A first summary of the islands

The islands of St. Kitts and Nevis are a little like rum punch. If you aren’t careful, you’ll end up flat wondering how that happened. As I wrote earlier, there is an amazing difference between the Caribbean on those cruise commercials and the one I’ve met.

These two islands maintain two distinct personalities. The one reserved for the ex-pats and visitors is filled with sunshine and rainbows. The beaches are clean and the water an amazing palette of a hundred blues. There’s internet and 50 inch plasma TVs and bars stocked with 40 liquors and hundreds of bottles of wine. It’s good, because you’ll need to drink when you’re hungry – there’s no food here.

You think I’m kidding!

Really, honestly, with very rare exception, everything eaten on these two islands is shipped in from another island. The people here refuse to work their land citing the years of slave work done by their ancestors as reason to never hold a shovel. In this paradise the tomatoes and lettuce are grown hydroponically by a resourceful Brit who sells all he can produce to a half dozen high-end restaurants who in turn prepare US$100 plate dinners for people who don’t care they spend US$500 a day for food and drinks. It is the craziest thing I think I’ve ever seen in a local culture.

Want fruit? It comes from somewhere else. Want a vegetable? Unlikely. Really. In this environment of sunny 80 degree days and pleasant 70 degree nights, you get what you can frozen from the local grocer.

There’s a fresh market here where you can pick up produce from off the boat. It’s pricey. Locals survive on really not great stuff. Rice every day. A lot of chicken – they roam free in the streets – and very little in the way of fresh fruit or vegetables.

The Four Seasons on Nevis has been closed since hurricane Omar came through. The economy is really starting to suffer as the several hundred jobs the hotel makes creates a good chunk of the island’s employment. There’s a rumor they’re being sold to an Asian hotel group. People are really nervous. The other island owners are anxious to have things settled. Right now there are no overflow bookings without the main hotel and restaurants are empty. One restaurant took to putting employee cars in the parking lot to give the appearance of dinner traffic. Once inside, there were eight guests.

Another evening dinner took us to a popular ex-pat hangout – primarily British – of a certain age. I came to thinking of them as the aging rock stars. It turned out I wasn’t far from the truth on that one.

First, let me articulate, this crowd is aging very well. They are careful with the sun. They run residual empires from well-equipped command centers by day and hang with a tight knit community by night. From what I experienced, they eat very well. Comforts from home like pate and curry as well as locally caught fish and lobster can land on the dinner table after a proper aperitif.

(There’s a problem about dining with the rich and famous, though. You kind of can’t talk about it. The last thing they want to do is search their own name and come up with your Web site. I mean, it’s not like I expected to be sharing a table. But R’s got a way with making acquaintances easily. Her cell phone contact book looks pretty impressive down here.)

After dinner we went to a couple’s hillside home for a nightcap. I watched British videos while we talked about cultural differences. It was a pretty spectacular evening, except I missed the youngest. Music is her specialty and she would have reveled in the glory of good conversation from someone who lived in the music world with some of her favorite artists.

For the next few days I discover the island of St. Kitts. I’ll let you know how that goes. I will say I’ll be ordering the biggest salad I can find the minute I land in the States. If you happen to have one in the next few days, thank the US of A for the luxury of a few veges.


  1. Randy in Richmond says:

    Did an Island hopping golf and casino trip not long ago and stayed on St. Kitts for two nights at the Ocean Terrace, which was walking distance from Basseterre. Best restaurant we found was Serependity’s but I found the service at most places to be extra slow–so you just accept that as part of the local flair. Ferry ride to Nevis was an adventure. Loved the casino at Royal St Kitts.
    If you like laid back, you’re there.