|Saturday, St. Kitts
We noticed last night that a tug had to help us away from the pier. This morning we found out why. Some of the side thrusters have gone bad. That means the ship can’t push itself against the pier or maneuver in port without help. So, the ship has anchored in the bay and is tendering passengers to the pier in the life boats. Needless to say, that has thrown all the passengers into a tizzy. Honestly, it’s as if this is a disaster. Our tour is at 12:30. This means that instead of walking off on the gangway, we will meet in the Explorer’s Lounge at 11:45 and be lead to the tender departure area, get on a boat, and ride to the pier. Oh, the tragedy of it all…………!
I have been working on the blog all morning. John has been handling the laundry. He needed some fresh clothes, so he has been in charge of the dirties. One load is done and we will soon be headed to an early lunch at the hamburger bar near one of the pools.
St. Kitts and her neighboring, smaller island of Nevis were discovered by prehistoric people more than 5,000 years ago. Christopher Columbus arrived in 1493, to find peaceful tribes living on the islands. Invading tribes came later, and in 1623-1625, the French and English agreed to share the islands.
St. Kitts originally grew tobacco, but competition from Virginia turned the island to sugar. We rode the St. Kitts Scenic Railway, on the original route used during the sugar days, as long as 100 years ago. The railroad is narrow gauge at 36 inches between the rails. The tour was 2 hours and wound along the coastline about 2/3 of the way around the island. We passed many abandoned sugar mills, marked by abandoned chimneys and bases of windmills. The old sugar fields have gone to weed, but some of the cane continues to come back each year.
We went through many small settlements of little stores and homes. The younger children all ran out to wave at us. We rode through the remains of a grass fire, still very smoky. We asked about the fires and were told that rumors are the government orders the fires to burn out secret marijuana growing. Another theory is that the workers on the island express their anger at working conditions by burning things….like three courthouses in past years.
St. Kitts/Nevis gained their independence from England in 1983. Sea turtle is one of the main ingredients in many of their local dishes. Cricket is the national sport. The first slaves brought to St. Kitts/Nevis were not African. They were Irish indentured servants. The Irish and Scots were the first to harvest sugar cane.
After our train ride, we were taken to the shore where we boarded a beautiful catamaran for a ride back to the pier. The winds weren’t right for a sail, so the captain (named Crackers) used the engines. Drinks were “on the house”. John tried one of the local beers, a Caribe. He said it was good. From the water we were able to see the Brimstone Hill Fortress, designed by the English and built by slaves. It is the largest fortress in the Caribbean. It is now a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We were also surprised when Crackers pointed out both a medical school and a vet school on the shore overlooking the sea.
This was a good day and a good tour.