Wednesday, May 20, 2015

One Country - Two Islands

Before moving on to Nevis, let me catch up with a few more photos I missed on my post yesterday from St. Kitts.

As we approached St. Kitts at the northern end of the island, Dutch-owned St. Eustacia was on our right marking our entry to this particular sweep of volcanic tip islands, starting with Saba in the north-west and sweeping in an arc through Stacia, St. Kitts, Nevis, Redonda (more on that one later) and ending at Montserrat about 80 miles to the south-east.

St. Eustacia - fondly referred to as Stacia.
Rounding the western end of St. Kitts we marvelled at the verdant green landscape, before sailing past the menacing fort on Brimstone Hill.  The pictures from the sea really give a feel for the extent of the fortifications that was impossible to capture on land.

St. Kitts western end and an unclouded view of Mt. Liamuiga.  The greenest areas are sugar cane, although the industry has now collapsed on this island.

Brimstone Hill, home of the UNESCO Brimstone Fortress site.  The Drydock 'marina' below hauls boats and with a travel lift right across the main highway to their yard.

Looking up at the 1000' hill, the fortress site is really extensive and we're only seeing a part of it. 
We returned our rental car with its (almost) missing pieces and then took a final walk through Basseterre and back to the main dock in the centre of town.

We had a good laugh, but were glad we were able to pick up the bits that fell off the car as we left the lot.

In Basseterre, Independence Square.  The fountain was dry but quite pretty and the trees in the garden  created lots of shade for locals to come and 'lime'.

We're starting to see Flamboyant trees in flower all over the island - so stunning!

The circus is basically a roundabout in the centre of town with a small clock tower.  It's a chaotic area that people seem to know where they're supposed to drive and as pedestrians we just walk through the middle of it.  Lots of little restaurants and shops around this bustling area.

Cruise ship in town today so the vans and buses are out in force.

Old buildings abound in this little capital, although many of them are quite shabby.  The museum puts on quite a show.

St. George's church was open for visitors.

I love the simplicity of these island churches and they are quite astounding in their constructions when considering the elements they must survive against.
Now on to Nevis, sister island in the Federation of St. Kitts & Nevis.  Similar to St. Kitts, Nevis is a volcanic island, top blown off to form a crater that is often shrouded in clouds.  This brings up the origin of the name of the island which comes from Columbus who originally named it Nuestra SeƱora del las Nieves (Our Lady of the Snows), some say because the clouds reminded him of the snows on the Pyrenees Mountains and others as the name of his favourite church.  Regardless, Nevis is the result and the clouds are a constant that affect the view and the weather.

Nevis Peak, with a light dusting of clouds.

Anchored among the fishing boats at Charlestown.
The main town is Charlestown which runs about four blocks back from the water and about five blocks wide before abandoning any form of organization to the streets and branches out into the country.  Similar to St. Kitts there is just one road encircling the island and its main peak which rises over 3000’ into the air.  Both Mt. Liamuiga on St. Kitts and Nevis Peak rank in some of the top hikes in the Caribbean, not for the cloud shrouded (non) views but for their sheer difficulty in the rainforest.  Perhaps one day…

In the meantime, a quick tour around this charming little town sufficed and after a visit to the tourism office we followed a little self-guided tour to see the sights.

Another beautiful Flamboyant tree in the central 'square' - triangle? of Charlestown.

The Nevis Museum is housed in the birthplace of Alexander Hamilton.

Charlestown Methodist Church - built by ex-slaves after emancipation, although it is reported that they used child labour to complete the construction!

The Jewish Cemetery - in 1720, 25% of the white population was Portuguese / Spanish jews.

Alexandra Hospital - the most auspicious residence in town and once home of the local governor.

The Flamboyant Nursing Home - not sure this name would go down well at home ;-)
Carrying on down the road toward the hot springs, we encountered some of the local wildlife, some of it a bit more energetic than others.

Loved the local 'fire station dog'  - he was flat out.

Finally got a good pose from one of the Vervet monkeys.  They move on so quickly.

More local 'wildlife'.
 Nevis once hosted hordes of Europeans who came to take the restorative baths at the Bath Hotel, making it one of the oldest hotels in the Caribbean - if it were still standing in a usable state.  The baths themselves consist of three pools, the coolest of which is scalding hot and I didn’t dare dip my toes in the hottest.  The hot water bubbles up through the ground and apparently in the evenings, Nevisians gather here to wash away the cares of the day and to discuss their local island politics.

Nevis hot springs or The Baths as they are known.
To round out our little tour of Charlestown, we followed the goats to the end of the point and found the ruins of the old British fort that dates back to the 1600s.

Remains at Fort Charles.

Mowzer still sitting pretty in the once well defended bay

Bleached out tree - such a ghostly spectre.
Thursday morning we’ll check out of St. Kitts & Nevis and head for the final island in this chain, Montserrat.

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