Tuesday, November 13, 2012

West Indies Vet Conference (Vets Just Wanna Have Fun)

This past week was a busy week here in St. Kitts for the Veterinarian community and Ross University, because the university hosted The 2012 West Indies Veterinary Conference.

The conference is organized in conjunction with the school's seventh annual alumni reunion. The conference itself was held at the beautiful Marriott Resort, but the week was filled with daily activities at some of St. Kitt's most popular spots.

St. Kitts Marriott Resort Courtesy: http://theplanetd.com/marriott-resorts-the-power-of-10-happening-on-10-10-10/

I have never been to a veterinary conference before, but Julie goes to one every year. She explained to me that these conferences can be very informative and intellectual, but in the evenings and during breaks in the action the attendants do some amazing activities.

With Julie teaching at Ross she didn't have much time to attend the conference, but being the wonderful wife that she is, she signed me up to do some of the fun activities and we both went to two of them ourselves, in the evenings.

We didn't attend the Caribbean Kick-Off Celebration at the Marriott or the Beachfront Bash at Reggae Beach, but we definitely weren't going to miss the Sunset Soiree at Spice Mill Restaurant.

Spice Mill Restaurant is waaay out on the Southeast peninsula, but boy is it worth going to for the sheer beauty, view, and of course food.

What a magnificent atmosphere! Courtesy:http://www.st-kittsnevis.com/restaurants/

I'm not really entirely sure what a soiree is, but it sure sounds like fun. We had dined at Spice Mill shortly after my birthday when my sister-in-law, the thoughtful gift giver that she is, bought me a gift certificate to Spice Mill. The gift was totally unexpected by me and very impressive, due to the fact that she lives in Chicago and somehow managed to buy it from there.

Below is a picture of me enjoying my very first birthday lobster at Spice Mill

Julie and I discussed driving our scooters out to Spice Mill or taking advantage of the taxi or van shuttles. It wasn't much of a discussion—we took the shuttle.

We arrived at the restaurant and enjoyed an evening of free drinks, free food, and live music by what I consider to be the best band I've heard since I've been here—The Green House Band, which I was told are from Nevis.

One of my favorite parts of Spice Mill is the beautiful beach bar with its changing lights.

It's really hard to get a good picture of it but this is what it looks like. Neat huh?

Of course this time we didn't all get lobster, but the food was still pretty good. I especially enjoyed the two red snappers laid out as garnishment. Sweet.

They even had some tasty dessert for all the guests. Many of the guests were alumni, who haven't been back to St. Kitts for years. I kept hearing them talk about how much the island has developed and changed.

A lot of the guests topped off the evening with some dancing on the dance floor, erected on the beach.

I uploaded a short video clip of the band. I thought they had amazing vocal skills.

The following morning I went for my first catamaran cruise and snorkel trip to Nevis, which was another day activity held by the conference.

When Ross students arrive in their first semester they are treated to a catamaran trip, but I hadn't been on one yet. Julie signed me up and paid the unbelievably low price of $20 U.S. dollars a few weeks ahead of time. The only down side was that Julie couldn't go, so I didn't know any of the alumni on the boat, but I'm not going to turn down a $20 catamaran trip.

Blue Water Safaris was the company that took us on our sailing trip.

As a quick side note, there are two main catamaran tour companies on the island.
1. Blue Water Safaris 
2. Leeward Island Charters

Both are very good companies but this time we were with Blue Water Safaris.

We had enough people to fill two catamarans. The first one was the larger Irie Lime and the second was the Swaliga.

The Irie Lime

The Swaliga

 To me these were huge sailing vessels. The Irie Lime is 65 feet long and can carry 90 passengers! The Swaliga is no slacker either. It is the same length but holds only 55 passengers.

I ended up on the Swaliga. We motor-sailed over to Shitten Bay while enjoying all-inclusive drinks at an on board bar.

The snorkeling at the bay was really great. Most of the cliffs on the coast are steep rocks so the water was as clear as you will find anywhere in St. Kitts.

I swam over near the shipwreck that the crew said had been there around three years.

Once I climbed back onto Swaliga I saw that the crew had busily set out our lunch—buffet style.

We enjoyed our lunch and sailed over to the beach on Nevis where Sunshine's Bar is located, just west of the Four Seasons Resort.

Everyone climbed off the boat and either hung out on the beach, swam, or grabbed a couple famous Killer Bees.

After nearly 2 hours the boats came back into shore and we sailed back home to St. Kitts. With the wind to our backs we were full speed ahead. It was almost a race between the two monster catamarans to get back to Port Zante.

Racing back to Port Zante with the sails full of wind.

 We even passed up a mono-hull sailboat.

Even though I didn't know anyone on the boat I still had a great time. I took the opportunity to kick back and totally relax. There isn't much that's more relaxing than laying on the cargo net of a catamaran watching the waves and water being sliced by the sleek pontoons, as I would call them as a non sailor.

Limin on the cargo net.
As we approached Port Zante I took a distant shot of our house in BirdRock. Ours is the house with the red roof two houses to the right of the lime green house on the top left of the picture. Cool.

 I don't want to forget that the crew on the boat was amazing. You couldn't hardly let your bottle get empty and the crew was there to offer you a new drink. They also did an excellent job at raising and lowering the sails without disturbing most passengers slumber. Below is a shot it took me awhile to get but it is one of my favorites of the crew hoisting the jib, I think.

I decided to do the Brimstone Hill Closing Ceremony in the next blog. I'll leave you with a picture of me on The Swaliga.