Friday, June 5, 2015

Santa Lucia in my memory

Sul mare luccica l’astro d’argento.
Placida è l’onda, prospero è il vento.
Sul mare luccica l’astro d’argento.
Placida è l’onda, prospero è il vento.
Venite all’agile barchetta mia,
Santa Lucia! Santa Lucia!
Venite all’agile barchetta mia,
Santa Lucia! Santa Lucia! 

The traditional Neapolitan song explaining how beautiful was the waterfront view of the Bay of Naples, the district Borgo Santa Lucia in Italy, inviting the boats to come! The same as St. Lucia in the Caribbeans, where there are many interesting views and places to invite sailors and visitors. The name of the island of St. Lucia came from St. Lucy of Syracuse, a young Christian martyr. She is venerated as a saint by the Roman Catholic, Anglican, Lutheran and Orthodox churches.
Rodney Bay view
Morning swim with rainbow
View from Gros Islet village
St. Lucia welcome dog!
Unlike other islands, I had a strong curiosity about the name of the island, making me feel I must visit St. Lucia. Without doubt St. Lucia surprised me with its charm and became one of my favorite islands in the Caribbeans. Colorful environment, World Heritage site, endearing feeling and beautiful clear waters at St. Lucia's beaches were some of the dramatic scenery I had enjoyed during my stay.
High-season in St. Lucia
Sunset view from our boat
In the past, even Christopher Columbus missed the opportunity to take a sight at St. Lucia but the British and the French attempted to colonize the island for decades. In 1746, when the French claimed the islands, they established the first's town on the West coast of the island, Soufrière. Then the British invaded and took control in 1663-1667. The power over St. Lucia changed for 14 times between the French and British. Finally the British took definitive control in 1814 and that's why St. Lucia has British influence in culture and language until today and the official language is English. On the 22nd February 1979 St. Lucia became an independent state member of the Commonwealth of the Nations associated with the United Kingdom.

We spent 6 months in Rodney Bay, St. Lucia. If you ask me why we stay here for so long. I would say it's comfortable and convenient. The beach is very nice, we used to dinghy to swim with our baby almost every morning. The supermarket is just near by. There are many choices of restaurants to try (even we stayed for 6 months and we feel tired of the same restaurants we always made our belly full but we still didn't try all of them). The hardware and marine shops are just few steps from the dinghy dock. Our dog, Noel was comfortable there. And locals speak English which means it makes my life easier. And most of all it's a weather safe zone.
Celebrate "Loy Krathong", Thai traditional, in St. Lucia
My 30s birthday
Maria Dee second birthday
Cruisers pot luck party
When we needed to go to Castries, the capital of St. Lucia, we just took a bus for 20 minutes for 2.25 EC each way. The bus runs often and until late. Taxis are always to be seen. Our experience taking a taxi from Rodney bay-airport-Rodney bay was good with a friendly taxi driver who loved pets and also bring Noel to the hospital/hotel. 

Unluckily we didn't had the experience to anchor or pick a buoy in Marigot bay because it was crowded when we arrived. Mostly we anchored in Rodney bay or pigeon island when the North swell started affecting us. We didn't stay in the marina even we planned to haul out the boat but it turned out we were short in money to do so. We heard many cases concerning security in St. Lucia making cruisers worry about here. I just want to say it's like any other place where crime happens everyday and it depends on yourself and how you take precautions to prevent incidents. We anchored in Rodney bay and left to New York for 2 weeks. Before we went we were very worried as it was our first time to leave our floating house behind. We are lucky to have good neighbor to help looking after us and we came back with the boat in the same condition.

One thing that St. Lucia makes me miss Macau is the festivals! There are festivals and parties everywhere. People used to say that if we have 365 days a year, Macau has festival and exhibition everyday. We witness of St. Lucian national's day and independence day, ARC regatta, Creole week, Friday BBQ street in Gros Islet, October fest, Christmas, New Year and some more festive moments that I can't recall. Party and music was just around the corner!    
ARC World
X'Mas
High class view, fireworks in New Year
St. Lucian Independence day
Anyone can sail
Young generations!
We visited the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, the Roman Catholic Church  in Castries. The church was named after Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception. This Cathedral is the biggest church in the Caribbean. The building structure is all in wood but it's in bad shape and the locals are trying to collect donations to renovate this spectacular cathedral. In St. Lucia, the main religion is Roman Catholic and we can find Catholic churches and religious statues and shrines all over the island.
Inside the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, Castries
The official language is English. Most of the locals can speak Creole which is the speaking language they use at home. A local person told us that this language will not disappeared any time soon as many people talk more and more but, unfortunately, Creole is not taught in St. Lucian schools. The Creole is a dialect used in most of the islands in the Caribbean. However, the Creole in St. Lucia and in Martinique or another islands are similar but not the same. Since the official language here is English, we took advantage of it to buy more books for our little baby. The English books for infants and toddlers here are quite diverse and with reasonable prices.

As in many island of the Caribbean, St. Lucian local currency is Eastern Caribbean Dollar (EC), 1 US Dollar is equivalent 2.6 EC and 1 EC is around 3 Patacas (MOP) in Macau. Many main supermarkets are pleased to receive US Dollars or Euros and they will state the exchange rate at the cashier, mostly fair! For my experience, when I paid in US Dollars they converted the currency and gave me change in EC. Some of the ATM machines will charge a fee for international cards but some not, when you are there you will figure out which machines are free of charge! I always got money in Super J supermarket because the ATM machine there doesn't charge the fee to my ATM card. Here, almost all the restaurants and shopping stores don't charge any fee when you pay with your credit card unlike some places in St. Maarten and other islands. We sailors are lucky because we don't need to pay tax while shopping in some places in St. Lucia. Many shops will have a sign saying “Duty Free” and the prices are much different with duty paid which locals have to pay. All we have to do is to bring ID or passport then tell our boat name and the departure date when we check the bills. 
One of the local dish we had
Coconut man with his dog
The famous World Heritage site, the Pitons, which designated in 2004 for the nature type, was a spot not to be missed. We didn't had the chance to climb the Pitons but the view and the scenery in Soufrière are stunning even we were there in low season. If you look for recreation activities to do with your family or sailing friends, don't miss the Sulpher springs, they are located in the crater of the volcano in St. Lucia. People said that the mud is good for your skin, and the smell is also good to leave the stink on our cloths for almost one month after many washes! We were sad that some places and activities limited us to take part as we have a little child, for example the chocolate hotel where I would like to try their chocolate menus, don't allow kids or Sandals hotel where we would like to have a BBQ buffet, they are adult and couples hotel only! Anyway, 6 months in St. Lucia was not much, I still have places I want to visit and I still miss the turquoise crystal clear waters.
Gomes family in the Pitons
In Sulphur springs with friends
I can't write all the memories I have from St. Lucia, you better experience “Santa Lucia” by yourself!

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