THE CARIBBEAN’S TOO SWEET!
SAINT LUCIA (October 6, 2011) – It’s back on the road again – this time in the Eastern Caribbean island of Saint Lucia where I have been reminded of one of life’s sweetest experiences.
My travels started last Friday from New York to San Juan where I spent the day running around the island doing site inspections of hotels ably assisted by a friend who moved back home from New Jersey. It was a particularly taxing exercise as I had still been operating at half-throttle due to a taxing allergy and cold combo which had significantly reduced my drive.
Arriving in Saint Lucia, the same night, it was straight to the bustling Rodney Bay area to catch up with friends where I enjoyed some Caribbean-style pizza. Now don’t be grossed out – I was hanging with Trinis – so, yes, it was layered with ketchup!
The following morning it was off to the beautiful colonial town of Soufrière, the former French capital of Saint Lucia, where I was pleased to see progress of a number of infrastructural projects started by the current Government following the devastation caused by Hurricane Tomas a year earlier.
The pace with which Soufrière is recovering is encouraging and represents the strong political capital for the Minister of Tourism, Senator Allen Chastanet, who is running in the constituency for the first time against Harold Dalson, the seasoned incumbent from the opposition Saint Lucia Labour Party. Senator Chastanet wants to go beyond disaster reconstruction to develop the immensely photogenic Soufrière into a primary tourist destination attracting greater revenues to benefit the community.
The evening was spent at the award-winning Fond Doux Holiday Plantation, where French colonial cottages overlook lush green gardens and original colonial cocoa racks. It was there that I experienced that sweet experience.
It wasn’t just the sumptuous cuisine of fresh red snapper and the Creole breakfast of salt fish and bakes the next morning. Nor was it gazing at the picturesque tropical foliage and lush avocado pears beckoning from their branches.
Rather, it happened some time around midnight. It’s approaching the end of the rainy season in the Caribbean and as I was getting set for sleep, the rain started falling with a tropical vengeance. The sweet thing then suddenly happened – it was the sound of Mother Nature pounding on the galvanized roofing which took me back to my childhood days, and into a deep sleep of the very young and innocent.
As I awoke and shared my story, my friends confirmed this truly is one of the sweetest of many experiences offered by the Caribbean.
The remaining day was spent at a massive political rally in the fishing town of Dennery, before enjoying a relaxing day in Castries on Monday which was a public holiday. Monday’s highlight? Chicken pelau and coleslaw prepared by Richardson Skinner, one of the leading chefs in the region.
Now it’s off to Barbados in a day or two, where Momma’s home cooking beckons.
In spite of the challenges our people face on a daily basis in the Caribbean, I must say life here in the tropics can be real sweet – especially for people like me who are postponing – for a few warm days – the chilly embrace of Old Man winter.
Until next week, stay well!
CAPTION: Senator Allen Chastanet getting into election gear with residents of Soufrière, Saint Lucia.