Welcome to my place . . . Saint Lucia

‘Buy spiced rum and local bush remedies for everything from skin complaints to impotence’

Dee Lundy-Charles at the helm in Saint Lucia

Dee Lundy-Charles at the helm in Saint Lucia

 

Dee Lundy-Charles is from Belfast but left her hometown for university in 1982, never to permanently return. In May 1989, she went on holiday to Saint Lucia and five years later moved there “to give it a try”. Marriage, two adult kids and a retail-buying career later, she writes for a living, mainly about the island that has become home.

Where is the first place you always bring people to when they visit Saint Lucia?

My favourite place to be is on Bay Street in the fishing village of Gros Islet and I’m starting to convert all my visiting friends. It’s a charming beach with a panoramic view of Pigeon Island and the Caribbean Sea, which is the normal backdrop for people living in the village. There’s a series of cool, friendly bars and restaurants including my own “local” – the “world-famous” Irie Bar – so it’s a great introduction to authentic Saint Lucia. Then we head to the Pitons, Saint Lucia’s famous mountains, of course!

Chill out and take a swim on any of the beaches of Saint Lucia
Chill out and take a swim on any of the beaches of Saint Lucia

The top three things to do there, that don’t cost money, are…

Take a coastal hike on the “Atlantic side”, where the breezes are constant, views endless and the windswept coastline reminds me of home.

Chill out and take a swim on any of the beaches. The sea is always warm and due to our volcanic geology, you can choose from a selection of white and black sand.

Explore Castries Market on a Saturday morning when it feels like the whole population turns up to shop for fresh tropical fruits, exotic veggies and homegrown healthy produce. The vendors are colourful in every way, yelling the latest gossip at each other as they sell spiced rum and local bush remedies for everything, from skin complaints to impotence.

The sunset in Saint Lucia

Where do you recommend for a great meal that gives a flavour of Saint Lucia?

My go-to place for the best Lucian plate of food is Golden Taste on Dauphin Street in Gros Islet – big portions of proper local favourites for a few dollars, and fresh fruit juice that changes every day. Pink Plantation House in Castries is famous for good old homestyle Caribbean food in an artistic and historic setting, with a breathtaking view of the north of the island. Street food is everywhere in Saint Lucia – we love trucks and barbecue stalls and they can generally be relied upon to be cheap and tasty.

Choose your tipple in Saint Lucia
Choose your tipple in Saint Lucia

Where is the best place to get a sense of Saint Lucia’s place in history?

Pigeon Island National Park is one of the best snapshots of our geopolitical significance across the centuries. Saint Lucia was fought over by the French and English for almost 200 years, changing hands 14 times as every self-respecting tour guide will report. Tiny Pigeon Island was a significant military and naval fort joined to the mainland by a causeway in the 1970s. You can walk among the ruins and get a real feel of the past. Climb to the top and the fortifications still show why Fort Rodney was an important asset.

What should visitors save room for in their suitcase for after a visit to Saint Lucia?

West Indians love “Pepper Sauce” and our local Baron Foods makes several award-winning recipes. Also bring back local rum, especially my own favourite, Chairman’s Reserve and natural oils and skincare products made using local ingredients and ancient wisdom – Saint Lucian women, like my friends Yvonne at Kako Organics and P-Lee at Patricia Lee Products, are really making strides in this area and it is good to support them.

If you’d like to share your little black book of places to visit where you live overseas, please email your answers to the five questions above to abroad@irishtimes.com, including a brief description of what you do there and a photograph of yourself. We would love to hear from you.

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