The third of our four ports of call on this cruise was in Castries, St. Lucia. Jill had been looking forward to this stop immensely, but was sick and confined to quarters so I was on my own. I started by taking a selfie photo in front of the ‘Welcome to St. Lucia’ sign that was surrounded by palm trees. Then I had another cruise ship guest snap a picture of me in front of a life size Piton beer bottle. It is the locally brewed beer and I knew there was a 99.9 per cent chance I would be imbibing in at least one of them. After declining many offers for a taxi cab ride I began the walk around a small cove to the Castries city center.
There were pretty, red bougainvillea flowering along the water and a cooling breeze was welcome. After a few minutes I found myself in a local farmers’ market area with many locals selling produce. There were shops and bars including one that made me laugh – on the City Gate Bar’s sign there was the tag line, ‘licenced to sell intoxicating liquor.’ Okay, I think we get the point!
A market area aimed at tourists had many vendors selling t-shirts, flowing dresses and various souvenirs of St. Lucia. I found clothing garments marked with St. Lucia on them for both of us – a pink cover up dress for Jill and a beige polo shirt for me. I also purchased a set of six St. Lucia coasters. Each had a different design and there was also a stand which held them. Finally I bought a Piton beer t-shirt. Okay, I had the selfie picture and the t-shirt. Now I just needed the beer!
My next stop was at the cathedral which was ordinary on the outside and ornate on the inside. There were beautiful statues in quiet alcoves set aside for prayer. The ceiling was painted with an intricate, but subdued, design. I read a panel tribute to Patrick St. Marthe Webster, the First Archbishop of the Metropolitan See of Castries. A man praying in one of the pews asked if I had any spare change for food, but all I had was twenty dollar bill. Upon exiting the cathedral I enjoyed the peaceful setting of Derek Alcott Square. It was a green, grassy square with an ancient tree to one side which dominated and focused my attention.
But enough sight-seeing. It was time for Piton beer! On a street filled with shops a local asked, ‘What are you looking for, sir?’ When I told him, he had me follow him behind the shops to a hidden area where there were many adjacent ten foot wide booths where women were selling drinks from coolers along with food items. I order a Piton beer and gave the man a ten dollar bill. The ladies didn’t have change, so he disappeared and returned a minute later with two fives.
The women introduced themselves as Pauline and Mariage. They were two of six sisters. I had a second beer and we enjoyed conversation and laughter. Mariage’s husband stopped by and shared lunch with her, as he worked nearby. I had a second beer. I asked for change in the local currency. An older man appeared and chatted with us. He had graying hair, few teeth and a sunshiny demeanor. ‘Some people call me Lucky and others call me Shark.’ I combined the two nicknames and called him, ‘Lucky Shark.’
It was time to head back toward the Norwegian Pearl, so I retraced my route along the half-moon cove. There was a tugboat that was half submerged and surrounded by floating yellow retention booms. Another vessel, which was apparently there to help in cleanup operations, was adjacent. It was named, ‘Walrus,’ and I immediately started singing to myself the Beatles song, ‘I am the Walrus.’ Those who know me know that my mind works like that. Words, phrases and thoughts so often remind me of songs.
‘Hello again,’ I heard to my left. It was the man from the cathedral who had been praying in a pew. We exchanged conversation as we walked along the tree-lined walkway. He introduced himself as Felix. I stopped for another Piton beer so I could get some change. ‘Would you like a beer,’ I asked. ‘No, I need some food.’ I gave him the few dollars received in change and he was very grateful. It made me beam with joy as I made my way back to the ship. All in all, it was a lovely two hours spent ashore in Castries, St. Lucia.