Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis

Otherwise known as Kitts and Nevis. Two small, volcanic islands named by Columbus on his way around the Caribbean. This pic is the volcano in Nevis in the clouds, much like Columbus saw it and referred to it as snow covered.
We spent about 10 days in the two islands. While they are one nation, there’s clearly competition between the two islands. Nevis is the smaller, but has delivered far more top-tier cricket players to the West Indies team. Along with our friends on Tevai we took a taxi tour around the island.
nevisIMG_4122 Ford, our taxi driver and historian, gave us a great counter-clockwise circumnavigation of the Nevis road systems.
nevisIMG_4102 Nevis is divided up in parishes all based on the old Anglican churches that the Brits initially installed. The islands first indentured servants were the Irish. Then when the sugar-cane business started to blossom in the 16th century, African slaves were brought in. There’s a lot of connection between Nevis history and US history. Alexander Hamilton was born on the island. The original Jamestown, Virginia, settlers stopped here on their journey from England and started a town not so creatively called Jamestown.
nevisIMG_4125 In the 17th and 18th century there was a thriving Sephardic Jewish community who brought with them from Spain the secret to creating crystallized sugar from cane. This is the old Jewish cemetery, in the middle of Charlestown, with rocks placed on the graves, al la Shindler’s List.
nevisIMG_4128 The public hot baths fed by volcanic sulphur springs.
nevisIMG_4129 A stop in the botanical gardens so Chris and Patty could get a calming flower and plant fix. This plant has a pool of backup water in its black center.
nevisIMG_4136 A green heron hunting among the lily pads.
nevisIMG_4142 Delicate orchids
Nevis has a number of old sugar plantations that have been turned into high-end boutique hotels. This is the old windmill tower at Montpelier estate. 
nevisIMG_4167 These are old, wood gears from the sugar mill hanging in the outside patio and breakfast area. There’s pictures of Princess Di and her boys on the walls here. They told us it is fine to take pictures of the plantation, but that we couldn’t include any hotel guests in them.
nevisIMG_4190 For lunch we stopped at Hermitage Plantation, another old sugar mill. It has the oldest building on the island, about 300 years old. The room is above and was built from the Lignum Vitae tree – a wood renowned for its hardness.
nevisIMG_4183    Lunch was the Caribbean favorite, a roti. Basically an Indian curry burrito with chicken or pork and potatoes.
nevisIMG_4203 A secluded room at the Golden Rock Inn, another refurbished sugar plantation.
nevisMG_4160 Christmas colored elephant ears
Fortunately not all  the old mills are boutique hotels. This one had some great old, rusty stuff. This is the last functioning commercial sugar press on the island. Ran by a single cylinder steam engine, it last pressed cane in the late 1950’s.
The island is inundated with vervet monkeys. Lots of stories about how they came here 300-400 years ago, probably as pets. They are heavy consumers of the islands mangoes and óther fruits. Great for the tourists, a pest for the locals.
Nevis pelicans congregating on the Jesus is Lord skiff in the anchorage.


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