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St. Lucia, Caribbean

January 11, 2008

St. Lucia is one of the Windward Islands group of the Lesser Antilles. It measures approximately 14 miles east and west, and 27 miles north and south. The population is approximately 160,000 people. English is the official language but many islanders speak a French-Creole mixture. The Windward Islands are called such because they were more windward to the sailing ships arriving in the New World than the Leeward Islands, as prevailing trade winds in the West Indies blow from east to west. The trans-Atlantic currents and winds that provide the fastest route across the Atlantic Ocean, brought these ships to the rough dividing line between the Windward and Leeward Islands.

Vessels in the Atlantic slave trade departing from the African Gold Coast and Gulf of Guinea were first to encounter the southeastern most islands of the Lesser Antilles following their west-northwesterly headings to the final destinations in the Caribbean Sea and Central America.

Despite its peaceful setting, St. Lucia has a turbulent and colorful history. Fierce Carib warriors overran the peaceful Arawaks in the 9th century. The first European settler, Francois Le Clerc, was a French Buccaneer. Le Clerc's countrymen followed in his wake, establishing the town of Soufriere in 1746. Sugar was the lure, sugar was king - within four decades some 50 plantations flourished on the triangle of sugar, slavery and rum. Today this beautiful island welcomes visitors drawing to its exotic tropical landscape, superb beaches, crystalline waters and colorful marine life.

St. Lucia Rainforest Tour

The photo on the left was really taken in St. Barths. The reason for the photo is our daughter works for Lamar. At this stop Crystal elected to go horseback riding -- consequently no photos. Lynn chose to take an elevated cable car trip through the rain forest. The photo on the right is the entrance to the tour stop.

There are a number of cable cars on the tram ride. We wait for our to arrive as only eight people can load on each car.

As the car leaves it travels through the approximate middle of the forest i.e. half way up. It was like traveling through a woods.

The photos give no sense of perspective as there is no foreground to include that can give a feeling of depth. The estimated distance to the rocks of the stream in the right photo is about 50 feet.

As we travel through the forest we encounter cars that are returning above us.

It is hard to see the size of the plants. The width of the ferns above are about 12 feet across.

Vines tangle themselves around trees as they fight to climb to the top and the sunlight. The fern on the right photo is over 15 feet across.

We travel about 1/2 mile into the forest. At that point we change elevation and begin our return journey somewhat above the trees.

At this point we are about 75 feet or more above the ground. The ferns are mammoth.

Along the way we see trailing vines hanging from the trees. The guide referred to them as Tarzan vines. Lynn asked how Tarzan could possibly have swung though the jungle on these vines without banging into another tree. The guide said she had never been asked that question and couldn't answer.

Numerous fruit are available and grow within the rain forest.

Many varieties of orchid grow wild in the forest.

I can't remember the proper name of the plant that grows on the trees but don't derive their nourishment from the tree. All the nourishment is derived from the air and the moisture that falls on the plant.

The towers that support the cable car are huge.

 

This is nearing the end of our return journey. When we unloaded from the cable car we went to the restroom. This sign was posted on the restroom wall.

While it seems strange there is a good reason. The entire island is largely rock. Thus, there is no way to build a soil drainage field. Therefore, it is customary on the island to throw the toilet paper into a wastebasket alongside the toilet rather than flushing it down the toilet.

On the way to the rain forest one of the passengers asked where the prettiest part of the island was. Our driver said it was on the south end of the island at the volcano that we could drive through. He offered to take us there for $20 each if we so chose and it would take about 40 minutes tops after we got back to the ship. We bit and swallowed the story hook line and sinker.

 

About an extended hour later we made this stop to take photos and use the restroom. It is a view of the pitons in the distance. The volcano we are to drive through are in the left edge of the photo above. We could see the smoke billowing up from the hills. The right photo was taken when we were much closer a half hour later.

This is a photo of the rest stop where we took the first photo. The man was carving a mask from a block of wood.

We expected to drive through the volcano. Instead we paid $10 at the gate and drove about 1,000 feet up the road to the end.

Somehow we expected a drive though to be a bit more than what we found. The volcano did have some bubbling water but not much more.

 In all the 40 minute journey and 40 minute return journey (tops) took a little over three hours before we got back to the ship. We all felt that we had been ripped off but we did pay the driver $20 each because that was our agreement with him. If we had taken the trip as a tour it would have cost us almost $50 each and we wouldn't have seen any thing more.

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