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Monday, July 28, 2014

Part I: Was In Need of a Break: Nevis Naturally Inspired

Orignally I started this post suggesting I was getting away from the humdrum. I realized this was not an approriate explanation. There is no humdrum in my life at the moment. In all honesty I needed a short getaway. Maybe you're thinking it should not be that difficult to just chill when a person is surrounded by beaches and calm pristine blue ocean. Well if you are not vacationing here, which is awesome might I add, life is a bit different. There are the bills, upkeep and maintenance & work that come along with salt air, wear and tear, and making a living to maintain this most amazing life. We also have a not so pleasant large construction zone right on our doorstep. It comes with a lot of dust & noise. I would not change island living (specifically St Kitts and Nevis) unless absolutely necessary, but I needed a break!

We all need a break, even when living on a beautiful Island. Here on St Kitts some refer to a break as getting off the rock. I happened to be in luck. Getting off the rock to get on another rock was on the horizon. Good friends of ours were visiting Nevis so we hopped over for an overnight stay. All I can say is WOW! 


I felt like this Monkey


On top of the world!



I feel like I have been on a mini vacation every time I go to Nevis . It helps to have friends who make you feel so at home and people you know calling out your name. The best part, if you are a visitor here for just a short while and you love it, you will also be made to feel at home. I know because I did before I moved here. St Kitts and Nevis Life at it's best. Those friends far away join you and those living on Nevis know you even if you live on the other Island, St Kitts.

On Nevis View of St. Kitts



We took the seabridge as foot passengers, a much more cost effective deal if you don't need a car and have your own transport to Majors Bay in St Kitts. 
Helpful hint: If you are just beaching it for the day many of the beach bars and hangouts on Nevis are within walking distance from the Seabridge. It just depends on what you want to do.  
The Sea Bridge is 20EC per person each way. Timewise once you get to Majors Bay you are looking at a 20 minute ferry ride versus 30 to 40 minute one on the ferries from Basseterre to Charlestown. It is a beach to beach transport versus a town to town transport. The choice you make depends on what your vibe is. If you don't have transport to Majors Bay, taxi's will gladly shuttle you out and pick you up upon your return time. If you have a rental car we have left our car at Majors Bay overnight with no issue.



For once the Sea Bridge was pretty much on time. We even had a very large group of over 30 people waiting to go along with more than 12 cars. There was a church ceremony going on so everyone was all dressed in their best. Beautiful to see. Apparently there was some sort of covention going on at the Marriott and they were headed to Nevis for a ceremony. Very warm nice group. 

All in all we managed to leave only a half hour after our slated departure time. No wait.....  I could be very wrong on this, my husband is insisting it was about 12:45 before we left if not 1pm. Now that I think about it I remember being quite ravenous upon our arrival in Nevis so it would have been well after lunch time. 

If I were commuting for work I would be very frustrated, however I was at leisure and we had planned as such. I know quite well from experience the seabridge does not always go when it says it will. When picking up my sailing campers commuting from Nevis via the Seabridge the wait was quite long sometimes.

Island time. So it goes.....Not so much of an asset when you need to be somewhere. We do however live on Island time and each and every one of us gets used to giving excuses for our tardiness. The excuses are usually quite spot on, but maybe not for the Seabridge. Take note you may not leave on time. Plan accordingly. 

Take drinks, snacks and sunblock with you in case of a long wait. If you are prepared thirst, hunger and swealtering boredom will not overtake you. Go in your bathing attire and you may even decide to take a dip in the calm sea at Majors Bay. 

Majors Bay is completely barrenly beautiful just mind the rocks where sea urchins might be habitating. They are not hard to spot or avoid once you know to avoid rocky areas. They only cause issue when you step on them.

Maybe too much information, but important to know. It is also always nice to make sure you have used the loo (bathroom) prior to setting off for the Seabridge departure spots, unless of course you are going for a swim and don't mind relieving yourself in the ocean. No food, drink or loos (bathrooms) available while you wait. 

