My family enjoys cruising and it is the type of vacation we take most regularly. Last April we went on a cruise to the Southern Caribbean on the Carnival Valor. It was a lovely cruise, but I want to talk about one particular stop we made and that is the island of St. Lucia.
St. Lucia is an amazingly beautiful island that is rich in history and culture. Back in the 19th Century Britain and France went to war 14 times for control of the island. It switched back and forth so much it was called the “Helen of the West Indies.” When the wars finally stopped Britain was in control of the island and in 1979 it became an independent member of the Commonwealth of the Nations.
I prefer to experience the history and the culture of a place rather than just sitting at a beach covered with tourists. In St. Lucia, although we did spend a couple hours at a beach covered with tourists, we spent most of our time truly experiencing and learning about their culture. My dad wanted to go see the Pitons which are two mountains that are right on the beach and stick out into the water. The problem was our cruise ship docked on the other side of the island. Our problem was solved when we found Cosol Tours. They were going to take us on an island tour while they drove us to the Pitons.
We met our tour guide, Ramzee, and he was absolutely amazing and loved his little country. Our first stop was at a banana farm where he explained how bananas are grown and how they are one of the major exports for St. Lucia. He also gave each of us a banana and I can honestly say it was the best banana I have ever eaten. He also explained to us that they use bananas to make almost everything including banana ketchup and banana barbeque sauce. We continued on our tour and stopped for brunch which was all authentic St. Lucian cuisine. It was so much fun to eat like the locals, not to mention how good it was.
Ramzee continued to explain the culture of his island home until we finally reached the Pitons. There we were able to see these majestic mountains and sit on our tourist filled beach. The views both above and below the water were breathtaking. After spending time at the Pitons Ramzee took us to see the volcano on St. Lucia. It stank of sulfur, but was very interesting. Then it was time to start the trek back to the ship. On the way Ramzee stopped to pick us up local bread and cheese which was phenomenal and then drove us back to the ship listening to Bob Marley, his music of choice.
I know to a lot of people the sights are the best part of a trip, but that is not the case for me. To me, I like to experience things like a local and learn about things from locals. So yes, the Pitons are beautiful and the volcano is too, in its own sort of way, but I advise you not to just be a tourist because sitting on a crowded beach all day can be boring. Go out, experience new things, try new things, and learn new things. I am glad I got to see the Pitons, but it is nothing compared to the knowledge I gained about the culture and history of St. Lucia.
Here is a link to the Cosol Tours Website: http://www.cosol-tours.com/
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