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Friday, April 4, 2014

Island Babble's Photo Page

I've been thinking about this for awhile now and I decided to start a photo page for Island Babble. I take a lot of pictures here in St. Kitts and many times the photos speak louder than words and better than what I can explain.

I only have one album up right now but soon many will follow. This album is a time lapsed collection of photos of the new EC Bank Roundabout and its construction. Please check out the photos here. https://islandbabblephotos.shutterfly.com/


Thanks to Keeth France for some of the earliest photos. Check out his photos and like his page here:
https://www.facebook.com/keethfrancephotos

Enjoy!!





Kittitian Hill Hash Run Tomorrow

If you want to check out Kittitian Hill, this is your chance. Remember you can run or walk/hike!

Here are the gory details:

When: This coming Saturday April 5th, 2014

Time: 3:30 pm

Hares: Everton Dore, Jarmo Finch, Kyle Bradshaw, Adam Smock & Jack Geier

Where: Kittitian Hill

How to get there: Take the island main road heading west past Ross U, through Sandy Point, Newton Ground and St.Pauls. After you leave St.Pauls you will come upon the formal entrance gate to Kittitian Hill on your right, but you will notice that it is closed, all taped up! So drive on a bit more and look for the orange coloured sign on the left that points you to the temporary entrance to Kittitian Hill (you will also see the SKHHH direction cone). Take a right turn there and follow the road all the way up till you get to Kittitian Hill. You will be directed to parking.

You may walk with your cameras to capture the scenery. Also, just in case it rains, prepare yourself for such. Plan to leave Basseterre at least 45 minutes before 3:30 to give yourself good time to reach on time. An hour is even better.

See you there! Bring a friend or 10!

ON! ON!
De Ninja

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Annual History and Heritage Hike at Kittitian Hill

One of the most popular activities for St. Kitts History and Heritage Month is the Annual Heritage Hike. This year's hike was at The under construction luxury resort Kittitian Hill, which lies on the side of Mt. Liamuiga just above St. Pauls on the northern tip of the Island of St. Kitts.

Imagine this view from your porch and pool.
At first glance my analytic mind started wondering "What does an incomplete luxury resort have to do with history or heritage?" Well, curiosity got the better of me and I decided to go along and find out.

Upon further reading I found that this year's theme was "Conserving our Environmental Heritage, with special emphasis on plants."  Ahh, well that made more sense.

To understand why this makes sense you have to look at what's going on in St. Kitts right now. The island has had since 1984 what's called the Citizenship-By-Investment Program, which is also the oldest program of its kind in the world. This program has its positives and negatives and personally I feel if it's managed correctly it can be very beneficial to the island and it's people. (You'll have to wait for another post on this subject so I can go into more detail.)

With this program in mind, many resorts and residences have sprung up with apartments or condos specifically designed for this program. A person buys the condo for nearly half a million dollars and then can become a Kittitian Citizen with a St. Kitts and Nevis passport.

The only development that has been tailor built as a resort that most closely integrates the environment, the local workers, farmers, and island design is Kittitan Hill. It prides itself on being a resort of "Sustainable Luxury Living."

It began to become clearer as to why the hike was being held there and it turned out to be an enjoyable hike. With developments springing up all over the island, the future of St. Kitts and Nevis is being written by these developments.



The hike was a very reasonable 10 e.c. or around four U.S. dollars which included transportation from the National Museum in Basseterre. We all arrived early on a Saturday morning and I was skeptical that we'd leave at the 6.45 a.m. time listed on the schedule because last year the wait was probably a long Kittitian hour before we left.

Not this time, I think the new director is really on the ball. We left right on time. I must mention that Kantours provided around four of their buses for transportation I believe as a donation for the event.



I rode my scooter because I love the scenery along the island main road out in the countryside of St. Kitts.

When we arrived at Kittitian Hill's 400 acre site Mt. Liamuiga welcomed all of us with a nice sprinkling of rain. This wasn't a surprise because this area gets a huge amount of rain because it sits on the western side of Mt. Liamuiga and it's often raining there because of elevation of the volcanic mountain.



