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Saint Kitts and Nevis, also known as the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis is located in the Leeward Islands chain of the Lesser Antilles, it is the smallest sovereign state in the Western Hemisphere, in both area and population. It covers only 261 km2 and is the home of close to 55.000 people of which 92.5% is African, 3% Multiracial, 2.1% European and 1.5% Indian. 94,6% are Christians - but a lot of different Christians!
In 1623, the island was settled by the English, soon followed by the French; both agreeing to partition the island. A Spanish expedition sent to enforce Spanish claims, destroyed the English and French colonies and deported the settlers back to their respective countries in 1629. During the late-seventeenth century, France and England fought for control over St Kitts, then the French ceded the territory to the UK in 1713. Saint Kitts and Nevis along with Anguilla, became an associated state with full internal autonomy in 1967. St. Kitts and Nevis achieved independence from the United Kingdom in 1983.
The highest peak, at 1.156 metres, is Mount Liamuiga on St. Kitts. The islands are of volcanic origin, with large central peaks covered in tropical rainforest; the steeper slopes leading to these peaks are mostly uninhabited.
St. Kitts has a tropical savannah climate and Nevis has a tropical monsoon climate. There are 176 species of birds, while the mammals are only represented by a few bats - and quite some invasive animals. Here are a few reptilians like the red-bellied racer; Alsophis rufiventris, Red-Footed Tortoise; Geochelone carbonaria, Saba Least Gecko; Sphaerodactylus sabanus, Island Least Gecko; Sphaerodactylus sputator, Panther Anole; Anolis bimaculatus, Schwartz's Anole; Anolis schwartzi, St. Christopher Ameiva; Ameiva erythrocephala and Montserrat Worm Snake; Typhlops monastus. A single amphibian; Lesser Antillean Whistling Frog; Eleutherodactylus johnstonei. And a lot of marine life...
Island Resources Foundation describes an impressive 36 vegetation types in A Vegetation Classification of St. Kitts and Nevis inhabitant by at least 926 species of plants.
20. I get an early start, and despite the dark skies, I do a tour around the centre of Basseterre. I follow the coast at first, and pass the ferry harbour and the bus terminal - both rather quiet this time of day. Here is a dark sandy beach within the town, but it seems like it is mainly the fisherman who are using it.
Many of the houses along the promenade are old wooden houses, and it seem like the older ones are no more than 10-15 square meters. I loop back pass my central hotel, and walk towards the airport. I pass the huge cruise ship-shopping area, and to judge from the amount of mini-busses, something is going to happen. It actually feel like this "artificial" town is bigger than the capital.
I have booked the car through Expedia (which always mean lacking information at best, bad info at most), and the only address I have is SKB; the airport. No phone number nor address. The link to "Map and directions" link to Google map; Saint Kitts. I walk all the way out to the airport, this time through an old domestically neighbourhood. Some houses are nice, some real rotten wrecks. Here are free ranging hens everywhere.
When I finally make it to the airport, in a real light drizzle, it turns out Hertz have no office here. A security-woman ask another employee, who ask a well dresses man. He show me on my GPS, where he think the office is, and when I tell him; I'm going to walk, he offers to drive me. I ask what he do for a living, and it turns out he is the director of the airport.
I get to the right office, and they would have picked me up in the airport, if I had called. But I had no number, thanks to Expedia. I get a sufficient used Honda City, a temporarily driving license and head out in the country. The sun start to break through the light skies, and I lean back and enjoy the ride. I follow the southern coast towards west.
It is pretty clear the foothills have been farmed for
cane until 50 years ago. Now, it is significantly fewer fields that are
cultivated, and mainly for grass. I see a single dragon-fruit-field, but
are not many fruit plantations.
I try to stop at the beach, but the south coast is dominated by high cliffs. Below, it is mainly fist-sized lava rocks that make up the beach. Here are several small villages along the road, and the houses are from different ages - but mainly older. I stop in one little village, to get a photo of a lovely arch pedestrian bridge. Unfortunately, someone have ditched his minibus underneath.
first planned sight is Romney Manor, an old manor which should be
quite intact, and offer quite some activities. I'm mainly here for the view
and rainforest, not the batik and zip-line stuff.
I find a little road, leading through a truly amassing rainforest with huge trees, bromeliads, lianas and all that can be expected. The river have cut itself deep down into the clay, and if it wasn't for the lack of light, it would make some awesome motives.
