As I prepare to write my conference paper I’m reading The Repeating Island by Antonio Benitez Rojo. Islands in the Caribbean are not identical but during the 90-minute taxi ride from the airport yesterday I had a chance to compare St. Lucia to Nevis. These are just preliminary observations, of course, and Nevis is a much smaller island (often lauded by travel writers for remaining “unspoiled”).
Things that are the same:
- The night-time chorus of frogs/crickets.
- Even with all the curtains drawn, light enters your room before 6am.
- Mourning doves start cooing before dawn.
- Lush green vegetation everywhere and rainforest in undeveloped areas.
- Enormous cinder block houses in various stages of construction can be seen from the road.
- St. Lucians drive on the left.
- Both islands have hot springs and the potential for geothermal energy.
Things that are different:
- Drivers raise an arm in salute but don’t lightly tap their horns every time they pass a friend on the street.
- Goats and cows are tethered and not roaming freely in packs (I haven’t seen any monkeys yet).
- There aren’t any swales to allow rushing rainwater to cross the road as it comes down the mountainside.
- St. Lucia has a
n activevolcano that was last active in 1766.
- St. Lucia has an impressive-looking mental health hospital.
- There’s a KFC, Burger King, and Church’s Fried Chicken in a nearby mall.
- St. Lucia produces its own bananas and sugar rather than importing these from neighboring countries.
- Lasting influence of French rule (St. Lucians speak English and Kweyol/Creole).
Yesterday I shared a taxi with a scholar from Long Island University and a musicologist from Nigeria. I asked her if St. Lucia reminded her of Nigeria and she said that the setting did feel very similar. She then asked the driver if there was a KFC in St. Lucia and so he made sure to point it out as we drove by…
Time for breakfast. More later after I have a chance to explore.