Sunday, August 18, 2013

Exploring the Island

Hi Everyone. I've been fairly busy restoring the two island cars that I decided to buy, fix up, and resell. I figured since I can fix nearly everything on cars why not buy a fixer upper for cheap, put some money into it and voila, I killed a few birds with one stone. It gave me something to keep me busy, something that gave me a sense of accomplishment, and I can sell a car on the island that is actually reliable and fixed properly.

 One of the vehicles I honestly bought for a hundred U.S. dollars, but it had also sat for eight months. I'm getting close to finishing up the body work, but it's kind of funny because I've put a lot of money and time into this car but who in the world restores a 1992 Toyota Tercel? Well, this guy because cars here are an expensive commodity, as I alluded to in other posts. So here is a before picture. Soon you'll see the after pictures. I'm calling this project, "Pimp De Ride," like the MTV show, "Pimp My Ride."

This car definitely needs some pimpin' or something. Freshly ground down to bare metal

First coat of body filler.
I know, the title is about exploring St. Kitts, not rubbish cars, but I'll get there. A few weeks back I decided to take a break from the turning wrenches and sanding body filler because I needed it. After traveling to Ireland and seeing so many cool parts of their country, I realized that I haven't been out exploring St. Kitts as much as I used to. Also with our first baby on the way I wanted to get out there and see a few places that I've been putting off since we've been here, because who knows when I'll get to get out and explore once the little girl arrives.

I'm always thinking about how we, as humans become so preoccupied with work, family, school, and the daily grind that we forget to look around at nature, history, and everything God provides us with that really puts us at peace and keeps us entertained here on Earth. The beauty and possibilities are endless, but we so often don't take the time to truly explore where we are at or where we live.

In general, the people who really get to appreciate these things are vacationers and travelers. If you asked how many Kittitians the last time they went to the beach you'd be surprised at how long it's been, even though they're never more than 10 minutes from a beach. It's universal and I fight that because it's so fulfilling to see something new that's always there.

With this in mind I set aside a day to go see the handful of places I'd been neglecting to see for a while now. The day was a national holiday so I knew the island would be quiet and it was. I grabbed my camera, machete, water, and was off in the car. First stop was the Basseterre Fisheries Complex.

The handful of Kittitians that were there on the holiday asked me if I was looking to buy a boat and I said, "Well I don't know which ones are for sale," and the one Kittitians said, "They're all for sale for the right price." Interesting I thought.

A person can stop at the fisheries on the first day of the week I'm told to buy fish, but I haven't done so yet.
Cool boats and most are handmade from wood.
While I was down in the bay area near Basseterre's sea port I took some pictures of the old sugar storehouse. Apparently this was the warehouse they kept sugar in before it was put on the boats and sent overseas. The remnants of the old railroad, in fact the rails still go to the warehouse from the old sugar factory.

Speaking of railroads and sugar factories, those were my next two destinations.

The Sugar Factory in it's heyday. Photo Courtesy: Old Liamuiga & Oualie in Photographs.
This is what it looks like now.

The old Sugar Factory still being used but for different purposes.

I had driven over the Kim Collins Highway bridge near the airport many times and looked down at the pieces of rusted metal growing amongst the cane grass for a long time, but I always said someday I'd get down there and see what they were. This day I did.

I tried to head under this old trestle but the weeds were too thick.

Alas! I found the old sugar railroad dumper train cars.

If you're really interested in the history of the sugar railroad or other railroads in the Caribbean you should get your hands on this book. David Rollinson lived on Nevis for quite a few years and I had the privilege to help him do an archaeological dig some months back. There is a copy of the book in the Clarence Fitzroy Bryant library.
Railways of the Caribbean

You can also view old photos like the three below on the Old Liamuiga and Oualie in Photographs facebook page. Liamuiga and Oualie in Photographs

Photo Courtesy: Old Liamuiga & Oualie in Photographs.
Photo Courtesy: Old Liamuiga & Oualie in Photographs.
Photo Courtesy: Old Liamuiga & Oualie in Photographs.