Not to worry though, the rain stopped quickly and everyone was out and chomping at the bit to get hiking. First, we had a small introduction by the construction manager who told us to be careful because most things were still under active construction. Then, we listened to a quick story read about Markus, a runaway or marooned slave who was nicknamed "King of the Woods" who lived in the mountains for six years. This took place in the 1830s during the time that slavery was abolished but a period of "apprenticeship" was in place for four years. Markus had his freedom in the mountains, gained freedom legally, but when captured was sent to prison because many "apprentices" joined him in the mountains. He was seen as a rebellious leader and ironically lost his freedom when everything was said and done. (You can read about this story in the Caribbean Migrants book that I'm reading. It's available at the National Museum.)



After this story we were off on the newly paved cement hiking path that circles the perimeter of the resort.

The last time I had been to the resort was in April of 2013 and there was a Hash run there. It poured incessantly and we ended up going home before finishing the hash but we did check out a model cottage and what is called The Terrace, which will hold the lobby, swimming pool, lounge, and fitness area.

Quite a bit of progress has taken place, but quite a bit more needs to be done before the resort is up and running. Below is the Terrace nearing completion.


Ceiling View


Check out the view from this building which I'm told will be the lobby. The resort will not only have condos for sale but also a hotel for short term guests. This will be called Belle Mont Farm and is due to open in late 2014.


It will also have a view of some more cool buildings when they're finished:


This is a view inside the dining hall:



I almost forgot to mention that the hike up the path was quite steep. For some reason we had some military members as security with our group. I thought this photo was cool of a soldier helping an elderly lady up the steep path.


The golf course is nearing completion and now has some beautiful grass growing on it. From the course you have an amazing view of St. Eustatius and a little bit of Saba.




As we made our way around the trail I took a lot of pictures of the cottages being built.





Yes, that will be an infinity pool when it's finished.
So back to why the hike was held here? This development is from the ground up integrating Kittitian life and culture. Every one of the cottages is being planted in what the developers are calling "edible landscapes." The plants of St. Kitts are intertwined in daily life and Kittitian Hill is implementing that into their brand new resort.

A finished model. The floor plan is uniquely open.

The bathroom is out on the veranda. It's not something I'm sure I'd get used to.



You can also see that the dining area and lobby have a remarkable resemblance to the old sugar mill chimneys still seen throughout the island. The cottages are being built with a green philosophy having a low impact on the environment and feature amenities like rainwater collected showers and wood sourced from sustainable sources as roofing and siding over hurricane proof cement block.

Speaking of edible landscape. My favorite part of the hike and most meaningful I believe was at the nursery.


Overall Kittitian Hill appears to be doing everything right for the local people and the nursery is no exception. We were all given a first person tour of the best nursery I've seen on the island and that includes the Department of Agriculture's nursery.

I've been saying since I moved here that this island has so much potential agriculturally. Look at how nice and thick this topsoil is:


The manager of the nursery is Winston Lake, a long time farmer who clearly loves what he is doing. He pointed out to our group all of the many types of plants the resort is growing and developing.

Mr. Lake points out some plants. In the foreground are a bunch of pineapple plants.
Mr. Lake explained that they have fruit and vegetable plants from all over the world and he wasn't kidding. He said that they have over 150 types of mango seedlings, 60 type of banana trees, many varieties of avocados, and even have coffee and cocoa plants.

Could you imagine waking up and for breakfast picking some bananas named "Ice Cream," which they have and grinding coffee beans from coffee plants in your yard? Or picking a tangerine or avocado and making your own guacamole?? Wow, that's cool!


This is what a Coffee plant looks like:



Mr. Lake explained that once the resort is landscaped with all of these plants whatever is left over will probably be sold to local people. I hope this takes place before I leave because I'd love to get a coffee plant, but nonetheless it will be quite amazing to see so many new varieties of plants and fruits being grown in St. Kitts and Nevis. The local people will continue to provide a lot of the food to the residents of the resort once it's up and running too.

