Monday, January 26, 2009

Charlestown - Captial of Nevis

[Kyle]We first had to clear into Nevis (pronounced Nee-vis), so we rowed ashore to the dinghy dock by the ferry terminal and immediately were given a good impression of the place. Maryanne asked directions for a dumpster (for our trash) and the official was very nice, directed Maryanne as to where to find the dumpster, and then asked if we had just arrived? "Yes? Then once you've dumped that, come back and I'll give you directions to Customs, etc.".

Charlestown Port

At customs (2 desks, 4 chairs and a printer), the officers were very nice; joking with us and each other. Having just computerized their system - we were amazed that having given them the name of the boat, they knew where we'd come from and all our details - our arrival paperwork was quickly checked, printed, paid for, and handed over! Creepy on the one hand, but convenient in its efficiency on the other. The next stop was immigration (the local police station, several blocks away). Maryanne was keen to start on her tourist hit list (with a visit to the tourism office we were passing), but I had to remind her that we were not yet legally in the country.

At the police station the highlights were:
  • A bulletin board showing all 4 of the people WANTED on the island - I only had a chance to read one - a Haitian who had overstayed his visa, I imagine the others were for similarly minor offenses.
  • On the opposite wall, a chalkboard with a tally of all traffic accidents for previous years/months, etc (280 for 2008) - below that, a list of people who were (currently) banned from driving, or should I say person; just one guy, publicly humiliated and known to all. Nevis has some very peculiar laws: swearing in public is illegal, but drinking and driving is not, which might explain why an island of only 11,500 people has so many car accidents.

The officer at the counter cleared us in quickly and welcomed us to the island with a smile.

From there we went to the more stereotypically surly Port Authority office in order to pay a week's mooring fees for mooring balls that didn't exist in our planned anchorage, along with other harbour fees.

Charlestown Views - and Kyle gets to relax too

Since we still had most of the day remaining, Maryanne pulled out her list of "must see" sights in town.

  • Museum of Alexander Hamilton - one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence, on the USA $10 bill, etc - a big deal in the States; he was actually born on the Island of Nevis. A reconstruction of his house is here (in the original setting), with the ground floor dedicated to his life story. The museum was disappointingly small (the entire thing can be seen from the cash register where we purchased our inexpensive ticket). It was informative, and prepared and laid out much more professionally than the Antigua museum.
  • Horatio Nelson Museum - Nelson exhibits are all over the Caribbean, but he married Fanny Nesbit who was born on the island of Nevis, married in Nevis, and visited several times before and after his marriage. However, his marriage was unhappy and didn't last too long, but this does not stop the Nevisians housing a museum about him. This museum was also (technically) the Nevis museum, so they had a few artifacts (maybe 25% of the displays) of the pre-colonial occupations and some exhibits on government structure, political history, and slave culture.
  • The Bath Hotel, reputedly the first hotel in the Caribbean; our guidebook said it was now empty and abandoned, but it appeared that various ministry offices are now housed in it. There were some great balcony views and the hotel itself was in good condition and undergoing renovation where not.
  • Another Hot Bath! Nevis has an area of natural volcanic hot springs. The Bath hotel was built beside the springs, and an older bath house has long fallen into dis-repair. However, the hot springs are still popular with the locals and a number of "baths" have been built to make the most of the hot spring waters. Maryanne was the first to go in. Now Maryanne likes HOT water to bathe in, so it was a surprise to see her gently and tentatively lowering herself into the water and obviously struggling to adapt to the temperature. I had a good laugh at her expense until it was my turn to go in, at which point I understood - this water was scalding hot! Once we were both in, eventually we managed to submerge to our necks, there was no way we were putting our head in that water - my face would come off. The sign outside the bath said time limit was 15 minutes and we both wondered how anyone would (or could) stay in the water that long. We managed a photo opportunity and climbed out. The searing hot water did, however, make the hot, muggy, Caribbean air feel positively refreshing once we'd climbed out. As we were drying off and preparing to leave, a local, arriving for her daily bath, insisted that the water was usually much hotter, but recent rains had cooled things down. Jeez!

View from Balcony of Bath Hotel

Kyle takes a hot bath

Alexander Hamilton House

All these things were within a 15 minute walk from the center of Charlestown. We were pleased to do so much (including visiting with the Tourist office to pick up a good Island map).

Once we were done with our tour, we returned to the boat and moved it north up the shore to Oualie Beach (NW side of the island) just in time to enjoy the sunset and plan our next few days of exploring.

[Maryanne]Nevis has been fun so far, and has a character of its own. Everyone has been really friendly. If we even look slightly lost then we get several offers of help. The kids all wear school uniform. We checked out the town library where there was a week long special Obama presentation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

First, thank you for all the photos--they are wonderful! I know it takes a while to upload them and I appreciate it. The one of Kyle at the table is one of the best photos of Kyle I've seen in a long time. And Maryanne, you look healthy, wealthy, wise, fit and trim and very suntanned. This island hopping life suits you both. What a lovely place. Can't wait to hear more. Sending love