hits them is divine. Lunch was local fare which I was overjoyed about! We had a lovely spiced chicken, dasheen and green fig salad. Dasheen is a local vegetable that is similar to sweet potatoes. It doesn’t taste like them, but is kind of sweet and has the texture of them. I loved it! I also fell in love with the local hot sauce. I ended up getting some of it to take home with me. It will take a LONG time to get through the bottle as it is SPICY! You only use 1/4 tsp at a time. But I love the flavour profile it has.
Right, the first first stop, it was a very quick one for a view… The view was beautiful but the important part of it was that we got to sample banana ketchup and banana barbeque sauce. I bought both… they are amazing. Banana ketchup isn’t sweet like out ketchup, or the name suggests. It’s does have a sweetness to it but it’s like a cross between mustard and ketchup… very unique, very very yummy! The banana barbeque sauce has a smokiness and flavour unrivaled by anything we can get here at home. It is wonderful.
We stopped at the Diamond falls botanical garden. We got to see a bunch of beautiful flowers and learned that most of the ones we were seeing weren’t native to the island. *sigh* But it was cool to see a nutmeg tree, an avocado tree and the diamond falls really are beautiful. The mineral spring running through the place is very dirty and smells from the minerals but it was beautiful too. The highlight of that part of the trip for me was the board they put up talking about the devastating hurricane in 2009. It was amazing to see the photos of how everyone banded together to rebuild and how quickly they did it. During the drive late we got to see what’s left of the devastation.
After lunch we went to the “drive in volcano”. This is not what you’d think. The whole city of Soufriere is actually a volcano bed. So it’s not drive in a cavern next to magma kind of volcano the way the name suggests. We had a choice of visiting the “drive in volcano” or going to the mud baths. We, and three others (out of 25 people?) chose the baths. Good choice once we found out what they had! *laugh* We got SO dirty! It wasn’t what I was expecting. You get in this initial tub of water which is fed by the volcano. It was SO HOT. It hurt my sunburn so badly. You then get out and walk to this little stream and cover yourself in the mud from the stream bed. The stream is feeding the pool and is steaming hot. You then let it dry in the blissful sun and return to the first pool to wash off… Wash off. That didn’t go so well. The mud does not come off easily. That being said your skin feels brand new after the mud. So soft, so supple. Worth every minute. The bath when we got back from the trip was hard as it took three times the amount of soap to get my skin back to the right colour!
The last part of the tour, which I took no pictures of, we rode back to the resort on a giant catamaran! We sat at the front and got soaking wet in the splash of the bow. It was so much fun! I couldn’t stop giggling. The only reason we ended up leaving the front of the boat was the salt water got a bit much in our eyes. It was so nice to be outside all day.
When we returned to the hotel we got to our room and found that our butler had drawn us a bubble bath that was topped with rose petals! It was such a wonderful surprise!!

Ah yes, this day five was the 27th. That’s my Dad’s birthday. So in celebration we had planned to go to the butler only restaurant [at the grande ><‘]. It was also the night of the street party. Our dinner reservation wasn’t until 845 (groan) so we decided to pre-snack at the party. OH. MI. GOD. Greatest food of our whole trip. It was ALL local foods. We had fresh crawfish, lobster, fried plantains, curries goat, curries chicken roti, christophene au gratin, pumpkin custard… I was in heaven. This food was so flavourful, robust, unique. I want to go back just for that food! Christophene is a squash like food that they cook coated with cheese. It is divine. We were both VERY happy we checked it out. Oh yeah, there was a steel drum salsa band playing as well – I couldn’t have had more fun.

Dinner was… disappointing. As all of our experiences at the Grande were. We had to wait for the damn shuttle again at the end of our night. It was annoying and the food really wasn’t worth it. Although it was neat to dine over the water on a pier.

It was a nice day to celebrate my Dad. We both miss him very very much.
Now, the pictures!

Avocado Tree

New Banana Plantation
Babies n Mom @ Anse La Raye

Flora at diamond falls

Anse La Raye

Breadnut tree – a fruit

A bus stop along the way

The 2 story stilt house

Les Piton: the “bigger” one is actually petit piton.

Scooner

Brown cocoa pods

Banana Plantation
Castries
Chillin in La Raye

Church in the background: a safe haven in hurricanes

Construction

Crazy Robert

Diamond Falls

The “drive-in” volcano

Grapefruits

Green cocoa pods

Neat hanger flower

Hurricane devastation
Les Piton

Locally grown fruits

Locally grown veggies

Locally grown spices

Locals chillin
Mineral springs

Mineral Springs

Mosaic on the ground in Anse La Raye

Neat housing detail
Nutmeg

Nutmeg on the tree

Anse Le Cochon (Bay of Pigs)

Soufriere and Les Pitons
E’ry day I’m Travellin’

Variegated African tulip

Yellow cocoa pod
Bamboo: grows 4 feet per DAY!

Bananas

Bananas
The bath after the trip

Soufriere

Banana ketchup tasting stop
Random birdbath

Boats in Anse La Raye
Yellow African tulip
Red African tulip

Pier in Anse La Raye
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