Steve and I enjoyed a recent trip to St. Lucia, a small island in the Caribbean. It’s an independent country, only 27 miles long and 14 miles wide. Still there is a large rainforest and even the only “drive-in” volcano in the world. Though dormant, the sulphur springs in it are quite active and smell like rotten eggs. We did not go there. We opted for riding an aerial tram through the rainforest.
It’s interesting to me that we always notice similarities and differences in places we’ve lived or visited. In this case, we saw many similarities in two tropical countries.
We felt as though we were back in Thailand! We rode on winding roads with glimpses of ocean as we rounded hairpin turns. We saw stucco buildings, often in disrepair. We traveled the roundabouts when we needed to change direction. Though we have roundabouts in the U. S., they are more common there. It’s especially helpful when several roads intersect at the same time.
Along the roadside, we saw cattle staked as they grazed. And the gauntness of the cattle looked familiar as well.
Orchids! We passed a lovely orchid garden and saw a few wild ones as well–large ones, sometimes climbing a nearby tree. Reminded me of our trip to Chiang-Mai and the orchid gardens there. The abundant flowers of many varieties were gorgeous.
The differences were welcome. St. Lucia’s rainforest has lush vegetation in every direction, from clusters of tall bamboo to banana, mango, and breadfruit trees to bountiful ferns on the forest floor. Thailand’s vegetation has been cut down to make way for rubber plantations and other farming use.
Thailand is bounded by the Andaman Sea, the Gulf of Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar, whereas St. Lucia has the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Caribbean Sea on the other. To see more pictures of St. Lucia, click here.
And no Buddhas or temples were to be seen. We saw a few churches, both Catholic and Protestant, and the local people would mention God easily in talking about the weather or local customs.
The black beaches made of volcanic sand were in contrast to Thailand’s white sand beaches as well as to the white beaches of other Caribbean islands.
So much is the same in various tropical countries! Tile and stucco hold up against the constant battering of wind and rain, hurricanes and tsunamis. The trees are often bent in the direction of the wind. The people there look weathered, as well. The wind and rain affect them, too.
A nice difference for us was that the signs were in English! Those Thai signs that don’t use our alphabet drove me crazy. Since I have that urge to read every sign I ever see, having signs in English was quite comforting.
The best similarity is that the people were warm and welcoming. They embrace those who come to their island home. People in most places are as friendly as I am toward them, but in Thailand and St. Lucia, I believe their friendliness is genuine and a part of their culture.
I hope that visitors to the United States see us as warm and welcoming. I hope gracious hospitality comes across to our guests, whether we have a growing relationship or a passing one, such as in the grocery store or walking down the street. Our FriendSpeak program is a good step in that direction, but each of us can be that hospitable person when we cross paths with international people, whether they be visitors or residents. To a person far from home, a smile can be a gift.
The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ Matthew 25:40