Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Sister Island to St. Kitts: Nevis

Five-Mast Ship - AM
St Kitts and Nevis
Charlestown - Nevis
Primary School
Botanical Gardens
Montpelier Plantation
Golden Rock Nature Trail
Nevis Countryside
Tropical Ice Cream
Raising the Sails

The Federation of St Kitts and Nevis constitute one country and share the same flag. "Nevis" is derived from a Spanish name Nuestra SeƱora de las Nieves which means Our Lady of the Snows. It is a reference to the story of a 4th century Catholic miracle: a snowfall on the Esquiline Hill in Rome. Presumably the white clouds which usually wreathe the top of Nevis Peak reminded someone of the story of a miraculous snowfall in a hot climate. (Source: Wikipedia) Nevis is just south of St. Kitts, a 45 minute ferry ride.

The capitol of Nevis (pronounced knee vus)is Charlestown. We arrived there in the morning and checked out the main street and a few buildings and picked up stamps at the post office. The buildings are built of stone and are very British colonial. We checked out the grocery store on the main road. The outside architecture was great. We went to a few souvenir stores and Carmela bought a Caribbean cookbook and I bought a batik tablecloth. After Mike "interviewed" taxi drivers, we climbed in the taxi for our island tour.

We drove through the small town of Charlestown and then headed out to the Botanical Gardens of Nevis. It was a surprise to see so many Asian statuaries throughout the garden. The orchids were beautiful as well as many other flowering plants.

We left the gardens for Montpelier Plantation where we ate lunch. All of the sugar plantations on Nevis were closed long before those in St. Kitts. The original plantation home was built of stone and was right near their windmill (none of the windmills function anymore, but the stone towers are still there). The verandah of the plantation had a lovely view looking out over the island and the Caribbean ocean.

Our next stop was one we had planned: a 30 minute nature hike at the Golden Rock Nature Trail near another plantation. It was up higher on the mountain into the rainforest so we thought we might see monkeys there. The hike was steep and the trail was rocky and the path not always clear. However, we had a trail map and there were markers for showing us different species of plants and trees. We were glad for the Tarzan like roots that we could hang onto to help us from slipping on the trail. It was a beautiful walk but we saw no monkeys! We thought we could hear their chatter in the distance.

We had hoped to stop at a heritage village but it was too late in the day. We completed our drive around the island and had great fun watching the monkeys playing in the field. Back to Charlestown, we stopped to get some ice cream: tangerine, strawberry and other tropical flavors. Yum. It is always warm in the Caribbean and ice cream sure hit the spot!

On the ferry trip back to St. Kitts, we saw in the distance a sailing cruise ship that started to unfurl their sails. There were 5 masts with 5-6 sails on each mast. They started unfurling at the lower end of the mast and worked up. It was beautiful to watch as the boat literally sailed off into the sunset!