St. Kitts & Nevis - "The Mother Colony of the West Indies."

I kind of crashed into St. Kitts & Nevis and winged my way from there. I wouldn't recommend it. I would plan ahead next time.

Well, in the last blog you might have picked up on that it has been a little rough lately. And my mind is, and has been, full of various thoughts which keep me a little stressed. Thoughts about the timeline, about logistics, about my apartment back home (needed a new tenant), about visas in Africa, about the Vatican City, about Cuba, about my girlfriend, about experiencing where I am, about enjoying what I do, get the point. My mind has been pretty occupied.

Information on the ferry connections from Antigua to St. Kitts & Nevis had been scarce and once I made it to Montserrat I was informed that the ferry would take me to Nevis at 4:00pm. Well things change and we left around 10:00pm. And I was suddenly given the option between getting off on Nevis or continuing to St. Kitts? So I opted for St. Kitts which is the larger of the 2 islands and the one with the capital city: Basseterre.


Overlooking Basseterre in the evening.

Had the ferry only departed at 4:00pm then I would have arrived around 6:00pm with plenty of time to organize for a room for the night and something to eat. But we arrived past midnight. I was more than tired from the days leading up to this so I had in my mind that I would simply check into some hotel or guesthouse and pay the cost. Once we arrived to the port in Basseterre I asked for my passport but was told that I could collect it the next day? That was somewhat backwards? Walk into the country without my passport and leave it behind with some strangers? Well, I was tired and exhausted and trusted them...


So far I have reached 8 out of 13 countries in the Carib.

Basseterre was pretty quiet at the late hour but some "night owls" were to be found in the port area. I asked around for a guesthouse and was pointed in direction of a white building. It was a guesthouse but it was closed. A taxi driver (I presume) started to talk about the Marriott Hotel. I knew I couldn't afford that so I asked for directions to the Red Cross and made the 20 minute walk out there. The Red Cross has a pretty big complex in Basseterre and I walked around it for a while trying to spot a place to hang my hammock for the night. But there weren't any opportunities. It was around 01:00am and I decided that a guesthouse would still be the best option. So I walked off into the night.


My first bed in Basseterre.

And I walked and I walked. I remember asking a young couple if they knew of any 24 hour receptions but they simply looked at me as if I was an alien...which I might as well have been. You see, St. Kitts & Nevis is very small in size and population. The entire country only holds a population of about 50,000 people. So hoping to find an open guesthouse past midnight would be somewhat naive.

At some point around 02:30am I was so tired that I could hardly lift my feet. And I had a clear vision in my head about a corner of a concrete slab back at the Red Cross. So that's what I aimed for. I pulled out my sleeping bag to use as a pillow, I found a sweater which worked as a blanket and I sprayed myself with mosquito spray from top to bottom. And around 03:00am I went to bed.

The next morning around 08:00am I was still alone. So I left my bags and went down to the port. I was told to come back for my passport around 09:00am. At 09:00am I was told to come back at 11:00am. So I enjoyed a salt fish sandwich for breakfast and headed back to the Red Cross. I spoke to the secretary who offered me a shower :)


Getting served food out of the back of a car has long ago become normal.

Soon after Natalie would arrive. I kind of knew Natalie from Facebook where she has been following the project for a while. She was happy to see me so I was happy to see her. Then Elmo arrived and the 3 of us went for a drive in order to retrieve my passport. I had my passport in my hand, stamped with 3 months validity, before noon. After this we drove out to meet Mr. Tyrell who is the general manager of Horsfords building center. We entered his office and he listened to me explain about the project for a while without revealing any form of emotion. I started to think that he though Once Upon a Saga was a waste of time. But then he took action!!! It was amazing to see! Using 2 telephones he would constantly be speaking to someone regarding which boats were leaving the island in the next few days. We are talking about a lot of phone calls and a lot of people who got involved in the logistics of getting me to either the Dominican Republic or to St. Martin. St. Martin because it may be easier to get me to the Dominican Republic from there. Natalie was also making a few phone calls.


Sure there are beautiful beaches here. But people don't live there.

We eventually narrowed it down to that it would be much easier via St. Martin so we lost focus on a direct link...which perhaps was a mistake. Because it turned out that a container ship would arrive a few days later which was going directly to the Dominican Republic. And we missed it.


I actually made it onboard and spoke to the captain who wanted to help. But the liner said that there was an insurance issue.

To my great surprise Mr. Tyrell invited me into his home where he could provide me with a guest room. So we would return to his office later. Elmo, Natalie and I left Mr. Tyrell and went hunting for information at the relevant ports while doing a little sightseeing of St. Kitts.


Downtown Basseterre.

I've said it before: there is a unique hospitality in the Caribbean. You will only feel like a stranger or a guest if that is what you wish. Because the people who live here have a formidable way of making you feel like you belong. I've only been here a few days and I already feel like I have known these people for a long time. Mr. Tyrell lives in a beautiful house together with his wife, 2 children and an aunt who is currently visiting. His son, Onzel, works at the local tv station and immediately contacted them to hear if they were interested in talking to me which they were. 

