Today we were scheduled to take a bus ride around the island of St. Lucia, and services were planned at 9AM, where I was songleading, so that we could leave at 11AM and get going and be back well before the Bible Study planned at 6:30PM. Almost immediately, things went awry because of island time, or rather, several different types of island time. At the very least, as the songleader for services, I was able to keep services moving along pretty well, and the speakers managed to keep within time, so we began and ended when we should have, and were able to change and go out to wait for the buses. It is at this point where things started going awry. For one, there were three vans/minibuses of various size to take our group around the island, and it was not until nearly 11:30AM, half an hour later, when we were all loaded and ready to go. At that point we went, with a tour guide among our brethren on our van who managed to describe to us the various towns that made up the larger cities of St. Lucia that we passed through.
It should be noted that St. Lucia, with a population of about 175,000, does not have any particularly large cities. Rodney Bay, where the feast is held, is part of Gros Islet, which has a population of about 22,000 at present, which makes it the second largest city in the entire country. This area sits about twenty minutes north of the capital, Castries, which has about 60-70,000 people, by far the largest city in the entire country. Only a few other cities even crack 10,000 people. At any rate, one could hardly go to St. Lucia as an island for the people, seeing as there are so few of them. That said, as we were making our way through Castries, we noted the businesses, the logistics–which are pretty rudimentary in some points, since the airfield in Castries cannot be expanded without some dramatic efforts since it is bounded completely by roads, the Caribbean Sea, and an impressive necropolis, one of several impressive graveyards with above ground houses for the dead that I saw in the country during the course of my trip.
The trip itself did not go according to plan for several reasons. For one, the group itself managed to self-segregate. Most of the Trinidadians, for example, found themselves in the van driven by a Trinidadian that had a sticker on the windshield advertising the Soca Warriors, the nickname of Trinidad & Tobago’s men’s national team for soccer. As a result, those of us sitting in the bus (where I sat in the back and sought to rest my feet frequently) were divided mostly between St. Lucians and Americans. It made for an interesting mixture and a great deal of humorous conversation, as we had a few Jamaicans who ended up being the last ones on our bus most of the time, prompting a few comments among the more time-conscious local brethren about the fact that Jamaicans are a bit more laid back when it comes to time than the people of St. Lucia, which I can believe. There were a few unauthorized stops as well, the first one being close to the Governor General’s house in Castries, and also including one stop near the Petit Pithon in a small town on the Atlantic Coast of the country where many people got out to eat. This became a recurring theme during the trip, actually, that our party wanted to eat at every opportunity, regardless of what it meant for our schedule.
After our initial stop, it was not too long before we reached the area of the sulfur springs that came from the world’s only drive-in volcano. At this top the smell was pretty overpowering, nearly making one member of our party nauseous. There were some scrawny chickens around that I was sizing up as well as some lovely but malodorous streams where people would put the white mud on their bodies for help with their complexion. Given that I saw at least a few people smoking before going to the mud area for their skin, I figured that they would likely help their skin far more by stopping smoking than by putting some sort of stinky clay on their skin. Anyway, that’s just my own opinion, and after we made that stop we were soon driving in Vieux Fort and an area that I was familiar with from my trip from that airport when I first arrived in the country . I struck my fellow passengers as a pretty aware and knowledge traveler, which I consider to be a very good thing. Being observant is apparently a good help in such matters.
The way back to our hotel from Vieux Fort was, consequently, not particularly exciting. It was nice to see some random stores like the local pharmacy chain with a name suspiciously close to an American fast food restaurant. It was also curious to note that KFC is a particularly popular chain in the country as well for whatever reason. We ended up making one more unauthorized stop at a lovely overlook area where more of our members decided to stop and eat some chicken at a lovely BBQ with a great view. This last stop led us to arriving in the capital on our way back during rush hour traffic, which meant that we did not end up getting back to our hotel until about 6PM, which left us just enough time to do a quick change and head off to the Bible Study after that. So want went wrong? Too many stops for food–none of them long enough to make me feel comfortable eating, as I am a fairly slow eater, and too much dawdling made our schedule much later than it would have been in a more efficient group of people. Was it a disaster? Not at all, it was an enjoyable trip, even if a leisurely one. As someone who travels often, it is good to know that these things almost always take longer than they should . One just has to roll with it.
 See, for example:
 See, for example: