Saint Lucia: An Eye-Opener
"Jim and Stephen strike out on their own"
Serenade of the Seas docked at Santa Lucia in the morning, and we had the whole day. There were shops selling mainly duty-free jewelry and women's clothing near the ship, but we decided to see if we could walk into town. Well, this is not for the faint of heart. We were aggressively solicited by would-be cab drivers, bus drivers, cabin boys, and personal managers, the one right after the other. However, these guys didn't realize that I had learned sales resistance from my dad. Finally, we broke free and walked a long way, across a causeway, and into downtown Castries. The streets were filthy (Stephen promptly dropped a contact), with open sewage running in gutters between the sidewalk and the street. But we braved it and went into some shops, a drug store, and then a fascinating visit to the Carnegie Library that was built there in the 20's. But I felt good at having escaped the protective seal of wealth that the cruise has built around it, and having spent a little time in a third-world community, surrounded by third-world people.
"Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception"
As we walked around Castries, several blocks past the downtown, and higher up, we came upon the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, which is the largest church in the Caribbean, measuring 200ft long by 100ft wide and was elevated to the status of a Minor Basilica on 11th May, 1999 as part of the centenary celebrations.
"The Grand Pitons"
We had originally intended to take an optional excursion for snorkeling in the area of the Grand Pitons. We decided not to go. However as we left the port of Castries that evening, we were sailed round the southern end of the island and got to see these two volcanic plugs rising more than 700 m directly from the sea that form part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site.