Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Suspense

Hmm, from your reactions, maybe I should have employed some suspense on the blog a little sooner. We're still in the "what's happening phase" ourselves, so you'll just have to wait for details. I can tell you that the visit with Robyn was fun despite the fact that our jinx seemed to continue. You'll recall from the last post that everything we tried to do - Sandy Point food fair, Caribelle Batik/archeological dig, iQueen's ice cream, and white sandy beaches - was simply not in the cards. That luck continued. That's right - things have sort of been like this sugar-cane fire - just on the verge of losing control.

Monday, we decided to meet up with a couple of others and head for El Fredos for some roti. You can get roti all over the island, but it's not easy to find a vegetarian one. So I Facebook'd Jasmine and told her we were coming only to be told they didn't have rotis (of any kind) that day. Ok - well, as long as I can get the veggie burger the others will be able to find something interesting, I'm sure. No veggie burgers either. Ok then...I give Jasmine credit, she offered to make a plate of "seasoned rice, steamed vegetables, provisions and coconut dumplings" and I took her up on it.  We were missing a person due to logistics issues, but the lunch was pleasant and a success.

Time for dessert. We figured we'd try iQueen's in Independence Square again. Robyn had been more than patient with her desire/need/addiction to ice cream, and was ready to be rewarded. No ice cream truck at all. We asked the food truck that was there, "What the heck?!", and they told us that iQueen's isn't in action on Mondays. Fine.  

Tuesday...Robyn & I decided to go to Nevis (after she got stood up by a bunch of people that were supposed to run that morning). We were told that iQueens started serving anywhere from 11am to mid-day so tried at 11:30am. Nope. Alrighty then, we'll just get on the ferry. Now, I had never taken the ferries from Basseterre, we've always gone via the Seabridge car ferry down on the peninsula. We didn't want to pay for a cab that far, so decided to go via Basseterre. There are several ferry operators, but I had always ASSumed they were interchangeable; buy one ticket, just hop on whichever, whenever we were ready....So we bought a round-trip ticket and off we went on the Carib Queen. You can see it had lots of upper seating (where I needed to be for air purposes), but no shade.

Here comes Nevis out from the haze...

Liz Pereira suggested Mr. Clayton for a tour and we ended up with a Clayton Daniel - not sure if that was the same guy, but he seemed nice enough. We were rather surprised that a 3-hour tour in Nevis ($75-100US for two people ouch!) cost almost the same price as one on its larger sister island, St. Kitts ($80 for 1-4 people) but that's Nevis. First up was a stop at the Four Seasons. Believe it or not, I'd never been there. It was closed thanks to Hurricane Omar when we arrived 3 years ago and we've had no reason to go over since they opened back up. It was pretty, but a little more lodge-like than I expected. More an observation than a judgement.

Robyn refused to deny herself another moment and broke down and bought some ice cream there (Häagen-Dazs!). You'll note that the sign says "Satisfy Your Desire." So she did. Robyn has traveled and eaten frozen goodies just about all over the world and said this had to be the most expensive scoops she had ever paid for. She also said it was worth it. 

The beach was pretty empty.

Then we were off to the oldest church in the Caribbean (St. Thomas Lowland Church from 1643) - you'll note that any photos through the windshield would be framed by the tinted artwork/inspirational words...

The deceased, and the folks who continue to use the church, have a great view of the Flamboyant trees and St. Kitts. The interior was being refurbished, but the church is still used regularly for services and events. 

There are graves below the church's floor too, with lengthy poems about folks long passed, painstakingly engraved in horizontal tombstones.

Then we headed for Nisbet Plantation. The last time I'd been there was a couple of years ago, with my mom. I had really liked it then, and it has recently been honored as one of the best resorts in the Caribbean, but I had to say it looked a little worse for wear this visit. Between a lack of rain and that stupid seaweed, the property wasn't quite as pristine as we've seen it. Still pretty though and the staff was really nice.

Then we passed the wind farm - it's not actually operational yet.

And arrived at Golden Rock Inn. Now, Michael & I have been here a couple of times, but only to start the hike to Nevis's water source. We've never really wandered around. Don't you make the same mistake. I really don't think any of the other plantations on either island top this one (and I like them all for various reasons). The use of color, the intricate landscaping, the mix of old and new, and the fun little huts as rooms (the honeymoon suite is in an old sugar mill silo) makes the place magical. We didn't want to leave. They're offering summer specials for Kittitians, so take advantage of it if you can. 

