Caribbean Day 6: Castries

Well rain does a really great job of drowning out the sounds of the critters. I swear it sounds like every square inch of the jungle is ALIVE and calling out. I’m surprised those things out there can even tell what’s going on over the commotion. A nice big downpour passed through and that’s about all I could hear.

When we got up in the morning we found this humungous grass hopper on our wall, literally the length of my hand. I took a picture of it, but the scale just doesn’t show. I didn’t know they made grasshoppers in Godzilla sizes, but there he was. A couple of finches also joined us in our living room. They’ve been so inquisitive and friendly since I first saw them.

I really like where we’re staying, I know I’ve mentioned this, but it’s so beautiful and well maintained. I love that Josee, the owner is going to let me do my laundry which will get me to about the halfway point of the trip. I like that we have a kitchen and it has things in it for breakfast (and 2 beers). I love the attention to detail. I also love that Pierre can drive us down to catch the bus, or is offered as a backup if we get lost coming back from the bay.

Running out of food in the fridge, I scrambled the last 2 eggs with some onion left in there, added some pepper, a side of toast and a banana and voila, a full breakfast! Gary wanted just toast and banana, trying to save room for Roti in Castries. I’m always hungry though, I’m sure by the time we get on the bus I’ll be hungry. One of the plus sides (I guess?) to all the cycling is I’ve lost more than 30lbs this last year, and can pretty much always eat.

Pierre was to drop us off at “The Gap”, the bus stop on the way to Castries. First he had to stop and pick up and English friend to take him to the auto repair shop. I found this really kind of entertaining, to get someone’s impressions on living here. Hear stories about how one day the road is fine, and then the rain comes and suddenly there is a pothole the size of a washing machine. I got to hear about the guys hocking pot, and how prevalent growing is here (we’ve been approached maybe 10 times about buying weed here) which didn’t surprise me. And about how hard it is to get anything from overseas into the country without paying 60% taxes on it. Fun insight.

We didn’t have to wait long for the bus to swing by and jumped on board. We crammed in with the locals and set off. The guy sitting next to me, Glenn, turned out to actually be a programmer working in Castries who went to Queen’s College in New York! He was a nice guy and when we got to Castries was happy to show us around to the different buses we would need to get to Gros Islet , and back to Marigot Bay. He said that when he was in New York so many people helped him out that he wants to repay the favor. I was really surprised to hear that actually, it absolutely goes against the stereotype. We decided to first head to Gros Islet and Pigeon Point since we weren’t quite hungry yet, so we hopped one of the buses Glenn told us we should take and set off.

Somewhere along the way we picked up a French couple going the same way. When the bus stopped at the end of the line, they paid the driver to take the bus just a bit closer and drop us off at the start of the walk. We had to go along the beach for a couple of miles to the national park. Rodney Bay is pretty upscale along certain sections, but the town itself is run down. There are a lot of boats in the bay, many of them are cruisers, Marigot Bay where we’re staying on the other hand is filled with charter boats. There is also a Sandals resort we need to cross to get where we’re going. We strike up a conversation with the French couple and I’m made aware how much more French I’ve forgotten over the years. It gets better as we walk, but never good enough to have a conversation all in French. Apparently the woman noticed all of the bites on my legs and tells me she had gotten Dengue and shows me her medication. It’s not the first I’ve seen or heard of it on the island, when we climbed Gros Piton I saw a sign recommending bug spray. I’m not out of the woods yet, but hopefully with all these bites I don’t pick it up. Anything with a nickname like Breakbone fever sounds pretty miserable.

Eventually we get to the park entrance after walking past tons of tourists lounging on expensive chairs, getting way too much sun and way too little culture. The French couple split off to go swim and Gary and I go climb up to the top of Fort Rodney. I wasn’t expecting this to be a hike, and it definitely was though not too strenuous of one. The views were great though, well worth it. Near the top we got quite hungry, and I’m glad this time, unlike Gros Piton, I brought 2 cliff bars, 1 for each of us. Fed a bit, we set off up to the top. What a view. Both the Atlantic and Caribbean sides could be seen. We soaked it in and headed back down.

It wasn’t too hard finding our way back to the bus, in fact the driver was waiting for more passengers before setting off so he was even waving at us. We hopped on and off we went. The driver had the radio tuned to a talk show, which was quite interesting as well. Today was really turning into a day of current Lucian culture. The woman on the radio was from the Green Party, and was talking about the need for serious discussion regarding the legalization of marijuana. She also was also on a platform of equal rights for homosexuals. The debate seemed so very similar to back home.

Eventually we arrived in Castries and did our walkabout. We headed towards the center of town with a couple goals: a post office, a super market, and some street food. We headed first through a little market area filled with tacky souvenirs clearly there for the cruise ships, Gary was looking for something to bring home to his nieces. We popped out there other side and kept walking, eventually finding a place selling Roti, a meal similar to the Thai Roti Mataba I’d had and loved, and a favorite of the Trinidad and Guyanese populations . Both are adaptations from East Indian cuisine. We sat down and had 2 different types and were quite satisfied. They’re kind of like curry filled burritos I suppose. We had a chat with the owner a bit before leaving to find the post office.

On our way we found a bank, and wanting to pay in cash for our hotel to help the owners out I tried withdrawing around $450 but failed for some reason, but I didn’t put up much of a flight, it’s nice to be able to pay with my credit card since I get cash back anyway. The post office was right next door and Gary mailed a couple of post cards home, and bought a couple stamps as souvenirs.

Around the corner we found a pharmacy and a grocery store. I picked up something for the bug bites, it’s too early to tell if it helped at all. And next door we picked up a couple bottles of water. I’m glad we got 2, by the time we got back to our guesthouse we had drank 1.

It was a hot day. We caught the next bus towards Marigot Bay filled with students going home from class. It was kind of cute and these little kids, they would yell out “bus stop!” in unison. A highschool boy and girl were sitting next to me clearly infatuated with each other. Life is pretty normal I guess. The bus nearly emptied at our stop, and we made the longish hike down to the bay then back up our road. I seem to be picking hotels high on ridges; we’re getting a lot of exercise walking back and forth to our place. Gary says his Doctor will be a big fan of mine!

Gary went down to the pool as soon as we got back, I took the opportunity to take a nice cold shower and start my laundry. Thanks to Josee’s kindness with the use of the washing machine, I now have enough clean clothes to make it nearly to the end of my trip. I just need to do one more load along the way, and I think my stop in Saba just might have laundry service, which would be just perfect! I took the rest of the afternoon talking with Jennifer over IM wishing she could have joined me, and working on my journal and photos.

By around 6 laundry was done and we headed back down to the bay for dinner at Chateau Mygo again, this time to try the Lucian version of Roti. The rum punch was nice, but I think I liked the one we had for lunch better. While we sat there it started to pour, but let up about when we were ready to leave. We paid our tab and headed back up the hill, only a few steps out the door and it started POURING. We kept going and reached our guest house drenched! We sat down outside and enjoyed the 2 Piton beer left in our fridge and marveled at all the critters on the walls, there was a gecko, our giant grasshopper had made it outside, 4 frogs, and what seemed like a spackling of bugs next to the lights. We didn’t stay long and retired to our rooms.

I was just about ready for sleep and I think Gary was when we heard a bang and got up. The wind was howling and had opened our doors which were slamming against the side of the building. We couldn’t get one of the doors to be secured so I had to run outside and push a chair up against it. It was hard to sleep, all of the noise from the weather and the critters, but I was so tired I eventually couldn’t keep my eyes open.

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