These are the dump cars in the old pictures above.
It's disheartening how the train cars have just been left to rust and rot away on the same tracks they used to call home and did so much work on everyday. You'd think they'd put one in port near the museum.

I continued to follow the railroad tracks under the overpass and found some more abandoned rail cars.

Even further yet, I found two of the old work horses that pulled all these cars. They really don't look like they're in that bad of shape.

That's the Airport in the background.

The controls look easy enough to run.
Not the prettiest looking engines but they did the job for years. British engineering.
 I continued to follow the tracks over to the Scenic Railway headquarters. I'm so glad a group of Americans bought the railroad rights and still use it today for tourism, otherwise it would all be lost in the cane growth.

Does this sugar cane loader look familiar? It should because it's the same type as the one in the old photograph above.
I then headed off around the eastern side of the island to Black Sand Beach. Black Rocks is a famous tourist stop but it's all rocks and I wanted to find a path to the beach which is a few miles before Black Rocks.

I honestly stumbled across the path down to the beach while taking pictures of this old sugar windmill, just north of the village of Molineaux.

I couldn't get through the overgrowth to the mill but I did find a bulldozed path to this amazing beach.

So I heard from the commentator on the sugar train that legend says that if a woman wants a man to marry her she would take him down to the black sand beach and they would then marry and live happily ever after. Thankfully, I didn't see any couples or anyone in fact. I was completely alone with just the ocean waves as noise. It's very relaxing. So there was some structure that looked like a chimney or maybe an old lighthouse that had fallen down in the water. I don't know what it was so I just speculated.

What do you think it was??


Absolute Solitude!
But still very powerful.
 After climbing back up the steep trail, I headed around the island in a counter-clockwise direction and stopped at the most beautiful church I've seen here in St. Kitts, not because of how it was built but it's location.

Postcard perfect.
 I milled around a bit and looked at the old headstones for some historical perspective and found some going back to the mid 1700s.

 Next, I stopped at Beaumont Park Racecourse which hasn't been open since we arrived almost a year ago. It's such a beautiful facility and I'd like to see it reopen sometime.

 Back on the road I snapped my usual picture of St. Eustatius, drove through Sandy Point, and stopped at Samuel Jefferson's grave and Sir Thomas Warner's, in Saint Thomas Middle Island.

St. Eustatius.
 All of the taxi tour drivers point out the graves from the road but I wanted to see them up close.

Warner and Jefferson were supposedly very good friends.

Sir Thomas Warner's grave. Now this man was an explorer.
Samuel Jefferson's Grave. You should all know who his great grandson was.
As a quick side note, Samuel Jefferson who lived in St. Kitts had a son also named Samuel Jefferson, who was Thomas Jefferson's father. Thomas's father was also buried in the Caribbean in the country of Antigua and Barbuda. If you search back into the history of the Caribbean you'll see many famous families lived here that later had connections with the United States.

 I snapped a few pictures of the Saint Thomas Church too. It's also a very old and beautiful church.

While looking around I think I found my future home, if I can convince the owners to sell.

"De Crib" Awesome!
By this point in the day I was getting extremely hungry and since it was a holiday nothing was open except gas stations and believe me these aren't U.S, convenience stores. I decided to head back but had one more picture I wanted to take.

I realize it's not an exciting picture but there is history behind this, I promise. This is the only red brick sugar mill chimney on St. Kitts and it's located near Camps, just north of Ross University. The reason it's red is because it was built by the French and the red brick denoted that this portion of the island or territory belonged to the French governor. Kind of cool huh?

All in all, my day of exploring turned out to be full of some amazing pictures, places, and it gave me a chance to appreciate St. Kitts for more than just what's in my neighborhood, just outside of Basseterre.

It was an exciting and peaceful day all rolled into one and it won't be the last day of exploring for me either, but I got to check off some more items in my mental checklist of must sees in St. Kitts.

So wherever you live, get out and explore, even if it's alone (just make sure you're safe about it). I find it is fulfilling, educational, stress relieving, and priceless.