EASTERN CARIBBEAN –SAINT LUCIA
Tips of the Earthbergs
By Jheri St. James
The islands of the Eastern Caribbean are very far away from Laguna Beach, California, and in 2001 we looked at the long list of names—Antigua & Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Kits & Nevis, and St. Vincent & Grenadines—and thought, wow! Collecting these soils is going to be difficult! That was seven years ago. Today we have obtained the soils from each of those Eastern Caribbean islands—six shipments orchestrated by one lady, Juanita Lynch from the U.S. Embassy in Barbados; and one from Dr. Janil Gore-Frances, Ph.D. of the Plant Protection Unit of the Department of Agriculture in Antigua. We sincerely thank Juanita Lynch and Dr. Gore-Frances for their help in obtaining these unique soils from the number one tourist destination on earth. Juanita Lynch sent us this quotation from Frank Collymore’s Hymn to the Sea: “Like all who live on small islands, I must always be remembering the sea.”
Indians were the first inhabitants here and then in 1492 Christopher Columbus became the first European to explore these islands. After reportedly landing in the Bahamas, Columbus named them the Indies because he thought he had finally reached Asia and the East Indies. Numerous explorers followed in his path, then settlers arrived from the Americas and Europe—religious outcasts, slaves from Africa, and a small army of pirates. Great military powers fought for control of the islands, long called the West Indies, now named the Caribbean islands.
This is a large group of islands that separate the Caribbean Sea from the Atlantic Ocean, and are broken into three island groups:
- Bahamas (north)—3,000 individual islands and reefs;
- Greater Antilles (central)—Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico
- Lesser Antilles (southeast)—
- Leeward Islands (Antigua & Barbuda; St. Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla and Montserrat) and
- Windward Islands (Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Grenada, Barbados).
The West Indies Federation, created by the United Kingdom in 1958 consisted of 24 main inhabited islands and approximately 220-230 offshore islands, islets and cays. The Federation spanned across all the island groups in the Caribbean. Most of the islands have mountainous interiors surrounded by narrow coastal plains. As with all British colonies of the period, Queen Elizabeth II was head of state. Jamaica was the first to leave the federation in 1962. After that came Trinidad and Tobago, then Barbados, and finally the West Indies Federation was dissolved that same year. Later in a period from 1966 through 1983, the rest of the islands gained their own independence from British rule, except Montserrat, Cayman Islands, Turks & Caicos Islands, Anguilla, St. Kitts & Nevis remain UK territories.
Predicted Topography Gravity Map
The king and the people of Silene converted to Christianity,
George slew the dragon, and the body was carted out of the
city on four ox-carts. Fifteen thousand men were baptized,
without women and children. On the site where the dragon died,
the king built a church to the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint
George, and from its altar a spring arose whose waters cured
all disease.Traditionally, the lance with which St. George
slew the dragon was called Ascalon, a name recalling the city
of Ashkelon, Israel. From this tradition, the name Ascalon
was used by Winston Churchill for his personal aircraft during
World War II.
As this map shows, the islands are but the tips of the earthbergs—tectonic plates below. We know that 70% of the earth’s surface is water, but under the water is the earth again. The basis of the entire planet is soil of some kind, except perhaps for those mysterious depths of the ocean. Do they go down into inner earth? (No, the water would all go there, too. It might be good to have a drain to alleviate the rising waters associated with global warming!) Regardless, even though ships and boats must travel the waters, and airplanes the skies from island to island, the Eastern Caribbean is all connected at the base, as are all the countries of the earth, regardless of the arbitrary borders, nationalities and politics, which illusory boundaries separate our minds from one another. So as we remember the sea, let us also remember the earth.
* * *
Known as the “Helen of the West Indies” Saint Lucia, with its fine natural harbor at Castries, Saint Lucia was contested between England and France 14 times throughout the 17th and early 18th centuries, likening it to the mythical Helen of Troy. Finally granted to the UK in 1814, self-government was granted in 1967 and independence in 1979. Named for Saint Lucy of Syracuse, the culture of Saint Lucia has been influenced by African, French and English cultures. One of the secondary languages is Creole, a form of French patois.
Tourism is vital to St. Lucia’s economy, due to its tropical weather and scenery and large number of beaches and resorts. As well as other Caribbean music genres such as soca, zouk, kompa and reggae, Saint Lucia has a strong indigenous folk music tradition and each May Saint Lucia has hosted an internationally-renowned jazz festival. Other tourist attractions include the world’s only drive-in volcano, Sulfur Springs (at Soufriere), the Botanical Gardens, rain forests and Pigeon Island National Park, home to Fort Rodney, an old British military base.
Pigeon Island National Park is the site of the soil collected for Common Ground 191 by Winston Phulgence, who lives in Castries. He wrote, “It is significant in the military history of the island and is my favorite part of the island.” Included with his soil sample was a booklet about the island.
“Although emphasis is placed on the landmark’s links to Admiral Sir George Rodney and the Battle of the Saints, this beautiful site provides an impressive setting for a variety of events such as Earth Day celebrations and weddings.”
This battle took place over four days from April 9-12, 1782, during the American Revolutionary War, and was a victory for the British fleet. The battle frustrated French and Spanish hopes of capturing Jamaica from the British.
The battle is named after the Saintes (or Saints) a group of islands between Guadeloupe and Dominica in the West Indies. Interestingly, the French fleet defeated here by the Royal Navy was the same French fleet that blockaded the British Army in at Yorktown, severing all hope of an evacuation for the vastly outnumbered troops trapped by a combined America-French army. British ships numbered 36; French 31 and a large convoy of more than 200 cargo ships, joined by 12 ships of the Spanish fleet and 15,000 troops.
Painting of the Battle of the Saintes 12 April 1782; surrender of the Ville de Paris by Thomas Whitcombe, painted in 1783, showing Rear-Admiral Sir Samuel Hood’s Barfleur, center, attacking the French flagship Ville de Paris, right, under the Comte de Grasse.
The volcanic island of St. Lucia is more mountainous than many other Caribben islands, with the highest point being Mt. Gimie at 3,120 ft. above sea level. Two other mountains, the Pitons, form the island’s most famous landmark. They are located between Coufriere and Choiseul on the western side of the island.
The St Lucia volcano, also called the St Lucia sulphur springs is said to be the only drive-in volcano in the world. The last minor eruption occurred in the late1700’s. It was only a steam eruption but not one with magma and ash.
In the 1830’s approximately 760 tons of sulphur was mined and exported. Although there are signs of activity going on, for example the boiling mud, water and steam that emerge from the crater, the St Lucia volcano is dormant.
There are several sulfur pools of boiling water above the normal boiling point. There are also many colors at the surface as a result of sulfur, iron, calcium oxide, copper oxide, magnesium, carbon and other mineral deposited there.
Mother Earth is such an amazing being; the island of St. Lucia is just one of the many miraculous places of earth miracles which survive despite the activities of man in his everlasting battles for real estate.
Thank you, Winston Phulgence, for your efforts on our behalf. We treasure the soil of St. Lucia.
Pigeon Island is an area of approximately 40 acres. Its predominant features are the two peaks joined by a saddle with a spur to the northeast running into the sea. Signal Peak is on the north side, a rocky cliff, beneath which at the water’s edge is a cave whose interior is streaked with interesting colors caused by the ground salts leaking through the ceiling. Ford Rodney offers magnificent views of the coastline.