Saturday I got to go on an island tour with all the other trainees. Our tour guide was the host dad of one of our trainees and is a taxi driver who does these kinds of tours for a living. He offers good prices for Peace Corps Volunteers so we took advantage of the opportunity. We started in Castries right by the waterfront where the cruise ships come in and we traveled down around the whole island going down the West coast and then up the East coast. We went through Anse La Raye, Canaries, Soufriere, Choiseul, Laborie, Vieux Fort, Micoud, Dennery, and Grand Riviere and then we returned to Castries. We stopped at lots of little viewpoints along the way to check out the gorgeous scenery. We even passed two of the Japanese Volunteers that we had met at our welcome party last weekend. They were in the middle of a several day hike around the whole island! In Soufriere we got to see one of the ships they used in Pirates of the Caribbean. We also got to see the famous Pitons (2 striking pyramid-like mountains that stand side by side right on the coast). Near Soufriere we were able to take a cool dip in a waterfall pool. Then we warmed up with a dip in a sulfur spring. In Vieux Fort we passed the airport where we first landed on St. Lucia. In town we picked up some coal pots, which are clay pots hand-made by St. Lucians. It's a traditional craft and it has been used in cooking for many years. Basically you have a bowl shape with wholes in the bottom that is attached to a hollow stand. You put coals in the bowl and the ashes fall through the holes into the bottom section where you can scoop them out. You can put a bowl on top and cook stew or you can use it like a hibachi grill. I'm looking forward to grilling on mine! After we picked up the pots our taxi driver took us to the southernmost part of the Island where we could see both the Caribbean and Atlantic seas. In the distance we could see the faint outline of St. Vincent. We took another dip in the ocean in a small bay on our way up the East Coast where we got to see some kite surfing. And one of our fellow trainees bought a bundle of fresh crabs just as we passed by Dennery.
It was a very interesting day and we all left feeling pretty tired. It was nice to get a break from training and to be a tourist for a day, although we didn't care for the constant interactions with vendors. We were able to identify some spots that we would like to revisit and some places we would like to explore more. Good thing we have two years to do it!
This week we will be going through our final assessments. This means we will be taking some tests and being interviewed. So pray that it goes well! I will be working out a schedule with my worksite for the next three months (integration months). And hopefully I will get a chance to visit my apartment to get an idea of where I will be living and what kinds of things I will need. Lots of things need to be done this week, so pray that I can stay on top of it all.
Also, please keep my host family in your prayers. My host sister's boyfriend died in a terrible car accident Easter morning and it has been pretty devastating for the family. My host sister especially is going to have a hard time in the weeks and months to come. They had been together for five years.
I love you all and as always I love to hear from you!