|Salt Plage at night|
|Looking out to the anchorage from Salt Plage|
|The Marina's Kiosk where we originally thought we would wait...|
We chose St. Kitts and Nevis for the visit because... they haven't ever been here and they could make it happen with less than two weeks notice!!! Things just all fell together and suddenly we found ourselves waiting at Salt Plage for their taxi to arrive!
After a gruelling day of travel, and a good night's sleep... we were all up early the next morning ready to explore the island of St. Kitts in a rental car. Our chosen anchorage - Whitehouse Bay - is a short dinghy ride away from the recently opened Christophe Harbour Marina.
The Marina is a ghost town. One section of slips has been completed with plans for many more. They have a small coffee shop called the Kiosk and a couple of shops near their temporary office building. They will accept trash for a fee and have a dinghy/fuel dock that they are gracious enough to allow cruisers free access to use their facility. They will arrange car rental, which incurs a delivery fee but is very convenient given the alternative of anchoring the boat back in SUPER-rolly Basseterre. And they will allow parking overnight and a safe place to leave the dinghy while exploring ashore. And they are VERY nice to us cheapskates!
We drove through the narrow streets of Basseterre and onward past small settlements to turn up a mountain road that appeared (on Google Maps) to lead to the Caribelle Batik at Romney Manor. I'm not sure where we missed the turn, but we arrived at the back entrance to the site and a very steep road...out. A local bystander urged us to just go in anyway... so we did.
The grounds are simply stunning. Manicured to perfection with riots of tropical flowers leading the way, we found ourselves staring up at a 400+ year old tree. If this tree could talk!!!
Moving on to the reason for our visit... the Batik demonstration... and STORE! I had prepared Bruce (walking up the entrance walk) for the fact that I might be inclined to make a purchase... He's been warned!!!
|Orchids and other plants growing on this old tree.|
We watched ladies brushing melted paraffin wax onto coloured fabric as they answered our questions. It is a fascinating process and relatively simple, but time intensive. The more complicated fabrics are amazing... and each one is a unique work of art. I couldn't believe how inexpensive the finished goods were.
By the time we were done we were all starving. My plan (why am I always in charge of the plan???) was to find a local restaurant in nearby Sandy Point then continue on to the fort... Unfortunately we found that most of the small neighbourhood restaurants open for breakfast and lunch, closing very early... leaving us desperate for something... anything! We backtracked looking for a small grocery where we might find some cold cuts and bread... and found King Snack!
|What in the world is Florida Water???|
Arriving at the long and winding entrance to the Fort on Brimstone Hill, we were once again amazed at the lack of hoopla! We were allowed to drive up through the narrow fortification gates and up onto the hill where the central grounds had been made into a makeshift parking lot.
All around us were stunning views, volcano, lower levels of the fort, the town of Basseterre beyond and the Caribbean... calm and beautiful - if somewhat hazy with Saharan Dust - today. Walk through with me in pictures:
|Looking back along the coast toward Basseterre|
|Descending the old staircase to access another part of the fort grounds|
|A line of cannons overhead!|
|This building is away from the main fort area. We learned that it was where the munitions were kept. Smart!|
|Looking back from where we had come|
|The walls were four feet thick!|
|The room was very cool even though the day was warm and outside was bright sunlight.|
|We've missed our friends...|
|This was the very furthest point in this direction.|
|Looking back up the hill where we will head next...|
|There's a food and beverage vendor on site that makes great rum punches!|
|We had a beverage and enjoyed the garden before we set to the climb to the main fortification.|
|This wide stair leads up to the hill where the main fortification building is. The steps are very wide and slanted downward.|
|I wonder if these cannon were always part of the walls...|
|Looks like there's a whole other section that we haven't been to yet... probably no time today...|
|If this cannon could talk...|
|The guys were drawn to the cannons... of which there were MANY!|
|Nobody around to tell us we couldn't ring that bell... so we DID!|
|The uppermost level|
|How many feet have scaled these stairs?|
|Looking down into the courtyard|
|Inside one of the unfinished rooms. They had display rooms but didn't allow photos.|
|Looking down into the other end of the courtyard.|
|Get back in here!!|
|Time to go...|
|Back down the winding switchbacks on the narrow road.|
|We passed through several of these narrow gates. It was a squeeze!|
|Back on the road to our end of the island. There's a really cool tunnel...|
|The road curves sharply just outside the tunnel. This wouldn't work in the US...|
Unused to this level of activity... we were a little sluggish the next morning. Slacking in my duties as hostess and tour guide, I scrambled to find us a suitable hike over coffee leaving us to a late breakfast and even later departure from the boat. I was able to produce a website offering several hiking choices for our guests. We laughed over the use of words like "scramble" and "trail blazing"... opting to forego the crater rim hike for a much less strenuous hike to see a cave and waterfall.
|Tiny little flowers!|
|Lots of chickens milling about in the Chicken House!|
|Bees on the little flowers|
|Checking our status... are we there yet?|
|Suddenly the trail became more of a challenge... We whacked our way through tall grasses looking for the trail.|
|Changing again, becoming more brushy...|
|Once beneath the canopy of the rain forrest it was much cooler going...|
We walked steadily up as the path led us along... now it was cool with the occasional fresh breeze. The scent of the forrest, thick with dirt and flowers and unknown plants, filled our lungs. It was wonderful!
We came upon what looked like an old watering station. All along the path we found parts of an old rusted out water pipe that, we hoped, led to the waterfalls. This structure might have been an old pump station or maybe it just provided water to livestock, free from the mountain. Unbeknownst to us at the time, we had already passed the unseen spot where the trail branched off to the cave.
|Steep fall just off the path|
I stifled worries of myself falling... The heavy pack on my back coupled with my unsteadiness for not having quite found my "land legs"left me a little wobbly. The worry that Bruce would have one of his syncope episodes also crowded my brain as we hiked along some really faint and treacherous trails... I was glad for having Robert and Kathy here...
|I think we're losing him... Whose dumb idea was this anyway?|
|More tiny mushrooms!|
|Starting to climb again...|
|The forrest was so damp, lichen and mushrooms grew everywhere!|
|Getting tired of trail pictures yet?|
We made temporary camp on a huge rock in the middle of the dry riverbed and spread out our lunch. Dining on chicken salad, peanut butter and crackers, each of us lost in our own thoughts as we rested and gazed up at the towering trees surrounding us. We just KNEW that there must be monkey eyes upon us!!!
Refreshed but no less short on time, we packed away our lunch gear and made the decision to turn back. The rest of the way was the much more difficult "scrambling on rocks" part anyway... So what if we didn't see the falls? It would be just our luck that we pushed onward and they were DRY!!! We convinced ourselves that the cave would have been unimpressive anyway, and just the experience of a semi-dangerous hike into the rainforest was enough of an adventure for us!
|He moves much quicker when we're headed for the barn!|
Isn't it funny how the return trip always seems much faster and far less treacherous? Soon we popped back out into the sunshine were a cow watched our progress... silently munching on sweet mountain grasses.
|Coming back down was not as easy as you might think. We slid on the rubbly rocks, Bruce and I both fell. Robert surfed!|
We made one side trip to see a beach where turtles nest on our way back... I had to forego the sandy walk as my foot ( injured in a fall on the way to the car ) was beginning to object to further activity. We made it back to the Marina, turned in our rental car keys and sped back to the boat... all before just sundown! What a DAY! We wouldn't have made it had we continued on... sometimes things work out for a reason...
Tomorrow morning we leave for Nevis! To be continued...