day when we docked at Castries, St. Lucia to visit this very beautiful Island in the windward chain lying between Martinique and St. Vincent. The dock is right in the middle of town, and the ship dwarfed the surrounding buildings and just fit in the space allotted. We disembarked and since we had no planned ships tour we contracted with the driver of a van to take us, the Thornton's and Raul and Marilyn a Philippine couple to take us on an around the island tour. First he told us a little about the economy which is 70% dependent on the banana, there are 2000 banana farmers on St Lucia, and on market day, the children regularly play hooky, just to help parents carry the crop to the processing plant. He said tourism is slow in starting, but the island is growing in popularity. I noticed a fair number of Rastafarians in town and our driver confirmed they made up an increasing segment of the islands residents.
He also said that the kids were not excelling because of the drug problem on the island. St. Lucia is know for the beautiful beaches, Waves beach is very close to Castries the capitol city with 50,000 people has 1/3 of the population of mainly African descent. Driving through the city we saw the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception built in 1897 and withstood several natural calamities and human disasters, and Derek Wolcott Square named for the native poet and Nobel laureate Derek Wolcott and in the square is a 400 year old samaan tree (aka "rain tree") a city landmark. We headed east across the island through the banana plantations for miles and miles of narrow two lane curvy roads, the banana pods where all covered with blue bags to keep the birds from eating the fruit. We made our way to Soufriere dating from the mid 18th
century and named after a nearby volcano. The pretty town has about 9000 residents, and located about 20 miles from Castries. The town’s natural sulfur springs were spawned by La Soufriere, the nearby volcano. People came to bathe in the pools of black pungent sulfurous water belch steam bubbles while visitors happily languish in hopes of relieving their painful joints. Adjoining this area is the Diamond falls which are fed by underground hot streams from the springs. Water temperature exceeds 100 degrees in the falls.
While driving around the island we stopped at a tea house and a chance to see the views from this elevation
. We drove by the trademark of the island its twin peaks known as Gros Piton and Petit Piton. These two spikes of lava over 2500 feet high have been a sailor’s landmark for hundreds of years.
Passing by Marigot bay our guide pointed out that this was a backdrop to the movie Dr. Doolittle a beautiful beach and a lush mountain background. From there we continued around the island up and down narrow mountain roads until we arrived back in Castries. We paid our guide who by the way was an excellent driver who could upshift and downshift so smoothly that you could only tell he was shifting from the change in engine sound there was no jerkiness at all. Back on the ship we had two sea days before arriving in Fort Lauderdale where we would disembark after 115 days on the ship.