Wednesday, 4 July 2007

The Graveyard Shift

This is the flower of the Baobab tree which is located in the main square in Basseterre. The Boabob has an incredibly rich history and I think it's easier to provide the Wikipedia link I have never seen the Baobab flower and the blooming production is really quite something. There are green fruit-like looking pods; beautiful, very large white flowers that begin white before ageing to cream then brown and finally fall on the ground in a beautiful dried formation. I was lucky to see a truly spectacular baobab on neighbouring Nevis. That was a very interesting day so I will tallk about that in another post.
My friend Frances and I visited this historic Anglican church in Basseterre on afternoon and spent a lot of time just browsing through the tombstones. This was on my second day and I think that it was only about this time that the true historic significance of St Kitts really began to sink in. The headstones go back to the early 1800s and even an occasional late 1700s and many carry interesting tales. Unfortunately the chruch was closed so we could not get in but the thickly cut walls are still standing strong and proud.

I would want to spend eternity under such beauty.
Frannnie has to get the prize for being the most agile pregnant Mama. Here she is after our tombstone jaunt, climbing the fence after we realized that the gates had been locked for the night and we were, GASP, locked in the churchyard. Spooky. Not a problem for Frannie. I have to save this picture to show the baby what prenatal antics his mother had him up to!

More photos from the rainforest hike

This little monkey was rescued as a baby and is not yet fully grown. It is startling how human they are, especially as babies. There are said to be two monkeys on the island for every person. The green vervet monkeys lack prehensile tails and, as such, do not swing but rather walk around. I saw most of them in the evening when the sun had come out and they would come out of the woody areas. This baby was very shy but quite willing to come to us.
This is the gingerbread facade of the Caribelle estate house where batik cloth is produced. The gardens here are spectacular and the crowning glory is the 350 year old samaan tree that greets you as you drive up to the house. It is a whole ecosystem with epiphytic bromeliads, orchids and vines.
The exquisite flower of the flamboyant or the poinciana is almost orchid-like in its delicacy.
The diversity of St Kitts really surprised me. On the Southern peninsula, the land is scrubby and dry with not a few cacti thriving. But inland, there is rainforest filled with butress trees; mango trees and sandback trees with their distinctive polished , sickle shaped wooden disks that explode loudly in the heat of the sun with sharp, cracking sounds. The aquaducts put in by the Brtish in the late 1700 and early 1800s to service the sugar estates are still very much present in the forest and the pipes have held up remarkably well to the ravages of time.
Our hiking group stumbled across Nicholas Spencer and his friend hunting crayfish in the river. They had a bucketfull and assured me that they were going to cook it themselves. I ran into the two of them a few nights later at Spratnet as it turns out that Nichlas is the nephew of the owners Mark and Jack Spencer. Very small world.

So much to Write. No time!

Lovely view of climbing vine in Flamboyant tree (or Poinciana as it is known here).
This is the fountain at one of the charming hotels located in Basseterre's beautiful hillside suburbs.

Here is Cleaver, our rainforest tourguide who could not have been nicer. He is nestled here in the roots of one of the massive buttress trees that form the rainforest landscape. In a fascinating ecosystem, these roots anchor the earth and prevent erosion of the soil at the side of the riverbank.The petroglyphs of St Kitts are some of the best preserved of the region. They were carved into the rock faces by a people who probably thought that they had all the time in the world. This desire to communicate through art is still one of the most distinguishing features of human beings and is what truly brings us together. I wondered if this image was created by an errant teenager (or is that a 20th century invention?) or was the artist well respected throughout the region? The red paint has been added recently and, to the purist, may be seen as a mistake. The paint will fade but the etchings are here for as long as the rocks stand.

Needless to say, I have been hectic. St Kitts has been interesting on so many levels. I had no idea that this was the Crown Jewel of colonies for the British Empire and, as such, is very rich in historical data. The gravestones and churches alone are a treasure trove.I will post more later on all of this but we are off this morning to an island tour of Nevis. I'm posting some photos from my rainforest hike yesterday which was really interesting.