I recently returned from a land unknown to most in my country. The name is rarely heard on television or said by many friends who plan annual/biennial “International” trips. When I say Caribbean Islands, the first few names that come to your mind are the US or the British Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Barbados or for that matter Puerto Rico. These are commonly heard across most travel shows or are mentioned in sitcoms such as F.R.I.E.N.D.S, where Ross attended his paleontology conference in Barbados and all his friends were excited about visiting the island *not the conference*.
Jamaica is known for its sporting icons like Usain Bolt, Asafa Powell, Courtney Walsh, Chris Gayle to name a few. When I was told about the work opportunity in Caribbean Islands, like you, dear reader, my reference point was the list mentioned above. On further conversations, I heard the name, Saint Lucia. As an avid cricket fan, I knew the island’s cricket team played in Caribbean Premier League so the name itself wasn’t unfamiliar but that was the extent of my knowledge. I too did the first thing any millennial would do, that’s right – “Googled”.
I found this speck of land mass in between the Caribbean Sea and the North Atlantic Ocean. Wikipedia and Google gave a high-level overview of this island. It reminded and made me realize how the myriad of subliminal messaging we consume that are skewed to throw light on things only on what “they” want us to see, hear and respond to. So many islands, cities, places still unexplored and are still in “media dark”. In fact, such places are more beautiful and worthy of your travel.
Now here is a list of things I got to know about Saint Lucia before I landed and later explored on the island during my stay. When you read this part, you would realize the names aren’t that uncommon and hopefully intrigues you to explore this land, some day.
Let’s start with history. It is said that the island was ruled seven times by French and seven times by English and finally in 1814 British possession was confirmed and it continues to recognize Queen as its titular head of the state. The diverse cultures of these two ruling nations seep within this island and you can see the syncretic relationship between these two cultures in the names of the community/places on the island, the cuisine, music, and lifestyle. Simple beings, who’re content and love to party.
The beauty of the island comes from its untapped jungles and natural vegetation sprawled mostly in the southern part of the island, from the center to its coasts. Locals are seen more towards the central and north part of the island which has the marina where yachts and cruise ships dock, government offices and resident’ houses. Also, the island is known for the world-renowned UNESCO site called the Pitons, two gigantic peaks called Gros (Big) Piton and Petit (Small) Piton. The changing landscapes from North to South feel like the changing wallpaper on your laptop.
To all the cricket fans out there, Daren Sammy, the captain who led the West Indies team to its two-time ICC World Twenty 20 win, hails from this land. Another notable personality whose poetry I read during my teenage years, Sir Derek Walcott, is also a Saint Lucian.
While the name of the movie says it all, Pirates of the Caribbean, few scenes from the movie were shot around Marigot Bay in Saint Lucia. It is one of the places a local travel guide will gleefully take you to show.
What I learned from this experience? A new perspective and approach towards travel. Explore new, unknown, untapped cities and islands. My attempt would be to open a random page on an atlas and place a finger on a random spot, run a Google search and do the local thing! An attempt to travel far, to travel to the unknown. From now, the explorer mode will always be ‘ON’.
The following series on Travel Thursdays will continue on places to visit, things to do, finding “vegetarian” food in Saint Lucia and more.