Friday, December 5, 2014

Caribelle Batik at Romney Manor

This weekend, we visited the west side of the island, as Caribelle Batik was having an open house.

We arrived to the beautiful, brightly colored building mid-morning.

We were advised that we should allow for a minimum of 30 minutes for "an enjoyable, memorable experience."

The grounds were very nicely done.
Inside, we watched a demonstration of how they produce the Batik.

In case you don't know, Batik is a method of dying patterns onto fabric using layers of wax to create the pattern. It originated on the Indonesian island of Java.

Many examples are on display inside.


After shopping around a bit, we went outside, where there is a small refreshment area serving snacks and drinks, and an old bell tower you can walk up to.


A sign below explains its history:

"The bell tower at Romney Manor was used to control the daily lives of the slaves. The sound of the bell was heard throughout the day. ... Because of their symbolism, most bell towers were destroyed at the time of emancipation. At this time, however, the Earl of Romney was regarded as a more benevolent owner. ... As a result, the bell tower at Romney Manor is the only perfectly preserved bell tower left standing in St. Kitts."
For more information visit their website at http://www.caribellebatikstkitts.com/

After this, we looped back to explore Wingfield Estate, a former rum distillery. Note that it would have made more sense to do this first. So if you're visiting, that's what I'd recommend :-)


The old buildings have been beautifully restored, and there are lots of signs explaining the heritage and history.


We even saw a nice butterfly :)


And many interesting buildings:

 

We definitely recommend that you take a morning or afternoon and visit!

How to get there:

  • From Frigate Bay, head northwest to Basseterre and take the bypass highway
  • From Basseterre, head west towards Ross Veterinary University
  • From Ross University, drive west about 15 minutes
  • The road will follow along the ocean for a while, then turn right just past Sprat Net restaurant/bar
  • Not long after that, on the right, you'll see a sign for Caribelle Batik and Sky Safari
  • Head up the road to the top, and park to the left of Wingfield Estate first
  • Once you've seen Wingfield Estate, get back in your car and follow the signs to Caribelle Batik

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Canada now requires a visa for St. Kitts citizens

Up until November 22nd, 2014, citizens of St. Kitts and Nevis were able to visit Canada without a visa.


Now they will need to apply for a visa in advance -- a significant hassle compared to the unrestricted access they used to have.

Why the change? Sun News explains:
A Canadian government source said authorities have evidence that people with ties to terrorist organizations and organized crime are using the easily obtained St. Kitts passport to avoid immigration screening. ... People who invest between $250,000 and $400,000 into certain sectors of the St. Kitts economy are eligible for lifetime citizenship, through a government investment program.  
This reduces the number of visa-free countries available to St. Kitts citizens to 132:

Source: Wikipedia
This is still quite good, and the passport ranks 24th in the world. Canada is tied with a number of other countries for 4th place at 170 countries. The UK, Finland, and Sweden top the chart at 173. Full rankings can be found at straitstimes.com.

Will St. Kitts retaliate and now require visas for Canadian citizens? This is unlikely, but possible. Tourism is the #1 industry on the island and incoming visa restrictions could have severe economic consequences.

Meanwhile, local citizens are upset, the current government is on the defense, and the opposition party is attacking how the Citizenship by Investment program has been handled. Most recently, five civil organizations filed a joint statement calling for a review of the program.

A government statement indicated that citizens could:
...apply online for a visitor visa to travel to Canada or submit a paper application in person or by mail or courier to any Visa Application Centre (VAC), including the VAC in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago. ... Processing will be completed within two weeks, and visas of up to 10 years will be issued...
The biggest concern locally appears to be whether other countries will follow suit. There are some who worry that the UK may impose travel restrictions as well.

As a former British colony, St. Kitts losing its visa-free status in the UK would be a significant blow, and further decrease the value of the country's passport.

Thanks to several incidents, the United States has also expressed its concern, even going so far as to issue an "international advisory to financial institutions to closely scrutinize any business conducted with people traveling on St. Kitts passports."

