St Kitts – Caribbean
Yesterday evening we passed to the east of St Croix before altering our course to east heading for St Kitts, where we docked at Port Zante, a brand new 27 acre cruise-ship/pier-marina in Basseterre. Originally called St Christopher, St Kitts Island, together with Nevis, comprises the Republic of St Kitts and Nevis, gaining independence from the Britain in 1983.
Souvenirs and local handicrafts, such as, island baskets and leather (goatskin) goods are the best buys here on the pier which is teaming with passengers from 2 cruise-ships.
We struggle with the decision of what to do in St Kitts, with only 7 hours on the island we were torn between exploring the pristine beaches, and opting for a land tour. The view of the island from the ship was mesmerizing; vast, green, undulating hills and valleys, neglected sugarcane fields, a huge dormant volcano and dense tropical forests, beckon us to St. Kitts.
This easy-going island of unspoiled natural beauty is decidedly worth exploring, so we team up with another couple to share a taxi and leave the picturesque capital, Basseterre, on the Caribbean shore, near the southern end of the island.
We travel north passing gorgeous Sandy Bay, Whitehouse Bay, the University of Nursing and the University of Veterinary Medicine, which attracts many foreign learners. We stop at the ruins of an old rum distillery before heading to Romney Manor now the site of another famous tourist attraction. The popular Caribelle Batik Factory.
Batik, the art of cloth dying using wax and cold water dye, is an ancient East Asian craft. At Caribelle we see a live demonstration of this craft and fantastic display of items for sale.
Romney Manor was once owned by Sam Jefferson II, the great, great, great grandfather of Thomas Jefferson (3rd President of U.S.A.) the great house was renamed Romney Manor following its acquisition in the early 17th century by the Earl of Romney who in 1834 contrary to the instructions of the British Parliament, declared his slaves free men. Romney Estate therefore became the first estate in St.Kitts to emancipate their slaves.
Set in approximately 10 acres of grounds, Romney Manor, an attraction worthy of a visit, was established in the 17th century and since then has only known 6 family owners.
There is a spirituality and serenity about Romney Manor and its grounds that we unquestionably experience. The setting is majestic. The saman tree is said to be 350 years old, and has a 24 foot diameter and covering of ½ an acre. The tree quietly presides over the present day activities offering a shady cool respite from the hot sun.
As we sail away, we agreed that St Kitts with its friendly welcoming people, easy going attitude, and laid back lifestyle would be on our list of must-visit-again places.