Thursday, March 24, 2011

Bless Up!

Keith, Watusi and Ron before our tour
This morning Keith, Ron and I were all moving a bit slowly (a la “why is the rum gone?”) but thankfully, we’d arranged a tour of Nevis with Watusi, a, extremely tall Nevisian Rastafarian singer/taxi driver. He had offered us the tour yesterday, but we opted for the morning tour today. We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves; Watusi was very knowledgeable about the island, from showing us Alexander Hamilton’s birthplace and pointing out the Horatio Nelson museum in Charlestown. (For those who don't know who Alexander Hamilton is, well, check out the man on the 5-dollar bill!) Horatio Nelson was Britain's greatest naval hero, and it was here on Nevis, when he was a young captain, where he met and married Fanny Nisbet, a local plantation owner's daughter. 

The parish church from the 17th century
Our first stop was the St. Thomas Lowland Parish Anglican church, one of the oldest on the island. We were captivated by the serene stone structure, and the amazing cemetery beside and behind it. Most of the stones were very old, dating back from the 1700s, with ornate inscriptions on the entire slab of stone covering the graves, and decorated with carvings. One was heart-breaking:

“Here lyes y boddyes of two children
 of  Mr Joseph Martyn and Dorothy his wife
Both named Edward. Y eldest died May the 6th
ann 1678, & Y other died July 6th 1679”
Sacred to the memory of
Jessy, wife of the Honble  Peter Thos. Huggins
Born 14 Novr 1789; died 2nd Octr 1851
In humble reliance on her Savior’s merit,
She was a Woman of the most amiable and
Benevolent character a model of
maternal affection and unpretending
good sense and prudence.

Blessed, ever blessed are the dead which
Die in the Lord from henceforth: “Yea,”
saith the Spirit, “that they may rest from
their labours, and their works do follow them.”
Check out the photos and the details of one memorial marker:
The inscription on this slab was extremely worn and mostly unreadable, but I'm pretty
sure the person to whom it was dedicated wasn't a pirate!
From there, the tour went through various areas of the island, from other parish churches to places along the road where Watusi would randomly stop to chat with friends. (“Bless up!” was a popular greeting, before he would launch into a Nevisian local dialect that none of us could follow.) We checked out the rural countryside and stopped to walk among the ruins of the old sugar mills that still dot the island. Most of the mills were windmills, like on St. Kitt’s, and all that is left is the lower stone structures. In some cases, when the mills were converted to steam power (from wind power) there is the old 18th century machinery. The sugar vats remained the same though! It was fun to try to imagine it as a working enterprise.
Sugar cane press with rollers
The old sugar vats
Ruins of the old manor house
We also stopped at a couple of the old plantation estates, which are now restored and in use as luxury inns. We had a delicious poolside lunched at the Montpelier Plantation Inn, on the land where Admiral Horatio Nelson married Fannie Nesbit. While the plantation inns were beautiful, I was more intrigued with the tiny homes of the local folks. Most were quite simple: small, square clapboard cottages; generally well-kept, tidy and neat, some looked as if they were so old as to be near ruin. Interesting to see!

There was a tiny garden next to this small house
House on the left, shed for the goats on the right

Porches were common too
After a full day of island sightseeing, we'd had our fill of the plantation life! We returned to town listening to a CD of Watusi's music (Rather good, actually -- we bought one for ourselves) and then made our way back to Equinox for a few boat chores. After Ron ran back to town to clear us out with Customs, we pulled the dinghy up on the flybridge to ready her for tomorrow's early departure. We spent a quiet evening with Keith aboard for dinner (doing a great book exchange between the books aboard each boat) and said our goodbyes. Keith was considering sailing Sophia over to Monserrat or Barbuda before reuniting with Gwen and returning to St. John; we're thinking of going to Saba or elsewhere! We'll see what the weather and the morning will bring!

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful following your travels. Never spent any time down there except for Puerto Rico and St. Thomas. Thank you for the great updates.


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