Tuesday, December 2nd. The day started out like many others… Sunrise breaking through a bank of clouds, humidity thickening the air, a chorus of tree frogs giving way to the sounds of roosters, goats, and the soft hush of morning traffic rising from the streets below. Coming down to our final days here in St. Lucia, it was decided it was time for an “optional road trip”.
Not knowing what we might find — as with most road trips — a number of adventurous students along with John, Laura, and Reggie at the wheel, hopped in the van, and headed down the long, winding roads towards Choiseul, the craft capital of St. Lucia. Passing through Castries, we saw dozens of children in their brightly colored school uniforms. With excitement and anticipation of any good road trip our first stop found us admiring some beautifully hand crafted furniture out of twisted grass. The master behind these pieces briefly demonstrated to us how he worked his magic as well as showed us some of his wood carvings, and expertly made furniture pieces.
From there were traveled further into to the small town where Reggie asked some of the locals where we could find someone who made clay pots. We were instructed to go find Deliah,a tiny older woman who has mastered the art of making coal pots, a traditional clay pot used for cooking. When we arrived at her house, she was more than happy to demonstrate to us how she makes her pots. She started by taking handfuls of clay from a previously placed pile that had been harvested from the ground in the hills and been removed of rocks.
We each got to take turns mashing the clay with a large stick to make it soft, smooth, and rid of any chunks. She then took the softened clay, sat down in her chair, and set to work on hand-making the coal pot. It was incredible to watch her expert fingers fly around, smoothing and shaping what would become a handy piece of cookware.
For lunch, Reggie brought us to a quiet, picturesque beach where we had a picnic and were treated to fresh coconut and almonds that Reggie had found. When we ate our fill, we giddily raced down to the water to explore the beautiful black sand of the shore and the swelling waves of the ocean.
We strolled up and down the beach, letting the soft, warm sand sink between our toes and admired the breathtaking view of the sun reflecting off of the ocean. We splashed around in the refreshing water and let the rolling waves wash over us as we laughed and played like children. Chris and Conrad entertained us with a foot race along the beach and Peyton, Martha, Chris, and Reggie participated in a race using the butterfly stroke.
As we drove back, we reminisced about the people and the places that have taken on special meaning for us over these past six weeks… Climbing the Petite Piton; visiting with the Rasta snake charmers; buying coconut water by the side of the road; the turnoff to Reggie’s childhood home; our day hike to Pigeon Point; the catamaran ride to Soufriere; spending time at Missionaries of Charity; playing with the children at Dunnottar; experiencing Creole Days; listening to local author Michael Aubertin talk about the historical relevance of slavery and the Neg Maron; doing yoga with the young women at Upton Gardens School; learning about Caribbean history and issues facing modern day St. Lucia from Kennedy “Boots”Samuel; making a sobering visit to Bordelais Correctional Facility, and of course, building two homes for deserving families in need.
Perhaps most importantly, we reflected on the many good friends we have made here in St. Lucia… Reggie, St. Omer, Bois, Noella, Jessie, Nathalie, Dicky. Hilary, and all the wonderful staff at the APC! Clearly we are grateful to Chuck and Peg MacCarthy and all the Good News Project volunteers for their tireless efforts over the years to make a difference in the lives’ of many St. Lucian’s. As we close down this chapter of our first semester of college, we do so knowing our minds have been expanded and our hearts broken wide open. Each of us, in our own way have been changed, and anticipate that this experience will continue to resonate within us, propelling us into the future, with a little bit more compassion, tolerance, and sense of shared responsibility towards our fellow human beings.