Barbados, Week 14: Reggae on the Hill

May 23, 2012

It’s exam time at UWI, and the blocks have become pretty quiet now that everyone is holed up inside studying.  However, not even exams could stop me from buying a ticket to one of Barbados’ biggest days in music, Reggae on the Hill.  I’m not going to pretend like I know the history of the concert or when it started, but if I had to compare, I’d say it was like a Barbados-sized Woodstock.  Obviously I’ve never been to Woodstock either, so I suppose I’m going out on a bit of a limb there too.  Point is, there was a ton of hype about the all-day concert, and when some friends and I cabbed over we started hitting traffic miles down the road from Farley Hill National Park, where the concert was taking place.  Some of the biggest names in Reggae music were scheduled to perform that afternoon, but I only recognized one artist, Chris Martin, winner of 2005’s “Digicel’s Rising Stars” (think Caribbean version of American Idol).

Security was pretty tight for an event of this scale, and I was a little surprised when I encountered a TSA-like pat-down before being allowed entry into the park.  Speaking of which, they couldn’t have picked a better spot for the concert:  the park was covered with huge trees providing cover from sun and rain, with a comfortable lawn perfect for spreading out a chair or blanket for the 8 hour show.  Knowing that the hill would get progressively  packed as the night went on (naturally, Bajans would be expected to arrive on “Bajan” time) we decided to take advantage of the myriad of different food vendors set up on the outskirts of the park.  Fish, chicken sandwiches, and hamburgers abounded and, unlike concerts in America, they didn’t even jack up the prices just because they knew they could.

Reggae has come a long way from its beginnings in 1960s, but the spirit for which the music stands was still evident in the crowd at Farley Hill.  From its birthplace in Trenchtown in Kingston, Jamaica, it has taken over the Caribbean and disseminated to every corner of the globe.  The genre was heavily influenced by Rastafari such as the legendary Bob Marley, and many people in the crowd were waving the Rasta Flag, a triple layered green, yellow, and red flag with the Lion of Judah in the center.  The audience, although clearly excited for each artist, was notably more laid back than a typical American concert in which some of the most popular musical artists of the year were present.  There was no pushing, shoving, or raucous jumping up and down, but rather everyone gave each other sufficient space to actually breath and enjoy the concert in their own space.  Below I have included a YouTube video of one of my favorite songs of the concert, enjoy:

Jah Cure – Call On Me

If you’re a Marley fan, it’s not a guarantee you’ll dig these tunes as well, but it’s catchy, contemporary reggae at its finest and an interesting example of how far the genre has come in 50 or so years of innovation and development.  I will admit, I missed American rock, rap, and top 40 for a good month or so after I arrived in the Caribbean and refused to embrace these types of songs until much longer than my exchange counterparts.  I ignorantly insisted that “they all sound exactly the same” and couldn’t even understand a word of the lyrics.  However, there came a point where I found myself bobbing my head and tapping my foot to the beat as I realized that as much as I tried to convince myself that I didn’t like the music, it had seeped into the part of my brain that overruled cultural attachment.

The sun set behind the hill, it started to pour rain, and the line-up of reggae artists continued to perform their sets with exuberant energy.  I looked back at the hill that had been dotted with people only hours before and saw that the hill was absolutely packed.  The young, married, and old alike had taken out their umbrellas and were determined to fight the downpour in order to finish out the most celebrated concert of the year.  I think that’s what struck me most about the concert. The fact that, while concerts in America are generally populated with a homogenous crowd, its demographic depending on the band playing, Reggae on the Hill was able to bring together Rastas, students, couples, and older people alike to enjoy the concert.  I may have been slightly more stressed the first day or two of studying for exams, but it was one hundred percent worth it for the experience.

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Barbados, Week 13: Farewell Dinner Reflection

May 14, 2012

Toward the end of the year every spring semester, members of the Frank Worrell Hall council organize and put together a farewell dinner for those students living on campus.  Everyone gets all dressed up, and the dinner features song, dance, a speech and hall “spoof awards.”

