Sim­ply beau­ti­ful . . . or par­adise gone down the toi­let?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By

Toni Ni­cholas

Last Sun­day morn­ing fol­low­ing my reg­u­lar Church so­journ, I took a walk around the city, which just hap­pens to be the cap­i­tal of the na­tion. A na­tion, by the way, that re­cently cap­tured sev­eral tourism awards, in­clud­ing best hon­ey­moon des­ti­na­tion.

I had only re­cently re­turned from va­ca­tion, and ex­cept for one oc­ca­sion on a busy week­day, I had not been to Castries in a while. On this par­tic­u­lar Sun­day I was cu­ri­ous to see if there were any new busi­nesses, whether the show win­dows had been dressed up for Christ­mas, and per­chance stum­ble upon a scene for the STAR’s back page.

Along the way I en­coun­tered sev­eral vis­i­tors off a ship docked at Pointe Seraphine. Alas, there was noth­ing much for them to see or do in Castries un­less they wanted to booze up un­der the CDC near the mar­ket. I met oth­ers near the Cathe­dral who seemed to en­joy tak­ing pic­tures while the Sun­day-mass bells tolled.

Across the street from the Cathe­dral was where many of the vis­i­tors ap­peared headed. Per­haps, un­like many Saint Lu­cians, they had heard of this awe­some poet and Saint Lu­cian Nobel Lau­re­ate Derek Wal­cott and wanted to visit the place named in his hon­our: Derek Wal­cott Square.

How­ever, for those who wanted to get a close-up look at the bust of Wal­cott and its in­scrip­tions, that would prove dif­fi­cult. Derek Wal­cott Square was un­der heavy pad­lock and chain.

I was not quite sure who the guardians of the park were de­ter­mined to keep out. In any case, in the mid­dle of the kiosk inside the square lay a va­grant fast asleep, obliv­i­ous of the cu­ri­ous vis­i­tors desperately try­ing to pho­to­graph the venue.

As for the sur­round­ings on the par­tic­u­lar day, they fit­ted right in with the rest of the city that looked like one huge garbage dump. There was lit­ter un­der the park benches and empty bot­tles ev­ery­where. Ob­vi­ously we’re proud of our rep­u­ta­tion as among the high­est con­sumers of al­co­hol per capita. Cer­tainly more than we are of our record two Nobel Lau­re­ates.

The im­age of the square that Sun­day was just ghastly. A de­jected vis­i­tor shook his head, un­able to get a closer look at the ceno­taph at the other end of the square where, just a few days, ear­lier the Gov­er­nor Gen­eral and the Prime Min­is­ter had laid wreaths in hon­our of our fallen sol­diers in World War 1.

Wil­liam Peter Boule­vard and other parts of Castries were sim­i­larly de­press­ing. I should also men­tion that dur­ing my 45-minute walk-around I en­coun­tered not a sin­gle po­lice of­fi­cer!

We have been a na­tion no­to­ri­ous for the lack of the up­keep of parks, play­ing fields and mon­u­ments which soon be­come derelict. Think the George V Park, Min­doo Phillip Park, The Na­tional Sta­dium and I can go on and on. One would think that this would be­come part of the new ethos of any new gov­ern­ment seek­ing to ef­fect change, I thought to my­self, my level of op­ti­mism wan­ing.

As I headed away from the city Sun­day, I saw a few more vis­i­tors in taxis more than likely head­ing to places far more pris­tine than the Castries city. And maybe, just maybe they are the ones who will score the is­land high as one that is sim­ply beau­ti­ful. For oth­ers like my­self we know bet­ter!

A vis­i­tor try­ing to pho­to­graph Wal­cott’s bust out­side a locked

DWS.

This man en­joys the shade pro­vided by the kiosk inside the

DWS.

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