A lot of the plants in the nursery the majority of the crowd, which were Kittitians could already identify, including this one which they call a "fat pork."


I was also told that there are actually cocoa plants growing wild in certain areas of St. Kitts too.

Mr. Lake was very friendly, helpful, and enthusiastic about Kittitian Hill and it's future. You can watch this short clip of him here.

By the end of our hike I had completely changed my mind about why we had done the annual hike at Kitttian Hill. The entire place is fascinating with it's philosophy on construction, integrating the environment, and most importantly integrating the local people.

The focus on plants and how it affects Kittitians lives is no stronger than it is and will be at Kittitian Hill. I'm glad I went on the hike and even though it wasn't the raw, old history that I'm traditionally used to exploring I met some great local people and learned a lot.

The hike also gave Kittitians a view of how the citizenship by investment program can benefit both parties involved and still keep St. Kitts the quiet corner of the Caribbean it's always been.

Great job Kittitian Hill and the National Trust. I hope the resort gets finished quickly and it serves as an example throughout the world as to what we should all be doing before developing: Thinking.

Visit Kittitian Hill's Website I'm sure you'll be impressed and learn something new.


Brimstone Hill Re-enactment Beginning March 4th!!!

'Man the Guns, the French are coming, again! 2014 Bi-annual Re-enactment of the 1782 Siege of Brimstone Hill '
Brimstone Hill 1782 Siege Re-enactment Pvt
From Tuesday 4 to Saturday 8 March the ramparts of Brimstone Hill Fortress will be resounding to the sounds of musket and cannon fire (yes, we said cannon fire). The British Brigade, the group of professional re-enactors who staged the first ever re-enactment of the Siege in March 2012 are coming back to thrill locals and visitors alike. This year’s re-enactment promises to be bigger and better, with more members of the British Brigade participating and for the first time the 4th West India Regiment (4th WIR) shall be portrayed by actual soldiers of the St. Kitts Nevis Defence Force, who shall be participating in the re-enactment wearing the uniforms of the 4th WIR). The newest addition to Brimstone Hill’s extensive artillery collection, a 3 pounder cannon christened ‘Betty’ shall also be in action, a sight (and sound) not to be missed!
2014 Re-enactment Schedule
  • Tuesday 4 and Wednesday 5 March soldier training.  See soldiers of the St. Kitts Nevis Defence Force, portraying the 4th West India Regiment, drilling with and firing period muskets to simulate daily training at an 18th century West Indian garrison.

  • Thursday 6 to Saturday 8 March Re-enactment of the Siege of Brimstone Hill, 
    including night time battle on Friday 7, commencing 7 pm
4th West India Regiment mannequin
Above Left: An African soldier of the 4th WIR.  Above Right: A British soldier on the lookout for the enemy.  The ghosts of the past shall return this March to defend Brimstone Hill once again.

 For more Info Go to Brimstone Hill's Website

Connect with Brimstone Hill's Facebook Page

Or Call: 869 465 2609


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Post Valentine's Day Hash

Two Thumbs down for such a short notice, but I realized that not everyone uses facebook but still read the blog. 

With that said, today is the Post Valentine's Day Hash which is always a delight to attend. Ladies if you got one put on your sexiest red dress and guys, if you have a red dress now is the time to dust that skimpy thing off and wear it too. This year the organizers are encouraging red lingerie too so it might be even more interesting.

Again, I won't be in one for various reasons, mostly because I don't have one nor does the wife. 

Come out and explore the island. You don't have to run the hash, in fact many more people hike the hash than run it. It's a great socialization activity as well as exercise activity. See you there!

It's Hashing Time Again!!!
 
This time it's the (Post) Valentines Red Dress Run!! That means EVERYONE must wear a RED DRESS or red Lingerie!! Yes - Including the guys!! There will be prizes for best dresses/costumes! So come dressed to impress! Outrageous is best!
 
