Barre de L’Isle

Barre de l’Isle Forest Reserve is open everyday, though you will need to call ahead and make a reservation if you want access.

Cost: While access onto the site is free, you can hire a tour guide for $US 10.

Phone: (758) 450-2231

Length: The hiking trail is 1 mile. Time: 1 hour for the trail, another hour to climb the mountain. Difficulty: 2-3.

Trailhead: Southeast of Marigot Bay. Look for the sign marking the trailhead on the road that links Castries and the East Coast village of Dennery . The trailhead is about a 25-minute drive from Castries and mid-way between the two towns. Pay your EC$25 at the ranger’s hut. This is an easy trail but take a guide to identify the plants and trees.

There are 2 trails here. The mildly steep one leading up 438-meter Mount La Combe is located near the main trailhead. The Barre de L’Isle trail follows the ridge that runs down the center of the island and divides St. Lucia into its eastern and western halves.

The hilly trail, which alternates between a thick tree canopy and open area, provides excellent views of the interior highlands. Cul-de-Sac Valley is to the west; Mt. Parasol, Grand Bois Forest and the Caribbean are to the southwest.

On the northeast is La Sorciere Mountain, which has an interesting tale behind its name. It is named after the great sorceress who lives in the mountain range and is notorious for seducing men to leave all else and stay with her forever.

A small cave near the summit looks down into the Mabouya Valley. Mabouya is an Amerindian name for calling up evil spirits, so this area has had a bad reputation for centuries. The tiny cave is said to be haunted. Many years ago a man was robbed and killed and his body dragged into the cave.

His restless soul now seeks revenge, so every full moon his ghost stalks the region, hoping to find a descendant of his killer so he can extract his own vengeance. As long as you have a guilt-free pedigree, the ghost will not harmyou.

As we’re telling ghost stories–and St. Lucia has many spirits said to roam the island after dark–I should warn you about La Jablesse, another one of those fatally attractive supernatural women.

Unlike many spirits, La Jablesse prefers a matinee schedule, appearing only during the day, not at night. She is incredibly beautiful, with long black hair flowing to her waist.

She has one obvious flaw: a cow foot that she conceals under her clothing. She generally dresses in either a long robe or in tight, figure-enhancing jeans (and how do you hide a cow foot in those?).

La Jablesse is known for stealing men away from their wives and girlfriends, treating the hapless victims to a passionate, sex-drenched experience and then stealing their spirits. It’s said that such a man is never seen again.

The sociological implications of this story are profound: La Jablesse is always described as either Indian or Caucasian, never Negro. At one time, men and boys in rural areas were taught never to entertain any beautiful strange woman who might accost them. She could be La Jablesse.

How do you tell if La Jablesse or just a mortal woman of extraordinary beauty is accosting you? The answer is easy if you have a cigarette or a dog. La Jablesse is afraid of smoke; and dogs will scare her away.

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