Half way between Soufriere and the southern city of Vieux Fort is Balenbouche Estate. This collection of very old plantation and farm land owned and run by Uta Laweatz and her family. When we arrived Uta and her daughters were gardening around the estate house and a band of St Lucian school children were picnicking with their teachers on the grounds.
Uta maintains the estate grounds, manages the guesthouses, gives tours, and prepares meals for visitors. You can read more about the estate and the Lawaetzs here; their devotion to the property and the island is really quite remarkable. The house is like a museum and the lawns are beautiful. I am sure these ladies are always working.
Front siting room of the estate house.
The house has a wraparound porch; meals are served on the side porch.
The old barn behind the house.
St Lucian kids mugging for the camera. Long ago, their ancestors were brought to this island to work these plantations. Now they play in the ruins.
Hammock hanging from a Banyan tree.
Strangler vine crawling up the tree.
We took a path through the jungle to get to the beach.
Which was quite exciting. The path lead past the ruins of a sugar mill.
It was lined with bamboo and sprouted coconuts.
They told us that under the right conditions, you can see the remains of a shipwreck out at sea from here. We couldn't see it but still enjoyed the ocean.
Then we came back to explore the mill.
Which was amazing. No handrails, no guardrails, no hurried guides or people selling trinkets. No keep off signs. Not even any other people.
Just us and some history, and lots and lots of growing things.
It was pretty special.