Diamonds International. It must be the Caribbean

January 9, 2020

In Dominica the touts were obnoxious.  We ran the gauntlet of operators trying to get us into their cab or boat.  When I said “no”, politely, I got a somewhat cross “Why?”  One driver followed us up the street “I will walk with you until I convince you to take my cab.”  We kept walking and finally, after repeated “whys” I said “My back hurts and I need to walk it out.”

“But my taxi has comfortable seats.”

In St. Lucia, perhaps because there are more tourists the touts have more finesse, or more opportunity so they are less despite.  “Do you want to take my taxi.”

“No Thank you.”

“Well welcome to St. Lucia.”

And when you do engage the haggling it’s fun.

“First time in St. Lucia?”


“Oh, you a virgin, not too many of those, how about the virgin rate?”

Getting off in St. Lucia you really KNOW you’re in the Caribbean.  We were the small ship in port with two much bigger ones.  And right off the dock, Diamonds International, Columbia Emeralds and Tanzanite (which, I think is a gemstone invented by the cruise companies.)

I had already decided that we would take either a taxi or a water taxi.  I also decided that I would not try to book one where the cruise ship docked.  So, we took a ferryboat to downtown to get better taxi rates.  And we did. We booked a water taxi to take us down Island to Soufriere, the town Lonely Planet calls “The heart and soul of St. Lucia,” and then to a beach with a peak into Marigot bay on the way back.  (I wanted to visit Marigot because in the 18th century this enclosed harbor hit the entire English fleet.  They put palm fronds on the masts and the French sailed right past.)  The island was “settled” by the French and changed hands several times before becoming British and independent.

The operator offered a good price and told us he wanted to round up a few more passengers so we had time to wander Castries, the capital, for a few minutes.  I wanted to see the Church (The Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception) which is noted for its painted interior.  When we got there during a service for school girls in uniform.  The girls were singing “Rock a My Soul” and when they sang “So high, can’t get over it,” their hands shot up in the air.

The water taxi man had picked up a party of Canadians from Winnipeg off a Carnival Ship.  Carnival has a reputation as a party boat and this crew may be true exemplars.  At the beach they liked their run punches and, on the way back to Castries, each time the boat slapped a wave they yelled “Yee Ha.”  They sang along with the Reggae on the speakers which were loud enough to cover the roar of the twin Yamaha 300s and they all looked terribly red by the end of the afternoon.  I fear they’ll be sore tonight.  It was a fun boat. But we KNOW Winnipeggers know how to have fun!

We wandered around Soufriere, visiting the market and some shops, and people watched in Freedom Square, which has a monument to a slave rebellion which has a slave throwing a cannon ball.  In Freedom Square one guy was sounding off for some tourists “We need freedom.  It is the most important thing.  We need freedom to carry our drinks from bar to bar and freedom to smoke wherever we want.  You are not free.  We are.”

Surprisingly the boatman did not have an uncle in Soufriere who owns a souvenir shop.  It was a restaurant, he accepted “no thanks” first time and still let us use the toilets.

One of the things enjoyed particularly in both Castries and Soufriere were the signs advertising different things like “I LOVE SEX’ with a phone number, or “Legal Hustler.”   One of my favorites was a long explanation of how eating the wrong foods can lead to costly medical bills, so better eat healthy — here.

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