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The International Writers Magazine: Peaceful Island in the Sun

Do The St Lucia Shake
Linda Regan

Saint Lucia- our peaceful Island in the sun.
That was the advert that lured us into the travel agents. It sounded exactly what the doctor ordered; so we paid our money, packed our bags, and headed to the West Indies to the Island of St Lucia.
Peaceful? Not always!

Looking back, I suppose it wasn’t particularly intelligent of me to carry, for a travel companion, ‘An Encyclopedia of Guns and Bullets, their makes and Purpose,’ but being a novice crime writer I have to admit I didn’t give it a second thought, until a large brown hand gripped my wrist as I entered the Caribbean customs, and pulled me to one side, then interrogated me for five minutes enquiring of my purpose of visiting their Island, then asked me to step into a back room and open my case.

The next ten minutes was a real eye-opener for an aspiring writer. I was so fascinated by the contents what the other two people, also being asked to open their cases, carried in their Island packing, that I forgot to be worried about myself.
The woman’s case contained a washing line and a bag of pegs, two packets of Typhoo Tea, three packets of digestive biscuits, a large tin of drinking chocolate, bandages, plasters, cough medicine, duct tape, and a see-through plastic bag containing scissors, a packet of needles, and approximately sixteen reels of various coloured cottons.

The middle-aged man emptying his pockets revealed about a dozen packets of fruit flavoured Durex, including curry flavour, and a packet of something entitled balls for clitoris playtime. He looked seriously embarrassed. I had trouble keeping a straight face.

My case contents, seemed dull in comparison, but held a fascination for them. They showed little interest in the eight crime novels, they were cast aside in favour of examining the multitude of various coloured G-strings that I brought with me. Maybe the washing line and pegs would have been less embarrassing I thought as I watched the side of one customs officer mouth stretch into an amused smile as he replaced the black knickers with a red silk teddy bear stitched to the front and lifted out my gold stretchy, spandex bikini. He passed that to his friend who studied it carefully then slowly flicked his shrewd eyes in my direction and looked me up and down. Did he think I had something hidden in the gold bikini? Obviously not, he placed it back and then the same pantomime went on with my fluorescent pink hair plaits (For bad hair nights!) They showed no interest in my encyclopedia of guns, they wished me a nice holiday and sent me on my way.

St Lucia
I stepped outside the airport and into the sunshine. Life and its pace was about to slow down- or was it? The taxi was a four by four, and the hotel was an hour and a half ride up and down bumpy hills, through the banana and the sugar plantations, and the fig and mango trees.

Suddenly the heavens opened. The Caribbean is famous for its short showers but the one that hit us as we drove through the island was enough to turn the local steel bands rusty. The taxi driver told us that the weather was unpredictable and the sea had been quite turbulent and rougher than usual since Hurricane Ivan, the famous hurricane that was supposed to hit St Lucia in 2005, but after most of the island was evacuated, the hurricane turned west at the last moments, landing, flattening and devastating the island of Grenada and causing fatalities. Grenada is only just rebuilding itself back after that.

My driver also told me that at the end of November last year 2007, there had been a very bad tremor on St Lucia; it was 7.5 on the Richter scale. It had caused damage, cracking walls of different buildings on the Island. He told me that the local supermarket still smells of rum, although now four months after, as the top shelves of the whole shop was bottles of different brands of the popular Island drink, and every bottle fell (maybe up to a thousand bottles in total) and smashed onto the floor.

I asked what caused the tremor, he told me it was the volcano that is under the sea between Martinique, St Dominique and St Lucia, it occasionally erupts. I remembered that there was also a sulphur volcano actually on this island of St Lucia and asked if that was dangerous, but he assured me it wasn’t that it was monitored, and perfectly safe. I asked how long it was between the tremor last November and the one before that, he said about two years. That was reassuring. It was less than four months since the last one.

I immediately put it out of my mind and went for a relaxing body massage when I arrived at the hotel. The masseurs in the Caribbean are always my favourite, and very quickly lift all the stress of day to day living from you. It worked; I was now ready to close the door on everything except peace and quiet for the next two weeks.

I hadn’t been to the island for six years and I was determined to revisit all the favourite haunts. The history of the Island is that it was a British Colony for 150 years, up to 1979 when the British granted it its independence, but for a century before that the French and British were in constant battle over it. There is a cave where the slaves used to escape, out of a tiny entrance at the back, in the days of the French Invasion on the island. The place was called Smugglers Cave, and I had that in my mind. I thought it would be a good scene in a crime novel.

I also wanted to visit the Sulphur volcano, if for no other reason but to satisfy myself that all was safe on the island.
Just cycling around the Island is a treat, the pineapple, banana and mango plantations are overrun with beautiful and various lizards- three different species. The bird life is wonderful, black, red -breasted robins, white doves, and colourful, friendly tiny humming birds. No beaches are busy, and even if it rains, life is slow and the days are lazy. I had left the bustle of London behind me and had chilled out.

Then it happened.

It was 2.30pm. I must have dropped asleep on the beach after a long, lazy, lunch. My book had dropped to the sand. The noise woke me- it sounded like a freight train had rushed past, and I felt the sensation of someone shaking my sun-lounger. As I sat bolt upright and awake, the shaking increased. I looked around, no one there, but I could see the building behind me was shaking. Then everything went still, not a stir of wind or a sound from a bird. I could see a lot of other bewildered beach bathers, looking, and wondering. Out at sea, there were three small boats, all upright, surprisingly.

I sat motionless and shocked feeling like an invisible spirit had shook me. But what had actually happened?
Later that day - February 6th 2008, I heard that a tornado had hit Alabama. Everyone said it had nothing to do with the tremor we felt that afternoon, our cause was once again the volcano under the sea in between Martinique and St Dominique and St Lucia. The tremor had reached 4.5 on the Richter scale.
So finally, and honestly, I can say, ‘Yes... The earth did move for me!
Sadly I was alone at the time!

© Linda Regan Feb 2008
 Lbmurphyregan at

Passion Killers is published by Crème de la Crime
ISBN 9780955158988

Behind You! by Linda Regan
Daniel Alves review

Life long feuds, unsolved hatreds, and more than enough lies to twist the plot into a maze. This detective novel boasts all the themes that darken in the eye of betrayal; sex, money, and murder.

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