Restaurant with a View
Next time you are sitting in our Windsong restaurant, on a clear day, take a moment to survey the southern horizon. It is hard to look at anything else ther then the unmatched view from the dining tables over the deep turquoise Caribbean sea, but the surprise is that looking south, there nisa unique view of Mount Gimie.
Breakfast munching on sweet, homegrown fruit such as bananas, pawpaw, passionfruit, pineapple, and mango whilst lazily gazing across the turquoise bay, taking in the colorful roofs of Castries, is something else. However the greening hills behind us and Mount Gimie in the distance with its peak bearing a hat of puffy white clouds, watching over the unspoiled and magnificent tapestry of nature, sits like a god from Mount Olympus.
With such surroundings, you enter the calmest state of mind. As a result, nobody fights with the red breasted finch, edging his way closer to your food and stealing morsels of the freshly baked and delicious smelling croissants. In fact as they dip their tiny beaks into the cool, fresh coconut water, one’s calm state lends itself to helping them get whatever they desire. Luckily, none dare to challenge you for the French brewed coffee, so it stays all your own.
Standing at 3117 ft. Mount Gimie is the tallest peak in St. Lucia. It is located in the rainforest, smack in the center of the island. For those of you in search of a true Jurassic Park style adventure (without the Raptors and T-Rex), you will experience just that. Once in the Rain-forest, if you’re lucky enough, you may catch a glimpse of the shy Lucian Amazon Parrot.
Climbing Gimie is not for the fainthearted. The mountain is covered in a bounty of interesting and beautiful vegetation: grasses, ferns and palms, rich woods (think bamboo, cocoa, mahogany), and fruit trees galore (tangerine, coconut, grapefruit, etc). Accompanying such lush vegetation is an array of waterfalls and miniature pools, presenting themselves to cool your body, mind, and spirit.
On a good day, you enjoy a clear view of all St Lucian coastlines. Along with the coastline, Gimie also provides you with a view of the Maria Islands. There too from it’s peak, Gimie provides you with a vista of its more famous cousins-Petit and Gros Pitons, standing at the gates of the Val de Piton, like two sentinels on guard.
When in Saint Lucia, you’ll be struck by the variety of birdlife on the island. The more common or garden varieties such as the Grackle and the Lesser Antilles BullFinch, can be annoying ss they are inclined to steal food right from your plate. That is when you are dining al fresco, which tends to be the norm in the Caribbean. All in all though, Saint Lucia’s birds are beautiful. One of our favourites at Calabash Cove is often mistaken for a Hawk and indeed there are plenty of those as well. We like the Kestrel however.
They look similar to the average hawk and they swoop majestically through the air in search of prey just like an eagle. They are the largest native bird of prey on the island and hoteliers love them for a reason. They tend to scare away the annoying Grackles.
At Calabash Cove, their favorite perch (to take off from for long glides through the air above the resort) is the Pimento tree next to the C-Bar. In spring, they can easily be seen, while you are enjoying sundowners at the bar. If you have the patience, you can watch them put on a hunting show – chasing other birds, lizards and sometimes small critters.
Guests at Calabash Cove like them for their looks, of course.
The manager loves them for the simple fact that they make life miserable for pestering black birds. These black birds, called the Greater Antillean Grackle, seem to be addicted to sugar, fake or real, and given the chance they love to eat right off of your plate!
Helping to keep these annoying birds at bay, the Kestrels like to plunder Grackle nests when on the hunt, which serves to keep their numbers down or to encourage them to move away altogether.
A History of the Saint Lucia Jazz Festival
The Jazz Festival was launched 26 years ago. The interim period saw much change: in the size of the event, the music content, even the name. Let us fill you in.
The Saint Lucia Jazz Festival kicked off back in1992 as a way to boost tourism during the then relatively quiet month of May. The team behind this innovative idea faced opposition as some believed that jazz would not pull in the crowds ? the music did not have a huge following in Saint Lucia plus other islands had tried to establish jazz festivals but had not succeeded. With limited resources but plenty of dedication, the Lucian pioneers organised jazz performances in Rodney Bay, Castries, Vieux Fort and Soufriere. The first festival did not receive much fanfare but the seeds had been sown.
Each year saw refinement and progress towards a more professional programme. In 1994 BET Television began to cover the event, giving the festival a major boost and garnering for it international recognition. As the number of patrons grew, the festival?s time-frame increased, as did the number of performance venues. Pigeon Island, a national park steeped in history, became the location for the finale.
In the early days, the emphasis was on jazz music with an element of R&B. Aficionados came to revel in the sounds and sights of jazz giants such as Al Jarreau and George Benson. Over the years the pure jazz aspect softened and the festival evolved to showcase international crowd-pullers including Luther Vandross, Diana Ross, Patti La Belle, Chaka Khan, Gladys Knight, Natalie Cole, Jeffrey Osborne, Smokey Robinson, R. Kelly, and the Isley Brothers. The Saint Lucia Jazz Festival was on the world map ? up there with the likes of Montreux!
As the years passed the music moved further away from jazz but audience numbers were still high due to the likes of celebrities on stage such as, Air Supply, John Legend, Kassav, Santana, Seal, and Kool & The Gang. But then the festival seemed to forget its roots; reggae and ?pop? took over. Established bands such as UB40 and Third World were better at crossing the divide and appealing to the middle-aged fans. Amy Winehouse and Rihanna were definitely A-list but there was discontent amongst many local and international jazz fans when artists such as Shaggy and Shabba Ranks were billed as the headline acts. This was not jazz!
On the plus side, Saint Lucian artists gained exposure. Boo Hinkson, Carl Gustave, Irvin Loctar, Rob Zi Taylor, Barbara Cadet and Teddyson John performed main-stage at the final weekend performances on Pigeon Island, much to the delight of the local population; other local acts featured at fringe events around the island.
In response to the distinct lack of jazz, the festival was rebranded in 2013 as the Saint Lucia Jazz & Arts Festival. The new look included dance, art, crafts, theatre and culinary experiences as well as a phenomenally successful fashion show ? Saint Lucia Hot Couture.
In June 2016 Saint Lucia went to the polls and voted in a new governing party. One of its early tasks was an analysis of the cost and benefits of the Jazz and Arts Festival. The result was a new format: the Saint Lucia Summer Festival encompassing not only music but food, rum, arts, heritage and our carnival.
The Summer Festival features an event each month from May to October. This year’s Saint Lucia Jazz takes place between 04-12?May 2019 and will thrill jazz music lovers. ?For more information visit www.soleilsaintlucia.com.