The "Tyrells" have welcomed me with my own room, which used to be his older brothers room. But he is away studying in the USA for the time being so I'm living in luxury. I've have had delicious home cooked meals and with my own shower I can bathe whenever I want. I love it!


Onida, Mr. Tyrell's daughter left me this message while I was sleeping ;)

When the boat first approached Nevis in the nighttime a few days earlier I looked at the shoreline and thought to myself that I had arrived to a place I wanted to explore. St. Kitts is such a lovely island and the infrastructure and architecture of Basseterre is absolutely to my liking. These islands where among the first to be discovered by the Europeans when they made their way across the Atlantic Ocean more than 500 years ago. St. Kitts is also known as St. Christoffer (from Christoffer Columbus)...and how "Christoffer" becomes "Kitts" puzzles me. But Nevis makes sense to me. Because the story goes that when Columbus first saw the proportionally high volcanic mountains he first thought he saw snow which in Spanish is "nieve" wasn't snow of course, he probably saw clouds, but the name sticked and was later on misinterpreted as Nevis. 


Onzel stood behind the camera as I enjoyed two tv interviews at ZIZ Broadcasting Corporation.

While Columbus might have had good intentions there were other Europeans that arrived with financial gain as their "holy grail". Just like anywhere else in the Caribbean. I was reading somewhere that Nevis at one point in history was populated by 1,000 colonials and 10,000 slaves?! But it's long ago. I mean, my country, Denmark, was overrun by Germans less than 70 years ago and today we do business with them, cross the border to buy beer and we are even in the process of creating a tunnel, in order to connect our countries infrastructure. It's not the same I know, but what I'm getting at is that things change.

St. Kitts used to be all about sugarcane production and today it's all about tourism. There is a train which is used for scenic trips around the island. That train used to carry sugarcane. Things change.


St. Thomas Anglican Church where Thomas is buried. He was the first governor in the West Indies when the Caribbean was first colonized.

I'm in a very religious part of the world, compared to where I come from, and I have been so for some time now. It used to be, if the topic of religion came up, I was simply asked which religion we had where I come from: Muslims, Buddhist, Hindus, Christians? I would reply that: "we are Christians. But we used to be Vikings and used to believe in Nordic mythology 1,000 years ago". For a while now I haven't been asked that. I guess people here assume that I am Christian. Now they ask me: "which church do you belong to?" And that's a lot harder for me to answer. Because I almost feel it's offensive to reply to a person who would ask me that - that I believe all religion was manmade. I don't believe that religion is bad. I believe that it is good for some people and that others take advantage of it. It has been interesting ever since I arrived to Guyana and Suriname (in South America). Because there you would have a church next to a mosque next to a Hindu temple. I don't know why I brought that up? Perhaps because it's hard to get around religion in some parts of the world. Or perhaps because it's Christmas? 


You know that the Christmas tree took it's beginning a long time ago, right? Well, apparently there are all sorts of stories dating far back in time. In a more Christian version the pine trees triangular shape symbolizes the trinity. Where I come from it symbolizes a temporary station for a ton of gift wrapped presents. A Christmas evening in Denmark would start on December 24th with family, good food, a silly tradition with hiding an almond in some sweet porridge, dancing around a decorated tree while singing and holding hands and eventually opening up a ton of presents. It's not impossible that some "church going" would have been squeezed in somewhere in all of this. If you are a child then the morning of December 25th could be a magical morning where you quietly sneak into the living room towards the Christmas tree to see if some fat bearded man did a reversed robbery by leaving something you wanted "all your life". Come to think about it: it may be that Christmas in Denmark no longer is a religious event for most people. - it has become the religion (at least throughout December).


There is this family in Basseterre where it is said that it takes the husband 1 month to pit up the decorations.

Well I spent my Christmas in the Rydell family home. They have a lovely plastic Christmas tree which decorates a part of the living room. Various other decorations are also found throughout. But I'm on a tropical island, it's really warm, coconuts are for sale outside and chances of seeing snow is nonexistent. Unless of course you are Christoffer Columbus or addicted to drugs ;)


Liming with Mr. Rydell at the Junior Calypso Monarch & Steel pan fest. They performed with spectacular skill!! 

December 24th was a pretty normal day and most people here go to church in the evening. The next day was a day of relaxation. A day of family and family visits. A day of long distance phone calls with loved ones. Probably "a day of liming" would work as an appropriate term.


Carneval is on right now. I had myself some BBQ chicken with garlic bread. Mmmmm.

I don't know where I am in regards to leaving St. Kitts. After Mr. Rydell took control I sort of lost control. But I trust that he is on top of things. He's been extraordinary friendly and helpful. We've been liming at the carnival and we've been at various offices and ports looking for transport. I think there is a man leaving from Basseterre today, Friday, by boat. But I haven't spoken to him. Mr. Rydell has and it's a "maybe-I'm-leaving-maybe-I'm-not" kind of situation. Cruise ships come in here all the time. So I feel like there are options. It's just about making the right connections...or swimming.

Merry Christmas.

Best regards
Torbjørn C. Pedersen (Thor) - not quite ready to swim yet.


Once Upon a Saga
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