Thursday 2nd December 2010
At 6.00 a.m. Jill was to be found on the deck watching Discovery moor in Castries Harbour – it was particularly interesting to see the Captain directing proceedings.
The overall impression of Castries was initially that it is more prosperous than the other islands we had been to. With a population of 170,000 people, St. Lucia is clearly a bigger country and can support a larger city. However, as we went for our first tour, we quickly passed very poor housing and entered narrow winding roads, with numerous potholes. Communications are clearly a problem due to the mountainous interior. Like the other islands we have visited, the land is lush and green.
Our first stop was at Fort La Toc. This is in private hands and we were shown round by the American lady who bought it about 30 years ago. Rather an eccentric character, she obviously had a passion for the history of this building. We then visited a silk screen printing studio set up by her father in law nearly 50 years ago. This was the first of series of selling exercises on this trip – although extremely low key at this stage.
We took the road south to Marigot Bay. There seems to be no public road down to sea level, but we stopped at a development overlooking the very beautiful film set location of Marigot Bay. This was a typical tourist shop with the addition of a complimentary drink – served with no eye contact and with terse commands to hand over the associated ticket. They even sought to charge $1.00 for the restroom facilities which we duly avoided using.
Our final stop was at Anse La Raye. This is a fishing village, with modest housing but a fair selection of the inevitable market stalls. We took a short walk into the village centre and looked at the church. We photographed a humming bird nearby and we invited also to take the photo of an elderly lady who was quick to pocket the proffered associated dollar.
We then took the same road back to Castries, about 18km away. We felt that this was one of the poorer examples of tourism with the main object seeming to be to get us to spend money at every conceivable opportunity.
After lunch back on the ship, we walked into Castries itself and looked around. We were approached three times for money (albeit twice by the same person) and were not overly impressed with the town in general. At the Port Shopping Centre near where we were moored we bought a postcard for Zoë and were very impressed with the kindness of one particular shopkeeper who offered us a chair to sit and write the card and gave us her pen to do so. As she had no stamps at the time she added the cost to the that of the card and said that she would affix one when they arrived later and would post the card for us. She was the exception that proved the rule!
The economy of St. Lucia is built on Fairtrade bananas and on tourism. No sign of the Chinese being involved here!