Once on board the Seabridge only drinks and a dodgy loo are available.  They will not ask you if you want a drink or offer a bathroom, but they have both available upon request.

Majors Bay Departure: View from the Sea Bridge




We decided to take the 12pm Seabridge to give us ample time for our pick up on the other side at 2:30pm. Our friends have twins just two years old so we did not want to risk their timing of things. Children need a bit of a schedule. I know this from ample experience with little ones. We figured we could get in a lunch at Chrishi Beach Club while we waited for our friends. It was always a the place for us when we sailed guests over from Cockleshell Bay.

We hopped off the seabridge and sauntered down the beach to Chrishi Beach Club restaurant. Depending on your stride it is a five minute walk to the right of the seabridge dock looking at Nevis Peak. If you are a sailor then you can rent a hobie cat from Cockleshell Bay, St kitts and sail over within a half hour and spend a day. 

Chrishi Beach Club

Norwegians at their best!

I was a lucky young one to spend three summers in beautiful Norway with family friends. The owners and their children bring back the memories.


Upon arrival at Chrishi Beach I told my husband to remind me to take photos for Island Babble of the food. Wouldn't you know we both forgot. Must of been that fabulous bloody mary I had and his Carib, combined with getting our vacation mode on.

I had a tasty Ceasar Salad just right with Nevis hydroponic lettuce to die for. He had a Ciabata bread sandwich with a pesto spread, brie and parma ham, the lunch special for the day. Can't beat the food there. Fresh, healthy, filling and tasty.

The service is always great and the ambiance, well it speaks for itself.






The walkway in and out of Chrishi lends itself to palms, flowering flamboyants, a tight rope between two palms that many try and a tire swing. Sweet!

We want to know where your mini-vacation spot is? We all have one, or at least I think we all should have one! Share yours here.

A short, but sweet post with more Nevis Naturally and St. Kitts life coming your way soon: 

In the Know for August: Culturama and more

Part II Nevis Naturaly Inspired: Sunshines, Fern Hill, Hermitage, Nevis Pottery 

St Kitts: About Animal Welfare Day, PAWS & BARC











Thursday, July 24, 2014

Mango Madness Update

I have yet to get in the ocean with a mango, but ....


I went to Nevis and saw for myself how Hermitage gets their Mango on!

 Mango Fruit Juice at Hermitage, Nevis


          Mango Pizza with Basil at Hermitage, Nevis



I also continue to get my mangos in Conaree on the roadside, though now I am also seeing them on the shelves at Rams. I have made smoothies and eaten them just as they are many times a week. 

My Mango Bowl At Home




We have also taken some of our favorite mangos and planted their seeds. In just a few days of being covered in used plastic coffee jugs they have peaked out from underneath the soil. We have no idea where we will plant them, but they will be planted. All thanks to my husband. He went on a planting spree. We have lemons and basil sprouting too.

Mango Seed Saying Hello



In the Know for August and more Island Life tidbits in the works. Stay tuned.
In the meantime we would love to hear from others about how they get their mango on! 

 

Monday, July 21, 2014

St. Christopher Heritage Society 25th Anniversary Banquet POSTPONED!!!

This event has been POSTPONED. Stay Tuned for further updates!!!


The organization that is responsible for maintaining the Old Treasury Building and Museum as well as other historic places in St. Kitts will be celebrating its 25th Anniversary next week on Saturday, July 26th with a Banquet.



The St. Christopher Heritage Society or SCHS will hold the banquet in The St. Kitts Marriott's Ballroom beginning at 7 p.m. There will be a cultural presentation, cocktail reception, and cultural presentation. Dinner will begin at 8 p.m.

There will be door prizes, a silent auction, and other gifts.

The society will give short speeches updating the public about new developments, future plans and undertakings, as well as a reflection on how far they've come in a quarter century.

The organization is also celebrating the 120th birthday of the National Treasury Building, which houses the National Museum.



