Beach exercise

Beach exercise

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Saint Kitts and Nevis

Our second port of call was the Island of Saint Kitts.  Saint Kitts and the nearby island of Nevis make up the Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis.  This sovereign state remains a part of the British Commonwealth.  It is the smallest country in the Western Hemisphere for both population and size.  These islands share the same history as the other West Indies islands of European occupation and introduction of slave labor.  Also like the other islands, tourism is the main revenue source. 



We chose to tour the island of Nevis, which is reached by a ferry boat between the two island.  The ferry ride gave us a great view of the islands and a view of some of the resorts on Nevis along the shore.  I learned something I perhaps should have known already when I saw the welcome sign on the ferry dock.  Nevis is the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton.  Hamilton is considered the founder of the United States Coast Guard.  While his local history was not part of the tour, our guide did give us a short history of his time on the island and we passed by his home very near the dock.









As we started our tour, it became apparent that Nevis had a quite different feel than Tortola.  The buildings were in better condition, and a general feeling of neatness and pride in the island. Our driver and guide was very proud of her island and explained how after the slave trade was eliminated and the plantation owners left the country, the new government worked to find employment for the population. The old plantations, confiscated by the island government, were sold only to businesses that would generate work and income to help the economy of the island. This has largely resulted in the plantations be used as resorts.  Our first stop was to visit a spring believed to provide many health benefits to those who is immersed themselves in it.  It was located near an old sugarcane processing faculty on former plantation land.








Our first plantation resort was the Golden Rock Inn.  Located high in the hills, it is in a lush tropical garden setting.  With amazing views, colorful gardens and plantation history all around, we started thinking about a stay here in the future.












Montpelier was the second plantation resort.  It also had some great views, but with a different feel.  You could tour the plantation home, now serving as a guest relaxation and dining area.  Former slave quarters are now guest sleeping units. Here the old sugar cane processing tower is used for receptions and other social functions.










After touring more of the island and enjoying the stories of our guide, we headed for a good lunch at a beach cafe and then a beach break.  Our guide made the point that on the island all beaches are public including those adjacent to resorts.  All residents have equal access.  We enjoyed the free beach chairs and walked back to the restaurant to get some more of those good rum punches from the restaurant we ate in.








This is an island we would enjoy returning to for some more history and relaxing. 






Sunday, January 08, 2017

Cruising

We started off the month of December with a 10 night Southern Caribbean cruise aboard the RCCL ship Serenade of the Seas.  This was our third trip with a group of fellow RVer's. This voyage had the advantage of visiting five ports we have not been to before.  Since we boarded just before lunchtime, first order of business was to get some lunch. This ship was smaller and older than the last one, but the basic amenities remained the same.  With most of three days at sea before our first port, we had a chance to completely explore the ship.













Our first port of call was Tortola, B.V.I.  The island was first spotted by Columbus on his second voyage.  The Spanish attempted to possess the island but the presence of pirates including Blackbeard prevented a successful occupation. Eventually, the British took control from the Dutch and developed sugar cane plantations across the island using slave labor from Africa. In 1834, the British abolished slavery and the plantation system collapsed due to competition from other areas where slavery still flourished.  Most of the white landowners left the island over time.

Arriving in Tortola







Today, with a population of under 25,000, one of the main sources of  income is tourism. It remains a haven for sail boaters, but today resorts and cruise ships provide most of the tourist dollars.  Still under British rule, it remains a low income area for most of the residents.  The climate, beaches and beautiful scenery are the main attractions.  We opted for an island tour to see most of the island and get a feeling for how people live away from the attractions. It is hard to find a tour that does not include at least an hour plus beach break.  So we did visit a beach and it was raining.  We did find some shelter in the outside area of a closed bar. I doubt that there is a compelling reason to return unless we arrive by sailboat.

Bus tour of island













View from highest point on the island













Beach break and return to ship