Friendly as the locals are, their home remains a tough little island. It's tourism-friendly, but not designed for tourists. It's a place where you can kick back in a luxury resort shooting rum and gorging on panoramic views of the rugged volcanic spires called the Pitons -- or, a mile down the road, sit outside a bodega with a questionably employed local and drink the local beer, also called Piton.
It's an independent Caribbean country, so there's no money from Europe or the US propping up its infrastructure. It's raw without being dangerous, and strikes that balance of natural wonder and authentic comfort better than anywhere in the Caribbean.
The town the boys retreated into, Soufriere, or "sulfur" in French, is named for the springs that bubble nearby -- and, likely, for the smell. Like if we renamed New York "Urine," or New Orleans "Hangover." It's a seaside tropical paradise with a hint of stink bomb in the air, a place where you’ll feel relaxed but still never completely comfortable. You'll forget the smell, though, as the harbor opens to narrow streets lined with stucco buildings. At the bodegas there, people lounge out front with no apparent occupation or desire to find one. But as we walked past, instead of hitting us up, they greeted us with a smile and a "How do you like St. Lucia?"