Friday, July 13, 2012

Caribbean capers on St Kitts & Nevis

I returned to New York last night after a six-day flying visit to the formerly British-administered islands of St Kitts and Nevis, in the Caribbean. My main purpose was to meet Renee Petrillo, who with her husband Michael sold up everything about six or seven years ago, bought a 37-foot catamaran called Jacumba, and set sail for the Bahamas and the Caribbean. Renee wrote a book called A Sail of Two Idiots about their adventures, and now writes a blog, Island Babble, about life on St Kitts. I was introduced to Renee by email by a woman I sat next to on a plane from Miami to Belize City last November.

I quickly learned not to expect anything to go according to plan. You have to bend and sway like a tropical palm in the island breezes.

I stayed at Timothy Beach Resort, at Frigate Bay, which is on a beach and has a pool and a dock bar. It's a "resort" only in a lowercase sense, though.

On Saturday, Renee took a morning off from a totally insane workout program she has been following (appropriately named something like "Insanity") to run with me on a relatively flat six-mile course. The next day I joined a bunch of runners who run regularly around the golf course. Two of that group, Kat and Anthony, will be in New York for the marathon in November.

Renee and Mike showed me most of what there is to see on the island without going for a serious hike. St Kitts and Nevis are both in the volcanic zone, along with nearby Montserrat and other islands, and there's not much that's flat once you're away from the coast.

On Sunday we spent some time at a gorgeous private club by a beach. Renee and Michael shared a long story about what is going on with these sorts of developments. It 'aint pretty...

On Nevis, which we travelled to by ferry, Renee and I checked out a couple of plantation resorts, including the gorgeous Golden Rock. It's up on the slopes of Nevis Peak, high above the ocean. Very funky design and beautiful landscaping.

Basseterre, the capital of St Kitts, is ramshackle and without much obvious appeal. Cruise boats stay only long enough to take passengers up to Romney Manor (to see its gorgeous gardens) and a few other places out of town. The town centre has a clock tower and an interesting-looking restaurant overlooking 'The Circus". Nearby is a prison, and a stadium where the West Indies and New Zealand cricket teams played a match yesterday.

I went to St Kitts and Nevis to meet Renee. She and Michael were easy company, and it was an interesting time to talk with them about their hopes for the future.

Film note: Just before I headed south I saw the wonderful film "Beasts of the Southern Wild", which tells the story of a young girl and her father, and some other members of their small community, on the edge of an unnamed New Orleans at the time of Hurricane Katrina.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The heat is on...

It's been mostly more of the same, but hotter, since my last entry.

Two races: Pride 5 miles in Central Park (second in my age group) and the very hot Queens 10K on Sunday (third in my AG).

I'm still enjoying my own mini film festival: "Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present" was amazing. The documentary traced her career but focused on her piece for the MoMA retrospective in 2010, when for about ten weeks she sat all day in a chair without speaking. About 750,000 people visited the exhibition, and many of those who sat opposite her for a while were moved to tears. 

"Ordinary Miracles: The Photo League of New York" was a documentary about a group of photographers working in New York during the 1930s and 1940s. 

In the documentary "Kumare", filmmaker Vikram Gandhi posed as an Indian guru in Arizona.  

I saw a new print of "Annie Hall" at Film Forum. I've seen it many, many times, but it was fun to see it in New York in a re-release and to recognise many of the locations.

"Thelma" (Philippines) was disappointing. This movie about a young woman who became a runner in order to help her family felt like a TV soap. It was laboured and melodramatic.

I spent an afternoon back at Brooklyn Preparatory High School last week, where I had spoken at a careers day a month or so ago. With a teacher, I helped review portfolios of work done by three boys aged 16–17. The boys peer-reviewed each other, and we ended up with a final mark for each student that reflected all our assessments. A very interesting process.

One personal goal I've had for a while was to walk from 220th Street, at the top of Manhattan, down Broadway to Battery Park, at the southern tip, in one day. (Broadway actually continues up into the Bronx and further north into Westchester County and far beyond...) Broadway has many "faces" other than the Theatre District, and I wanted to see how they all flow into and out of each other.

My phone/camera battery died at around 105th Street, where I took a break for lunch. I still wanted to do the whole walk in one day, so I carried on (it took about six hours in total), but I re-walked the sections from 97th Street to Houston, and Houston to Battery Park, over the next two days with a working camera. It was a fun excursion and filled in some bits of Manhattan I didn't know very well.

Mornings from Monday to Thursday have been spent training in Central Park with the 5:30 crew. It's already a little darker at 5:10 when I leave home...

Saw a terrific retrospective exhibition of portrait photography and video works by the Dutch artist Rineke Dijkstra at the Guggenheim yesterday.