On to St. Kitts

Trip Start Aug 01, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Saint Kitts and Nevis  ,
Wednesday, April 19, 2006

The next day we sailed to St. Kitts, also known as St. Christopher's (which one book said Christopher Columbus named for himself after he discovered it - we're not sure if he put the "saint" part on with illusions of grandeur or it actually came later). This passage was an uneventful two mile voyage. Nevis and St. Kitts are much greener than Antigua because of the extinct volcanoes on both islands which attract the rain clouds. Upon getting close to St. Kitts, the dominant view is of the volcanic mountains and numerous sugar cane fields.

St. Kitts is unique in that all of the large sugar cane fields are owned by the government. The government expropriated these private plantations in the mid 1980's when the private sector discovered that they could no longer make a profit. Summer of 2005 was the last commercial harvest; however, St. Kitts was green with nearly ripe sugar cane as we arrived. It turns out that because the fields are government-owned, continuing to plant cane was more a political decision than an economic one. The island is filled with fields of sugar cane which will go unharvested unless the government can figure out another way to sell it. Current talk is to turn it into ethanol. Chris' economic background thinks that may be pretty iffy.

We took the opportunity while we were here to do some more touristy stuff. After walking around the town to reconnoiter, we found the office of tourism and picked up some brochures and magazines.

We took a 3 hour ride on the island's "Sugar Train" - a double-decker train, running on narrow-gauge rail track left over from the sugar cane industry. I was a bit worried when the tour started pointing out things like the workers at the concrete works and the place where the pigs used to live, but now they lived down the track. The ride actually turned out to be very enjoyable after we got farther down the track and they started passing out Pina Coladas.
One of the rules, we were told, was that we had to wave at the locals when we passed by. They must have known this rule as well, and darn near everyone stopped what they were doing to give us a wave.

Before the train arrived, we had an opportunity to talk with the conductor who told us that this train is owned by the same person who owns the Whitepass and Yukon Railroad in Skagway. Small world.

The next day we hiked Mt. Luimuiga, (Lee-ah-mee-guh) an extinct volcano with "Greg's Safaris". There were two other couples with us as well as the local guide named Scott. We rode in the back of a "safari-type vehicle" for a good way enjoying the company of the others as well as the beauty of the island. We stopped halfway up the mountain at 1200 ft and got out for a breakfast of local fruits and juices and then it was a very warm hike to the top at 2800 feet. Scott seemed to be very knowledgeable about the local flora (although he could have been making it up and we wouldn't have known), and he was VERY careful with us, pointing out dangers as we went. The trail was well worn with many conveniently-placed roots for handholds. With the heat the sweat just poured down any place it could. When we got to the top, the wind cooled us as we took some time to look into the crater while Scott spread out a lunch of fresh tuna, cheese, bread, carrots and a sweet that he called "guava cheese" that tasted much like applets and/or cotlets. The hike back down was easier for me (with gravity helping out, of course) except for all the tripping I did over the hidden roots. Back at the truck, we had more fresh fruit and rum drinks. Scott stopped on the way and got a sugar cane stalk which he peeled and shared with us. You chew it, suck on the juice and leave the fibrous stalk. Tasty.

When we got back to our boat, we had visitors. Two men (a father and his grown son) came over in their dinghy to tell us that they knew our boat and her first owner and had sailed quite a bit on Quest when she was in the South Pacific. They knew how strongly she was built and gave us a card, saying that if we ever wanted to sell, let them know. Again, small world.

Oh, the Mac Guiver fix didn't hold and Chris has been trying unsuccessfully to jury-rig something to allow us to use the outboard.

Next stop, St. Martin.
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