I end up at a pretty garden, next to the batik factory's shop. A huge tree shadows the most of the garden, and it is overgrown with epiphytes. I try to avoid the noisy crowds, and find another way out into the wild. But here are no trails, and it is too hard to walk through. I walk back, and have a breath look at the ruins.
The road that lead up to here from the coast continues, and so do I. Pretty soon, it turn into a real rough gravel road - but it head further up the Windfield mountain - and so do I. Here are some great views up to the peak and down to the sea, across the fields. I can see a fortress on a peak, and recon it must be Brimstone Hill Fortress
Further up, I find a local farmer with some small fields
with sweet potatoes
and a black cow. Further up, the trees closes in, and
here are familiar figtrees and Burseras. I eat lunch at a place with a
fantastic view over the lowlands, and the Oreos and bananas taste great.
I turn into Brimstone Hill Fortress and National
Park, and it is a steep tour up the hills. Again, my path crosses the cruise
guests, but at least,
most are to choppy to walk much around.
I head further west along the coast, and stop at some of the villages and beaches. At one of them, and old mill seems quite well preserved in the walls, but lack the rest. I find the coast, consisting of clay cliffs and rocky beaches.
the most northern point; Dieppe Bay Town, I find another great beach,
offering some astounding views up to the peaks. It look truly awesome due to
the light, when I'm there, but the photos lack the magic.
At four, I fight the temptation to do the last bit around, and head back the same way I came. I do a few stops, but reach Basseterre at five. I head down to the cruise-town, figuring here must be quite some restaurants. In the back of one shop, a Rasta recommends me a roti, and it is quite good. I see some of the shops, but it is scary how foreign the souvenirs are. Who buy an elephant or a piquing here??? I return at dusk, and there are way too many pictures to go through.
It is pass midnight before I'm done deleting pictures.
Tagging them is done in badges. Not my best work, but iI need to sleep...
21. The city is pretty packed with cars in the morning, but I find a back-road out towards Monkey Hill. It should offer some great views, but either I'm spoiled, or it is the lack of sun. I do some walking on the gravel roads, and find some nice flowers, although I suspect they all are invasive. The area is slowly being transformed in to a domestically neighbourhood, and will soon loose its charm.
I set the GPS for Black Rocks, further out west along the northern coast, and it have a shortcut through the mountains. It is on a gravel road, winding its way through a deep gorge, covered in old gnarled trees. Despite the lack of light - or because of that, it create a great atmosphere, a perfect movie setup.
I end out in the old cane fields on the northern side,
where a few cattle grasses. The northern road is smooth but narrow, and the
villages partly deserted and badly maintained. Only the churches seem to be
I make it to Black Rocks, and to judge from the huge lawn, surrounded by colourful painted huts, it is a cruise ship passenger stop. The first owner is extremely intelligent: Not only can he show me several riddles, I have a hard time figuring, he also sell me two pieces of wood, which can form a pyramid. I, on the other hand, teaches him one trick with a single piece of paper.
Then the minibuses arrival, and I walk down to the cliffs
and have a look at the Black Rocks. Some volcanic rocks, formed by the sea.
It might be the lack of sun, but I'm not overwhelmed.
I pass several old windmill stumps, and fight my way to one of them, through the abandon cane. A fig tree have found foothold on it, and so have another tree. Here are a few free ranging sheep, and at the end of a gravel road, I find a black pig tied up.
I pass Dieppe Bay Town, and a good way on the other side, I turn around. I follow the coast all the way back to Basseterre, and park the car. It is only two, and I have a few sights, I want to see - sun or not. Here are several real nice old houses, but those in Princess Street are closed off. Next to it, I find Circus Square with clock tower and phone box. Around the corner is Independence Square with some huge trees and a fountain.
I find a little local joint, offering a veggie-wrap. Well; frozen cauliflower, carrots and peas are vegetables, but.... As I head on, it start to drizzle, and when I'm home, the clouds opens wide. I start working on the porch of the hotel, facing the main road. I get a cup of tea, and enjoy the cosy feeling.
I stocked some food earlier, and don't have to walk out
in the rain, which continues during the evening. Tomorrow should be dry, and
further more; I am heading for the desert!
It is time to start on Diary 2 and the south-western peninsular.