As an exchange student this year, I was asked to give a reflection on my time spent at the University of the West Indies and I readily accepted.  I love blogging of course, but I enjoy delivering my thoughts to a guaranteed audience even more.  I presented the third and final reflection of the night, and unlike the other speakers, this was not completely off the cuff for me – I had written down a two page speech in the 20 minutes before my final class.  Not having time to print it out, I arrived at the dinner with my entire laptop under my arm.

Below is the video that my friend from California, Camille, took of the reflection speech.  And yes, toward the end that is the sound of audience members crying.


Barbados, Week 12: The American gets a Cooking Lesson

April 23, 2012

Upon being notified that I would be living on Halls this semester, a certain idea crept up in my mind:  I may actually have to learn how to cook for myself.  I had no idea what sort of eating venues UWI would have, and my mother was extremely excited that her generally helpless son would develop some valuable life skills.  However, you can take me out of America but it is not as easy to take the American out of me; no sooner had I arrived in Barbados in late January than I made it priority number one to find where I could buy ready-made food to consume.  Thus my diet consisted of chicken, rice, and salad at the school cafeteria, pizza from the local Esso gas station, and snacks or microwaveable goods from the Campus Mart.  Now this was no particular issue for me, for as I’ve previously mentioned, the cafeteria food is very tasty and Esso pizza is probably the best pizza on the island.  But I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of longing and jealousy as I would walk by one of the girls’ blocks, ham and cheese sub in hand, and smell some of the most delicious aromas to have ever hit my nostrils.

So one night, as I walked back to my block with a sizeable bag of KFC delivery under my arm, the RA on hall stopped me.  “Man how long have you been here?  You need to stop eating this fast food and start making some real Caribbean food.”  I secretly agreed, but decided it would be easier to come up with excuses such as “I would…but I have no time” (a blatant lie).  As it turns out my blockmate Nickoy is something of a master chef, and the RA quickly roped him into teaching me how to make a West Indian dish to “impress your parents when you get back!”.  Nickoy was skeptical I would actually follow through when I told him that I would buy the ingredients if he taught me how to make a simple Caribbean dish.  He was happily surprised when, on Monday, I walked through the door with a bag of chicken from the local supermarket, proclaiming that it was time to make a feast.  We would be making chicken stew, Caribbean style.

As Nickoy and I cut up the chicken breast and legs into manageable sizes, he told me how he had been cooking since he was fourteen years old.  Needless to say I could barely create a sandwich at that age, much less become a self sufficient cook.  As we went along it became apparent that, with cooking, practice does indeed make perfect, as Nickoy effortlessly skinned and diced up three potatoes in the time it took me to completely mangle one into small pieces.  However, it was really cool to see how such a delicious meal was created, and once mastered probably wouldn’t even take too much time to finish.

My blockmate Nickoy hard at work preparing the chicken.

Instead of meticulously describing how we went about making the chicken stew, I will include something of a recipe below in case anyone wants to learn how to do it themselves.  Bon Appetit.

– Chop up chicken breast and legs into thirds or quarters (about 6 pieces), wash in a bowl with water

– pour a handful of vinegar in the bowl, then wash again with water to remove the “rawness”

– cut up into fine segments and add onions (two), garlic (3 cloves), hot pepper (one), and a pinch of ginger to give it “attitude”

– thoroughly mix together by hand before covering, refrigerating, and let sit for three hours

– put olive oil in a sizable pot (enough to cover bottom), and turn oven on high

– chop up three potatoes into fine segments and mix in with the chicken, then add browning sauce (for coloring)

– wait until oil is steaming, then put chicken (with onions, etc) and potatoes into the pot, mix up with spoon

– keep oven on high for a few minutes before turning down to below medium until stew sauce is boiling

– add pepper or other ingredients as necessary by periodically tasting the stew sauce

– after stew sauce is boiling, turn oven on high again for a few minutes and then let sit for a few minutes

The finished product – delicious.

