Thursday 13th July 17
We arrived in beautiful St Lucia
St Lucia is no doubt a beautiful island with equally beautiful people. I have embraced the fact that it is an award winning honeymoon island built as such to accommodate those that want, love idyllic settings, adventure and/or adult company.
What did I know about St Lucia? The Pitons, Zouk music and the Carnival. I had lots of friends from there and I had admittedly been to St Lucia before, some 20 years ago, but not for carnival. So we were excited about our forwarding journey from fun times in St Vincent. Did I have any preconceptions? Yes. I thought St Lucia next to Barbados Carnival, would be the next best thing. After all, it was the conversations with a woman I had met in Barbados in 2016 that led me to book travel to St Lucia. She was Lucian and sold it to me hook, line and sinker and like a carrot to a donkey I booked up also as an addition to my carnival travels for 2017. We had the fete list and it looked like we were going to have a ball
The wonderful Liat Airlines
Liat rules and we took a relatively easy flight from St Vincent to St Lucia on Thursday 13th July 17. Upon arrival we were met by “Source” as he wanted to go by. In our travels we spoke and he was local guy, older but good looking for age and tall! We questioned him in regards to the nature of and he simply stated “it was because I used to be slim “(yes I too am working that reasoning out).
Cap Estate, Golf and Country Club
So, our first night in St Lucia and we bought tickets in Rodney Bay Mall for the Aura fete and was looking forward to our first night out. Later on we picked up a friend but she was too tired to go out. To get to the event we had to travel a distance. Not too far out of town but it was held in the rich part of St Lucia. The Cap Estate, in the golf and country part. Due to the nature of the owners there, no taxis are allowed through as you have to travel through a private road. So to get to the venue, the taxi had to drop us off and shuttle buses ran to and from the venue drop off points. There was security everywhere but it was not overwhelming and suspect that it was more so to protect the residents as opposed to the feters. It was held in a big outdoor area, with staging, bars and amenities. The whole set up was organised but bouji. I used that word before it my title for my Barbados blog, but it was. It was a professional wuk up fete, you know that “I can carry on bad, but I won’t”.. Everyone was dressed up not to get sweating but it was a fete that went the extra mile. It was a gentle but fun fete, if you made it that way.
On the upside, you could carry your drink in. Like Trinidad, St Lucia & St Vincent they are open to you bringing your own cooler boxes or drinks. They always have fully stocked bars so it s a win-win situation for the ultimate drinkers! Bashment played when we arrived, but they soon tuned into Soca with a variety of Soca artists on stage performing live. The fete finished abruptly dead at 3am, with the music ending and a “goodnight” from the set. Immediately we set off and what a good ting as we got a shuttle and subsequently a taxi home all for $10 EC. Beware though, taxis are not always in abundance at night and you really do need a car to get around.
Friday 14th July 17
On Friday, an arrangement was made with “Source” to tour the Southwestern side of the island from Gros Islet, Castries, a view of Dennery, the falls and the wonderful Sulphur Spring in Soufriere. The falls were heavy that day as we picked the wrong day to tour – as it rained all day! Only the brave went in and it funnily enough it was not warm enough that day also. The only saving grace was when we reached the Sulphur springs (and you could smell when you are there) the rain stopped and we were all able to get into our bikinis. There is a changing room area as you walk down past the paying point and place to put your bags if your feeling trustworthy. You then have to walk into an opening and the sulphur pool is just in front, but if you want that smooth skin experience you have get ‘clayed up’
By that I mean, there are buckets of the mineral rich clay that you can use to slather all over you. It is meant to do wonders for your skin and draw out impurities, so we were all there making sure all skin areas were all dipped in the volcanic clay and sufficiently covered. We were told then it is best to let it dry and then dip into the Sulphur Spring to relax and wash off. They were not wrong, as I got into the spring and washed off the clay, my skin felt smooth, refreshed and moreover, clean. We also made good use of the mineral clay beneath our feet to indulge further in clay cleansing!
After witnessing beckoning wrinkles in my fingers, it was time to get out and wash off. Thankfully, there are showers to wash any excess clay off your skin.
Map of St Lucia
On the way back, we stopped for a really good meal, almost like a stop cafe for travellers only better. The meals were hearty and you had a meat or fish choice with variety of provisions,rice and salad to ensure you were full when leaving. At $25 – 30 EC it was not bad. We then had to stop for our friends to pick up costumes from their chosen band #Just4fun, in Rodney Bay Mall. What a debacle. Sorry but nothing positive here. Sheer madness from start to finish. They are the biggest band but I am telling you the organisation for getting your costumes is not for the feint-hearted or the impatient angel in you. After waiting two hours, they got their “falling at the seams” costumes. The equivalent of £400 for bikini with trimmings. The male costume did not fare much better. I witnessed the feather droppings, beads loosening and shook my head with wry smile, knowing I was going to get a cut price costume.
