Friday, December 26, 2014

A Treacherous Road to a Stinky Volcano


Due to our Christmas arrival, we weren't able to rent a car as planned.  Instead our super nice host, Stephanie, at the BayGuesthouse called us a cab.  Soon our cabbie, Junior, picked us up in one of the cab/vans that we've become accustomed to.

Our first stop was the grocery store to pick up some bananas and other treats for Breakfast.

Leaving the supermarket we drove through St. Lucia's capital, Castries.  Honestly, it was pretty similar to cities on the other islands.  Colorful houses perched among the hills facing the water.  You get the idea.

We continued winding our way down the coast of St. Lucia.  We were headed to Soufriere, the site of St. Lucia's two UNESCO World Heritage Sites.  The roads were really, really windy.  Every couple of yards there was a road sign warning of a "Hairpin Bend".

In fact it was so windy that the car in front of us slipped off the road.   John and Junior to the rescue!

It was funny because the cab driver kept saying "I don't know how they did that, they were driving so slow and the roads are so wide."  At this point, I was pretty thankful the rental car hadn't worked out.
We also stopped at a little stand along the way for refreshments.  We bought the local Piton beer and a ear of roasted corn.  The corn was not sweet and soft like I was expecting, it was hard and chewy. We decided it tasted like Corn Nuts. I was not a fan.

[This lady was a haggler but I'm from the streets.]

A little further down the road we stopped at a hand-made sign labeled "Viewing Point."  (Junior's idea, not ours.)  We got a quick glimpse in before a local lady started in on her spiel. Beneath us was the town of Soufriere, which she reminded us more than once is her hometown. After providing us with information about the area, she then offered to take a picture of us "free of charge."

The mountains behind us are known as the Pitons.  They are the most well known landmark in St. Lucia.

Of course we weren't going to get off that easy.  She then started wrapping me in jewelry, which she insisted we buy in order to support the local economy.  Sorry lady, no can do.  John offered her a dollar for taking our picture, and we hopped back in the van.

[I gave her 2 dollars for the Superman 2 trivia. A couple scenes in the movie were filmed in St. Lucia. One scene is between the Pitons and the second is at Diamond Falls where we attempted to visit.]

We continued down the winding roads through the town of Soufriere, and soon arrived at Sulphur Springs, "The Caribbean's only drive through volcano."  The area is aptly named as the air smells like rotten eggs. The tour guide led us to the viewing area.  There were a few muddy-looking puddles bubbling up from the ground.

We also hiked up a lot of steps to visit a small museum with a little bit more information.  They had an exhibit about the first people who lived on the island, the Arawaks and Caribs, that I found quite interesting. Overall, the site was cool, but not as cool as the geothermal wonders we visited in Iceland a couple of years ago.

After our geothermal hike we were hungry for lunch.  We followed a suggestion in our guidebook and had Junior take us to Dashanee.  The guidebook described the restaurant as having unparalleled views of the Pitons. Unfortunately, when we arrived there was a sign posted by the door stating, "Non-hotel guests will be charged a $25 table charge per person."  Seriously, seriously? Fifty dollars just to sit down?  You've got to be kidding me.  Since John doesn't negotiate with terrorists, we quickly left.

After finding several other nearby restaurants closed for the Christmas holiday, we decided to settle for some gas station food.  It wasn't great but it got the job done.

Next, Junior suggested that we see Diamond Falls. Unfortunately, that was closed too. I suppose that's the price you pay for traveling on Christmas. It was a little confusing because even though the site was closed, there was a guard standing by and people kept walking through the gate.  Very

Here's a bit of the conversation between our driver and the waterfall guard in the local Creole.

Anyway, we gave up and drove back towards the hotel in Gros Ilet.  The only interesting thing on the ride home was the rainbow I spotted.

It was pretty awesome!

When we returned to the hotel, I did some relaxing outside.  There were some gorgeous views.

We ended our day with the Gros Ilet street party.  There were lots of people out, but most of them were tourists.  We ordered some delicious looking street food that turned out to be quite disgusting. We ended up stopping by a restaurant for a conch fritters snack.

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