We are finally legally admitted to St. Lucia. After never finding the immigration officer at Marigot Bay, we traveled to Rodney Bay and made contact at the local office. It wasn’t a problem we had stayed on the island for a few days without fully checking in. We know a couple of other boats having issues checking in at Marigot Bay before us, so I’m sure this was not a big surprise for the officer at Rodney Bay. She stamped our passports and that was that.
We ran into some cruising friends and had a great time boat hopping and catching up on each other’s adventures. Some fellow cruisers we know went home for Thanksgiving. They made the fatal mistake of asking if we needed anything from the USA. We ordered online and shipped it to their house. We manage to fill up a large duffle bag of things on our wish list. They checked the bag for us on their return flight and skillfully managed to escape paying duty when arriving into St. Lucia and conversing with customs. We happily reimbursed them for the airline fees since this was much lower than shipping the items to us from the USA to St. Lucia.
Rodney Bay was a bust. There were a few nice things like a decent grocery store and quite a few good restaurants but for the most part, I didn’t care much for St. Lucia. Don’t get me wrong, we are glad we came here to visit but it isn’t high on our list of favorite places.
St. Lucia has a reputation for crime. This underlying aspect takes away from a lot of the pleasantness. The scenery and the massive pitons are beautiful. The economy seems to be doing well as there is a lot of construction. However, there were a couple of times we felt very vulnerable. Once instance was when we took some advice from the St. Lucia Guide Book and decided to walk about an area of Gros Islet. The guide painted this as a picturesque fishing town with brightly painted stores and houses. What we found were groups of men drinking on the street in the mid-morning, people using and selling drugs and lots of stray dogs.
There was some excitement in the marina as the boats in the ARC+ were arriving. The ARC+ is an Atlantic Ocean crossing. The arriving boats just sailed their final leg from Cape Verde to St. Lucia some 2090 nm (2405 miles – 3870 kilometers). Needless to say, there were some celebrations as about 200 boats crossed the finish line over about 7 days.
We took a 20 minute bus ride into Castries, the capital of St. Lucia. The covered market claims to be one of the best in the world according to a National Geographic article. I was not impressed. Pretty much everyone was selling the same “made in china” stuff. And, the prices were very high. The vendors were really taking advantage of the cruise ship passengers. I like to collect tea towels as souvenirs. They make the perfect keepsake. They are cheap and are functional aboard the boat. British people will know what tea towels are. So, please forgive me while I explain the purpose of a tea towel to the American readers. Tea towels are large cotton cloths used in the kitchen, usually to dry dishes or hands and wipe down the counter tops. They are not terry cloth towels. They are thinner and not fuzzy. Europeans use them instead of paper towels and they dry quickly. Europeans often purchase tea towels printed with maps or city information as a souvenir or gift item when on vacation. I was hoping to buy a couple of tea towels at the market. A few of the vendors had them but they were the most expensive towels I have encountered. I thought they might haggle on the price but they didn’t. They were content with letting me walk away. A couple of days later, when shopping for groceries, we saw a gift shop and purchased our St. Lucia tea towel. It was half the price of the downtown market stalls. We have found the same to be true with fruit and vegetables on St. Lucia. Normally we buy from street vendors because their produce is cheaper and fresher than the stores. It was completely the opposite on St. Lucia. The store produce was about 30% cheaper and much fresher.
We both agree the people of St. Lucia are not very friendly. They do not engage easily in conversation, they don’t joke or smile with the tourists. The only time people were nice to us was when they were trying to sell something or a service. I hate to say this, when someone greeted us and said hello my immediate thought was what are they selling. We were panhandled and solicited more on St. Lucia than any other island we’ve visited. The icing on the cake was when Cindy went to check us out of customs and immigration. She returned to the boat commenting about how rude they were. For Cindy to complain about being treated rudely, it must have been dreadful. One of the great things about our lifestyle is that on the next island there is a clean slate. Nothing is holding us and we can always move on. So, we are. We are off to Martinique now and are not looking back.
I’ll let you decide who is correct. I laughed hard at this because I thought it showed a pregnant lady drinking Piton beer (second from the right). She’s even wearing a necklace. I thought how wonderfully politically incorrect. Cindy says it is a guy with a beer gut. She’s probably right but I like my version better. I’ll chuckle every time I use this tea towel.