Tuesday, June 3, 2014

St Lucia - Our Grand Day Out With Archie

At La Haut Resort -Pitons in the background

Friday May 31st.  We left s/v Honey Ryder at 8am and hopped in Archie's Daihatsu to begin our exploring.
Tom and Archie on the grounds of La Haut Resort 
We drove south along the west coast of St Lucia on winding roads.  Some of the hairpin turns are rather sharp and tight but drivers beep their horns to warn someone coming from the other side that they are there.  Additionally they will beep if there is a bus pulled over for a stop or people walking in the road.  Not loud, long NYC cab type honks but just a short beep as a heads up.
Road slides and wash outs are a problem in St Lucia

Sometimes the road conditions will require a driver to drive on the other side of the road - to miss a big pot hole or go around a bus dropping off a passenger.  They don't wait until the oncoming traffic is completely clear, they just drive over to the other side.  It's seems....well...crazy to us to be on the wrong side of the road with cars coming at you.  But the cars coming the other direction don't get upset.  They know that this car has to do this and it will soon go back to its side of the road soon so they slow down or stop to allow this.  No one gets upset.  We have seen NO road rage, just logical give and take that seems to make up driving conditions in St Lucia.
Tom with a mouthful of cassava bread

Look closely along the wall and you will see the 2 fireboxes used in the boiling and baking process
Our first stop was at a cassava bakery.  We learned how they peel, grate, and boil the cassava root in preparation for combining it with flour, grated coconut and other ingredients for baking.  We bought a sample - banana flavored.  It has the appearance of a big English muffin but is very dense.  I couldn't eat a whole one by myself, it's so dense. We split it three ways.  The valley behind the cassava bakery was filled with various plants and trees.  Archie took the time to point them all out and tell us about them.

Despite lack of rain turning some of the countryside brown, there was still quite a bit of green.  
Pool at La Haut Resort

Rooms at La Haut Resort
Our next stop was La Haut Resort.  Archie knows the owner and stayed here on one of his previous visits.  It's small but lovely.  The grounds are wonderful.  We are thinking about coming back next season and spending a weekend if the budget allows.   I took a ton of pics and had a really hard time narrowing down which to show you.  So pretty.
View from La Haut down into Soufriere and the Pitons
After La Haut Resort, we headed down into Soufriere.
Simply food shack

Getting caught up
Our first stop was at a little food shack owned by a friend of Archie.  It was very small and very simply.  The three of us crowed into the place with her and her helper.  We chatted as she served us up a plate of flash fried fish - a small chunk of barracuda, small parrot fish and another small fish I don't remember.  They were yummy.  Tom learned why St Lucians and actually all West Indians LOVE the fish head best.  They say it has the best flavor and after trying it, Tom agrees.  YES he did.  He ate the whole fish head!  Crunch, crunch, crunch.

I happened to mention that I wish I would have bought some "bush tea" in the market in Castries the other day to kill my lingering cough.  She said "Baby, I'll make you some up."   In a few quick minutes I had my very own cup of "make you feel all better bush tea" - her version....basically it was honey, lime and strong rum.  And miraculously I did feel better and didn't cough the rest of the day.

Off the main pier in Soufriere - 1 of 2 Pitons in the background
 We roamed around Soufriere a bit and then headed for the Pitons.
Time to load up on refreshing
coconut water - SO good and good for you
We drove up to the sulphur springs and volcano but there were a ton of tourist buses and despite Archie's determination to drive through for free, he was not able to talk the security guard into it.  We also made a stop at the super, exclusive $$$ Ladera Resort that sits directly between the Pitons. Archie told the guard that we were headed to Dasheen Restaurant for lunch.  Our plan was to have a nice beverage and take in the spectacular view.  However, seems too many other people have had the same idea in the past.  The restaurant has a new policy.  $25 US dollar minimum per person regardless whether it's a simple coke, appetizer or full lunch.  We didn't feel like dropping $75+.  Archie worked his local magic and told the girl we weren't staying but in fact we would be taking in the view anyway. She wasn't happy about it but let us saying "but no pictures."  The Pitons are magnificent.  If you click the link on Ladera Resort, you can see the views we saw.
Coco beans drying in the sun
Fond Doux Plantation is a family run coco plantation.  Archie knows the patriarch in charge now so we stopped by.  They give tours of their coco bean operation.  They also have a very nice restaurant and a few guest cottages.  We arrived just in time to see the coco bean drying racks being rolled back out after a brief shower.  This plantation doesn't actually make chocolate.  They ship the beans to chocolatiers in Europe.
This is actually a WIDE road compared to most roads in the little villages