Tickets are available at the National Museum and through some of the SCHS members. Tickets are $150 E.C. for individuals and $275 for couples. Don't miss this great celebration.

This is also a great opportunity to encourage others to become a SCHS member.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Cayon Hash Run

ON! ON! to Hash #324!
Here are the details:
When: This coming Saturday July 19, 2014
Time: 3:30 PM
Where: Just before St.Mary's Park, Cayon
How to get there: Take the island road past the airport and through Conaree and Keys towards Cayon. Before you enter Cayon you will go over Wash Ghaut. Look for a lone big sandbox tree on the right just after a vehicle/mechanic's garage. Take the right turn just after the tree. It's a dirt track just before the concrete wall for St. Mary’s Park. We meet in the open space there.
Bring a friend or 10 and see you there!!
Don't forget we are looking for people to set hashes (Hares). You can get extra attendance credit when you set a hash. Every time you set a hash you will get 2 attendance credits for that hash. So please send me an email (or Heather at hhotchin@rossvet.edu.kn) or talk to me or Heather at the hash!!
ON! ON!
DE Ninja

For those who need more directions here they are with pics.


This map starts at the Airport Roundabout. Take the road before the one to Frigate Bay. Follow this road through Conaree, past the landfill, and through Key’s Village.



After you pass through Key’s village the houses die out and you have a long straightaway. You’ll cross over a small bridge with a huge ghaut underneath, on the right will be a very large car garage. Just past that there will be a huge cement wall the size of a school’s. You turn right before that onto a dirt road. There should be road cones out to designate where the hash is.


Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Countdown Begins

Hello Everyone out there in Island Babble Land. There is a Kittitian who calls into WinnFM every day without fail and says, "Hello everyone out there in Radio Land," so I had to steal his line. (Maybe I listen to too much Kittitian talk radio?)

I encourage all of you to listen to the radio stations here but don't just listen to one. Listen to a few to get an unbiased view. I guarantee that'll you'll learn something new nearly every day and most of the stations have online links so you can listen anywhere in the world. Here is a decent list of most of the stations: Radio Stations in St. Kitts

Anyways, if somehow you didn't know or find out already, we're leaving St. Kitts in December for good or for a long time at least. I couldn't make an announcement publicly until we made sure everything was in order. My wife, Julie saw a great opportunity in the U.S. at another university, Lincoln Memorial University College of Veterinary Medicine and after much discussion we decided to take it.



The school is in eastern Tennessee in the Tri-State corners of Kentucky, Virginia, and Tennessee. The area is very rural and exactly what we had in mind as a place we'd like to set down some roots. The school is starting a brand new Veterinarian School and therefore will be an interesting and hopefully satisfying challenge for Julie, who is always seeking new challenges.




And just to clear things up as to why we're leaving, it's not because Julie doesn't like her work here. She loves her job at Ross University and the people she works with. Work for her is not the determining factor.
Myself on the other hand, work is a factor and that's because I can't legally work in St. Kitts. Sure, you have people who find under the table work but not in anything that I'm interested in.

Before I moved here, you may recall I was a newspaper reporter and cattle farmer. Williamson's Wee Brae Farm


Writing the blog has kind of satisfied my writing itch but with Clara, our eight month old baby, I haven't really been able to give the blog it's rightful attention. The island is a different place for a young father and I can't just get out there and immerse myself in St. Kitts culture, people, and environment like I used to.

Farming is something that I miss and is an activity that I find very satisfying. Julie has an amazing horse that she can't even ride because she's being boarded in Philadelphia.  I often look at the animals being raised here in St. Kitts and can't help but critique the farmers' techniques. I understand it's a different country and culture but the potential is so big here if people had the right leadership, guidance, and support. Anyways that's another topic.



Also as a new family we want to be closer to the rest of our families to share Clara and her beautiful moments with them. Ultimately I believe family and friends should be the highest priority besides God.