St. Kitts was the first Caribbean island to implement the Citizenship by Investment program, but it's not the only island nation to have one. Dominica also has one, although with slightly stricter controls and a higher buy-in, and Grenada and Antigua are the latest countries to take advantage of this alternate method of project financing (this is the second time Grenada has tried this). Other islands are considering following suit.

In May 2014, the St. Kitts prime Minister stated that the government had set up a special advisory board to better monitor the Citizenship by Investment program, and promised continued vigilance in ensuring the integrity of the program. Hopefully that will be enough, or the St. Kitts program might go the way of Suriname, Belize, and Guyana.

Monday, November 24, 2014

And I'm Gone...Again

After a great month, it's time to bid St. Kitts farewell once again. I'll miss my friends, the weather, the vibes, the water views, and so many other things, but hope to return again. In the meantime, I leave Island Babble in the hands of Jason, and look forward to reading about what's happening in my home away from home.

Love ya, St. Kitts!




Until next time.
Renee P.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Peninsula Swim

This Saturday saw the launch of the Peninsula Swim.

Pictures courtesy Christophe Harbour 

Hosted by St. Kitts Yacht Club and Ross Swimming Club, the 1.9km swim is about half the length of the springtime St. Kitts Nevis Channel swim.

It's a good opportunity to train for the channel swim, and gauge your ability in calmer water, closer to shore.


The past few days had been very rainy and wet, but the skies clear up and some sun started poking through.

45 swimmers got in the water at SALT Plage and swim north to Shipwreck Bar and Grill, where a delicious breakfast awaited.


We hope this will turn into an annual event.

Be sure to stay tuned to the Island Babble Facebook page for upcoming events like this one.

Friday, November 21, 2014

St. Kitts Eco-Park

Despite a rather gloomy and sometimes rainy day, I met up with some ladies, and we carpooled up to Sandy Point to check out the brand new St. Kitts Eco-Park (Facebook page).


This working attraction is a collaboration between St. Kitts and Taiwan to teach and utilize sustainable methods of agriculture and green energy. Taiwan had a lot to do with the St. Kitts Robert L. Bradshaw International Airport going totally solar. The eco-park was also powered by solar, even down to their electric fence. The place consists of:

A huge greenhouse (outside):





Greenhouse inside:



Two attached buildings that house a St. Kitts shop and a Taiwanese shop. The St. Kitts shop was rather sparse, but had some cute stuff. There was an art gallery upstairs with some colorful artwork.



The Taiwan shop had orchids upstairs (because they said they weren't sure what to do with the space yet) and gifts downstairs.



A rose garden and a desert garden:



An orchard:


A(n) herb garden:


and a labyrinth shaped like the islands of Taiwan and St. Kitts.



Of course, there are lots of flowers. They seemed to specialize in orchids. The plants are for sale, but they weren't available until Monday. All the plants looked healthier than the ones I've seen in Home Depot.


To wet your whistle, they were selling bubble tea for EC$10. I'd never heard of it and didn't try it because I'm not into sweet stuff, but if it's something you have a hankering for, the same folks providing it here just opened a restaurant in Port Zante called Taiwan Tasty.


You could sip your tea and enjoy a nice view of Statia (St. Eustatius).


If you want to go for free, you have another chance Saturday (Nov 22nd) from 9am to 1pm. After that, they seemed unsure of the entrance fee. It could be wet out there, so dress properly and beware of biting red ants. There were signs everywhere, and they meant it.

The plan is to allow events to be held on the property, like weddings, receptions, etc. Friday they were having a little trade show. They had devices that used solar power to charge things like cell phones, among other things.



Before we left, the St. Kitts Scenic Railway tooted its horn and chugged by.



It was a nice day, and a very pretty place to wander around. On your way back (or there) is the Amazing Grace Experience (Map), which opened just as I left the island. It's quite a substantial little place, and includes a church. We needed to get back, so didn't get inside, but if you're heading up there, you might want to include some time for it.


One more day, and then I'm gone...again. Sigh.
Renee P.