Nathan's amazing parents invited us on a trip with them. Excerpts from my travel journal: This place is incredible. We got here late–around 1a.m. and didn't get in bed until 3 a.m. because we had to experience the beach. We ran around giggling and getting our feet wet in the warm salt water. There's no wifi which makes me both anxious and relieved. I don't think I've gone a day without my phone in three years. People drive on the left side of the road here! So fun. We had the itch to explore so we woke up early and walked down a random road to a beach that was much prettier and felt more local than the resort side where we stayed. We later learned that one side of the island touches the Atlantic and the other side the Caribbean. The Caribbean side has crystal-clear water, shells covering the beach, and less wind.
There's only one main road that wraps around the island (the entire middle of the island is a volcano). People live in 'villages' which are small towns along the road. Every village has old French/British architecture. The island was settled by the British and French in the 1600's and old sugar plantations were the main economy, I believe. Now most people who live on the island are descendants of slaves. We went downtown to Basseterre (pronounced bahs-tair) and walked around for a bit. Basseterre reminded me of an island Chinatown in NYC–mostly because of the rows of numerous small shops and old buildings lining the narrow streets. We saw people holding monkeys, walked through a park with massive trees, and felt very foreign. It's strange being in a place where people know you are clearly not from there.
We went to an old plantation where a tree was brought from Africa 400 years ago and planted in the front yard. It was one of the most spectacular things I have ever seen and SO massive. Being on an old plantation made us uncomfortable–especially being white–thinking about the history there and how, in some weird way, we're visiting the plantation like it's an exotic vacation. We tried to not think about it that way. The plantation is now open to the public and holds a small shop where women make batik art.
The local currency is really pretty with colorful fish and turtle drawings. They use East Caribbean currency, so every US dollar is worth around $3 EC. The weather is always between 70 and 80 degrees and very tropical. When it rains, it rains for a short period of time and then the sun will come out again. There are no snakes here (YES) and it's crazy to think about how some people have stayed here their entire lives and only know island-life. I realized how American I am when a local man said, "the point of life is to have a good time," and in my mind I was like, but education, but money, but success, but...
I found a lot of comfort in seeing people here spend all of their time doing simple things with friends and family; where a trip to the grocery store is enough work for one day and you don't have to have a lot of money to be content.
On the last day of our trip, we went to Nevis–a smaller island that's a 40 minute boat ride from St. Kitts. We LOVED Nevis. It was more tropical and people seemed friendlier. On the boat ride over, I saw flying fish! We took a tour around Nevis and saw a handful of monkeys running around and playing in the road. We stopped at Bath Hotel (the oldest hotel in the Caribbean) and put our feet in the famous mineral hot springs. Evidently wealthy people long ago would sail here from America and Europe to be cured of illnesses and it works. Later, we went swimming at the best beach I've ever experienced. I had my first Pina Colada. I take pride in not drinking super sugary, 'girly' drinks with Nathan. Strong drinks and local beer are the norm in our home so we laughed about how white-girl of a moment I was having. It was great though so I am not ashamed. We also had so much fun watching crabs climb out of little holes in the sand and scurry by us.