Another chunk of roughly-hewn Caribbean diary:
“Thin lizard – lime green – on terrace wall this morning. Sun up and Caribbean looking good over there in the distance above the trees and beyond the faux Spanish church.
Breakfast was big buffet including paprika potatoes, waffles, pancakes, cold meats, all kinds of pastries, really good fresh fruit. I only wanted an omelette, which was cooked to order on a big steel hotplate.
Late turning up to “orientation meeting.” I hate those things anyway and we’re on holiday for goodnessake. No-one could answer my turtle nature reserve question.
Talked to concierge re mozzies in loo problem. The thought of me constipated for 13 days made her laugh and another girl keeping her head down was convulsing with sniggers like the girl in the Alan Partridge Travelodge. My plea did at least result in the handyman blocking up the many holes in the shower wall with some kind of close-knit mesh and we were given two pots of Citronella to burn to make the little critters drowsy – so presumably when they see/smell bare flesh they take a while to think “Hey..what….is it over there?” And by the time they take off, I’ve gone.
Took a kayak out. Dreamy.. So nice to be paddling about in turquoise clear sea. Haven’t been canoeing since the Wye. Windsurfing and sailing lessons also available. Might try something later but really desperate to go snorkelling.
Another really pleasant taxi driver took us to Pigeon Island. Passed marina with a couple of billionaire yachts anchored, passed Sandals at Rodney Bay which looked a bit like a TB sanatorium from the back but no doubt lovelier at the front. Across the causeway – with a glimpse of the more tempestuous-looking waves crashing on to a north-facing beach and then on to Pigeon Island, which used to be a British and French garrison but not at the same time.
We by-passed all the history and headed straight for the small spit of sandy beach which was supposed to be the best for snorkelling. I went in first and swam across the bay past the jetty. Nothing much to see at first, then shoals of fish – at least twenty varieties – included beautiful rounded lilac fish with lemon mid-stripe and lemon around the edges. Had no camera of course to record those or the sponges, the anemones and vicious sea urchins with 8” long spines – elegant but dangerous!
I observed groups of people going snooba-ing – a cissy version of diving where you are attached to long breathing pipes connected to oxygen cylinders stored in teeny inflatable boats. I had a vision of it all becoming a tangled mess of spaghetti under water but they were closely supervised and very careful. I wasn’t tempted to try. All too orchestrated for my liking.
Had a lovely swim out to a lush catamaran anchored off-shore. Messing about in the buoyant Caribbean, swimming out far enough to get a view of the entire bay, the palm trees bending over the beach and I truly did feel most relaxed and paradisical. Went to get the camera. Took a while to get used to floating in the water holding camera with both hands and using feet and legs for steering/propulsion. Got some decent shots. The best sightings were of royal blue fish with light blue irridescent spots and fantastic black angel fish with yellow stripes – the Darth Vader of angel fish.
A long thin fish hove into view – possibly a relative of the garfish but turned out to be a relative of seahorses. It took a front-on look at me first, then posed side-on so that I could capture his ancient horse-like face. Encounters like this are a gentle reminder that it’s me who’s the alien and the subject of curiosity in this marine landscape. Lots of sponges, brain coral and shoals of pale grey fish with intelligent eyes and black floaty ribbon fins. Shoals of what could be cichlids.
Hours of snorkelling = hunger. Had snacks at rustic restaurant on rocks by the shore where the furniture was basically pieces of tree branches nailed together. Not terribly comfortable but sit there long enough and you’ll sprout little green shoots.
Strolling back at dusk to meet the taxi driver, we spotted what looked like large brown rats scampering about from shrub to shrub in the parkland area of Pigeon Island. Not as big as a capybara but double the size of your average cat. I was convinced they were rodents of some sort.
“Mongoose” said Capt Sensible. “We had them in Africa.”
Most unlikely, I argued, mongoose being confined to Asia/Africa continents.
Taxi driver Sam confirmed “Oh yes. Mongoose. They are shy so you don’t see them much but they live on the island.”
Capt Sensible oozed smug. Doh. Reminded me of that incident I was told about concerning the County Surveyor, the Chairman of the Planning Committee and an on-site planning meeting in the Cotswolds. The officials and a sub-committee of councillors were walking the site of proposed development when, in the lane, they noticed two piles of dung.
The Planning Chairman, an ex-military man of advanced years, poked the pile with his walking stick and declared “Hmmph. Elephant.”
No-one said anything and some were thinking that he really was past it and quite frankly a bit confused. Then on some waste ground by the side of the road ahead, they saw that a whole circus troupe had parked up for a break. And there were indeed two elephants.
No elephants on St Lucia but an equally impressive sort of snake.
Sam the taxi driver told us “And we have boa constrictor in the rainforest. They are so big that when they cross the road, I stop my car and wait.””
Needless to say, we didn’t go looking for those…