One of the village bath houses
As we roamed along, we drove through many little fishing villages.  The small houses (sometimes mere shacks) are very tightly packed together.  I mean VERY tightly packed.  No secrets in these villages.  The streets are really narrow, in most case with barely enough room to drive one car down.  Most are old so there is no running water in the houses but instead a couple of village standing water pipes that everyone uses.  There is also no bathrooms but a public bath house with bathrooms, showers and a places to do laundry by hand.  They don't have much but life is simply in these villages and Archie says most of the people are happy.

**READERS - Are you still with me?  I know it's a long blog posting but it was a full, action packed day!  Hang in there.
The guys checking out the bouillabaisse
bouillabaisse with dumpling
Our fried fish from Soufriere was long gone so when Archie spotted this kewl little roadside place, he pulled over to check it out.  It was one of the nicer stands we have seen/visited.  She has St Lucian style bouillabaisse.  She also had terrific lambi (conch) soup - best I have had.  It was SO tender.  We had a wonderful time visiting with her.  She insisted that I use her bathroom in her house next door before we left.  I was grateful.  Her home was lovely - an unusual American style and size kitchen and bath - meaning HUGE.
lambi soup

Oh yeah, we just happened to run into Cervin while we were out and about.  He is Archie's stonemason at the house Archie is building here.  He joined our sight seeing tour for a while.
Archie's house
View from his deck - perfect spot for a mooring ball for sv Janey or sv Honey Ryder
The guys discussing the details
Good retaining wall that Cervin built
Archie's house is just outside of Laborie on the south coast of St Lucia.  We got a full breakdown of the build.
Back alley walkway in Laborie
Anchorage has several reefs that make it tricky
We also made a stop in Laborie.  Much like the other fishing villages we drove through, it's compact with people living closely together.  The people don't have much but friendly.
SE coast of St Lucia
East coast of St Lucia
Oh look - ANOTHER Japanese Gov't built break water and fish sorting house - how nice.
We bypassed Vieux Fort and drove north along the windward coast (east).  Not a place I would want to make landfall as the shoreline looked very unforgiving to boats.

Soon it was time to start back across the country toward the west coast.  Again we climbed up and up into the mountains.  We stopped a few times to take in the view, meet and visit with the locals.  

She made us tasty salt fish cakes.  YUM!
There are many small roadside places in or near each village where locals gather to chat, grab something to eat and play dominoes.  These places are very, very simple - sometimes there is a small kitchen but other times it's just a two burner hot plate run on a small table run off a propane bottle.  The bar is a table and a cooler or two.  The chairs and tables are a mix-match under a simple covered patio with no sides.    

The bar
Chatting with the locals

After a couple of wrong turns on dark mountain roads, we found our way back down to the west coast. We headed back to Anse La Raye for their famous Friday Night Fish Fry.  We had driven through this fishing village earlier in the day.  
Anse La Raye
However now the main streets were blocked off and a full street party was going on.  There was music, a St Lucian version of Top Model (whatever that means), vendors, drinks and FOOD!  So much good looking food.  However, we were stuff from all we had eaten during the day so we just took in the sights and smells. 
People watching

The Fish Fry was a veritable buffet of people watching as well.  Archie's older brother George showed up from Castries so we had a good time visiting with him.

Finally we had to call it a day and head back to Marigot Bay.  We climbed aboard s/v Honey Ryder around midnight and fell fast asleep.  

Special Note - We can't say thank you enough to Archie.  We had a wonderful time seeing St Lucia with you through your eyes so to speak.  There is NO way we would have ever seen or experienced the day we had with you on our own.  Thank you so much!    


  1. I see that look on Tom's face. It's the rehab rental look. RUN, RUN FAST. Get him out of there!

  2. Looks and sounds like an absolutely wonderful day! Food looked yummy! As for that bush tea, I had no idea that was what it was called. We invented a version in Belize since we got lots of colds...fresh lime juice, rum, Marie Sharp's hot sauce, apple cider vinegar, and maybe one or two other things I'm forgetting. It was delicious and it worked!

    1. Oh, your bush tea had much more in it. I like the idea of hot sauce.