St Lucia – there are sometimes when expectations cause disappointment and this is one of those times.
In my imaginings and years of dreaming and romanticizing about the Caribbean, I imagined St Lucia to be one of the most idyllic islands in the world.
Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying it isn’t, for to see it from a cruise-ship, as one approaches from the ocean, passing through the waters between St Vincent and St Lucia before altering to starboard and setting a direct course for Port Castries, one can only stand in awe at the unbelievable beauty.
Feasting my eyes on the lush green vegetation, mountainous terrain, white palm-lines beaches and the colour of the sea that defies reality, I eagerly wait as the mooring lines are secured, the customs officials come aboard to complete the formalities, and the captain announces the ‘all clear to disembark’. Cameras in hand we head for the terminal building to find a tour-guide. We look through the glossy photos pasted into presentation folders, and listen as promises of exciting excursions are described.
We find 2 other couples to share the taxi, and settle on a 4-5 hour land tour driving along the steep winding narrow road to Mount Fortune, and along the elevated highway overlooking the picturesque fishing villages of Anse Raye and Canaries; nestled against inlets on the coastline, heading towards the Oceanside town of Soufriere and the Pitons, the most photographed twin peaked mountains in the Caribbean.
En-route to Soufriere we pass famous Marigot Beach, however, our guide for reasons known only to himself, decides to bypass it and proceeds to ‘remind’ us that if we want to visit the sites along the way such as the banana plantation, the volcano with bubbling Sulphur springs, the waterfall and the tropical fruit farm, we will be charged extra for the entrance fees.
We are shocked and confer with each other confirming that we were sold a tour package, inclusive of visits to these attractions. At this point he asserts his authority with aggressive attitude, and refuses to budge. We decide on principle, to forego the sights and travel on in silence; disappointment clearly showing on our faces.
What could have been a wonderful memory turned into an experience which left us feeling exploited and cheated. If the truth had been told by the salesperson with the glossy photos, none of this would have happened, instead our expectations were dashed. I realise that a memory is made up of many facets, emotions being a major one.
If I remove the emotions and concentrate on the other senses then I appreciate St Lucia for its natural beauty, its colour-wheel of contrasts, intensity and profusions. I recognize its cultural history, its diverse peoples, and its architectural discrepancies. I hear the sounds of laughter, of birds and animals and the happy clamour of daily life… then instead of disappointment I acknowledge the misunderstanding as just that – a misunderstanding!
I can continue my romanticizing and dreaming of that idyllic Island, in wonder that there are so many of them to discover, in our amazing world.