For your information, the Mall is a haven for shoppers, it has a food supermarket and shops to fulfill every shopping need, so if you forgot anything you could literally buy it here. However, in the mas camp they were selling tickets for Remedy for the Saturday – which incidentally was the place to be. However, remedy was not to be, it was pain. Remedy sold out whilst we were in the queue – can you believe it? St Lucia the beautiful island does not sell fete tickets online, you have to go to sellers/re-sellers. Deflation had set in, we did not even bother try at the door. That night we also heard on Instagram that Wet Fete ( the next fete we wanted to go to) got cancelled. It was then almost like a depression hit the air, but in humid heat. Arggghhh…. things were not looking good in St Lucia.
Saturday 15th July 17
We woke up in the morning, with a view to “get shit done”. Costumes had to be picked up and tickets had to be bought and we wanted to get to the beach. My friend and I actually had flights booked for the Tuesday home (the 2nd carnival day) , so we did not see the point in paying for £400 costumes. However, we found one that would sell us costumes not bought. You see the trick is to go late and pick up what others could not. Monday costume cost us £120 to fete on the road vs £400. The others picked up their costumes but we did not get to the beach. Further depression set in.
Brazen and Sexy in Black was on in the afternoon (for some reason, the main fetes started at 2pm or 4pm most days). Deep depression again – just don’t ask.
Sunday 16th July 17
St Lucia, like Barbados is hot and we walked to the beach in, I kid you not, 38 degree heat. I got ‘bun up’ as they say. Blic, Black, Charcoal. That intense heat actually burned my skin. Yes I did put on suncream, factor 50 but that hard hitting heat weren’t ramping, it savagely attacked us. It was hot and stifling but we got to Reduit Beach hot and sweaty. MMnnnn… beaches should be chilled and relaxing. Bedding down by Spinnakers Bar, we quietly realised that your own music is not appreciated and you need to just chill, by all accounts of the swathes of beauties that wanted to sunbathe and show off their innate beauty, all without hearing the insubordinate Soca tunes.
Sunday 16th/Monday 17th July 17
Jouvert – Just4fun
I put both dates as I have no idea what date is was on but learnt later it was the 16th. The reason for my confusion is that the tickets had the 17th as the date printed on them. When I purchased mine in their mas camp for $150 EC no one told me that the wrong date had been printed. Five of us had bought tickets and five us did not end up going as we missed it. Did I mention depression?
Ever since, we have been bombarding just4fun info email for answers but we get avoidance and no or non committal answers. They know it was wrong yet they are dragged their feet to refund. #just4fun Really?
Here are the non used tickets with the wrong dates that we are still waiting for a refund.
Monday 17th July 17
St Lucia Carnival
Carnival is held in Castries, so if you are far out, there is way to travel to get there. From Gros Islet, it was around a 40 minute drive. Unfortunately, (as I did not research sufficiently) ,I did not know that pretty mas Carnival is held over two days, the Monday and the Tuesday. The expectation is that you wear your costume both days! However, Monday “seems” to be the main day. Admittedly the machine that was Just4fun ran smoothly and slick. Their wrist bands were a high quality holographic banding, each member had a photographic ID tag, food was BBQ fresh, good amenities and great DJ’s. All what you need for the road. However, a friend cited some issues. The water ran out for the normal truck and was only available on the VIP truck – did they serve her ? NO. The costumes, whilst not good quality, looked good on the road in their vast numbers. Just4fun is a big band, am told perhaps close to a 1000 revellers so you can imagine the machine of costume makers needed to satisfy the purchasers.
I personally signed up with a small band called Dynasty, only on the road for 1 year. We had a ball and the costumes were not fabulous nor great but for the price, it was value for money. They had a little truck but it pumped the sounds in front and behind and can’t fault the music they played, as it was all the latest tunes around the Caribbean. My friend I am chipping along with the truck but where was the vibe? Where were the people? I mean, I can create my own hype but seriously… this was really difficult coming from St Vincent. I thought St Lucia would be great! but it was a little disappointing to be honest. The bands made it but the crowds did not. The little that attended, stood in their place, not interacting much but cheering.
The route was pretty easy and took us round the edge of Castries and even past the airport landing strip. Once again, I stress that St Lucia is hot and I found it more difficult to deal with than St Vincent and had to slather on sunscreen. I already had heat rash and had to keep it under control. But there were kind men on the road happily applying sunscreen to anyone that wanted it. A great little idea and one that entitled them to rub hands on a good majority of women.
My overall review of St Lucia carnival was that it was at best OK, for the furore of the costume pick up and getting there, meant that it was just an OK carnival for us. It was a shame that I was not there for Tuesday Mas but am told it was not “all that”. Vibes and crowds were limited as the day before and really would you wear your sweaty costume again – the next day?
St Lucia indeed is beautiful country but there needs to be changes to draw me back again. Perhaps it was because we were not able to attend all but one of the fetes and our general disappointment added to the state of mind. However, the organisers need to embrace technology just a little bit more and get these tickets for fetes available online. The Tourist board website is also out of date or do not respond to queries ( as we experienced) and it is a shame that carnival, like Nottinghill is no longer revered by country as we witnessed by the lack of crowd support. It really could be a carnival to content with as the music is bad! Some tunes came out of St Lucia this year, like ‘Split in the Middle by Freezy’.
St Lucia Carnival Information
Just4fun Mas Band
Golf and County Club