POSITION : 16° N , 61° W
We left Guadeloupe on the 2nd of March, in a hurry and without regrets.
Not even the fact, as my 'old friend' Jan from Stockholm had to remind me of , that the island belonged once to Sweden !!!!!!!!! .....
in 1813/14 .for 15 months,
made a difference.
No traces of IKEA nor their meat balls either,
but I assume plenty of horse meat.
Ghee, it had been a frustrating long wait for the spare parts, during which we developed some electrical problems .
Whilst we used the waiting for the engine and generator service, the problems had stopped without us understanding why.
It is much worse when you don't know
why things work rather when you do know why things don't work.
"islands that brush the clouds" :
Montserrat ( a british colony ), Nevis and St Christopher ( St Kitts ), an independent state, and Saba and Statia, part of the Dutch Antilles with some degree of independence.
All of these were discovered by Columbus in 1493, and the names given by him are part of his legacy.
As the moist air flow from the trades that is trapped by the steep and high rise of the mountains of these islands generate clouds at the top. it reminded him in one way or the other
of some mountainous and snow covered regions in Spain.
and the historians try to tell me that he named it after the "Holy Saint Christopher",
which I doubt .
I mean com'on people, let him be a little bit selfish.
Wouldn't you like to see your name on something that you had uniquely discovered ?
So my best guess is that he took the liberty and
named finally one island after
The "Saint" is just a cover-up.
Like Alexander the Great , just a little bit more on the shy side.
On an almost lighter note
I discussed this whole "discovery business" with Fenton,
a construction worker from Montserrat who has been living most of his adult life in Queens, New York,
and returns only to the island to see old friends, now that he is retired.
He said that
'how can you discover something' when there had been people ( Kalinagos ) living already.
I take his point.
Just imagine the reverse.
A fleet of say 3 ships with Kalinago warriors set sail for Europe, finally make it, and
claim shortly after arrival possession of Spain, France, UK, etc.
May be , but the "principle" , you lot out there, the "principle" is the same.
became the " Mother of all Islands" of the Lesser Antilles,
from which all English and French colonist left to conquer the other islands.
Sir Thomas Warner arrived here in 1624, becoming later the first "Governor of the english West Indies" ,
and several months later the French followed them, led by the famous Norman Belain d'Esnambuc, who subsequently occupied Martinique ( and died there in 1638 ), whilst his compatriot Lienard de l'Olive did the same in Guadeloupe.
The irony of this historical chapter is that the two sides lived peacefully together,
at least for the first years.
And that for the simple fact that they had
one common enemy :
The Caribs / Kalinagos. .
To "sort them out was "relatively easy" :
In a joint operation they just butchered them , estimates range from 2000 - 4000 , in a ravine ,
some kind of holy ground,
where they had all gathered ( peacefully ? ) .
the English and French returned quickly,
and after a brief retreat from the island due to the previously mentioned 'mopping-up' operation by the Spanish,
they were at each others throats again :
The French in the South, the English in the North,
one can still tell today due to the names of the villages.
It all culminated in the siege in 1782 of one of the largest still existing fortifications in the Caribbean : The Brimstone Hill Fortress.
1000 defenders drawn from the Royal Scots and East Yorkshire Regiments , local militia and even some escaped slaves locked up inside against 8000 French. After 1 month of relentless bombardment,
the English gave up :
Of course honourably !!!!!
Moving out of the castle in full gear, with bag pipes and all the rest of the "Honour".
And after a year, they had it already back, in fact not only the Fortress, but all the island and islands via this "infamous" Treaty of Versailles.
What a history !!!
Almost like a Hollywood movie, just better.
Real Life ! Nothing can beat that !
Oh yes, by the way, may be this siege, this " honourable defeat " and the related " honourable deaths" could have been averted all together, if the English hadn't just one year before, flattened the dwellings on the
french island St Barthelemy ( St Barts ) and killed their occupants.
As a punishment for their support of the american revolutionors.
Who in turn had of course killed many english ( and german ) soldiers in their fight for independence.
And I could carry on and on and on.
Because it is always the same :
Everybody seems to always have a "good reason or excuse" to kill the other.
Life is repetitive, death seemingly as well.
Who can ever stop this cycle ?
Nevis ( Nuestra Senora de las Nieves = snow )
is a more quiet island.
And it has some charm and natural beauty.
Lord Nelson was here a couple of times for good reasons, but I will cover that story another day.
Like on all other islands, sugar cane plantations were the thriving economical business, but the
( nationalised ) industry was given up due to tough competition and hugh losses
( 30 Million USD per year ),
So now much of Nevis is covered with "wild" sugar cane, and only ruins remind of a better time.
Old equipment is left to rust and crumble, but names on the old steam-engines to drive the mills remain.
I took the effort and "googled" the name, and have a guess : I found it !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
"1838 Company founded by George Fletcher .
