Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Relaxing in St Lucia


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Known by it's peaks listed on the World Heritage list of UNESCO, the country island of St Lucia it's more than just the Pitons or the extravagant weddings at the resorts near the sea so popular among the western newly weds from America and Canada. This island as sea and mountain to offer to the visitors but also culture, radical sports and relaxing moments in idyllic settings.
Starting by it's history, the first inhabitants of St Lucia date from 200AD, the Arawak Indians use to call it ´Iouanalao´ (Land of the Iguanas). This primitive residents were defeated by the Caribs, formidable warriors that were able to keep the European settlers at bay for years until the arrival of the French troops which forced them to sign an agreement giving Paris permition to control the island. Something that the Dutch tried to do since 1600 but without success.
The Spanish were the first ones to arrive here but never tried to colonize the island. After the arrival of the French colonizers the island exchanged hands with the English several times, with London taking hold, finally, in 1814 after the island changing sovereignty 14 times in 150 years!
St Lucia became independent in the seventies (22nd of February 1979) and adopted English as official language, although the creole (patua) is widely spoken among the local people. The country is part of the British Commonwealth and the Queen Elizabeth the Second is it's Head of State, being represented in the country by The Governor General, Her Excellency Dame Perarlette Louisy.

If St Lucia is the best destination for sailing and for people who like boats, with excellent infrastructures and services, is also true saying that is an excellent destination for the ones looking for nature with it's waterfalls and unspoiled mountains and treks, sulfuric baths in open air lakes. There are several companies targeting this destinations and offering all kind of services for the visitors. Just grab a touristic guide and choose one, for sure they will find a way to fulfill your needs.
For boats and sailing, we just need to say that Rodney Bay Marina, in the North tip of the island, it's the Caribbean home of the ARC regatta every year. An event which brings hundreds of sailing boats from the Canary islands in Spain across the Atlantic. Rodney Bay Marina offers all the services and amenities of a 5 star marina and it's managed by IGY Marinas. It also has a shop of Island Water World for all your needs in terms of parts and equipment and around the lagoon exist several companies offering all kind of work for sailing and motor boats. We did use Island Water World and only have good things to say about their staff and the quality of the service. In other hand, we don't advise the services of the company who's the agent of Budget Marine locally. We had a very bad experience with them buying a second hand dinghy, but probably was just us!
For the sailors who, like us, prefer to stay on the hook, Rodney Bay it's the place to stay. An ample bay with calm waters and with easy access to the marina by the canal that gives access to the lagoon. We been there for six month even leaving our boat for two weeks while traveling to New York without any problem.
St Lucia also offer other places for boats, among them Soufriere (very convenient to admire the Pitons) and Marigot bay (a very protected bay but too small and crowded in our opinion). Both are a good option for some days out of Rodney Bay.

St Lucia capital, Castries, it's an attraction by itself. It seems stopped in time but in a good way. Everything runs in Caribbean time, relaxed, with a lot of music and carefree. Even the traffic is relaxed and very seldom we see a traffic jam!

In the capital everything is business, everything can be sold and bought. In every corner we find someone selling something. In the central area, near the Derek Walcott Square (Nobel Prize of Literature – one of the several St Luciens laureated with the prize), you can find minute made passport photos, Justice of Peace who will stamp any document you may need on top of their plastic tables under the shade of the official buildings.
We would advise a shopping visit to La Place Carenage, for duty free shopping and to the local market for handcrafts and to eat local food at very low prices (hole in the wall style restaurants)

But if you decide to take the communal bus from Rodney Bay to Castries, don't forget to visit the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception.
An impressionant building withstanding the rigor of the Caribbean weather for several centuries and witness to all the major changes that happened in this island. Although in very bad shape and in need of urgent work, the religious building is something to be admired from inside and outside.

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