Here are the other details:
 
Date : This coming Saturday February 22, 2014
 
Time3:30 pm
 
Venue: The Scenic Railway turnaround just outside Sandy Point
 
How to get there: Take the island main road going West. You will pass Ross U, Challengers, Old Road, etc etc and then go straight through Sandy Point (that's the large town just past Brimstone Hill). Immediately as you exit Sandy Point you will pass a Railroad crossing. Continue on to the next Railroad Crossing and you will see an open area on the left with train tracks. That's where the Scenic Railway turns around. That's where we meet!!
 
Hares: Katie Alexander & her team! 
 
So come on out and have a Grand Valentines Celebration. Don't forget your red dresses/lingerie/outfits!!
 
See You There! Bring a Friend or 10!

In the meantime, enjoy the video from the last hash at Tabernacle by clicking on the link below:


Sunday, February 9, 2014

History and Heritage Month

The month of February is a special month for St. Kitts as it’s the National History and Heritage Month. With a degree in history, St. Kitts past always fascinates me. St. Kitts and Nevis seem to have been at the center of many historical events and connected somehow to many others, at least since the “discovery” of the new world by Christopher Columbus. If you have seen the movie Forrest Gump then you might understand how I liken St. Kitts place in history to Forrest in the movie.

Don't misunderstand me. I'm not referring to Forrest's personal characteristics, only the events the movie tied together and how he appeared to be at so many. The theme seems to be one of being in the right or wrong place at the right/wrong time and the events have seemingly simple yet profound effects on history that shaped the world we live in today.













Just as in Forrest Gump, many of these moments are tragic and heartbreaking moments but all are ones that residents of the islands should never forget because every historical event teaches us a lesson and allows us to reflect on what went right or what went wrong.

Old St. Christopher or St. Kitts Map.. Available for sale in The National Museum downtown. Courtesy: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Old-Liamuiga-Oualie-in-Photographs/110334325750740
As a guest resident here for around a year and a half I found it difficult to obtain any historical knowledge about the twin islands. The best information I’ve found has come through books, some written by nonresidents.

The book I’ve found to be most closely relevant from a resident’s perspective is Sir Probyn Inniss’s Historic Basseterre: The Story of a West Indian Town. This is a fantastic book that’s full of facts and connections between the past and present day Basseterre and beyond. I was ecstatic to find a book written by a local resident because just as an American writes American history from a certain perspective that’s more connected than say a German writes American history, Inniss writes with that closeness to his country.

Enough babble though! I want to share some interesting facts from the book.

For instance, Did you know?

1.    The channel between St. Kitts and St. Eustatius or Statia is 6 miles wide.

2.    The Southeastern Peninsula receives an average of 40 inches of rain per year, while the rest of St. Kitts receives an average of 60 inches.

1.    Famous explorers SirFrancis Drake and Sir Walter Raleigh both visited St. Kitts and Nevis but didn't stay and went on to become famous elsewhere. Drake became the second man to circumnavigate the world and was a hero for the British Navy. Raleigh of course went on to settle Roanoke in The U.S.

2.    Sir Thomas Warner was a captain of the King of England’s Bodyguard and he landed at Old Road Bay in 1624, built a fort, log houses and in one year grew enough tobacco to take 9,500 pounds back to England with him. (Tobacco was worth a fortune in Europe at the time.) His grave is in Middle Island, St. Kitts and here is what it looks like: Link.

3.    Warner left his 13 year old son on St. Kitts as a leader and during the father’s trip to England a French sailer (Belain D’ Esnambuc) came ashore because his ship was beat up with an encounter with a Spanish Fleet. E'snambuc claimed Martinique later for France, but died in St. Kitts.

4.    The two unlikely friendly countries decided to join forces because they had a common and powerful enemy: The Spanish.


5.    Dieppe was named after the port in the Normandy area of France that D’Esnambuc left from on his second voyage back to St. Kitts and Nevis after receiving personal permission to be the French Governor from King Louis III, in St. Kitts.

1.    Tobacco was the cash crop in St. Kitts for at least 15 years when in the 1640s Sugar started to become the main crop.

