Paradise has a name and it’s St. Lucia.
Our love affair was brief and I fell hard.
Funny how things work out, however; our meeting was fairly coincidental. For St. Lucia was never particularly on my radar– the idea to visit was borne of a general desire to experience more of the West Indies. After all, four years living and working in Asia and another four years doing the same in Europe means that most of my adult life has been spent on the other side of the world, visiting ancient cathedrals and cataloguing buddhas; my recent move to New York City had me itching to explore places closer to home.
And, if I’m completely honest, this interest in travelling the region was also borne of a desire to rediscover my roots. My passport is embossed with the word Canada but culturally I am from Jamaica: my family is as Jamaican as they come, my closest friends hail from myriad Caribbean nations, and I get a crazy craving for curry-goat roti, patties, and cocoa bread when too much time has transpired since they last crossed my lips. I speak patois with my mom on the phone, get hype when I hear a dancehall or soca song on the radio, and I think it’s perfectly acceptable to eat codfish and boiled, unripened bananas for breakfast. I’m a child of the islands even though I’ve never lived there, and the urge to reconnect with this identity has been building for a while.
But why St. Lucia and not Jamaica, then? Well, plane tickets were cheap, the flight connections were relatively easy, and this wanderer’s compass ultimately does not discriminate. Also, a return to Jamaica with my mom and Liebling is in the works for later this year, so there was no rush to go at this particular moment. With our first wedding anniversary looming, Liebling and I wanted to celebrate in a place that was dreamy, yet culturally and topographically interesting– St. Lucia fit the bill. Moreover, when I put out the feelers to my traveller friends, they had nothing but great things to say about the place. We were sold on the idea. We booked without further hesitation. And it was the best decision ever.
We opted to stay in southern part of the island, which we heard was rugged and largely unspoiled by mass tourism. The south is also the site of the Pitons, the two massive volcanic spires that are the unofficial symbols of the islands. These, combined with the thick, leafy vegetation that grows up along the winding mountain roads, provided the perfect backdrop for a romantic, yet adventurous vacation.
Anse Chastanet Beach
As St. Lucia is a volcanic island, black sand beaches dot its coastlines. This may seem unusual for someone who is accustomed to the golden or white sand beaches found in other parts of the Caribbean, but this was yet another detail that I think makes the island unique. Our main beach of choice? None other than Anse Chastanet, located just outside of the town of Soufrière. Fringed with palm trees and clear waters, it was an ideal place to catch up on my reading, frolic in the sea, and work on my tan!
When night fell and it was time to escape the mosquitoes (both pesky and plenty in number– please take repellent), we took refuge at the Anse Chastanet Hotel, the expansive, hilly estate at which we were invited to lay our heads for two nights. Our premium room was large and had ridiculously impressive views of the Pitons! Full review of all the amenities of this luxury hotel is coming soon, but suffice to say that though the beach was a stone’s throw away, we were reluctant to leave this space.
Much as I had hoped to watch my figure, St. Lucian cuisine was difficult to resist. Starchy, spicy, flavourful treats sated my appetite and widened my waistline. Liebling, who is a salt fiend, remarked with incredulity that he didn’t have to pick up the salt shaker even once during our stay; I nodded in agreement as I gobbled down local cuisine like fritters, bakes, and green figs (the boiled, unripened bananas I referenced above). More details on what we ate during our stay coming soon, but we found all the food in St. Lucia divine.
More dispatches from this beautiful nation are coming, but before I end this post I just wanted to comment on the fact that St. Lucia felt like coming home– the familiar couched within the unfamiliar so to speak. From the lilting accent and hairstyles of the locals, to the spicy food, to the tropical hospitality, my time in St. Lucia felt very much like a return to a distant cousin’s house, a reunion with a part of myself that years of living far away had caused me to forget. As a Canadian or American (particularly of Caribbean descent), it’s easy to take this region for granted— it’s close by, not seen to be as exotic as faraway island nations like the Maldives or Tahiti, and you can easily speak English and use American currency here. But, as I’m coming to realize, the West Indies are such a treasure and, while the islands have their similarities, they’re most definitely culturally and topographically distinct from one another.
So with all that said, St. Lucia surprised me in the best possible way, and I can’t wait to share more of it with you. Stay tuned.