St. Lucia Part 3: Hot Day in Castries

10 Aug

I will not spend too much time writing about Castries. You will think I’m terrible but I generally don’t enjoy spending time in Caribbean cities, and Castries was no exception. You see, the good part about them are the markets and haggling but I’m terrible at that, even though I spent a month in Ghana and I am supposed to be extolling the virtues of authentic travel. Not into it! But we had to go since my husband needed to get a Digicel sim card. Another thing you need to know about Marigot Bay, there is a working bank with an ATM and a small grocery store with limited products. If you need anything else, you have to go to Castries.

Castries Market from caribbeanportreviews.com

Now the next question is: how to get there? We ended up walking a mountainous, country mile and then taking the public van which comes frequently but not on a fixed schedule. Then we were careening around steep hills while the bus driver cursed out everyone on the road (note: this is not necessarily a typical experience but…) . How did we get into this predicament? When we realized we couldn’t get the sim card in Marigot Bay we asked for a taxi driver but we were quoted 60 American dollars. We respectfully passed and chose our own more arduous adventure. My next advice if you want to get a taxi for much less: either make nice with the taxi driver who picks you up at the airport or be friendly with the waitresses at DooLittle’s and ask for someone reliable. We did, but we got the number too late for it to be of much use.

So when we reached Castries, it was a lively and crowded situation. There were a lot of people in the streets just getting ready for Carnavale, which was taking place that week. The streets were blasting with the sounds of zouk, soca, and old school Tupac (I guess good music just lasts, huh?). It was around 1 pm so some of the stores were due for a siesta, including the first Digicel store we ran into. The employee closing up shop was kind enough to walk us to a larger location that was staying open later.

Afterwards, I thought about going to the mall called Pointe Seraphine. It is close to the cruise terminal for duty-free shopping, but many travelers prefer the more informal market where you can barter for those cheap T-shirts and magnets. We decided against it because we just didn’t feel like buying anything in particular besides rum. And it’s best to buy rum in the airport.

All in all, unless you’re there to visit family, join in on the Carnavale revelry or you  have scheduled a long-term stay and need to do routine shopping, you would do just fine skipping past Castries. There are just too many beautiful places to see and wonderful people to meet elsewhere in St. Lucia.

from Castries back to Marigot Bay- at a reasonable rate!

On our way back, we decided to find a taxi and we were charged around 15 bucks to get back to Marigot Bay. This seemed so reasonable in comparison that we hired the driver to take us to Rodney Bay the next day. When we returned to the cottage, I jumped into our little pool in relief. And then I read a lot.

Reading at the Cottage

Afterwards, I made dinner with the provisions I bought at the Marigourmet supermarket. It’s pretty expensive given that it mostly serves yacht owners (like buying food at a highway rest area), but I just bought some rice, a preserved Indian meal, and some juice so it ended up being a lot cheaper than going out to eat. But still, I should have bought some vegetables or fruits from the market in Castries! The cottage’s kitchen was completely stocked with cookware, silver, and plates. However, the salt and pepper is rock solid from the humidity so plan on buying that too if you stay here.

The Bottom Line

Castries Pro’s and Con’s:

Pro’s: supermarkets, shopping mall, outdoor market, Carnavale destination

Con’s: not a “sight-seeing” destination, traffic, crowded

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