Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Gratitude Kittitian Style

It's easy to take things for granted. Especially when you have been blessed to live in a place that's filled with tropical lushness and a lovely rolling landscape. I quickly learned that Kittitians are a very thankful people. It's evident from their graciousness, to their eagerness to share their beautiful island. But I was taken aback when I saw this display. Who paints phrases on a house? Apparently, a very thankful Kittitian who was provided with a government-funded home.  It wasn't enough for the owner to lovingly deck out the place with sky blue hues and painted roses. They wanted to always remember the source of their good fortune. It made me stop and think about how grateful I was to even be in St. Kitts, admiring the beauty of the island and its people. What are you grateful for?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Reggae Beach and Wilbur The Pig (Island Time Rush Slowly)

If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm a beach person.  Nothing soothes me more than salt water kissing my skin, sand covering my toes and an ocean breeze.  St Kitts is blessed with many lovely beaches but the most interesting is Reggae Beach, located on Cockleshell Bay.  It's a pretty stretch as you can see above but that's not what makes it memorable.

People flock to Reggae Beach because the Reggae Beach Bar serves the best BBQ ribs on the island.  There's also a festive, relaxed vibe that attracts people.

They also come to see Wilbur, the pig. Originally bought  for food, the owner of the bar developed an affection for the pig and decided to save him and let him live on the beach. For anyone that's ever read the children's classic Charlotte's Web, you know that naming a pig Wilbur probably means that it will never end up as pork chops on the dinner table.

Wilbur weighs in at 700 pounds and enjoys guzzling beer as well as eating cheeseburgers from the bar. He apparently spends much of his time lazing in the shade. I never saw him even flutter an eye open, even when a dog came over to nudge him.

The beach also shelters an abandoned goat who shares a large cage with his best friend, a monkey.

The monkey loves riding on the goat's back but they moved too fast for me to get that photo.

Reggae Beach Bar promotes the slogan, "island time, rush slowly" and I think it sums up the whole experience. You have no choice but to slow down and adopt island time when faced with a 700 pound pig.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Basseterre Bus Buzz

Public transportation can be torturous in many bustling meccas but it doesn't appear to be a problem in St. Kitts capital city of Basseterre.  You see, the public transportation consists of privately-owned mini buses lovingly painted with slogans and names that reflect the owner's sensibilities. How can you have a rough ride when the bus is emblazoned with "honesty? " I think just watching these moving murals is enough to brighten your day.

I'd hop in this angelic white van just because I believe that its name would bring only good things.

This is my personal favorite, because the heartfelt emotions of this phrase resonates in all cultures.

This flashy display makes me think that the owner is a gregarious extrovert.

The owner's name hovers over the slogan  of this bus in a way that suggests that perhaps he's joined the cut-throat competition.

This says a lot about the owner's outlook.

I really like the style of this slogan because whether you're driving a bus or not, you always want to stay in the mix!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Ting With A Sting

Forget rum punch, in St. Kitts the ideal beach cooler is a refreshing brew of Ting soda with CSR (Cane Spirit Rothschild).  After ginger beer, Ting has always been my favorite Caribbean drink.  A zesty carbonated grapefruit soda, there's nothing more refreshing under the hot Caribbean sun.  When I was at restaurants and on the beach in St. Kitts, 'Ting With A Sting" is all that I heard requested.  I know that cane liquor can be dangerously potent so the sting part scared me and I never tried the drink. But I like the way it sounds, like the name of a crucial undercover investigative mission. Are there any drinks that you discovered on your travels that had dazzling names?

Monday, September 13, 2010

Monkeys With Attitude

Seeing the scads of monkeys that call St. Kitts home was at the top of my to do list when I arrived on the island. You can imagine my excitement when I not only spotted the fast-moving creatures but actually interacted with one. That's Junie on my shoulder. I'd describe him as cute, adorable, sweet. But according to our trusty and lovely guide Lavern, the monkeys on St. Kitts are best described as having attitudes.

Look at the evidence. That's a guava (Lavern's favorite fruit) on the ground. Notice the large bite that has been taken out of it.

Apparently, monkeys routinely roam through guava trees, sampling just one bite of a fruit and throwing the rest to the ground. Lavern is convinced that they don't eat all the fruit because they don't want it. They take just one nibble to spite humans so that they can't have any of the juicy guavas. I think that qualifies as having an attitude.

This is Junie's owner Glen Keith, who's nine-year-old. Junie didn't appear to have an attitude at all but then again, I didn't see him near a guava tree. Monkeys like Junie are part of the Vervet species that have a greenish hue to their fur. They were brought from West Africa by colonials as pets during the 18th century and now they outnumber humans on St. Kitts. I saw glimpses of them every day on the island, scampering across roads and rustling in the trees. They are apparently too smart to come out during the heat of the day, they roam during cool early morning and evening hours.  According to this BBC video, they also love to steal fruity alcholic drinks. I never witnessed this but I did see them on the beach while I was clutching exactly that sort of beverage.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Swept Up in Sugar City

Excitement swirled around my brain when I was scheduled for a press trip to St. Kitts, arranged by St. Kitts Marriott Resort and Diamond PR.  I had never been to St. Kitts, didn't know anybody who had but for some reason, I longed to go. Something about this tiny Eastern Caribbean island, the smallest country in the Western Hemisphere, pulled me to it and I had no intentions of resisting.  I wasn't shocked that it was love at first sight.  I loved the lush landscape, dotted with trees, flowers and abundant vegetation  (and scampering monkeys) everywhere I looked.

I loved the rolling hills and gentle slopes, topped by the highest point at 3792 feet on Mt. Liamuiga.

I loved the powdery beaches, blessed with the warm waves of the Caribbean Sea and framed by mountain peaks.

Most of all, I loved the warm-hearted people. St. Kitts might be nicknamed Sugar City for the sugar plantations that dominated its industry for centuries, but I think it also reflects the disposition of  the island's people. I was greeted with smiles and invited to stay everywhere I went. Kelly, a fisherman above, insisted that I taste freshly caught fish prepared by local cooks, after just one meeting.  Upon my arrival to the island, the customs officer shook his head when he discovered I was staying in St. Kitts a scant few days. "You need to stay longer in St. Kitts." He was right and I plan to remedy the situation as soon as I can.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Rum That Grows On Trees

You can't touch your toe on a Caribbean island and not be surrounded by rum in a myriad of concoctions and versions. In St. Kitts, you'll find locally produced Brinley's Gold and Belmont Rums but I was quite shocked to discover a rum tree.  In the quaint town of Old Road, the oldest village on the island, sits a mango tree laden with bottles and bottles of rum.

I couldn't quite figure what it was as we glided past on the narrow road  so we stopped to investigate. Our lovely and all-knowing guide, La Verne explained that drunken men from the adjoining bar hang their empty bottles and locals dubbed it the Rum Tree. I explained the Southern/African tradition of bottle trees and she had never heard of the concept but the connection is clearly still there.

The colorful Lover's Bar  above, is where the ritual originates and it looks like just the place to inspire a lot of wild times!