St Kitts and Nevis is another very small state in the Eastern Caribbean with an estimated(!) population of 55‘000 only. No state so far was too small to give us a nice Welcome. Here, they sent a pretty large whale jumping out of water several times, leaving huge splashes whenever it plunged back. Good he didn’t decide to cuddle with Yuana.
St Kitts is actually also known as St Christopher, the name given by Columbus after his own name. We have met the traces of Columbus many times here in the West Indies. He discovered most of the Easter Caribbean Islands for Spain. Touching history is so much better then just learning it out of school books.
In Columbus’ wake came other Europeans. Too many times, this ended bloody for the Caribs, also in St Kitts. A small number of aboriginal Caribs remains, today living in Dominica. Today, the lands are mainly owned and populated by the descendants of African slaves. Speaking about population of St Kitts, one should not forget to mention the green velvet monkeys. They are up and around until 10a.m., before sun gets too warm.
Arriving at the Southernmost tip of St Kitts, we were astonished to find a high finish mega yacht harbor. It seemed to be in the middle of nowhere. Miss-leaded Investment? Nearby was the Salt Plage, perhaps the coolest beach bar we have ever seen. The palm trees, lounge sofas and high chairs were arranged on three platforms, partially over the water. Super simple and award winning design, someone did a fantastic job!
When we took a stroll to the other side of the narrow island, we came across a small luxury hotel. Another remarkable place in the middle of nowhere? Also special was that all these places were interlinked with perfectly paved roads with park-like gardens aside. On the way back, a six-seated golf cart stopped and offered us a lift back to our anchorage. The driver was a woman, with a man seated next to her.
We asked a bit what kind of development was going on here, and who in that small country could invest in such top class properties. The man in the cart looked back to me and was saying with a wide grin on his face: “I’m the crazy guy doing all that”. It turned out that he was the American businessman Charles P Darby III. Just google him. You will find the former CEO of the company who developed Kiawah-Island in the US and also Irish Doonbeg Golf Resort which was later sold to the Trump Family.
Charles explained that he bought 2500 acres of land to develop it into a huge luxury residential area, encompassing more than 200 buildings.
The most dramatic Tom Fazio golf course is the next thing they will build. Super impressive! Charles was kind enough to shake hands with us again when he showed up at the beach bar on the same evening.
Another helpful person was Elvis. He drove us high up to the Brimstone Hill Fortress, another large defense installation of the British, this time to fight the French. At those times it was of utmost importance to secure an anchorage in the vicinity of a good fresh water river. No trip back to
Europe could start without the barrels filled with drinking water. Elvis also offered us some economical insights:
As everywhere else in the West Indies the sugar cane business lost momentum decades ago and sent Kittian economy into a long sleep. Only 15 years ago when the cruise ship terminal was opened, tourism got significance and quickly became the most important economic sector. In high season, two or three cruise ships visit St Kitts every day. In the off season, its considerably less, depending on latent hurricanes.
Asking about difficulties with quickly growing tourism, Elvis said that everyone is happy with it because it creates lots of jobs. Then he added: “OK, there is one problem. With the tourists coming, many of us now must work on Sundays. Then we can’t go to Church. But the weekly service is very important for us.” More than a dozen of Christian Churches exist in Basseterre only. They compete for members in a saturated market.
Elvis blown the horn every other mile to say hello to someone else on the road. Once it was the hair dresser, then a family member and then a very good friend, the former Prime Minister who is now in the opposition. By the way, there is no Republican Party as we know it, and a Green Party is not required at all. The parties are more in the range of different shades of Labors, which started forming in the late times of slavery.
The country is proud of celebrating its 35 years of independence from UK this year. The Commonwealth improves the access to international financial markets. They however complain that loans for disaster recovery are becoming more expensive after catastrophic incidents such as most recent hurricanes. The county’s stability is questioned. “Why and how should we pay the bill for global warming which was produced elsewhere?”. A thoroughly wide topic…
Last but not least, such small country could not defend itself in case of an attack. We learned that the military interventions of UK in Falkland and the one of US in Grenada are taken as a sign that Kittians would not been left alone in such a case. In return, US Army is allowed to train in the country, and also to use its geographic position strategically. Young Kittians do not need to serve in an army.
That was a lot for little more than one day only, isn’t it? St Kitts was a very quick go for us. After leaving St Kitts and Nevis, we did a short provisioning stop in St Barths. This is the famous French place where Johnny Hallyday was buried recently. As I conclude this article, we are already on the British Virgin Islands. We have decided to meet up here with some friends for Easter. The BVI’s will perhaps be our grande finale in the West Indies, before starting our second Atlantic Crossing with new crew during May.
Wishing everyone a nice Easter Weekend
Markus and family
PS: There are some great photos from St Kitts on http://www.yuana.life . As always, Klick on our logo to randomly see the next picture.