Monday, May 7, 2012

Saint Kitts


When the Celebrity Eclipse pulled into port at Saint Kitts, we were still asleep. We had a quick breakfast and then gladly set foot on solid land. We decided to hire a driver. There was a crowd of men busy corralling tourists for rides. Clement Williams was our driver for the day. I sketched quickly as we drove over bumpy roads. Clement talked non-stop as we started off. He spoke of the slave trade in the public square. Terry just wanted to get to the Brimstone Fortress so she had to interrupt his monologue to let him know we just wanted a lift to the fort.

He was happy to just drive. The steering wheel was on the opposite side and everyone drove on the wrong side of the road so we were happy that he was behind the wheel of the Hiace family van. Clement had been a school teacher for years but now he made his living driving. A billboard showed a volleyball team. Everyone on the island was proud that Saint Kitts had a  volleyball team that would compete in the next Olympic games.

Getting to the fortress involved driving up narrow one lane roads. The entrance was very narrow, cutting through a thick black volcanic rock wall. Four cannons surrounded the entrance making it even narrower. Clement inched the vehicle through the entry slowly.  I asked how many time he drove through that narrow space and he laughed and said "Thousands of times by now." The Brimstone fortress has incredible panoramic views of the island's coastline. It is 800 feet above sea level. A worker was cutting a vast hillside of wild grass with a weed eater. We wandered the abandoned fort where 130 cannons once defended the island.

On the drive back we stopped to see  the Romney Manor  which is an old plantation estate that houses the Caribelle Batik works. Inside the plantation a woman explained how the tie died batik fabrics were created using wax to isolate where colors would stain the fabrics. I was hoping to see a factory setting with dozens of workers but for the most part the place was just a tourist store. Outside there was a lush tropical garden and a 350-year-old Saman tree.


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