I wrote this recipe from memory shortly after completing the chicken stew, so chances are I may have left out a few steps here and there, but if you follow the recipe I’m sure you’ll have a delicious chicken stew dinner nonetheless.  Nickoy and I made a pretty big pot of chicken stew and rice, so we decided to share some with our fellow blockmate Richie.  Per usual, my eyes were bigger than my stomach, and I ended up eating myself into a near food coma.  Somehow food tastes better when you’ve helped to make it with your own hands, and so it was with the chicken stew.  And gentleman, FYI, telling girls you’re making dinner/can cook at all makes them swoon pretty hard.  So if you don’t consider it a manly undertaking and refuse to learn, just know that Nickoy and I will probably be entertaining your girl this weekend.

Richie, Nickoy and Jevaughn digging in.


Barbados, Week 11: Joining the Tennis Team

April 23, 2012

When I first came to Barbados for study abroad, joining a sports team on campus was literally not even on my priority list.  I hadn’t played any sort of organized team sport since high school, and it didn’t seem realistic to me that I would start up again on a Caribbean island three quarters through my collegiate career.  But mid-February rolled around, and a couple things began to happen:  I started to become socially and physically complacent, and I started to put on some pounds.  Luckily, one of my hall-mates walked by me one day, tennis racket in hand, and a solution began readily forming itself.  Eager to figure out what opportunities there were to play tennis on UWI campus, I discovered that there were Intermediate level practices every Monday.  Recognizing that joining the tennis team would solve both of my current issues, I told him I’d be there next Monday ready to go.

I cannot speak for all of UWI sports, but from what I have experienced and heard, sports practices are a bit different at American colleges as opposed to the University of the West Indies.  If you want to play sports on the varsity level in the United States, you’re going to most likely have to be recruited, regardless of the sport.  Practices are generally everyday, with strict workout regimens and rules about attendance and conduct.  If you play football for the University of Richmond, for example, you’re more or less eating, sleeping, and breathing Richmond Spiders Football.  Here at the University of the West Indies, multiple exchange students have just shown up at practice and walked on the basketball, field hockey, and volleyball teams.  The sports facilities on campus consist of a field hockey field, the cricket oval (duh), cricket batting cages, an indoor “coaching center”, one tennis court, one basketball court, and a soccer field down the road.

Now one thing I need to make clear before I continue is that I am in no way saying that UWI sports are a joke compared to collegiate sports programs in the United States, but rather that they have a refreshingly laid back approach toward most of their sports programs.  You won’t find UWI students having meltdowns or burn-outs over sports-related stress (save cricket, maybe), like many United States’ students will have before they even get to the collegiate level.  I find most students with which I talked about their experience playing sports for UWI love it, and some even get the chance to play in games throughout the Caribbean.

Tennis practices, however, are tough.  If I had managed to convince myself that I wasn’t out of shape before I joined the tennis team, well, that changed fast.  The Intermediate level team is composed of about 10-12 students, about 9 boys and 3 girls, on any given practice day.  Needless to say the coaches have a tough job trying to get 12 players sufficient playing time on one court, but they do a great job of creating a program beneficial for everyone.  They’ll have four stations, for example:  One station will be a ground-stroke or volleying drill, another two will be some sort of cardio exercise (think burpees or frog jumps), and the last might be hitting against “the wall” (the tennis court is right next to the indoor coaching center).  The Intermediate group was a great bunch of people and I made friends quickly, but one of the coaches, Raymond, decided I needed a bigger challenge.  Thus about three weeks after joining the team I was bumped up to the Advanced group.

The multi-sport court used for our tennis practices.

