Time is ticking by and our travels continue. We spent a few days in St. Lucia after we left Martinique knowing that would be our furthest stop south before we had to turn around and start our travels back to Tortola in time to cross the Atlantic the beginning of May. I know May sounds like a long way away (especially when you are still experiencing the cold, dreary weather of March up north) but when your average speed is 7 knots (around 7.7 miles per hour) we do not get anywhere all that fast. Some days it is all about the journey and not the destination.
Recently we have not been really good at documenting our life in words or pictures, instead we are falling into the rhythm of living our days on the boat much as you do on land. That being said, we did get some impressions of St. Lucia in the short time we were there. The most notable being the stark difference between the rich and poor. There are huge boats and lavish houses on an island where most the inhabitants are poor. You can't really fault the people for trying to sell you goods and services in an effort to support themselves. We were greeted immediately as we arrived in Marigot Bay by young men on boats offering to help us secure a mooring and tie up. Every morning we would be visited by men selling fresh produce, one on a paddle board wearing a Santa hat and another in a floating bath tub, both always singing as they worked their way among the boats. We never could bypass the tiny tomatoes, bananas and grapefruit they had to offer. (Word is that St. Lucia has the sweetest bananas of all the Caribbean islands). I loved listening to Tony greet them each morning if I was down below, always with the greatest respect and never too busy to talk with them and buy what ever they were selling. The last morning of our stay a couple young boys paddled over to offer to take us on a tour of the island. We would have to sail to the next town over, board the public bus with them (they were too young to have a license) and they would show us the sights for the day. We were so tempted to delay our plans and take them up on their offer, it seemed like such a great way to see the island and you had to give them credit for trying to earn some money. Unfortunately the weather and the friends we were meeting up with didn't allow for much flexibility, but we did promise them we would pass on their number to our friends that were visiting the island in the future. We learned that residents have to pay a tax to send their kids to school, $300 EC a year, which translates to about $100 US dollars. It seems like such a small amount but many do not have the money to continue their kid's education so a lot of teenagers are out of school for good and trying to earn a living.
Each place we visit in our travels leaves an impression on us. We are reminded so often now of the abundance in the US, everything seems to be in excess compared to life on the islands. Sandwiches are bigger, so unlike the jamon and fromage baguettes we've been eating that contain one skinny slice of ham, one slice of cheese and the tiniest bit of mustard (and all for the low price of $3.50 Euros). US grocery stores are stocked with every conceivable product from every country imaginable, while in the islands stores are small with local produce and few choices. You don't plan a meal until you walk through the store and see what your options are, sometimes it makes for very creative cooking. Public transportation is not a huge greyhound bus but small vans where everyone has to get out when the person in the back has reached their stop and then load back up before they can continue on. The one thing that is in abundance in the islands however are cats, they are everywhere, at your feet meowing when you're eating at an outdoor restaurant, hanging out on the docks and scavenging for food around the garbage containers. But for the most part the stark contrast between an over abundance and just enough has made us appreciate the fact that bigger is not always better.