later than planned, we come to write the conclusion to this part of the odyssey,
before moving on to the next. The internet connection on the island is somewhat
idiosyncratic, which has made email and web input difficult. It is easy to
forget that the things we now take for granted in the western world ? like
broadband ? are only a dream for a large proportion of the planet as yet.
Anyway, here we are?.
my better judgement (I wanted a quiet meal out before returning home tomorrow),
the crew felt that we should go to the award ceremony this evening to support
those who had done well. Thus we ended up in taxis (minibuses really, many of
which have seen better days) en route to a hotel a couple of miles away, where
the finale of the ARC was to take place.
was good to see many of the crews with whom we had spent time in the Canaries,
or seen since we arrived, enjoying themselves and letting their hair down ? or
polishing their pates!
was lots of applause for class winners, runners up and boats who had overcome
difficulties, along with ? interesting? Caribbean food ( we are still arguing as
to whether it was chicken or pork!).
oddity was that we were given the award for the best fleet blog (bad word, but
that is what it is called apparently). Seems that we cannot sail very fast, but
we can write a bit?..maybe we are in the wrong competition! What is sure is that
those who have signed in to the site have contributed to the vote (numbers
always count!), so thanks?
Ever Thus, But Shouldn't Be
arrived in the dark last Sunday night, and had little idea as to the nature of
the place to which we had come. Up till that point, it had mostly been about the
journey and not the destination. When we left the volcanic Gran Canaria, the
predominant image we had was of beautiful but fairly stark landscapes, pastels,
hard angles and black hills. Waking up to St Lucia we found greenery and lush
colours, folding hills before grand peaks. We found contrasts, however, that
sharpened the senses in more than one sense.
marina is in a pleasant space, with security guards and a variety of restaurants
and shops that cater for the well-heeled tourists that yacht owners are, at
least in relative terms. We went into the main city on the island, Castres,
finding a couple of cruise liners docked and disgorging tourists into the tax
free shopping mall that abuts the dock they lie against. In the city we saw
plush glass multi story buildings ? government offices, banks and other
financial businesses from which power-dressed women and men emerged carrying the
status symbols of the western world in their laptops and smart phones, and
lunching in decent restaurants. Suited and booted guys drove their BMW?s at
speed, bullying their way past old pick-up trucks and
vehicles were driven by poor souls trying to make a dollar, delivering fruit and
veg to a thousand tiny stalls in the market. Kids without shoes who should have
been in school implored you to buy a small bag of spice for 5 cents. Young men
and women trawled the streets with a desperate look in their eyes, begging or
selling things that nobody would want. The shanty shacks we passed on the way
into the metropolis comprised a couple of sides of clapboard and a couple of
sheets of corrugated iron, which must be appalling in the heat that prevails on
the island. The contrast between relative affluence and abject poverty is a real
is plenty poverty in the western world, and we know that our eyes are often
shielded from the sink housing estates in the UK, and dark realities of life for
those without jobs, education and opportunity. Without in any way denigrating
the challenges that people close to home face, the extreme in-your-face contrast
here between the posh yachts, the gated compounds and extravagant villas, and
the paper and tin hovels where the smell of human excrement percolates the
atmosphere, is really hard to bear.
does a lot of good, raises money for local charities as well as bringing trade
to the island in the shape of 1500 people who spend money before moving on, but
it still seems a miniscule drop in the ocean of need that we see here. Whilst
listening to the sounds of joy and contentment from hundreds of sailors in the
restaurants and bars around the secure marina, it is difficult to feel we have
gotten our priorities right as a society ?.beads and trinkets just won't
the next time?.