Now, I’m a competitive dude and was  thrilled about getting more playing time with the Advanced group, but I was also pretty nervous.  What if I showed up on Wednesday and just got absolutely thrashed?  Well, it turns out a little bit of pressure can go a long way when it comes to motivating me.  I crushed a red bull after my Wednesday night class and headed over for my first practice with the Advanced group.  This was a smaller, more intense group, with only about 4-6 players per practice day, and it quickly became apparent that they were good.  But as I said, I was extremely determined not to embarrass myself, and I played my guts out for two hours in an attempt to win their respect.

A month later, and I am like a giddy child before Wednesday and Friday night tennis practices.  The coaches really want to see us improve, and are extremely constructive in their advice.  One of them even plays on the Davis Cup Team for Barbados!  I feel incredibly fortunate that I am more or less getting semi-private lessons twice a week for free.  And my teammates are awesome- we’re all extremely competitive but it doesn’t take much for us to break down and start laughing when someone shanks a ball over the fence.  It’s not uncommon for us to stay an hour later after practice hours and just hit around, even though we’re all exhausted from the two hours of drills and cardio beforehand.  There have been many incredible things that I’ve done and seen in Barbados, but I would say joining the UWI tennis team has had the biggest impact upon my study abroad experience thus far.


Barbados, Week 10: Life on Campus- UWI, Cavehill

April 6, 2012

A strange thing has happened in the beginning stages of my third month studying abroad:  I have begin to think of Barbados as my home.  The first two months of my study abroad experience were often a constant, ever-progressing comparison to how my life normally would be back home.  Yet now that all these irregularities, cultural differences, and lifestyle changes have been successfully synthesized into daily norms, something finally clicked.  I no longer wake up surprised to hear the boisterous beeps and buzzes of constant traffic directly outside my window, nor do I freak out if a scheduled event or bus is half an hour late…or an hour late, for that matter.  I’ve begun to compile a master playlist of island Soca, Dancehall, and Pop songs that I’ve heard enough times to sing in my sleep.  I’ve even caught myself looking at large groups of sunburnt tourists, fresh off the cruise ship, thinking “Here come the Americans…”

So after weeks of making everyone green with jealousy over tales of cross-island adventures and a weekend trip to St. Lucia, it is only fair that I also give everyone a taste of what it’s like 80% of my time in Barbados, on campus.  Put bluntly, University of Richmond’s (Virginia, United States) campus seems like Yellowstone National Park in comparison to Cave Hill.  UWI, Cave Hill has prime real estate at the top of a long hill overlooking the Caribbean, and no space is left wasted; One of the dorms connects to the cafeteria, which connects to the student guild, which connects to the health office, which connects to the bookstore.  While Americans like to number their classrooms in numerical order, classrooms at UWI have fun distinctions such as LT1, LR1, LH1 (lecture theater 1, etc).  After the first week of mistakenly stumbling into every room possible, I actually think i’ve probably been in more rooms than not on campus.  Students, for the most part, come to class on time and NEVER pack up before the professor is finished, even if class time is over.  I was amazed at this phenomenon, because American students are almost always packed up and ready to go at least five minutes before class is over.

Some things I love about school here?  My professors.  They are engaging, personable, and brilliant people whose work can be found in academic journals throughout the Caribbean.  Also, the cafeteria food.  Save for Oistins Fish Fry, one of the best fish steaks I’ve had all semester long came from none other than Cave Hill Campus Cafeteria.  It probably cost me less than US$5.

