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The rum punch had kicked in, numbing my tongue and making my teeth itch. My brain was beginning to scramble, and I was fast losing the will to protest. We had not stumbled into a swingers' party, nor were we at one of those hedonistic resorts so beloved by late-night Channel 4 documentary makers.
We were in in St Lucia, the Party Isle of the Caribbean, where, every Friday night at the "Jump Up" in Gros Islet, an area is closed to traffic and thrown open to the Bacchanalian mob for dancing, drinking and serious revelry into the very small hours. Columns of vendors lined the streets selling seafood, chicken and that lethal rum brew. Speakers the size of wardrobes stood stacked in immense banks, punching out a frenetic and hypnotic medley of reggae, soca, zouk and salsa. In the middle, under a canopy of stars, the revellers danced, writhing and grinding like a nest of snakes.
And lost in the scrum, somewhere, was my wife.
The evening had started innocently enough. We had driven south from our hotel in Rodney Bay, through miles of banana plantations, to Anse La Raye, a small shanty-town sandwiched between the jungle and the sea. Here we experienced our first Jump Up. Called Fish on Friday, it was conceived as a milder, more family-oriented antidote to the wild excesses of Gros Islet.
The concept of Jump Up is thought to date back to colonial times, when subsistence farmers would take to the streets at the end of the day and try to sell any surplus crop. Nowadays, with its banana exports to Europe hit hard by cheaper Central American suppliers, tourism is the main earner of St Lucia's fragile economy, and the Jump Ups are marketed as one of the island's major draws. When we arrived Saint Lucia mature sex Anse La Raye, the last, soft elegiac notes were drifting out into the tropical night air from Mass at St Joseph's Church. Around the corner, in Front Street, the Allegro Pan Groove all-women steel band entertained the tourists with covers of pop songs and the usual reggae classics.
Feeling hungry, we perused the many stalls. Seafood of every imaginable size and shape sizzled on grills, sending up plumes of thick, sweet smoke. We bought lobster, accompanied by a fistful of bakes: delicious sweet, chewy ice-hockey pucks that tasted like doughnuts. For my good custom, Juliette also offered me a sample of sea snails. At least I think that's what she said. I was too stunned to ask her to repeat it. After dinner, I bought a green coconut the size of a rugby ball from a street vendor.
He pulled out a cutlass and lopped off the top. I had only ever drunk the milk from coconuts won at the fair; gnarled, mature nuts that would reward my hammer-bashing and hacksawing with a thimble-full of stale, gloopy syrup. But this was like nectar, pellucid, sweet and refreshing.
The vendor then cut the nut in two and made me a spoon from the husk so I could scoop out the jelly. I sensed a theme emerging.
We slipped into Popo's, a bar on Mole Street. There, Hermas Alphonse, a real-estate agent from Castries, St Lucia's capital, introduced me to En bas compteur Under the counterthe Devil-red rocket fuel that was to become my good friend for the rest of the evening. Originally invented by St Lucian farmers to loosen the ts after a day in the fields, it is a lethal brew of per cent raw cane white rum and Grenadine, left to bubble and ferment in huge bell-jars full of bay leaves, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Hermas was unable to shed any light on the origins of the name - whether that is where the drink was kept, or where it ultimately dispatched the consumer - but he did give me an insight into one of its magical properties. We left the mellow, laid-back Anse La Raye and headed back north, past the glittering cruise ships and Geest banana boats berthed in Castries harbour, and onto Gros Islet. The scene that greeted us was utter chaos, engaging - instantly and simultaneously - all of the senses. The air was a fug, suffused with the sweet smell of ganja, and people shouted above the incessant throb of music.
I had been told that a survey had found that St Lucians drink more beer than anyone else in the Caribbean. They also, oddly, drink more Campari, that quintessential party drink, than the rest of the islands put together. Clearly, then, the Party Isle is well named. I can only imagine that a weekly graph of consumption shows a Friday-night peak to rival either of St Lucia's totemic Piton mountains. Dauphine Street, Gros Islet's main thoroughfare, is a corridor of colonial chattel houses, built on breeze-blocks, with a feeling of impermanence and piles of pink conch shells between the floor and the street.
On Fridays, their doors are thrown open and the business of selling food and drink begins. Looping over the roofs are the gangling branches of grapefruit trees, dangling their heavy fruit like giant mobiles. Everywhere, a menage of street animals roamed; chickens, goats and mangy dogs, or "Pot Hounds", picking over the mountains of discarded bones.
Above flew gargantuan bats - Saint Lucia mature sex with wings, really - defying gravity. Having become separated from my wife, I made my way through the throng to the dancefloor, the Saint Lucia mature sex of Dauphine and St John's. There, a mix of locals, young Rastafarians and tourists, some strong, was getting down to some serious "wining", a dance where the feet stay still while the rest of the body gyrates, preferably into the mid-section of your neighbour.
The locals embraced the tourists, and the rhythm, while the tourists eschewed the rhythm bit, executing their own brand of contained, self-conscious wining, like they had Walkmans on, listening to a different tune. The night wore on, the En bas compteur had etched a foolish grin on my face, and my wife was still missing in action.
I headed into a bar, to be immediately befriended by a Rastafarian. He expounded the wisdom of Haile Selassie, about peace and fellowship and trust. How could I refuse this humble request from such a gentle spirit, especially as the rum had spread its rosy hue from my glass to my spectacles?
If there is one born every minute, there would have been another 44 alive by the time I headed out of the bar, changeless, back into the melee. Saint Lucia mature sex wobbled towards a food stall and bought some lambi, a sticky stew of conch cooked in garlic, salt and cinnamon.
It came as no surprise when I was told by the vendor what acrobatic wonders this dish could facilitate in the bedroom. I looked at the shenanigans on the dancefloor: sex was always going to be on the menu in a country where sex was the menu.
Through the crowd I spotted my wife, surrounded by St Lucian Lotharios, manoeuvring, in the words of one commentator, "like airplanes circling, looking for permission to land". I moved in, wining with her, but my limbs were by now independent from my brain, and I just looked like a man wearing lead boots on a pitching ship. We slid away, me on point, guarding her rear. At 5am, the streets of Gros Islet were quiet once more. And in a hotel room, across in Rodney Bay, the languid night air was disturbed only by gentle snoring. Virgin Holidays ; www.
Best time to go The rainy season is from June to October, with slightly increased temperatures, higher humidity and an increased risk of hurricanes. In the mid-April to mid-December low season, prices can drop dramatically. For Caribbean trips, call the Caribbean Tourist Organisation ; www. Return to top. St Lucia basics.Saint Lucia mature sex
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