Sunday, February 26, 2012

Day 4:

  Becky's still feeling under-the-weather but is bound-and-determined to go on this next shore-excursion of "swim under a tropical waterfall" (4 hours).  It takes a bit to drive there as we land on the island of St.Lucia but all we have to do is sit there in a mini-van.  There's a promise of a lunch in there somewhere too so we're pretty much ready to go.  Becky's bein' a real trooper about it.

  The "Duty Free" mall of St.Lucia is relatively close to the port and we wait in a mob of people inside as it starts to rain.  Eventually we get things sorted out and hundreds of people divide-up into their relative groups for St.Lucia exploration.

  After we wait our turn we get on the Toyota van with a few others and are driven into the main town of Castries.  It reminds me a lot like Belmopan, Belize: concrete structures, wet and muggy and 2nd-world nation-like conditions.  Japanese cars are prevalent.

After about 15 minutes we arrive way up on top of a small mountain and get a nice panoramic view of the bay.

However, the vista (and all the other 6 stops along the trip) are strategically located near hawkers of cheap, Chinese trinkets that are pretty rabid.  Not as bad as the ones at Nassau, but pretty intense.  We escaped from buying plastic beads.  I mention to Becky, "Isn't it interesting we sold beads to these natives in the early 1500's and now they're trying to sell them back to us?"  The locals seemed dejected at our uninterest.  I didn't try the local beer, "Piton" (named after the twin mountains, "The Piton Mountains" St.Lucia is known for).  After seeing more of St.Lucia, we didn't try anything much there.

 We continued upwards even higher until the tour guide said, "Okay, now we're in for a roller coaster ride."  She wasn't kidding.  For the next 3 hours we winded at 50mph, often crossing the "double yellow" line into oncoming surprise traffic non-stop ala the road to Cripple Creek (for those that know).  What's more interesting is that their cars are right-hand-drive, so we're driving on the left side of the road to give an angle of more nausea.  Towards the end, a frail boy in the back of the van vomited, finally.. twice.  Poor kid.  At 3.5 hours of it, I think he expressed all our involuntary desires.  I graciously didn't film him close-up demanding "more feeling".
 There's a lot of poor people in St.Lucia.  They seem lost.  I've seen poor but those that are content or happy, these are not happy.  Life seems pointless to a lof of these crazy old folks.  We didn't stop much but I was able to snap a few "life photos".

 We were warned not to buy from occasional crazy old men trying to sell us snakes.  Indeed, we saw a few men, jumping into the highway holding small constrictors above their heads demanding a sale.  "Is that a snake in your hands or are you just happy to see me?"  What kind of life is that?  "Hey, I'm a crazy old man!  I just found a snake!  I just picked it up!  You wanna buy it?"  "BUY MY SNAKE, cruise-ship people!!!  It'll pass through customs!  BUY MY SNAKE!"

 We stop at a small bathroom break after an hour or so where we're accosted by non-human speaking orcs.  We're encouraged to try "banana ketchup" though not on a precious chip, on our bare finger.  A bit vulgar but I tried it anyway.  banana-ketchup-flavored finger is okay.  Tangy but nothing to blog about.  Oh, wait.  During this time, a crazy old man was taking palm fronds and bending them into fish shapes and demanding a photo with Becky.  I obliged, but then was demanding she buy them, which I got her out of there pretty quick.  He was pretty pissed off we didn't buy some leaves he found and twisted up.

 We escape there into another large town (more roller coaster) about 45 minutes later where we stop again, and are accosted.

  We're learning to stay inside the van now, though those that got our were urged to buy some granite rocks some guy found that he put onto a broken wooden cart.  The cart was right next to more rocks that it seems he just picked-up.  There was nothing notable about the rock by one's foot or on his cart, and it's extremely unlikely he owns any property here.  $10.  Uh-huh.  At least paint a smiley-face on them for chrissake.
  After 3 hours we get to "The Waterfall" where we can have a "romantic swim" in, just like in 1980's Playboy videos, all sassy-like.  We're pretty much high-up in some jungle territory now, away from any city folks (though we had stopped at a stop-sign "Pare" one point where children were smashing their fists on the glass trying to get us to buy beads).  It starts raining pretty good now, though we have our bathing suits under our clothes.
  Here's the "Romantic Waterfall":

 The "Romantic Waterfall" is about 3 feet deep and muddy like rust.  The bottom has hard stones.

 It's about 20 feet high and ice-cold.  One child tried the water and shivered and accidentally drank a tiny bit of it.  He was the same one that vomited on the van.  We were warned not to drink it or we'll get sick.  The wait-in-line for the bathroom was 30 minutes.  Someone asked, "Where does the waste water go when you flush?  I see no plumbing!"  I mentioned, "It goes back up to that waterfall."  The line to the unisex toilets was not covered completely in the downpour.

 On the way back (1 more hour as we took a shortcut [which annoyed me because we could have avoided all the bead-sellers otherwise and saved 2 hours of roller-coastering]) we stopped to see the Piton Mountains overlooking the 3rd slum town.

 During this 1 minute space before the downpour followed us, dozens of children chased after our van to try and sell us more Chinese shit.  When we got back to St.Lucia's Duty Free Mall, Becky commented how she was angry with the president of St.Lucia allowing the island to get to such slum-like conditions (Dame Pearlette Louisy (age 65 now) who's house we saw has been General-Governor for 15 years and in my opinion is doing a shitty job at it).  The tour-guide ended our trip with a sad, weak, whimpering, croaking version of the St.Lucia national anthem.
  We saw some of the best hotels and I suspect they might not have more than dirt floors.  There's no Marriott on this island, though there is a Sandals' Resort, which I hear is pretty okay, though from driving by it looked so-so.
  Ugh.  We got back to the ship and watched ourselves sail-out to free frozen yogurt.
  That evening we lightened the mood by watching an "ice show" onboard the ship.  There's a skating rink onboard, and a professional show was put-on at 8pm.  I had a nice Macallan scotch and had center-ice with Becky and a nice other older couple in their late 60s and the theme was The Beatles and a few other interesting art-like demonstrations, including triple-axels that'd stop right inches from my face!  I'd applaud loudly and the skaters would acknowledge that, yes, it's very difficult to do, and thank you.  The show was not bad at all.
  At least I didn't vomit.

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