Some things I don’t love about school here?  The library. After getting used to one of the nation’s chillest, most comfortable libraries —  Boatwright Memorial Library at UR — the Cave Hill Campus Library just has a hard time stacking up.  While Boatwright not only lets you bring a day’s worth of food into the library for a studying marathon, it also lets you bring in your entire bag, making it easier to study for multiple subjects in one sitting.  Now, there’s nothing necessarily wrong with the Cave Hill Library, but it’s more of a no-nonsense establishment.  Wanna take your entire bag in?  Nope.  You turn in your bag for a card at the front entrance and then proceed to clumsily drop your 4 books, computer, calculator, and glasses as you’re somehow supposed to open the entrance door.  Wanna bring food and water in so your mind is properly fueled?  Nope. You can chug your water bottle outside and then throw it away before entering.  Would you like to borrow a book for an hour and then return it to the shelf?  Nope.  First, please fill out every single detail possible about the book before handing the slip to a library employee who will take twice as long as you would to find the book.  Then, wait patiently as they scan your card and stamp your info slip and give you back a copy.  It’s good to have physical memoirs to remind yourself that you did, indeed, study, in case you ever forget.

Sorry about the library rant, but it was a long time coming.  To tip the scales back in UWI’s favor, however, are the students.  I have the incredible opportunity to go to school with and talk to people from Barbados, St. Lucia, Dominica, Antigua, the Bahamas, Guyana, Belize, Trinidad, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, and Canada.  Most Caribbean students I’ve met have displayed a cheerful, laid-back attitude and, like most other university students, are constantly laughing and looking to have fun.  It’s truly rare to find a loud, in your face, attention-craving student from the Caribbean, and most are very down to earth people.  I advise learning some Caribbean expressions and honing one’s listening skills, however, because understanding the different dialects has been one of my biggest challenges while abroad.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve answered “Where are you from?” with “My name’s Ryan” or just “…yes…”.  I’m getting better at understanding the nuances of the Bajan dialect though, and may or may not have tried it out on a couple of occasions.

There’s probably another 1,000 words I could say about life on campus at The University of West Indies, but there’s no point in continuing to talk about the library.  Jokes aside, I moved up to join the Advanced Team in tennis last week, so I guess I can now say I’ve played tennis on the collegiate level?  Cross that one off the bucket list.  I’ll be taking some pics and giving you the lowdown on that next week, though, so stay tuned.


Barbados, week 9: Carnival Chaos

March 30, 2012

The most hyped weekend of the year, at least for college students, is now in the books: Carnival, or KadUWIval as it is formally called, came with much fanfare and it certainly proved to be one of the most culturally different experiences of which I had the pleasure of being a part.  You see, back in the United States, there are parades, and there are circuses, and there are parties, but never has one event been so bold as to combine elements of all three.  It was one of those special times where you don’t really know what something truly IS until you’re smack in the middle of it, going “Ohhh… so THIS  is carnival”.

I may have taken some liberty with my previous statement, as, in reality, if one searches for UWI and/or Barbados on YouTube, videos of Carnival are the first thing that appears.  Carnival, for the avid YouTube video consumer, should be the first thing one will have known about Barbados before actually being there.  My experience was a little different, however.  I was walking across the campus lawn, noticing a greater buzz of activity surrounding the area than normal, when a tall Bajan guy approached me, “Hey man, you jumpin’ for Carnival?”  “Jumping? Uhm, no, I don’t think so, man, what exactly is it?”

Simmz,  as I would later find out he was called, gave me the rundown on how it would work.  First, you join a ‘band’.  This is the group you will be organized into and ‘jumping’ with at the beginning of Carnival.  Each band has specific outfits the members wear, with different costumes for girls and guys.  The Carnival parade starts down near the cruise ship port in Bridgetown and ends on campus in Cave Hill.  What takes place during ‘jumping’ is this; the bands line up behind a huge truck stacked with speakers and posters, and once the music starts and the truck tires begin to roll, you have nonstop dancing, socializing, and picture-taking until the sun goes down and one finds themselves back at UWI.

I liked what Simmz told me, so I signed up for Carnival with his band, Island Army.  Now, usually, friends confer with friends before choosing his/her band, but since I didn’t really know what was going on and if there was a deadline or not, I dismissed the notion of conferring before choosing.  After all, Simmz had approached me out of nowhere and wanted me to be in his band — who am I to deny such adamant recruitment?  It turned out to be a good choice, anyways, as I talked to my Bajan friends Devito and Quaisy and they, as well, had joined Island Army.  The rest of the exchange group students had either joined the Halls Band or a band called Island Roots.

