Thursday St. Lucia
St. Lucia was settled by the Arawak Indians in 200 – 400 B.C. They were defeated and exiled by the violent Caribes who took control from 800 – 1000 A.D.
There is disagreement about which European actually discovered St. Lucia. But, the Pirate Francois le Clerc put the island on the map in the mid 1500’s by using the island as a base for his attacks on Spanish galleons.
Then, over 150 years, the island changed hands 14 times between the British and French. The Brits finally prevailed. The island gained its independence in 1979, but is still a member of the British Commonwealth. Queen Elizabeth is the ceremonial Head of State.
The island is rich with minerals because it is a volcanic island. The volcano is still active and visitors can drive into its crater.
The 19,000 acre National Rainforest is the home to the Jacquot or St. Lucia parrot, found nowhere else in the world.
St. Lucians drive on the left and cricket is the national sport.
The ship docked in the town of Castries where, during WWII, a German U-boat sailed into the harbor on the surface and sank two allied ships.
Rum is the drink of choice. Chairman’s Reserve is cask-aged dark rum. Crystal Lime is a clear rum infused with lime.
We signed up for the tour to the Rainforest. We rode in a large van to the park. Our tour guide at the park, Kersch, was terrific. We rode in eight passenger plus tour guide gondolas up through the trees. The gondola was like a ski lift (see pictures). The ride was 90 minutes, but it was so interesting that the time flew by.
These are a few of the thing Kersch showed us:
*The incense tree – the sap runs out onto the bark and dries, leaving a white powdery substance. The white powder is collected and used in Catholic services.
*Termites – termites make tunnels on the bark of old trees. They eat into the tree, creating fertilizer. It take years to destroy a tree. It is nature’s way of making room and food for new growth.
*A tree whose crushed leaves smell like cinnamon.
*Trees that are being used to treat cancer and other illnesses.
*The difference between a rainforest (with high canopies that discourage growth on the floor) and a jungle (where the canopy has been taken away and that allows sunlight to get to the floor and grow new plants).
*A male hummingbird guards his food source so he can show a female that he can provide for her. The male will fight of another male who gets too close. We saw this happen.
*Lemon grass that smells good and repels insects.
*Ficus vines grow on old trees. The vine grows up the tree then gets bigger and bigger, eventually strangling the old tree. When the old tree dies, the vine is sturdy enough to be a tree with a hollow center. This process can take 500 years.
After the gondola ride, we chose to take the optional nature walk with another couple and Kersch. He was amazing. He knew all the plants, how they grew, what they could be used for, and the Latin names.
This was a good tour and we would do it again if we could have Kersch as our guide.
As we left port, about sunset, we saw the Pitons. These are two peaks, very steep, created from hardened lava. Each is over 2000 feet tall. For these islands that is very high.
Dinner at 8:15
Appetizer: Scallop Ceviche
Entrees: Asian Spiced Duck, Prime Rib