St Lucia Rainforest
St Lucia is a green place. There were lush green leaves and tropical flowers everywhere, even in the middle of the dry season when we visited. Nowhere was greener than the rainforest we spent the day hiking in. There are two main routes through the forest, and after convincing the ticket officer that we didn’t need a guide, we began walking along both of them.
We had hoped to get a glimpse of St Lucia’s national bird, the stunning Jacquot (Amazona versicolor) or St Lucia Parrot. I’m pretty sure that we heard them, but none of them came into view. Whilst we had our ears and eyes trained on the canopy we could hear screeches from birds of prey, squawks from parrots and all manner of shrill cheeps from smaller birds but we saw surprisingly few.
What we did see were a huge number of plants and trees. With the risk of vipers we did not go too fat off track, but we wandered for hours up the main ridge of the rainforest taking in stunning views of the adjascent mountains. A striking memory of the day will be the number of Tree Ferns that are scatterred all through the forest. These Tree Ferns live in perfect conditions under the shade of the canopy and the regularly waterings from the near-daily showers this part of the island receives.
The soil was made up of a near-perfect mix of clay and decaying leaves. The soil oozed fertility and drainage, which you would expect after years and years of leaves rotting into the ground. There were dozens of seeds and seedlings all over the place, preparing to grow as quickly as possible and push their leaves towards the sun.
One of the few animals we came across were butterflies. This one was a bright red-orange when its wings were extended, but soon disappeared into the leaf litter when it closed up!