Fast forward three weeks, and it’s the morning of Carnival.  Girls are running around freaking out about how small their outfit pieces turned out to be, and the guys are still sleeping because all they have to do is wear their band t-shirts.  Carnival, I was beginning to realize, is maybe 5% about the guys and 95% about the girls.  No one is lining up to see me in my t-shirt — they’re there to check out the girls in their hot pink or leopard print outfits.  And as far as the outfits are concerned, less is definitely more.  Feminists may decry the event as objectifying women, but I think it is 100% cultural that they dress like that, and I don’t think you’ll find many Bajans that’d say otherwise.

Now, as far as the dancing that went on…well, that was cultural, too, I guess.  Caribbean women know how to dance — as children they are dancing soon after they can walk.  It’s no timid “I don’t really know how to dance, and I’m scared that people are looking at me” type of dancing one might frequently encounter in the United States, but a more full-bodied expression of rhythm and feeling.  I’m not going to lie, it was a little nerve-wracking for someone not completely sold on his own dancing ability to dance with exotically dressed, beautiful Caribbean women, but I was set on partaking in Carnival to its fullest, so dance I did.  For nearly three hours.  But Carnival was also a time of fraternizing with friends as well, and it was fun to see all the people I’ve met in the past two months out on the same street having fun together.  You begin to feel like maybe you’re not so much of a stranger after all when a friend comes up to you every five minutes and tries to get another girl to dance with you.

The Carnival procession finished up on UWI campus, and there everybody immediately remembered what they somehow forgot for the previous six hours: I’m incredibly hungry.  I had another “American” moment when I thought the contents of a yellow bottle was obviously mustard and so doused my hotdog in it.  It was Bajan hot sauce, and thus I proceeded to eat one of the spiciest hotdogs of my life.  But the day was far from done.  A big draw for a lot of the UWI students was the Carnival after-party, with one of the parking lots being craftily turned into a penned-in version of the last five hours’ various activities.

I liked Carnival for two reasons: One, nothing, or at least nothing I am aware of, exists like this in the United  States’ Northeastern region.  Nothing.  Two, it was a genuinely fun time dancing and socializing out in the beautiful Caribbean sun.

In fact, some past exchange students had flown down just to relive the epic weekend that is Carnival.  God-willing I save up enough money, I hope to be that guy next year.

 


Barbados, Week 6: Island Hopping in St. Lucia

March 16, 2012

When I see tall things in the distance, one thing pops into my head:  I must climb that.  I was perusing my sister’s photos of her own St. Lucia vacation when I stumbled upon the Pitons of St. Lucia.  Like a mismatched set of gigantic fangs, Gros and Petit Piton rise out of the Caribbean Sea on St Lucia’s west coast and are its most recognizable landmarks.  They are so important to St. Lucia, in fact, that they named their own indigenous beer, Piton, after them.

I flew into St. Lucia on a late afternoon REDjet flight on Friday, a flight all of twenty minutes, knowing only where my hotel was located and that it had balcony views of Petit Piton.  Unlike the United States, finding a cab is never an issue; they will find you, and quickly.  I knew the price was set at US$65 from Hewanorra Airport to Soufriere, so I got a kick out of my cab driver when he told me “It’s $75 but, for you, i’ll knock it down $65”.  So nice of him to charge me regular price!  But as the drive progressed and we began talking, and I learned that he goes by the name “Cow”, we bonded as much as a taxi driver and tourist can.  I learned that he owns 4 acres of banana trees as well as driving the taxi van 7 days a week, and that he has three daughters from four different wives.  That is one busy man, I thought to myself.

