|Friday was Nevis.|
|We left the inn about 11:00 am to catch the 12:15 pm ferry to Nevis. Before heading to the ferry dock, we stopped by the main post office to get stamps for post cards. It's much like going to the post office at home - stand in line and wait. I don't remember what the stamps looked like except that they were 80 cents EC each. We then walked two blocks through a most colorful section of town, as all waterfronts seem to be, to the ferry.
It was a breezy day. You might even say it was a windy day. In fact, sailors would say it was a good blow. The kind of breeze that would have kept the Edmund Fitzgerald in port but not tourists paying good money to be entertained.
The Caribe Breeze (photo left with pilot and navigator ready to take on passengers), our ferry for the 40 minute trip to Nevis, bobbed at the dock. Just looking at her set my stomach to churning. She is the top boat in the ferry line, making the crossing in 15 to 20 less than the other ferries. She is also the only one with an air conditioned lounge for the passengers.
The less said about my experience on the crossing, the better. Let's just say that riding exposed to the elements on top, I made it to Nevis without losing my breakfast while Mike in his "air conditioned lounge" below was treated to fruit punch and cheesy snacks. Mike said that the air conditioned lounge meant that the recirculated diesel fumes were kept cool.
We were met at the docks in Nevis by our guide for the day, TC. She is the reason that we came to St. Kitts and Nevis. After our plans for going to Martinique panned out, we couldn't find any other tropical island we wanted to visit. One afternoon while surfing the satellite, I came across Meshach Taylor's series on the Caribbean. The episode was on Nevis, and he had a wonderful red haired guide, TC, who made the island seem like the perfect place for Mike and me to visit. I went to see our travel agent Cookie the next day and here we are.
TC was everything we expected, a colorful and thoroughly entertaining personality. She immediately offered to call Nevis Express, the local island hopper airline, to see if she could get us a flight back to St. Kitts so I wouldn't have to take the ferry again. She then cranked up the air conditioning on her van and started our tour.
Our first stop was at the Horatio Nelson museum. Nelson was stationed here while he served with the British Navy. At the time Nevis was the queen of the Caribbean and the wealthiest island there was. Nelson met the young widow of a planter, Fannie Nesbit, and fell in love with her. They eventually married and moved to England.
The tree in the photo left is at the Montpelier Plantation. It shows what happens when you let those ficus trees, that grow in offices everywhere, outside for 34 years . The building behind the tree was the original sugar mill but is now an inn. Further down the road is the plantation great house where Nelson and Fannie married.
A short distance from the main house is the Botanical Gardens of Nevis, a showcase of tropical plants. A light rain had been falling intermittently as we arrived, but didn't seem to be a problem. We paid our admission to the garden, got a map, and started on our way. Just as we came to the end of the palm tree section at the far end of the gardens, the rain came in earnest. (first photo at top) It came in sheets with gusty winds that threatened to turn my umbrella inside out (photo below left). Mike hadn't brought his umbrella, just his jacket and hat and he got thoroughly soaked (photo below right).
|From the gardens, we went to a local restaurant where you would be able to see several other islands if it weren't so cloudy. The hostess came in with her three year old large, orange winged amazon parrot on her shoulder. Loorue had a one word vocabulary, "Hello", but was eager to help anyone finish their meal. Loorue particularly like french fries and the cheese that was on the breadfruit pie that came with our sandwiches.
There were also a couple of colorful finch-sized birds that were born over the bar, so they were very bold and not at all adverse to, say, hopping up on the table and stealing sugar from your bowl.
Since we had to hurry to catch the plane, TC bypassed most of the sites on our way to the airport. She did point out the haunted estate and talked to us about early slavery in the area. She pointed out the prison for the island. It help as many as 17 people and the most common crime was petty theft - usually people taking things like food from work. You could be imprisoned, though, for a week to a month for swearing.
You could see the difference between Nevis and St. Kitts all around you. Nevis is the poorer island as it has no industry besides tourism, yet it is almost immaculately clean, while on St. Kitts there is quite a lot of trash around the villages. The Nivisians apparently are a lot prouder of their villages.
There were quite a lot of other stories TC told us, some of which I captured on my video camera. She also had a lot of basic information on hand. I asked about trash pickup and water delivery and disposal. You can get government water, but many or most have cisterns for their water supply. Those houses that don't just have an outhouse have a septic system. Not all houses even have running water. There are fewer shacks on Nevis than on St. Kitts.
We arrived at the airport at about 4:00 pm, hoping to catch a ride on the shuttle. The airport itself consists of a single building, about the size of a double-wide mobile home, or perhaps a little bigger. A somewhat bigger concrete building is under construction next door. Several small planes came and left without taking us and we began to get worried that we were going to be left on the island all night with no place to stay. Finally, around 6:00, the little 8-seater plane (photo left) came to shuttle us back.
The pilot gave us his safety lecture. "Please buckle your seat belts. That red handle is the emergency exit. I've got a fire extinguisher up front there."
Mr. Sergeant, one of our previous tour guides, was waiting for us in St. Kitts to take us back to Ottleys.
Tomorrow, we'll probably stay at the Plantation Inn until mid afternoon and then go into Basseterre to see if any celebrations have begun.