He established a small factory at
38 Gloucester Street, Oakley Street, Lambeth."
I LOVE THE INTERNET.
You will also find more pictures from this site on the web page : The international Steam Pages.
" At New River Estate, on the eastern side of the island (Nevis), is an 1883 G(eorge) Fletcher & Co., London & Derby, steam engine and mill.
We approached it under engine and smelt already from far one of the only currently
active volcano in the Eastern Caribbean : Souffriere Hill.
The island is in dire straits due to its eruptions , notably in 1995, 2003 and the last one as recent as 2008.
The devastating effect it has left on the southern part of the island is also visible from the sea :
All villages and the former capital, Plymouth, in ruins and covered with ash.
The Pompeii of modern times.
No life, no trespassing, as it is an exclusion zone both on land as much as 2 miles offshore.
No insurance covered the disaster.
But the former manager of the Beatles ,George Martin, organised a benefiz concert in London to raise money for a new community centre. Montserrat was a centre for studio recordings, but only some names remind us of that time.
Having visited the MVO ( Montserrat Vulcano Observatory), we learn that the dome of the volcano has increased again tremendously.
A new outbrake is evident, just a matter of time.
And it will probably claim more land than it already has.
From 1630 onwards it became first the refuge of Irish settlers, the first few arriving from St.Christopher, having had some problems with the local protestants, and then in 1649 after the Irish occupation by Oliver Cromwell.
Sugar cane was introduced , so were the slaves.
But all what is left of that era are some irish names by their descendants , and the odd occurrence of
celebrating St Patrick's Day ( this week !!!!!).
Do I hear a slight irish accent with the local population ?
Anyway, here as much as elsewhere, the people are kind, open to visitors, creating some funny and very memorable situations :
On the right :
George, POLICE OFFICER, Montserrat, "living" in his container, plenty of mosquitos and cockroaches !
specifically in St Christopher.
You can tell by the people you meet and hear speaking.
By that I mean the visitors not the locals,
although some of the latter already use more the
" Hey Buddy, what's up"
rather than the curtious Good Morning Sir or Madam. But that only comes with the business I guess.
Nevertheless whilst still very friendly to the incoming boaties, the atmosphere of Caribeaness , if you understand what I am trying to say, is missing, lost for ever I assume. It is some kind of "up-market" touch, you can tell by the houses and the cars.
Still some small dwellings and huts in between, but less and less..
Even on Nevis 2 Rolls Royce do exist.
That says it all.
You can tell even from the national flags of the sailing boats.
Here more american, in the south much more mixed with british, scandinavians, germans, italians, spanish, polish, croatian, etc.
Nothing bad , just different, noticeably different.
Much less poverty here, and also more infrastructure, catering for the tourists, spas and top restaurant.
When you see a picture of Bill Clinton with the owner of Sunshine's Beach Restaurant, Nevis, hanging there together with a collection of other celebrities, then it might be a cool place, but mainly lost in commercialism.
Of course , being a cigar smoker myself,
I am convinced that "Ole Bill" made good use 'as always' of his cigars,
but that is beyond the point.
Nothing wrong with all the celebrities visiting here,
just different, noticeably different.
Also the Superyachts have suddenly arived, both Motor- and Sailing Vessels.. Another sign of the more elitism that shows somehow its face through the dust of mild poverty.
Is it good, is it better for the islands ?
I don't know, just different, noticeably different.
The big cruising vessels on St Kitts
(as the americans call St Christopher )
spit their 1000 guests out
like the volcano on Montserrat the ash.
And they don't need to walk far, let's say 100m.
The Duty Free Shopping Mall ( american style ) is waiting.
The indian merchants are selling the jewellery,
the locals the bric and brac.
All in US Dollars !!!!!
Some might even be able to walk 200m, then they arrive at a square that is supposedly copying "Piccadilly Circus " .
Have a laugh, I can only cry .
Have they ever seen the real thing ?
Even Disney World does a better copy !
Then the casinos and one-arm-bandits are already waiting, and their obese customers sit in front for hours, drinking ,eating and loosing their last pension money.... I assume.
And just next door is the model caribbean village,
just to show, what the
thought the Caribbean is all about.
( clean, disease free, beautiful ! )
The music is playing, and the musicians are of the same age as the cruising passengers.
The locals are so comercial they even colour their hair for the tourists in caribbean style,
everything nice and clean and free wifi orientated.
America is great, and their people are welcomed,
at least during the day.
In the evening everything goes quiet again until the next vessel in the morning arrives.
It is a Caribbean Nightmare...at least for me.
I wish we had never left the South.
But then it might be better further north, St Marteen, or BVs ?
But unfortunately we will not know anymore on this trip.
Time is running out.
Only Antigua left, and there we will prepare the boat for our return to Europe.
Another Nightmare !
I rather prefer the first to the second.