Castries, St. Lucia
On Thursday, March 8, we pulled into Castries, the main city on the island of St. Lucia. St. Lucia once had a history of rapid changes of European owners, but today it is a member of the British Commonwealth. So, of course, they drive on the wrong side of the street (dangerous for Americans used to looking left before crossing the street).
I don’t know how many people live here, but it is a pretty small town. There were three other cruise ships in this small harbor, and they were big ones, so the population here today was probably only about 75% local citizens.
After breakfast we walked into town, a pleasant stroll around the bay that took about half an hour. Among other things, there was a fellow selling these bird bowl carvings (many of which we saw later all around Castries), which were hanging from a tree.
We visited the local crafts market, which mostly sold clothes, and came upon an unusual statue.
The best things we saw were around Derek Walcott Square. Derek Walcott is a poet born on St. Lucia (though he has lived mostly on Trinidad), who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992. Actually, St. Lucia has had two Nobel Laureates; Sir William Arthur Lewis won for Economics in 1979. That’s quite a lot for such a small island, & they are quite proud of that; busts of both Nobel Laureates are displayed in the center of Derek Walcott Square.
In the park was a painted fountain & a huge tree said to be 400 years old. Most of the gates to the park are topped by cherubim, who have green grass strategically painted over their private parts!
On one side of the square is the cathedral. It looks like drab grey stone on the outside, but the inside is full of color and rich in character. It was prefabricated in France and shipped here & assembled in the 1890’s; the interior ceiling buttresses & the background construction on the stage are made of cast iron, in the fashion (and perhaps by) Eiffel. Altogether one of the more delightful churches we have seen, though far from the most elaborate.
On the other side of the square is the nicest looking building in the city (from the outside), the Carnegie Central Library. We were surprised to find a Carnegie library this far from the United States. And in the children’s room was the ubiquitous cartoon character that some of you know & love.
And on a third side of the square was a block of nice older wood and lattice buildings, including the Ministry of Justice.
That’s pretty much all there was of interest. I don’t have a picture, but on our walk we came across a group of kids about 10 years old playing cricket with plastic bats, ball & wickets in a small school yard. Great enthusiasm, but very little skill. Cricket is pretty much a mystery to me, but I’m pretty sure that you aren’t supposed to pitch the ball two feet behind the batter, and you aren’t supposed to throw your bat 10 feet when you swing. The rest of the island is quite lush rainforest, with a volcanic mountain in the interior and lots of nice beaches, but we didn’t see any of that (except from the ship as we pulled out). We ended the day with a nice but muted sunset.