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.

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