Next up was the hot spring. Supposedly, 108 degrees. It was hot, but you wouldn't catch either Robyn or me in there.

Apparently, this stream nearby is a mix of hot and cold, so would probably be more our temperature, but still....

We were supposed to still see either the Hermitage Plantation or Montpelier Plantation (which we've been to and liked and was the site of the Lord Nelson/Frances Nisbet wedding back in 1787), but really didn't think we could top Golden Rock and were kind of ready to head back anyway.

By now (4pm), it was about time for the Mark Twain ferry to leave. Incredibly, we were forced to stand in the sun, leaving this loooong shaded area empty because someone thought it was a good idea to put the locked gate at the beginning of the overhang. When we were finally let through to board (who needs the shade now?!), we were told we had tickets to the wrong ferry. Ours would leave at 5pm. Oh. Well, for $10US, we'll just buy another ticket and get home (no, the other one was not refundable). We got the ticket, headed for the gate, and the gatekeeper showed us this little neon ticket that we were supposed to have. Hello? You just saw us come from the ticket booth - this is what we were given. Yes, but we missed the window right next to the other window where we were supposed to pay $1EC (about .40 cents) to the port authority (for the little neon ticket). Oh for Pete's we got the other ticket and ran for the boat. When we boarded, a local said "Don't buy a round-trip ticket next time." Sound advice. Another pleasant ride, although there was much less room up top this time (limited to the sometime wet front).

into the haze that hid St. Kitts.

At 5pm, we tried one more time for iQueens ice cream only to find she'd locked up already.  We asked the neighbors if they thought she'd be open Wednesday - we figured we'd give Robyn (and us) one more opportunity to get her fix before boarding her plane - but noooooooooo, Wednesday is a holiday. Forget it then! You can not say we didn't try.

Just to make sure we had the fullest day possible, we then headed to Bombay Blues and met up with our pal Heather for some Indian food. We've eaten at and enjoyed the Star of India and Copper Chimney, but had heard so much about this one, we thought we should try it. The food was very, very good. Just the right amount of spice, very tasty, good service. Definitely recommended.

Wednesday morning brought me the great news that one of my email accounts had been hacked and I appeared to be sending spam to my friends, family, and former co-workers. I got to spend a few hours changing passwords and asking forgiveness. During Robyn's final on-island hours, we had one last strike-out when we tried to get her a ticket to the cricket game - West Indies vs. New Zealand. Thanks to our pal, Derek, Michael & I already had a pair, but we figured we'd get one for Robyn the day of and she'd stay an hour or so before she had to head to the airport. But nooooo.  First, the windows to the ticket booths were closed at the entrance gates. You had to walk 2-3 blocks down the street to get to the open ones. Once there it was packed, with no clear lines, lots of cutting, and no forward movement. 

Screw it. We took Robyn for a drive along the Atlantic coast, gave her a quick tour of Ottley's Plantation, and then dropped her off for her flight. She's probably glad to be in the air - first Michael gets a work whammy and then we seem to run into roadblocks everywhere. Thankfully, she seemed to enjoy herself and have a lot of luck herself (work-wise), so we're hoping it rubs off on us (her take on the trip will be here). Michael & I headed back to the stadium and watched the game until the 50 overs were done for New Zealand and there was a break before W Indies came out. I had forgotten most of the rules even though we'd been to the cricket twice (2010; 2011).


Notice the cheap seats had no shade - lots of umbrella action there. We had sun protection, thankfully. The place was packed - the cricket holiday worked.

Party central across the way.

And something Michael & I didn't notice until Mr. X pointed it out. There would be this white ad behind the wickets until the batter changed sides. Then it would black out. Why? Because the ball is white. Can you, as batter, imagine the pitcher throwing the ball and it blending in with the white background? Smart - or just don't put a white ad there...

During the tea break, I needed a break from the noise and wanted to get some work done, so had Michael drive me home (he went back). W Indies was up by 2 in a 5-match series, but they blew it today. The last two matches are this weekend (we'll be working on our resumes). Oh and guess what...

That's right - iQueens was open as Michael passed it on his way home (Sorry Robyn!).  I'd post a photo, but Michael's Blackberry won't send it (seriously - is it too early to just go to bed?)