On Wednesday, our ship sailed to St. Kitts. We enjoyed a day there not long ago, touring beautiful Brimstone Hill and other points of interest. So again, we chose to visit a neighboring island for something new. This time the ferry crew was local, which is always more interesting. The ferry took about an hour to get from St Kitts (L) to Nevis (R).
Again, we broke into smaller groups for guided tours This time, we were loaded into the ubiquitous Caribbean taxi: mini-minivan. This van is no bigger than a granny van in the US but equipped to hold driver and co-pilot, followed closely by a bench for three, then two sets of three that are split with two seats on one side with a narrow isle and jump seat on the other, and finally, a bench for two in far back. Hard to imagine, but yes, you can cram 13 adults into this one smallish vehicle.
Our guide was a fairly young man and chock full of island history, facts, and figures. He took his job very seriously. I do appreciate the effort but found the details in the details just a bit wearying. No doubt that had something to do with the up close and personal mini-minivan dynamics. (That guy from Queens was quite something.)
We visited a hot stream that continually fills a public wading area and public bath. Fueled by dormant volcanic activity the water is mineral rich and believed to cure all kinds of aches and pains. Some locals soak daily and religiously. I hate to but have to admit I did not go in. I just couldn’t do it; the sun alone is easily too much for me. We also visited the Hermitage plantation turned hotel, a lovely hillside property.
We didn’t see wild donkeys, unfortunately, although they are considered nuisances. Left over from cart-labor days, they have free range but are apparently inclined to raid trash cans and make a mess. We didn’t see wild monkeys, either. They are even more problematic. Early French settlers imported Vervet monkeys as pets. Their descendants now run amok on orchards and gardens. The locals, according to our guide, hate the monkeys, who destroy an entire mango crop with one bite out of each fruit. They will eat just about any fresh produce. Guns are illegal on Nevis so locals contact the police for assistance in shooting them. And then, sometimes they eat them. Our guide suggested that was only fair!
Along the way, we saw small herds of free-ranging goats and a few sheep. Every goat or sheep belongs to someone, although I couldn’t tell by looking at them. They are trained to return each afternoon to their owners’ whistle. We passed by Gallows Bay, where escaped slaves and convicted criminals were once hung. That was a sobering moment, thinking on the desperation which drove men and women to that horrible place. Fortunately, this particular site has since been claimed by Nevis fisherman, who haul in each morning with the day’s catch. Later, they work their way around inland communities, blowing a conch shell to call buyers.
“Lime” in Nevis (and other places, as I recall) means to “hang out.” All over Nevis we saw small signs on shopfronts announcing Lime and calling folks in to “top up.” But it is a rather quiet island. Charlestown is a sleepy little capital. There are 25 other small settlements on the island. Friday night is the one night of the week when folks do not cook dinner at home but go out to socialize over the local bar-b-que. Everything is closed on Sunday, when most everyone is in church. Sixty churches to choose from is an incredible church : resident ratio. It is like a Baskins-Robbins flavor selection for worship, eh?
We took in some lovely panoramic views of before settling at the Lime beach bar for a hot lunch of Grouper or chicken with lime-infused rice, fresh vegetables and then a delightful swim. Lime provided good food, friendly staff, clean facilities and beach umbrellas and chairs on the waterfront. Piney Beach was not silky-soft white sand but grainy grey, no doubt a result of the volcanic activity here, yet it was very nice. Another a good day; what could we possibly have to complain about?
~ René Morley