May 29th, 2003.

Thursday, May 29, 2003, found us making an even later start…

We were advised that due to road construction we’d have to detour to reach the sulphur springs, geyser-like pools of tar black water bubbling up from the volcanic caldera 2.5 miles wide. Our requisite guide informed us one never got used to the bad egg smell, and French tourists were the worst because they were so stubborn. He also said that the place would have been deserted if not for the overwhelming horde of ‘cruisers’ who arrived just ahead of us.

After the springs, we stopped at a little roadside café called the Volcanic restaurant, which we again had to ourselves. The tour buses all passed right by but a guide leading a couple of horseback tourists called out his greetings to our proprietor as she served us the only option she’d given us, a delicious fish stew along with the ever-present potato-like sides of dasheen, plantain and bread fruit. Very full, we wanted to indulge in a peek at an exclusive hotel called Ladera, which cost us as much as our lunch and Peter only had a Coke (I had a Ladera specialty cocktail).

Ladera's location provides great views of the Piton mountains. We discovered an amazingly good road to return to Soufriere, completing a circular route and clearly the direction in which the road repair had come from. The roads were smooth and it felt like we were floating after the bumps of all the other roads we’d experienced so far! Indeed, on our way up to the sulphur springs, reversing to negotiate with an oncoming crane on a road only wide enough for one of us, our rear left tyre had fallen down into a ditch. One of the construction workers came over to our tiny jeep and leaned his weight down on the right front fender while Peter revved up and out of the hole we would have been stuck in…I was saved from trying to push!

We finished our afternoon birdwatching and flower admiring at the botanical gardens, where Louise & Simon from Fulham (near Wimbledon in London) took our photo in a gazebo and she told us she lived in St. Louis as a child!

After looking at the Diamond Falls, we lounged in the mineral baths originally built by Louis IV for his troops. While I resisted getting out, Peter chatted with the attendant who had once visited St. Louis when her "friend who married a white guy" lived there. For dinner we walked downtown again and ate at Café Kweyole (Creole sp?) where my chicken was ok but Peter’s Soufriere beef stew (made with a secret reduction sauce) was fantastic!

We got back to our hotel in time for Peter to watch game 6 between the Spurs & Mavericks; he’d fallen asleep in front of game 5 on Tuesday night after the challenging drive from the north.

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