DAR Cruise Day 3: The American Revolution in the Caribbean

Written by: Adele G. Morris, National Chair, Educational Resources Committee
November 15, 2018

On Day Three the weather was overcast, but the Celebrity Summit brought the Daughters to the islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis. Our port of call in Saint Kitts was Basseterre (translated into “low lands”), which is the capital of Saint Kitts. Prior to independence it had been divided into three sections, the British in the middle and the French at each end.  Saint Kitts gained its independence in 1983 and is known for its rain-forested mountains and beaches of white, gray and black sands.

Upon entry to Saint Kitts, we boarded a 20-passenger bus for our tour of the island. We found that travel on the left side of the road — a British influence — can be a bit unnerving! We saw beaches of black sand, which comes from lava, which has been used for centuries in building projects. Many of the older structures still have the lava blocks on their lower levels. Current building practices mimic the old practices, so as to keep all structures appearing “uniform.”   Our guide noted that one lava block took laborers 6 hours to carve out and are 6 sided, similar to the appearance of dice.

On to Fairview Great House, which has had many iterations - from a sugar plantation, to a private house, then a hotel, and is currently a historical landmark, but is available for weddings.

There are two ponds in the front of the house that reflect the shape of the islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis. Saint Kitts is the larger of the two islands and resembles the shape of a turkey drumstick. Nevis has more of a circular appearance. The view from the house onto the Caribbean is spectacular — so lush and green.

Brimstone Hill Fortress is at the top of the hill. The view is spectacular, and the driving is treacherous with the hairpin turns and narrow arches. The French invasion of Saint Kitts was also known as the Siege of Brimstone Hill (1/19/1782 - 2/13/1782). The French kept supplies from reaching the British troops, and the garrison capitulated after one month siege. About a year later, it was returned to the British. The fort was designed by British architects and built by African slaves. It took 100 years to build. 

Monkeys are all over the island. They were brought in by the French as pets, but many escaped and now they outnumber humans 3:1. Some are so small that they could fit in your palm, other could get to be 60 lbs., and have become pests to farmers. They come to a farm, take a bite out of an item, and then throw it to the ground.

The National Flag contains red, green , black, yellow and white colors. The green represents the futile land, the red represents the struggle from slavery to independence, the black is represents the slaves, the yellow represents the year-round sunshine and the white represents hope and liberty. The two stars represent the Islands of Saint Kitts and Nevis. When Saint Kitts gained their independence, the person who raised it for the first time, flew it upside down — and it has remained in that fashion ever since.

One of our most spectacular vistas was the view where the Caribbean waters were on the right, and the Atlantic Ocean was on the left.

Other items to note:

  • Gas costs $5.05 a gallon and has to be imported
  • The island of Saint Kitts is 20-miles long; only 20-30 minutes away from anything
  • Elections are every 5 years; there are no term limits
  • There are 200 individuals in the army; they are used to assist the police in keeping order
  • During the recent hurricanes, the 1500 who lived on Nevis moved to Saint Kitts
  • Ferries go daily the 45 minutes between the two islands
  • The Brown Pelican is the National Bird
  • Sugar cane production stopped completely June 30, 2005 — too expensive to produce. Tourism is now the main resource.
  • Trees are not cut down, all wood for construction is imported

While some of us explored these areas, another group of hardy DAR hikers attempted the “strenuous” trek up the 3,792-foot dormant volcano — Mount Liamuiga. The volcano’s crater is 800’ deep and the views are spectacular, too!  Of course, mud and humidity were more prominently addressed by them. They slid up and slid down the volcano. It was reported that the volcano excursion was the most difficult of ALL the excursions in the Caribbean! Way to go DAR trekkers!

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