2.    After D’Esnambu’s death a new governor was sent to become the French Governor. Phillippe de Longvilliers de Poincy ruled the French portion of St. Kitts for 21 years. He was a strong leader and a Knight of Malta. The Knights proclaimed St. Kitts, St. Barts and St. Croix their own and made France purchase the islands from them. St. Kitt’s French portion thrived under De Poincy.

A sugar mill belonging to Phillippe de Longvilliers de Poincy, from: Charles de Rochefort. Histoire naturelle et morale des iles Antilles de l'Amérique. A Roterdam: chez Arnould Leers, 1665 [FCO Historical Collection] Photo Courtesy: King's College London.
3.    Basseterre literally means low land in French and Capisterre means head land in French which both coincide with the areas the French controlled during the time in which they shared the island with England.

4.     During De Poincy’s rule the Capuchin Monks built a Roman Catholic church somewhat to the west of the present Anglican Church.

5.     The Capuchin Monks were later banished from St. Kitts and replaced by Jesuit Monks who built their own Church of Notre Dame.

6.    The Jesuit Monks built a college a mile north of town in what is today Douglas Estate. This college was destroyed in an earthquake in 1689. This is where the street College Street got its name.

7.     De Poincy built a town hall and hospital on what is now Church Street.

8.     De Poincy is thought to have been buried in what is St. George’s churchyard.

9.     The peace England and France had agreed upon didn’t last too long. By the early 1700s they were in full scale war and the English completely burnt Basseterre to the ground. What a shame.

1By 1713 the English completely ousted the French (Mostly in unrelated wars in Europe.) and St. Kitts became an English holding, but not before the French also burned  and destroyed Basseterre and parts of Nevis to the ground in 1706.

   That's enough heavy history for one post. I'll start up again from this point in a subsequent post.

Watercolor painted by Lt. William Mason Inglis in 1846. Lt. Inglis was the station engineer at Brimstone Hill from April 1845 to no later than October 1846.
Photo courtesy: Todd Ahlman and Old Liamuiga and Oualie Photographs.

   Even if you're not interested in St. Kitt's History it should interest you because much of the new world's history started here in the Caribbean because all of America at some point was a large collection of colonies. 
   You can find this book and many other great books at the National Museum in downtown Basseterre and at  some of the local bookstores. You can also buy it on Amazon.

    There are also a few great websites about St. Kitts and Nevis and their rich pasts. One is Kittivisian Life. Another that has great photos is Old Liamuiga and Oualie in Photographs. Finally there are The St. Kitts National Archives  and The St. Christopher National Trust.

    Keep reading Island Babble for more History and Heritage Month in February.



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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

St. Christopher National Trust Heritage Hike

This month is History and Heritage Month in St. Kitts and the National Trust is celebrating this with many events.

One of these events is the Heritage Hike and the information is below: I went to the one last year and it was very informative and the hike was fairly easy. Also, this year it's at Kittitian Hill, which if you haven't seen the new development you should definitely come and check it out. See you there!

Hey everyone, This Saturday The 8th, The St. Christopher National Trust s holding it's annual Heritage Hike at Kittitian Hill. If you haven't been up in the area it's really beautiful. It's only 10 e.c. and they're very informative and usually are a fairly easy hike. Here are the details:

Please be advised that the Heritage Hike for 2014 takes place this year on the 8th February. The location this year is the Kittitian Hill area. Registration opens on the 1st February at the National Museum at a cost of EC$10.00. Persons participating are required to assemble at the National Museum building at 6:30 am. Bus transport from the Museum Building to Kittitian Hill will be provided and departs at 6:45 am.. Persons desirous of using their own transport are still required to check-in at the Museum Building to register, if they have not done so by that time, or to confirm registration as part of the check-in process.

Stop Into the National Museum Downtown to Register. If you don't know where that is, it's the building with the dome to the right of the post office.



Sunday, February 2, 2014

Weekly Quiz Question

I want to start encouraging people to interact on here so I'm going to start posting Quiz questions about St. Kitts. 

1. What does the word Basseterre mean??

2. What does the word Capisterre mean?? 

I'll post the answers soon. Guess Away.


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