Saint Kitts

Saint Kitts

After the little swaying in the ship that wasn’t evident on our Med cruise, we finally found land and our first excursion!! It’s great to have arrived at Port Zante. Saint Kitts is the larger of a dual-island nation with Nevis which forms the smallest country in the Western Hemisphere. The photo above left was taken on our way out, since on our way in we followed a cruise-ship-full of folks anxious to stretch their sea legs after the two “sea days” en route to our first stop. The entrance had lots of small shops, restaurants and bars. We’ll talk more about the Drunken Monkeys at the end of this post. Our excursions today would take us to Brimstone Hill Fortress, Romney Manor and Caribelle Batik.

After a short drive jammed in an eight passenger van, with air-conditioning that was trying it’s hardest, but wasn’t helping a whole lot, we reached the capital city of Basseterre. The drive was enlightening, with many (many) areas of extreme poverty pretty close to many areas of extreme wealth. I guess that’s not a new thing. Putting that aside, we enjoyed the trip with our driver, whose name was Duke Ellington. Of course he played that up, since who hasn’t heard of Duke Ellington and he had several things to say about the politics of the place and the beauty that surrounded us. He was very interesting and helpful and told of his mother who was a big fan of the Duke. It was a very enjoyable day.

We finally reached Brimstone Hill Fortress and all you could say was wow.

“Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site of historical, cultural and architectural significance: a monument to the ingenuity of the British military engineers who designed it and to the skill, strength and endurance of the African slaves who built and maintained it. One of the best preserved historical fortifications in the Americas…” – READ MORE

As I’ve gotten older and traveled a little more, I’ve come to love the historical sights which help make any trip very interesting. There’s only so much shopping and laying on the beach that Jim and I can handle, especially when there are interesting things to check out. The views were spectacular from this vantage point and the fortress itself was amazing.

“The Fortress, constructed intermittently between the 1690s and 1790s, is of singular importance as being the remains of a large, complete military community of the 18th century. As such, it is a veritable time capsule of international significance.

The prominent Citadel is one of the earliest and finest surviving examples of a new style of fortification known as the ‘polygonal system’.

Brimstone Hill is nearly 800 feet high with steep and precipitous slopes which had to be tamed by the disciplines of engineering and architecture, and at the risk and probable loss of human lives. The walls of the structures are predominantly of stone, labouriously and skilfully fashioned from the hard volcanic rock of which the hill is composed. The mortar to cement the stones was produced on site from the limestone which covers much of the middle and lower slopes. The Fortress is virtually a man-made out growth of the natural hill.

The physical location of the Fortress presents attractive panoramic vistas of forested mountains, cultivated fields, the historical township of Sandy Point, and neighbouring Dutch, English and French islands across the Caribbean Sea.” – READ MORE

I went a little crazy photographing this stop. The mountain and sea views, the rock walls and arched doorways were simply beautiful. I couldn’t help myself!

Saint Kitts

We loaded back up into the van with Duke and headed to our next stop. On the way, we stopped so a monkey could board our van (wait… what?) as a way for a nice young gentleman to earn money towards his college education. Duke vouched for him, so we had to have a shot of the cute little guy while he sat on Jim’s lap. Green Vervet monkeys (wearing diapers for your protection) are all over the islands with their “handlers”. Most will let you take their pictures for a few dollars, and some will do tricks and act silly. This one just sat there looking adorable and we tipped the boy for letting us hold him. This monkey was very well-behaved, but it turns out those little guys like a bit of the drink, which may explain their silly behavior at times. Overall, it made for an enjoyable stop along the way.

The next stop was probably my favorite of all the stops on all of the islands – Romney Manor and Caribelle Batik. We started off learning about a technique to dye fabric called Caribelle Batik. It was gorgeous! “Using the ancient Indonesian methods of resisting dye with wax, Caribelle creates the many designs for which they have become associated. During a visit to Caribelle, you will see our artists demonstrating the techniques as well as receive a full explanation from one of our experts.”

After a great demonstration, and since Duke was wearing one of their shirts and it was beautiful, we headed into the gift shop to purchase our first souvenirs and then spent some time strolling around the grounds of this absolutely gorgeous tropical manor. The flowers and plants were just magnificent. I’m pretty sure that the trees shown below are not the great tree that they speak of in the passage below, but they were fabulous nonetheless.

“There is spirituality about Romney Manor and its grounds that visitors frequently experience. The setting is majestic. The saman tree. What a tree, 350 years old, 24 ft in diameter and covering ½ an acre. The tree quietly presides over the activity of the present day Romney Manor. Many visitors return time and time again to savour the memorable experience that Romney Manor and its gardens exude.” – READ MORE

Unfortunately, we had to head back to port. We had a little extra time, so we decided to take advantage of a much cheaper way to “relax” than on the ship, and we stopped at an outdoor establishment offering Drunken Monkeys. They were VERY tasty and since we were able to enjoy this fabulous place just a little bit longer, help the local economy and save a little money all at the same time, we were pretty proud of ourselves. What a fabulous day in paradise!

Next stop: Barbados

Happy trails,

Barbara Olson

Barbara Olson

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