Basseterre, St. Kitts
The ship was docked, and the sun was up before I was on a beautiful Tuesday morning in the Caribbean. Today we were going on a history and rum-tasting tour on the West Indian island of St. Kitts. Next to us at the pier was the Royal Caribbean Brilliance of the Seas, but our ship was bigger than their ship. Nyah nyah.
It was a picturesque and clean little town near the dock with the usual cluster of shops selling watches, jewelry, t-shirts and hats. (See St. Thomas.) As we waited for everyone to arrive for our tour, I glanced around the nearby square and saw a building with a Harley Davidson sign on it. Seems hogs are everywhere, even the West Indies.
In the sheltered area where we waited was a small band made up of guitars, ukeleles and even a mandolin playing old American standards from the 1950s for tips.
Our tour bus left at 1:30 to head for a place called Fairview Great House, a restored – rebuilt, actually – plantation house from the 1800s which had been reclaimed from the termites. On the way, our driver pointed out interesting sights and gave us a running commentary on the history of the island.
Sugar cane had once been the principal industry until finally in 2005, the last cane mill was shut down because the government was spending more to keep it afloat than it was bringing in.
We got a guided tour of the house and then sat in the nearby old stone chapel building for a Power Point presentation on the sugar cane and rum history of the place. We also got, for reasons I’m not sure of, quite a detailed presentation on how bootleg rum, the only kind now made on the island, is distilled in backyard enterprises using old oil drums. Didn’t sound very tasty to me…
We finally tried some teensy samples of various rums flavored with such additives as coffee, vanilla and mango. Afterward, we saw a bit of the gardens and of course, the ubiquitous gift shop offering the usual tchochkes and bottles of rum.
Although the islanders speak English, they have such a pronounced patois that a great deal of what our guides said couldn’t be understood. Still, they were very friendly and knowledgeable and the tour was entertaining.
We were back on the ship well in time for the 3 p.m. sailing. Tomorrow we’ll be at Georgetown, Barbados. We have a tour scheduled for a rum distillery. See a pattern here?
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