Cow offered to drive me to Gros Piton the next morning, but I would have to be ready by 6:00 a.m.  Of course one of the two nights I was in a spacious, comfy, air-conditioned hotel room I wouldn’t even be sleeping for more than five and a half hours!  Soufriere, however, is settled in between beautiful, lush mountainside opening up onto a quiet fishing bay, so when I woke up at 5:30 a.m. with light clouds rolling over the jagged mountaintops and the sun illuminating just enough detail, and it was definitely a sight worth seeing.  All I had to eat was a bag of peanuts that morning, with two water bottles packed for my climb, before my guide Shem and I began the ascent of Gros Piton just before 7:00 a.m.  It was a good thing we left so early, though, because even by the quarter mile mark, I had sweat pouring down my face while Shem had not even broken a sweat.  I guess that’s the difference between casually keeping in shape and hiking a 2,619 foot peak everyday.  The trail consisted, at first, of inclined packed dirt with a few areas of steep broken rock that would have to be navigated with use of all four limbs.  As the path hit the half-way mark and continued upwards it morphed into steeper switchbacks with crude earthen stairs and wooden railings nailed between especially steep sections.  If it had been just me, I would’ve taken my sweet time, but Shem was under the impression that a young man of my age was capable of going faster than I wanted, and thus I pretended to be hardly winded when we would stop for breaks.  With aching limbs, I reached the summit look-out point about an hour and ten minutes after we began, and there it hit me that it was completely merited to be so winded, because I was really, really high up.  The view was stunning:  You could see nearly the entire length of the island, with many of its uneven peaks shrouded in early morning clouds.  Soufriere was just a cluster of houses behind Petit Piton across the bay, and you could see numerous sailboats jetting around the west coast.

The way down was a bit easier, and in the fifty minutes it took us to descend from Gros Piton’s glorious heights, I learned a little bit about my guide, Shem.  Although I didn’t ask his age, he must’ve been somewhere between 17-19 years old, and had graduated from school in Soufriere.  Shem lived near the base of the Piton and had four brothers and two sisters, but he was a middle child.  He had been working as a guide on Gros Piton for two years, hiking the mountain at least once, if not twice, daily.  He told me the fastest he had ever climbed Gros Piton was in 55 minutes, but the slowest was with a group of older tourists who took 4 hours to make the climb!

Traveling to unfamiliar destinations is exhilarating, but, at times, it can be just as frustrating.  Upon coming back to town, I needed to take out money for my celebratory post-hike meal, but of course Saturday was the day where the Bank of St. Lucia in town was inconveniently switching its location to a waterfront building.  The ATM would not be operable until Monday.  Cow had to pick up a couple in the northern capital city of Castries at 12:00, so I had to take an hour drive north with him, take out money in Castries, and take a public bus an hour back to Soufriere.  Exhausted, dirty, and desperate, I stumbled into Archie’s bar and restaurant around 1:30 p.m.  and had the best chicken rotis and salad of my life.  Despite my limited time in St. Lucia, the only activities I could muster the energy for the rest of the day was to nap on the beach, nap in my hotel room, eat dinner at Archie’s, and wander the town streets and talk with some locals until around 10:00 p.m.

Sunday I played the typical tourist role, with Cow taking me and a couple from Arkansas around to the drive-in sulfur volcano just outside of Soufriere along with a trip to Toraille Falls.  It made for some good picture taking, to be sure, but it did not have nearly as an authentic, organic feel to it as did yesterday’s hike up Gros Piton.  Cow agreed to drive me over to the east coast for some sightseeing before my afternoon flight back to Barbados, and I even got a dip in at a beach down the road from the airport before my 5:00 pm flight.  I wouldn’t recommend cutting one’s time that close, however, as I enjoyed myself at the beach so much I almost missed the cut-off for check in.  All in all, a great weekend away that I would recommend for anybody — well, anybody who enjoys challenging physical exertion, that is — and a nice break before my head is buried in the books for midterms at UWI!

 


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