Tuesday, August 23, 2016
Nevis is a tiny island but it packs a lot of history in its small space. I saw historic ruins and landmarks on every other road but for me, the most moving was Cottle Church. Hidden in the woods north of the capital of Charlestown, the ruins of Cottle Church stand as a reminder of a time when slavery was rampant but glimmers of hope still existed. That hope was demonstrated when Thomas Cottle built the Anglican church in 1824 so that his family could worship along side the enslaved inhabitants of the plantation.
It was actually illegal for the enslaved to worship so Thomas was bucking the system on many levels. The church was never consecrated but this monument to religious freedom exists as a special landmark. Walking through the archways of the church, I felt the spirits of the dozens of enslaved people who worked all day, every day, and then prayed for freedom in this church.
The names and ages of all the enslaved plantation workers are listed on a wall of the church. It's fascinating to see the people who are highlighted for being born in Africa. This means that they survived the Middle Passage of being chained in a ship on the West African coast and sailing for months to the Caribbean. It's especially heartbreaking to see the number of children listed. Emancipation was granted in Nevis and other British colonies in 1834, so they would work and hopefully survive the brutal conditions for ten more years.
Wednesday, August 10, 2016
Nevis is a mutli-faceted island. It might measure only 36 square miles but there are a lot of layers crammed into such a small area. I spent a lot of time whipping my head back and forth, trying to capture the natural beauty, the historic monuments and the people. With every scene, I spotted the tip of Nevis Peak beckoning in the background. Nevis Peak is a mostly dormant volcano that rises 3,232 feet high and serves as the island's main landmark. It's the highest point on Nevis and as I journeyed further up the island's hilly landscape, the volcano emerged clearer and clearer. Fog and clouds often obscure parts of the peak but I was lucky to view the entire volcano from a distance at the historic Montpelier Plantation Inn. Gazing fully at the peak surrounded by a lush meadow, I felt like I was finally meeting up with a hard to catch new friend.
Thursday, July 28, 2016
My island lovers dream will come true this week with an exciting visit to Nevis, the tiny sister island to St. Kitts. Just 36 square miles and with about 12,000 residents, Nevis defines the old school Caribbean lifestyle with a slow pace and community focused lifestyle. I will be covering the island's annual carnival celebration, Culturama, which commemorates emancipation from slavery in the 1830s with parades, parties and pageants. I'm thrilled to actually participate in Culturama's street parade, where I'll be donning a red feathered costume and jumping up with the locals. Please stay tuned for my posts about that festive experience as well as my visits to the Nevis capital of Charlestown, where Alexander Hamilton was born, the botanical garden, calypso shows and the island's famous, secluded beaches.
Monday, July 18, 2016
There's nothing more iconic than a bald eagle soaring over the mountains so I was excited to get a close up experience of this in Quebec's Laurentian mountains. At the summit of Mont Tremblant, a Birds of Prey show demonstrates the beauty and skill of native aviary predators. It was raining and cold but I was determined to see and grab some shots of the birds and I was rewarded with the image above. That striking profile against the sweeping mountain backdrop makes it my fave animal photo so far.
The falconer explained how there used to be only six nesting bald eagles in Quebec, just 15 years ago. Now, thanks to conservation and the banning of DEET insecticide, there are 200 nesting bald eagles in the region. We got the chance to see owls and smaller birds dive through the sky, and capture meals mid air but I liked the eagle the best. It's a rare thing to get so close to these majestic creatures and I feel lucky to have been close enough to gaze into its eyes. Have you ever grabbed a close view of an eagle?
Thursday, July 7, 2016
If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm a huge fan of Quebec. I love the culture, the beauty and the hidden discoveries of the region. This week, I'll be traveling to The Laurentians, a mountain area just North of Montreal. Mont Tremblant is the main town, just brimming with charm, as you can see above. The region boasts 9,102 lakes, 103 rivers and two sprawling national parks. I'll be visiting the Mont Tremblant International Blues Fest as well as dipping into the Scandinavian outdoor spa in the Red River and exploring an alpine! aquatic! park. Please stay tuned!
Tuesday, June 28, 2016
The Yucatan is known for the Mayan ruins that blanket the region but cenotes, or underground freshwater pools,are another hallmark that I particularly love. I remember being dazzled by the sunbeams playing off the water at X-keken cenote near Chichen Itza so I was excited about exploring another one in Merida. The darkness of the surrounding caverns and the Mayan belief that cenotes are the entrance to the underworld really make it a special experience. So you can imagine my surprise when I saw the cenote topped by lily pads, above. Located right next to the stunning Mayan archaeological site of Uxmal,, I thought it was just a local pond. But I learned that there are actually three types of cenotes--open, closed and semi-closed. Each supplies a different kind of experience. I climbed down the rocks into the open pool and realized immediately that it was indeed different than my previous cenote dip. Tiny fish clung to my feet, nibbling at the dry skin! No matter where I moved, the fish followed. I know that some people pay money to get these "fish pedicures" in parts of Asia and big cities everywhere but that's not what I was there for. It felt weird to have the fish nuzzling my feet, like somewhere between a tickle and a rub. After 20 minutes of this, I climbed out of the water and admired the cenote from a nearby rock instead. My feet were smooth and I felt like I had learned an important lesson about just how different cenotes can be.
Wednesday, June 15, 2016
One of my favorite regions of Mexico is the Yucatan Peninsula,which is brimming with vibrant history and a rich culture that's on display on every level, from the food, to the language and traditions. I'm excited to finally be visiting La Ciudad Blanca or the White City, as Merida is called because of the white limestone buildings. I'll be exploring the archeological sites of Dzibilchaltun, called the Temple of The Seven Dolls and one of the oldest Maya sites, dating from 300 BC and Uxmal, a Mayan town founded in A.D. 700 and declared a World Heritage Site. I'll also be dipping into a cenote or underground pool,which is a hallmark of the region and they always supply a magical experience. Of course, I'll sample the traditional food, music and fashion so look out for some interesting posts in during the next couple of weeks!