Monday, 9 January 2012

St. Lucia on My Mind

It's said that travel is inspiring and I couldn't agree more.  Years ago, I had the pleasure of staying in St. Lucia for several days and I was completely taken with the island's genuinely friendly people, gorgeous mountain peaks, beautiful beaches and quaint towns.  You can get an idea of just how lush and beautiful it is from these pictures that show the famous Pitons, the island's iconic landmarks.

We stayed in Gros Islet but then we moved out to a coffee plantation in the area known as Soufriere.  This is years ago so I can't remember the name of the place but it looked somewhat like this -

I love that Caribbean architecture with the shutters, wide verandahs and fretwork!  The plantation, itself, had been around in the same family for years and years and was actually a working plantation.  Again, it was the lushness of the place that really enthralled me.  The British Virgin Islands, where I'm from, are very dry - the rainy season comes and goes pretty quickly but I could immediately see why St. Lucia was dubbed the Helen of the West by the early colonizers!

Then one day while I was in Castries I went into an old church whose walls were covered in beautiful murals of biblical scenes and everybody in the paintings was black!  Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the Saints, etc..  It was amazing!  The scent of incense clung to the church's old wooden pews and solemn marble memorials written in French to people who had died in the 1700s and 1800s made me wonder about the lives of the dead.  That was when the inspiration for my novel, Jessamine, scheduled for release in June, hit!  The story, the characters, the plot came to me almost fully formed in that church and I couldn't wait to get back to my room to scribble out a rough, very rough, outline.  And now, years and years later, the story will finally see the light of day.

Eight Facts About St. Lucia
1.  The island has given the world two Nobel Prize laureates - Derek Walcott, the poet and playwright, and Arthur Lewis, the economist.

2.  The real-life murals in several of St. Lucia's churches have been painted by Dunstan St. Omer.

3.  St. Lucia became a French colony in 1643 but changed hands more than once until the British finally acquired it.

4.  The island gained independence from the British in 1979.

5.  St. Lucians have an interesting tradition of flower festivals, La Rose and La Marguerite whose origins go back to slavery.

6.  Many St. Lucians speak Kweyol, or French Creole.  Click here if you want to impress your friends with a new language.

7.  A St. Lucia folk song.

8.  If you're going to St. Lucia, don't miss the Friday night lime in Gros Islet.  If you're worred, this is a nice article about why you shouldn't be.

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