The Boat Trip
So a bunch of us went over to St Kitts, one of the neighbouring islands, on Saturday. It was a sweet trip, despite spending almost the entire day waiting for customs on both islands. It didnt matter because we were waiting on a boat!
So there was a bunch of waiting around on Statia, then a CRAZY journey across the Caribbean Sea. A bloke called Gadget was our captain, a big local fella with dreadlocks and a mad grin. He braced himself at the helm with a Guinness, and proceeded to flog the boat at full speed up and down the waves, which happened to be coming right at us.
I think I spent half the time in the air, the other half nursing a sore ass, and the third half spilling beers. It was hilarious.
When we arrived we had a beautiful harbour to wait in, and spent the time swimming.
St Kitts is a much bigger island than Statia, and by the time we got off the boat, we had exactly 1.5 hours to explore it all. So we went and got an icecream. Then went and got lunch. Then had a few drinks, then ran downstairs and hurriedly hailed a cab to take us on a whirlwind tour!
So first thing we saw was the St Kitts Projects: I swear, this place looked idyllic! Ocean views, a little walk down to the beach, plenty of space between the houses, and damn well maintained too! Sure there were much worse off places we drove through, and maybe this was really a little showcase for tourists about the governments efficiency… Actually, now that I think about it, they damn well fooled me, and it would be tough enough to be poor on St Kitts, so I take it back.
Next thing the taxi driver stops off at a friends bar, me and the boys go in to get some takeaways: as you can see I probably didnt need too many more…:-) When I asked if the taxi driver wanted a beer, Hazel said he cant have one, coz she knows how wild he gets! Used to be a real party animal in his youth, all jokes though, and I think Hazel has a thing for him actually!
The guy on the left is Randy, he is from Minnesota, and has written a country song that got famous. The guy on the right is called Ruule, an unpronounceable name from the Netherlands. You know, Statia is technically the Netherlands too, and there are many Dutch people, all stoic, blunt, and good company.
Next stop was the Botanical Gardens on St Kitts. I was traveling with people who work for the National Parks here on Statia (STENAPA), and they were keen to check out the competition. Well, they turned out to be much better funded than STENAPA, and the gardens were neat to the point of immaculate! Not really my style actually. But here is a photo taken out from the gardens: that St Kitts is a pretty lush, nice island. The tower you can see is from a sugar refining facility, used back in the old days of plantation monoculture, slaves making bloody sugar. We think they used to fire slave pottery in them too, on the sly after hours. Interesting stuff, the slaves used to make their own ceramics, and had trade networks right throughout the islands, none of which is documented, and we only know about it from archaeology.
After this it was a quick run through the busy streets of the town, then an equally mad boat ride home to Statia. With one engine this time: the other one had develped a little problem from the hair-raising outward journey! But we all arrived in one piece, soaked through, with grins as wide as our sunburnt faces.
The next day I went out hiking with a few more of the STENAPA crew. Man, I have been so lazy since I got here that I was quite out of shape! Ella and Kyle powered ahead, and I sweated and wheezed along behind them. But one we got in to the bush, it was fantastic, lush vegetation blocked out the sun, and little hermit crabs and other interesting things were all around.
Scrambling along next to a dry creek bed, carved out by some torrential hurricane downpour of old, we got to a ficken cliff and these STENAPA hard-asses started to climb. So I got busy, one hand after one foot, and dragged myself up this thing. Not vertical or anything, but steep enough that if I slipped I would have lost a lot of height and a lot of skin! But it felt great to get up there, like conquering a little fear.
The Far Side of the Island
Damn great. Later that day, after a lazy beer in a bar called “Chocolate’s”, we went out to the STENAPA place and I had a look at the Statia botanical garden: its tucked away on the other side of the island, behind the volcano called The Quill. Its not like the St Kitts manicured variety, its ramshacle, a little bit dysfunctional, organic and full of suprises. More my style!
Damn, going out to that place felt like being on Lost, that TV series. Theres just something I love about scientific facilities in wild places, seems so adventurous, and I hope my life takes me to many more of them.
We’ve got plenty of time and if we dont rush it, I think we can make it happen.