Julie, Clara, and her parents at Spratnet

Julie, Clara, and my parents at Lobsterfest.

I can't help but feel sad as I write this post because I realize that the days are counting down now. December is at least five months away but there are so many things I want to experience still in St. Kitts. Even though it's a tiny island it has a lot of diversity and much more to see than what most people see on the surface. I pride myself that I've scratched a lot further than just under the surface too. So many photos and moments to capture still. (In fact I've started a To-Do list.)

I'll miss so many aspects of St. Kitts and others I won't. I'll miss the people a lot. We've met so many great people here Kittitians and expats alike. Take the expat population for instance; The diversity just in this group is incredible. I have friends that are South African, German, British, Australian, Guyanese, French and many more from many other places. For the most part it's been easier to make friends with expats than it would be in the U.S. because for one we're all in the same boat here and secondly, most of them are well traveled and interesting people like ourselves. ( You can judge the interesting part of that statement about us.)



This photo above is us on Christmas celebrating a British Christmas Meal with some of our friends.


The value and diversity the expats bring to St. Kitts is immeasurable and I'll miss sharing stories about their worlds and travels a lot. You don't find many Americans who are well traveled or who are open to other cultures. As a melting pot it all gets blended into blase' culture where people are expected to assimilate.

The Kittitians and Nevisians I'll also miss and they have many great qualities. I'll miss the devotion and emphasis the average person here puts on it's small children. I can tell you that since I now have Clara I've become a lot more popular and liked by strangers. It's not like that in the U.S. We see babies pretty often and I guess we are more standoffish or private than Kittitians in that sense. I can't go anywhere here without a stranger, usually women who find her completely adorable and it brightens their day to see her. 



We're like celebrities at the grocery store and downtown. I've had many women ask if they could have her jokingly, I think. I don't have to even watch her because the women in public see everything that she does. " Naw, she gawt somethin in she mouth," or "She hair in she eyes." This can also be bad for me because I'm constantly getting "advice" like "Oh she need socks she gonna get sick," and mind you it's 88 degrees. They also sometimes think I'm babysitting because I'm a guy and there's a pretty strong gender role line here. They'll say, "Oh you helpin daddy, goin shopping, you babysittin?" Nope, I tell them and anymore I just say, "Yep, everyday." 



So many other things I'll miss that I can't even get it all into one post. I'll miss "Good Day," or "Good Afternoon," being said by nearly every single person you cross paths with. That smallness and politeness here is a great trait. The society is very excepting of expats for the most part and I find it easy to blend in to everyday life too.

I'll of course miss the land, the water, the plants, and animals, all unique to here. One thing I learned very early here though is that people come and go all the time and that's something you have to get used to. This time it just happens to be us leaving.

In the meantime, please continue to follow the blog, welcome our new contributing writer, Heidi, who brings a lot of knowledge to the blog, and I'll continue to write as often as possible.

Recently, I did get a chance to learn some more photography skills and I'll be posting more photos on our photo page so check them out and let me know what you think. https://islandbabblephotos.shutterfly.com/










IN THE KNOW JULY 2014

IN THE KNOW 

JULY


ST. KITTS














NEVIS





One of two posts for In the Know July. I wanted to get this out for the beginning of the month. More coming soon.

Throwback Thursday St. Kitts

In an effort to keep up with posts during a family visit, I took just a few minutes to search my old photos of St Kitts back in 2007. I was going to name the post flashback Thursday and then determined this did not sound right.   Yes I know, I am admitting my ignorance, not knowing how important these tags are. Apparently there is a list of do's and dont's when it comes to Throwback Thursday.  According to Dumb and Genius and a magnitude of others there are criteria that should be met for a TBT post.

I learned something new today. Though the pictures here may not fill all of the criteria for a Throwback Thursday post, they are nostalgic.

Can you figure out where these photos were taken?  


















IN THE KNOW JULY COMING SOON!



