Years ago, I needed a new arched door; it had to be made to measure, so I contacted my joiner, a really nice fellow, reliable, skilful and relatively prompt. This happened so long ago that I was still in the process of discovering Saint Lucia.
My joiner was also very religious and eager for work. Saturdays were a no-no, but Sundays were fine. Even Christmas Day was available if needs be, but no, a regular weekday would do fine, I told him.
Well, he came and measured the door; he examined the old one; he proclaimed that the wrong wood had been used; but he could rectify the solution; he knew the exact place where he would be able to find a suitable source of good, hard, durable timber. Unfortunately, this enchanted bower of blessed lumber was deep in the enchanted rainforest several hours distance from his home in the north. It would take some time for him to plunge into the dark, dank depths and discover a suitable tree, but if I was willing to wait, things could be arranged.
I mean, sometimes it’s easy to believe that the artisans of Saint Lucia are all gifted with Nobel Laureate imaginations, at least as far as the pictures they paint and the images of unsurmountable obstacles they are able to conjure up.
On another occasion, quite unrelated to the one just related, a friend of mine was out carousing with his mates when they decided to live dangerously and go and visit a ‘Gentlemen’s Club’ that sounded suspiciously like a cat-house, or house of ill repute. It was located not too far away from Rodney Bay, in Grande Riviere, Gros Islet to be exact.
What an adventure that turned out to be! My friends never arrived at their intended destination. Somehow, even though they found the road to Corinth and Grande Riviere, they managed to miss their mark by about as far as it is possible to miss any destination in this tiny country.
It seems that instead of bearing right at the bridge and proceeding up the hill towards Union, where they would have almost immediately have come across their lust’s holy grail, they chose to go left across the bridge, up Mornier, down Paix Bouche, turn left towards Garrand, cross the ford over the Marquis River, climb the hill up to Des Barra, turn left up past the playing field and descend towards Grande Anse. Fortunately, the Atlantic Ocean was able to convince them that they had maybe missed a turning or two on the way. And all this in the small, wee hours of the morning after a night out on the town.
The point is this: St Lucians have an atrocious sense of direction and know alarmingly little about their country. Many people have scarcely ventured off the highway from Gros Islet to Castries, or Castries to Vieux Fort via Dennery or Soufriere their whole lives, or if they have, they have no recollection of where they got to and how they got there.
Take my joiner, for example. Now, I think, as I said earlier, that he was an honest man, but for him a simple trip of half an hour at the most up to Babonneau, down to Fond Assau and along the road to Chassin was a major undertaking, something that had to be planned long in advance, and only after his last will and testament had been witnessed and the last rites administered.
And my drunken friends who could have ended up in an inebriated mess by the roadside were lucky to have survived without a scratch, though they were all a wee bit embarrassed when I showed them on a map where they had been and how close they had come to where they wanted to be. Oblivion can take many forms.
We need to get to know St Lucia, the highways and byways of the countryside; it’s not difficult. We at IETV (LIME 32, Karib 102) are trying our best. We’ve just launched a new series, well more than one actually, in which we explore our country by land, sea and air. Tune in and try us. You’ll be surprised how much fun learning can be.
Oh, and the Gentlemen’s Club? I’m told it’s still there; and I did eventually get my doors. By the way, how many Beausejours do you think there are in St Lucia?