Hard to believe, but we moved onto the boat three and a half months ago. I keep saying this is our home now, but unspoken was this nagging feeling that something was missing. We have all the creature comforts of home (well, sort of), I wasn't sure what more I needed to do. This past week the kids came for a visit and I knew immediately what had been missing these past few months, we needed to share our new home with those we love. It was so sad to see them go, I'm not sure they know just how much they left behind though, there is a new sense of comfort on board.
Before the sad good byes we had the opportunity to explore St. Kitts and Nevis together. We had made a long to do list and managed to check off almost everything on it while they were here. Our first impressions of the islands were not the lasting ones. Now that we have been here for three weeks we have a new appreciation of the islands that goes way beyond the cruise ships parked at dock and the crowds on the streets.
Basseterre is the capital of St. Kitts and we arrived in the middle of Mardi Gras, which was pretty crazy. They take this celebration really seriously with a month of parties in the streets and band competitions, culminating with two days of parades. Everyone gets involved, the music is so loud and parties everywhere, there's no avoiding it.
The kids arrived after the final Mardi Gras parade had ended and all the remnants of the street parties were cleaned up. It's hard not to feel like a tourist when visitors come but there's no escaping that's what we are. No matter how hard we try we don't really blend in. But between visiting all the sights you get a sense of the people here by riding the public buses, talking with the taxi drivers and asking random people questions. We zip lined through the rain forest, scuba dove among wrecks, hiked steep, muddy mountains trails, rode horses through farm country, visited volcanic black sand beaches and stretches of beautiful white beaches. Every experience taught us something of the people. There were the kids with pet monkeys named 50 cent and Perkins (after the U.S. restaurant, American culture has a big influence), taxi drivers that gave a running commentary, sometimes political and sometimes personal, about the government shutting down sugar cane production because it was not profitable enough and turning to tourism as the main industry, how the Taiwanese and Chinese are developing large portions of land, the streetlights that were installed at the roundabouts that no one knows how to work so they've never been turned on, how there are good restaurants on the island because everyone learns to cook and is employed in a restaurant at some point in their lives, how fertile the land is - you plant 2 fruit trees in your yard and the next thing you know there are 10 growing, the uphill races one guide has with his friends to Nevis Peak - they can get to the top in 54 minutes, it took us almost 2 hours, the fisherman casting nets off his kayak on the reef. We learned that the pelican was the national bird, we watch them dive for fish at all the anchorages, the flamboyant tree is the national flower, it's not in bloom now but when it is they have these beautiful huge red flowers and that there are more monkeys on the islands than people. We also got to know the island through their food, the guy selling barbeque chicken and pork at the corner, grilled lobsters at the beach side bar, unbelievably good pizza along with fresh seafood and live music at a restaurant owned by local fishermen, red snapper creole with dumplings and provisions on the side, curried chicken roti, grilled mahi sandwich with a killer bee to wash it down, super spicy jerk chicken with a cold local Carib beer, the food tells the story of the people here.
Traveling with family and friends is not just about exploring new places but also sharing the experience. It was so great to share laughs, points of view and personal impressions that only enriched the places we saw and people we met. Traveling together adds a whole new perspective that you don't have on your own, the trip to St. Kitts and Nevis was so much richer because we could share it with those we love.