Monday, June 23, 2014

Mango Madness

Mango Madness
Get Your Mango On

Mango season has arrived in the Federation! They overflow in the markets and the bins and tables on the sidewalks of Basseterre and in the villages around the Island. 



Half eaten by the monkeys they are strewn on the ground under mango trees everywhere. 

















Some of the local favorites are the Grafted, the Rosy Cheeks and the Julies, but there are plenty other types here in the Federation. 
I got these on the road side in Conaree.  I know the Rosy Cheek is in the Middle
Perfect background placed on Recovered Railway Ties


What can we do with all of these mangos? High tourist season has come and gone. The small population can’t seemingly eat all of these mangos at one time. To answer this question I decided to do a bit of online research and ask around locally.

Online I found Trinidad and Tobago’s mango festival which promotes the healthy benefits of mango and the many uses for it. 








Google searching mango product images a multitude of mango products popped up on my screen.  Mango chips, mango chutney, mangos preserved in a jar, mango smoothie ice pops, mango puree, mango soda, mango powder for instant drink, canned mango pulp, mango yogurt, mango jam, mango jelly, mango marmalade, mango bars, mango tarts, ok and you can’t beat this one, Gain currently has an apple mango tango scent line of detergent products.  I called them to determine whether or not they actually use mangos to create the scent. Unfortunately they do not. It is artificially made. I had not noticed it before, but today I saw this scent of gain on the shelf at Rams and crazy me took a picture. 


How lucky we  are  to get a whiff of mango naturally in the summer months just by visiting a mango tree.



While searching I found two local venues that have been named after this sweet juicy fruit.  Mango Orchard Spa located on the beautiful landscape of Ottley’s Plantation was my first find.
The Spa was named as such because of its location. Yes you guessed it. It is in a Mango Orchard. Some of the practitioners there have used the pit of the mango to make a scrub.  They also use a mango infused paraffin wax for their pedicures and manicures. During mango season the spa provides guests with the freshest mangos right off the trees.  The Royal Palm Restaurant at Ottley’s serves fresh mangos, just as they are at breakfast along with mango muffins. When fresh they are also used to make mango salsa and mango tarts. They freeze them to use throughout the year in sorbets, ice cream and sauces.  I may just have to try out their spa one of these days. I have not had the opportunity to get out there too often, but  I have enjoyed an amazing Sunday brunch there a few times. This time of year just the small height elevation gives a reprieve to the heat felt here in the low lands and you can savor their mango muffins.

The next venue with the Mango namesake is The MangoRestaurant located in Nevis at the Four Seasons.  Their menu includes a variety of mango infused food inclusive of mango chipotle, trio ceviche with mango,  grilled mango, mango in salad, mango dressing, mango chutney, mango marinade,  mango salsa, mango rum butter and more.

The Hermitage also located in Nevis tries to collect and preserve as many ripe mangos as possible. They offer mango juice throughout the year. They also use them to make mango crumble, mango bread, mango sorbet and mango daiquiris. They like to use the green mangos to make their famous mango chutney and pickle mangos as well. There is no need for them to buy mangos when they are out of season. They are able to store and preserve to keep the mango delights available year round.  

Eating mangos can be as messy or as clean as you want it to be. We used to take mangos to the beach when the children were small. That way when the kids were finished they could wash up in the ocean. I have seen a friend of mine simply take a small section of the peel away with his teeth and literally squeeze out the fruit with little to no mess at all. For Chef Jason Pereira his favorite place to eat a mango is in the sea. I am definitely going to try that one.  I will end with this perfect quote written by Jason about his favorite mango experience. “Simply (eating) one relaxing in the ocean. The saltiness from the seawater opens up your taste buds and magnifies the flavor of the mango. "Nothing sweet so."


Share your favorite mango recipes/favorite place to get them with us.

A few sites to help us get our mango on at home.
http://www.mango.org offers a free downloadable mango cook book and tutorial on how to cut mango.