Wednesday, September 5, 2012

St. Kitts! 
(or short for St. Christopher...I never knew that)

Most of the kids were tired of getting up early and sightseeing. They wanted to we had been on the boat long enough that we knew they knew where and how to get food and could find their way back to the room fine so after breakfast Virginia brought Dean to the kids club and we left all the kids except Jared on the boat as we headed off. 

We are at St. Kitts but you can't see us. 

My camera did this every day I got off the boat. The humidity would fog up the lens and it would take awhile to get it to clear up. 

OK thats better. 

Today we negotiated a ride in a taxi to take a tour of the island...we found that this seemed to be the best way to go. 

We were lucky enough to find a great driver who acted as a tour guide as well. We just didn't get a ride around the island we got a personal tour around the island! He told us about everything. 

Our fellow tourists that day spoke French, and a little English. It was interesting to hear French and Creole being spoken.

Le Matt...I even took a picture of the side of his van so we could get a hold of him if we are ever back. He was great!

He drove us through down town St. Kitts and told us about the history. 

He told us that the original inhabitants of the island (the native people) were all killed off by the French and English settlers when they had uprising because of the treatment of their people. 

I guess they had a problem with being enslaved and having their women raped. Instead of working with them  they killed them all off. 

I imagine early settlers saw native people just like natural resources of the island to be used however they saw fit. 

This park is the old slave market. The park actually belonged to the king at the time and no slaves were allowed in it so they had underground tunnels from houses to the center of the park where the slave auctions would happen. 

I guess St. Kitts and many of the other islands stopped slavery well before we did. On St. Kitts they stopped it 30 years before America did. 

Most of the inhabitants of the island are descendants of former slaves. The ironic thing was their ancestors learned skills like masonry, farming and so on that helped them build their own island once they were emancipated. 

Our driver was born an English citizen but the island gained it's independence in 1985. So now it's an independent country. 

He showed us these government subsidized houses. 

He said where else could you live in the projects and have a million dollar view!
 (They all had a great view of the ocean)

We stopped at this place where they had a petroglyph of the native people...didn't get it in a picture...but I did get a picture of a monkey on Jeff. 

I guess lots of people made money by adopting baby monkeys and training them to sit on people to pose for pictures. 

There were tons of wild monkeys on St. Kitts originally brought over on settler ships. 

Our driver brought us to the ruins of an old sugar plantation factory. 

These pits were recently unearthed by archaeologists and now it's in the process of becoming a national landmark...(he said it used to be covered in dirt and the buses would park on top of it)

This was the firing tunnel...

They would set fires that would boil the sugar. I guess this factory didn't refine it, it just made it into molasses and it was brought to England to be refined or turned into rum. 

Our expert tour guide. 

The smoke stack 

It was interesting to me that we could explore all of it and there wasn't any fences, or anything protecting you from huge drop offs, holes and dangerous potential falling mortar. 

Definitely they wouldn't allow this in the US :)

There were local kids playing all throughout the ruins.  

We are so lawsuit happy here someone would have this whole thing blocked off for sure but I was glad we could go through it!

The vegetation was lush and rain-forest like as well. 

Next stop was Romney Manor...

This was a huge plantation that used to be the site where the original native chief had his compound. When they were all killed off it was taken over by a Sam Jefferson, ancestor to Thomas Jefferson. 

Eventually it was bought by an ancestor of Mitt now its the Romney manor. 

I thought it would be a house that we could see....nope it was just a place with some ruins and maybe there was a house somewhere but it wasn't where we saw it. 

This tree was over 400 years old. I imagine it saw a lot...most of the landscape had been changed over the years due to hurricanes but I guess this one stood strong. 

One thing they did have at the manor was a shop and demonstration of Caribelle Batik. 

It's a process of dying...

where they paint wax over a design drawn by an artist and then the material is dyed one color. The wax is then washed off and another application is put on before the material is dyed the next color. 

The more colors on the pattern the longer the process takes. 

