Sunday, July 9, 2017

A Sunday Drive - Scoping It Out

My Mom and Nephew are due to arrive on Tuesday afternoon. Not being one to tempt fate, and with the Country’s Carnival holiday coming up… I wanted to secure a rental car in advance so that we could do a little bit of reconnaissance and some provisioning. We picked up our rental car on Sunday morning and invited JL and Michael to come with us on an island tour! 

Our first mission was to time our trip to the airport… That way there would be no surprises and we would know how soon to leave to pick up our arriving guests… And… there are a couple of neat things to do very near there.

View from the hilltop
I’ve been Googling “things to do in St. Lucia” and have quite a list! The Vigie Airport is quite close, unlike the main international airport at the south end of the island. Thankfully this is where we would collect my Mom… And the fact that there are Snack Shacks and a lovely introductory beach just across the narrow road to the airport is a bonus!

Just up the road… and a really big hill… is the Vigie Lighthouse! I LOVE lighthouses!!! We took the little-rental-car-that-could up, up, up the steep incline and took in the view!

This lighthouse isn’t in very good shape. Sure, it’s got a nice coat of paint on it… but that’s mainly to hold the crumbling cement and flaking rust together for another year!!! The information on the internet advises that the tower is not open to the public… But…

I struck up a conversation with William, the Keeper. Before long I asked him if we could just take a peek inside… We’re nice people! PLEASE??? 

Mumbling something about “a truckload of trouble” he dug his keyring out of a deep pocket and opened the big red door for us! Hey… it can’t hurt to ask! 

The metal spiral staircase seemed solid enough… We wound our way up the very short distance to the top, then I got a little shaky when I set eyes upon the really flaky platform and railing… 

A dumbwaiter for conveying the kerosine to the tower

He follows so that if I fall he can catch me...  Awwww!

The tiny doorway leading out onto the viewing platform had seen better days… as had the cement platform and rusted out handrails. I gulped down my fear and trusted in my Guardian Angel to keep me from plummeting to maiming or possible death on the concrete below. 

Of course I let Bruce go out first, because that’s the kind of girl I am… 

I let the camera take the “looking down” picture because I can’t bear it…

Then I escaped back inside to the (relative) safety of the indoors… plus I needed a moment to myself to contemplate the return down those steep stairs!

WOW! That was fun… but I won’t be bringing my Mom and Nephew here. I think Nate would like it but I can’t see my Mother doing any of this…

William, the Keeper
Backtracking down the hill and along the airport road, we stopped to take a walk through a very unique cemetery. You know how I love them! This one was mostly aboveground but had some lesser graves with simple headstones that were buried… not sure why… It wasn’t a very old cemetery, we couldn’t find anything earlier than the 1900’s. But it was still fun to poke around and see the many former residents of St. Lucia take their final opportunity to establish their individuality… forever!

My favorite

I had a whole day mapped out and hoped to get us across the island’s interior to the lighthouse on the southern tip… Next point of interest was the La Toc Battery. It’s a nicely restored near-ruin of one of the sites that once housed military operations for the island… There were no guns left in the round turrets but we could see the layout of the place and the view was pretty nice… 

By this time we were becoming ravenous and finding lunch moved to the top of our list! Funny thing about these islands. The locals lunch places are open until the food is gone, then they close, many don’t even open back up for dinner, let alone stay open for business throughout the afternoon. You can never depend upon finding food unless you’re in the tourist zone! 

Local Bread

We stopped at a few likely looking spots only to be disappointed… No lunch. We crossed the centre of the island and were nearing the coastal town of Dennery when… STOP!!! Go back! That little place on the side of the hill has a line of locals and one of those food warming cases… We jumped out and approached… watching closely to see what was the deal… 

I asked a man standing off to the side eating a sandwich what was good to eat here… His answer: “The Local Bread Sandwich”. I thought he meant local bread as in, the bread is made locally… and that is true. But come to find out later, it may be a “type” of bread as well, because several people we mentioned the place to said “Ahhh yes, the Local Bread”. 

Sometimes we feel like we’re the luckiest people in the world. What happened as a random stop ended up being pure delight! We found the Dancing Baker of Deanery!

Hidden inside a dark and “rustic” room with no sign pointing to it’s greatness… was a stone oven with a real fire-baking bread oven! The Baker danced to the music of the nearby restaurant as he placed the loaves of Local Bread onto his paddle and shoved them off into the pit to bake… bringing out the goldeny good ones and dumping them into a basket to be made into sandwiches or served with just butter. 

After watching the Baker for a while, our stomaches reminded us that this was not a social call… The man making the sandwiches advised us of our choices… Herring ( tasted it…ick), Saltfish Salad (never-in-a-million-years), luncheon meat and cheese, or just butter. Bring on the Luncheon Meat and cheese!!!

Golden Palace
He made our sandwiches, which we took up onto the patio of the Golden Palace… must be a name left over from another time… We bought drinks and sat to watch the world go by in this little random gem of a place. Ladies back in the kitchen were making hamburgers for a big order using the round buns from another basket. They wouldn’t sell us any of those, but we took a bagful of the Local Bread with us… The whole thing, lunch, drinks and extra buns to-go were less than $15 US. 
Hey dude... can you tell me where the washroom is?

This is where the ladies room is... Sorry I asked...

The afternoon was advancing into evening and we were feeling pressed for time. Bruce didn’t want to drive on these roads at night, and I don’t blame him! We continued on down the eastern coastline heading south… There isn’t much to do on this side of the island… but we did stop at one spot that may or may not have a waterfall. I was voted the one to follow the jungle trail to the river to see if it was feasible… I found a movie-worthy view of a little river and could HEAR the falls, but it was too wet from recent rains and we didn’t really have time to explore the jungle… There is also another waterfall somewhere over here called LaTille Falls… but we couldn’t find it… RATS!

We rounded the south end of the island, found the lighthouse but it was closed and we couldn’t even get close enough for a photo… then we turned north along the eastern side of the island. Here the roads are steep and winding with intermittent views of the famous Pitons. 

A peek at the peak!

Hurry1  It's getting DARK!

And then we were HOME! Our day was done and while we didn’t very find a place to swim or even have time to visit the famous drive-in volcano… we did have a fun day and got a look at this beautiful island!

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