Shadowing a DoctorFebruary 8, 2012
Saint Lucia is one of the Windward Islands in the Caribbean, more specifically one of the Lesser Antilles. It is a Commonwealth member, so it is nominally under the sovereignty of the UK monarch, but in all its day to day political decisions, it has a parliament and prime minister of its own, although the parliament is of course very small, with only seventeen elected members in the House of Assembly and eleven appointed members in the Senate.
The main economy of St Lucia depends on tourism and this is hardly a surprise as the island is very beautiful and enjoys a fabulous climate, although it is a little prone to hurricanes and tornadoes, as are all of the Windward Islands. In 2009, Hurricane Tomas tore through St Lucia, causing very bad damage with mud slides and cliff falls and also, sadly, some loss of life. But the island was soon back up and running, with the damage mended or at least made safe because the tourism is very important to the island and it was essential that everything should be back to normal as soon as possible. The islanders are a very resilient and pleasant people and certainly know how to make people feel welcome.
The main language of St Lucia is English, but at home the islanders mainly speak the local Patois of a French based Creole. This is a very organised language and it is widely used in music and writing. The Creoles of the Antilles are all slightly different from each other but are still completely intelligible between users. Students of language find the languages of these islands fascinating and it is possible to pick up the creoles very easily if you have a basic knowledge of French.
The main town and capital of St Lucia is Castries and is very much geared to the tourists, who mainly visit as part of a cruise itinerary so most of the bars, restaurants and shops are clustered near the port. It is quite expensive, therefore, as cruises and holidays on St Lucia do not come cheap, so it is not perhaps the kind of place you would be staying in on a budget. But there is a lot to do in St Lucia away from the shops and restaurants. As a volcanic island there is some great walking in the foothills and there is rain forest and a drive in volcanic crater to explore. Of course, the beaches are lovely and if you do nothing else but lie on the sand watching the pelicans dive for fish, you will still have a spectacular time.
St Lucia is an island which has been shaped culturally by many different countries, Africa, France and England, and this shows in their music and more especially in their food. Their festivals throughout the year are all a wonderful way of getting under the skin of this amazing island, to listen to their music, dance their dances and eat and drink the days and nights away under wonderful Caribbean skies.