It was fascinating to learn about. I'm sure its a tedious process. We looked through the store....

and I admired the material blowing in the breeze. 

Even though there wasn't a house the grounds were pretty. 

Oh the water bottle I'm holding.

Our driver brought us to a local lady who was selling cold drinks (a welcome thing in the heat)
She had local passion fruit juice in a water bottle. I debated on whether to get it or not because I knew she had reused the water bottle. I debated not knowing how sanitary it was but in the end I got it. 

It was the best juice I've had in a long time. Not too sweet but very good. I never got sick from it so I'm glad I took the risk ;)

The next stop was Brimstone Hill Fortress.  It was the highest point on the island. 

After a steep drive up we had a steep walk to the top of the hill...

To see another amazing fort that was used to protect the island against invaders. 

A dry moat to keep people out.

It did have a great view.

I guess it used to be used during celebrations as well in more recent times. One Easter morning thousands of people were on Brimstone hill and some people were crushed to death during a mass stampede for cover when it started raining. I guess there was a belief that getting your hair wet in the rain would cause pneumonia so people had a real fear of it and in the panic people were killed. 

Again they had a few rooms for display but then they had a bunch that were just open and you could walk wherever you wanted regardless of safety issues. 

Loved this "graffiti" from 1798. (I guess they verified this and this guy was really here)

One of my favorite displays was reading about A day in the life of a soldier...

Even though the stuff is probably true it seemed like the author was a bit biased.

It basically said that all the white soldiers would do their morning routines and then sit inside lay on their beds and drink and gamble all day out of the hot sun "with the African slave workers and troops of the West Indian Regiment undertaking the more arduous duties outside"

It also detailed all the trouble the soldiers would get into. 

On the way to the beach our driver took us to a look out point. 

On one side the water was the Atlantic ocean (the waves were more rough) on the other side was the Caribbean ocean. 

At the lookout there were more monkeys to hold. 

I held one this time too. 

They were so soft...most of them had diapers on...this one didn't.

Good luck Jeff. 

We got to the beach we were going to hang out at for an hour and then the driver was going to pick us up. 

It was a crowded beach with lots of our fellow cruise passengers already there in the water holding drinks. 

A black sand beach with rocks under the waves and way too many people trying to bully me into getting a massage. 

You can see a lady giving a massage in the picture above. They hit you up the second you walked onto the beach and didn't let up the whole time. It didn't help that Joel, Virginia and Jeff all got them. At one point I had 3 different people around me "Why don't you get a massage?"  "You should get one."  "Why don't you get one"
No thank you was not an acceptable answer. 

"You need a massage." "You need to relax"

There was no relaxing on this beach with these high pressure massage sales people around. 

At 20.00 for 10 minutes it didn't seem like a great deal to me...and Virginia said she got kicked off during hers because the people giving the massages are supposed to bring their own tables, if they try and use the resort chairs they kick you off. She had to go waaaayyy down the beach, out of sight of the resort people, for the rest of her massage and then she said basically the lady just rubbed an Aloe Vera plant all over her. Wow.

After we got back to the boat we quickly found the kids in the rooms 

(they had just basically watched TV and hung out all day with a break for food and ice cream)

We asked who wanted to come out and hold some monkeys. They were right by the docks. 

We had 1/2 hour to be back on the boat so we raced out to show them monkeys. 

Taylor came...

And Ashley loved it...

But Jacob wouldn't get off the boat to have a monkey on his head.

Oh well his loss.

Another local guy that really liked Ashley and shared his monkeys with her free of charge. 
(Of course you normally pay people to take pictures with the monkeys.)

That night was more nice food....(I'm feeling it on my waistline this week)

Ashley grabbed the camera and took this not-so-flattering picture of us...

and here is a picture she took of herself with carrot teeth.  

The wait staff performed for us...they were great and we got to meet people from all over the world who were working on the cruise ship. 

When we got back to the room we had one more monkey visit us for the night. 

The next day is our last day of the cruise visiting St. Maartin.

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