In this weekly blog, I show a shot, tell the story behind it, and describe the cameras and equipment I used and why I used them.
The Tet Paul nature trail is a 40 minute guided stroll through tropical woodlands and plantations a little way to the south of Soufriere on St Lucia’s west coast. The trail was on my itinerary during my commissioned visit and it includes great views of the Pitons, St Lucia’s two conical – and iconical – mountains, as well as a sweeping vista down the coastline and, when it’s clear, across to St Vincent, the next island in the Lesser Antilles chain of the Caribbean.
“He not right in the head.” My guide Merlele was talking about the bare chested Rastafarian who was slashing at the undergrowth with a machete, chanting an improvised song about white men and cameras as we passed. A little further along the trail we passed his home, known to him and the other Rastas in his small community, according to Merlele, as Paradise, a ramshackle group of huts sheltering under a big avocado tree. Another Rasta with long thick dreadlocks was using a stick with a canvass bag fixed to the end to get at the fat ripe avocados. He beckoned me over to watch and passed me a fruit to take away with me.
Dreadlocks are common on the island among the young men, who are proud of their music, including the fast dance beats of Zouk, which has a real African feel to it and originates in Dominica. But the real Rastafarians live up in the hills, in “Zion”, away from the “Babylon” of the coastal towns.
“We live the simple life, man,” he said. “Smoke a little ganja now and then.” They grow the weed themselves, having special dispensation, a bit like the Sadhus in India. For you and I (as opposed to I and I), it’s illegal, although you can smell it on the beach at the traditional Friday night street party and in the marketplace in the capital, Castries.
I sheltered under the Rasta’s outhouse awning with a cat and its scampering kittens in a sudden tropical downpour before I continued the trail clutching my souvenir avocado.
The encounter wasn’t scheduled on my hosted itinerary. The tourist board probably didn’t really want me to meet this gently rebellious guy. The unexpected meetings are usually the most fun – and they usually yield the best photos too.
The camera stuff
I left the Canon in the car for my walk along the trail. It’s a pleasure to walk with the Fujifilm X-Pro1 and the 18-55mm zoom. Since it’s fairly small and compact, it didn’t frighten the Rasta, although I admitted to him I might put one of the shots online. “Sometime white man come and take pictures of black man for calendars and suchlike,” he said. I told him I wouldn’t take any shots if it worried him. But: “No problem, man.”
I converted the colour shot to monochrome. Seemed appropriate.