Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The first views of St. Lucia

Our first view of St. Lucia was over the gigantic gray wing of a 737.

The dark green island's mountains, the Pitons, rolled into the deep blue ocean. The colors became even brighter as the plane descended and landed on the one small runway at Hewanorra Airport. We actually had to turn around and taxi back to the gate, which wasn't even a gate as I got my first taste of deplaning right onto the jetway.

The air in St. Lucia was humid and warm, which is amazing, but a little uncomfortable when you're in jeans.

We went through customs, which was surprisingly easy, considering we had no idea what to expect since we've never left the country before.

Staying at a Sandals resort, workers immediately found us, grabbed our bags and took us into a bright room filled with comfortable furniture to wait for our shuttle to the Grande resort 41 miles from the airport.

It ended up that the shuttle only sat eight, and there were 10 people waiting to go to the Grande. So a worker called us over to an unmarked car, a taxi we assumed. He told us to get inside.

I didn't think about it until later in the trip, but apparently Nate became nervous right away, fearing that were being kidnapped, because we had left the group with a driver that literally could have taken us anywhere that he wanted. We had no idea where the resort was, but leave it up to my husband to make sure to note every single police officer that he saw along the way in case something did happen.

Well, stuff did happen along the way, but it wasn't us being kidnapped.

When we got in the car, the St. Lucian man started to give us a little information about the place. I could only pick out about every third word even though he said, "Our language is English, with some broken French." A Caribbean form of English, it definitely was.

He talked about the bananas and coconuts grown on the island, "Very, very nice." He talked about the rum made there, "Very, very nice." He talked about a lot of different things that were "Very, very nice."

The trip wasn't really what I expected. We zoomed around on the wrong side of the road - at least the wrong side in the U.S. - at about 60 miles per hour on curvy roads that should have had a speed limit of 30. We passed people with cars coming right at us. We shot past people walking right on the side of the road. We went around curves on one lane roads and next to steep cliffs that had no guard rails.

A few minutes into the drive, Nate grabbed my hand and held it tight. We didn't move or let go for quite some time.

What impacted me most about this island though was seeing the villages that people lived in.

I guess going to a Sandals resort, I figured that St. Lucia was a wealthy island with magestic, ocean-front homes with large terraces.

It wasn't.

I saw a couple of gas stations, some roadside "restaurants" and plenty of places to stop and get a Piton beer.

The homes looked like shacks, and when we entered the capital of Castries, I was amazed at how people lived. It looked like the poor sections of Brazil that you see where people create homes out of scraps of wood and metal. Some people even had business signs for these places, making a living however they could. I only saw two small churches there as well. I wondered if God had reached this community much.

One home really struck me though. It was a skinny, two-story wood house with no siding or paint. There were not even windows.

However, in the holes where windows should be were white lace curtains, and bright white linens blew in the breeze on a clothesline outside.

I guess when I think about people who live in shacks like I was seeing, I figured these people would be poor and smelly. However, in this home, people obviously took pride in taking care of whatever they had, keeping it clean, even if it wasn't much.

I don't know if those people would want to live in the U.S. or even if they see anything weird about the way that they live. More power to them, I thought. If they are happy with a simple life like that, then I hope they live it to the fullest.

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