A Travellerspoint blog

December 2012

Gorgeous, friendly Tiberias

In the morning, I got up, had breakfast, and went off to the local mall to square away my phone situation. Unfortunately, the Orange desk at the mall couldn't help me un-deactivate my sim and referred me to some other place 20 minutes away with no directions. Most of the other cellular stores (including the one I originally got the sim at) didn't have prepaid sims, and wouldn't give me a sim with any sort of plan without an Israeli ID, which I don't have. They kept referring me to another store until I finally found one that would sell me a new sim card and put some minutes and texts on it. I also picked up a paper road map so I could find my way around.

I headed to another cousin's house that was up past Nazareth. I had never been to Nazareth (and really, I still haven't as I'm not sure driving through counts.) However, from what I saw, it is a pretty city with very windy mountain roads and nice views.

My “quick visit” with the cousins turned into a longer stay as I was invited for “lunch.” This meal was not a noonish meal, but a meal for much later, when the kids came home from school. It was good, standard Israeli fare. After a nice chat there, I headed to Tiberias much later than I had originally wanted, but it was totally worth it.

Upon arrival in Tiberias, I drove around the city for a bit, just taking in the lovely views. One of the reasons I love Tiberias so much is that the Kinneret (Galilee) and mountains meet in such a majestic way. Several of the locals I spoke with said that one of their favorite things about living here is the Kinneret or the beauty, and they each had their own way of wording it. Beyond the natural beauty, the city has a lot of charm because it is very old. Even the modern apartments remind you a times past, both from their age and from the laundry hanging out to dry. I passed a cute little vegetable market that offered local fruits, veggies, meats, and fish out of little stands. In the states, it would be the hip little farmers' market filled with yuppies, but it seemed more like the market in St. Kitts where the everyday people go to get their food, which further added to the charm. Not all of the “old” is new-old either. A lot of the tourist sites are really ancient- graves of famous Rabbis, Crusade-era churches, Roman-era ruins. After my wandering, I checked into the Panorama Hotel, which I found by coincidence earlier as I was driving near the waterfront. The hotel is in a really fabulous location and some rooms have great views towards the Kineret, I suppose. My room has a view of the city, which is still pretty neat. The room is small with a very compact bathroom, but it was very clean- not a drop of mold anywhere. As I only really needed to sleep there, the smallness was fine by me. (It also had a TV and mini-fridge, for those reading who find that important.) The guy at the front desk was interesting. We had gotten to talking and when I asked about book-related activities he said, “you still read? Nobody reads anymore. All the information is on the TV.” He was pretty amazed at how “backwards” I was. (Despite those comments, there is at least one bookstore in Tiberias that I saw, and the lady there mentioned a couple of libraries, so I know it's not a view everybody here holds.) Fortunately, he also warned me about the rude guy at the restaurant next door. When I went out, the guy was very pushy and really wanted me to eat there, despite the fact that I wasn't nearly hungry yet. When I turned him down (politely) and kept walking, he definitely called me a bad name, which may have given me a bad view of locals if I hadn't been pre-warned that he was like that.

As some counter examples- everybody else I spoke with throughout the evening was extremely nice- I even got an invitation into a home on a future trip. Like midwest USA, many of the drivers were stopping for me to cross, even when I wasn't in a crosswalk and was waiting patiently or when they had the right-of way. (Not all of them were like that, so don't go running out in the street like you might in podunk USA.) The other people hawking food were friendly about it and most certainly didn't say anything bad when I declined. One local I spoke with even said that one of his favorite things about the city is the friendly people, which leads me to believe I'm not the only one who sees it. The meat restaurant guy seemed to be the exception to the rule, but there always is at least one.

Despite being dark out, there were tons of people out and about as this is a tourist town, and I was in the touristy part. Plus, it's Birthright season, so there were several swarms of college-aged young adults milling about. I wandered around that end of town, stopping to look at all of the old architecture. It's just blended into the city, which I think is so neat. You might be walking around a little shopping center and- BAM- right in the middle is an ancient stone building that was an important building 500+ years ago, just sitting there like another shop. Some of the ancient buildings have other uses today and house restaurants or other businesses. I just think that it's so cool that the history is right there and so easily accessible. By serendipity, I wandered past the town's art gallery, Amdur Fine Art, and popped in for a look. The pieces there were very cool- several of which were definitely my taste. It made me wish I had my home to put art in. My favorite was a HUGE painting that reminded me of nature and would have gone perfectly on the wall behind my couch, although it may have been bigger than my wall and not actually fit now that I think about it. There were also some with the shiny that reminds me of the stuff I LOVED when I saw at Kunst Haus in Vienna. Plus, it had some cool sculptures. It's definitely worth a look if you're in Tiberias. For dinner, I stopped on the Promenade at Coffee Bar Bolenat, which has a very cool-looking wooden counter. It reminds me of a fence made out of petrified forest wood or something. In any case, that was the coolest part. As they also had homemade pasta, I asked the waitress what her favorite was and what her favorite sauce was and ordered that (gnocchi with sweet potato sauce). It was good in concept. The gnocchi tasted right and had the right texture. However, the sweet potato “sauce” appeared to be creamed and mashed sweet potatoes. The flavor was nice, but it was unexpectedly gritty, there were skins in it, and not all of the sweet potato was mashed all the way, so there were chunks of it in addition to the gnocchi. While I most certainly will go home and try to make something similar because I really like the concept, it just wasn't well-executed here.

After dinner, I passed through the tourist markets selling toys, skirts, and souvenirs and went to the area of the waterfront where they have a light show every hour starting at 7:30. They use fountains to squirt up water either as a misty screen to project “movies” on. It was a cute show about the history of Tiberias and the music suited it well. It was a nice end to the day for me.

I really really really love Tiberias- everybody was so friendly, the city is very charming, the views are gorgeous. I think that this is a fabulous city. It's both great for a visit and, as I was told by several people from a restauranteur to the guy in the hotel lobby who invited me to play poker on my way in to bed, it's a great place to raise a family. Some day, I would love to have a little bed and breakfast here (or very close-even better would be someplace greener but nearby) overlooking the Galilee. I think it's my dream to someday be here (but not something I'm ready for now).

hills of Tiberias

hills of Tiberias


Cool-looking building

Cool-looking building


cute veggie market

cute veggie market


ancient city wall edging a parking lot

ancient city wall edging a parking lot


old synagogue

old synagogue


light show

light show


light show

light show


favorite at the gallery

favorite at the gallery

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Israel Comments (0)

Happy Sylvester

My usual flights to Miami and DC went as normal, except that Sushi Maki in MIA changed their pad thai recipe for the worse (and gave a smaller portion than normal). My flight to Paris and then through to Tel Aviv were reasonably standard. The amenities were better than an American airline, but skimpy for a European airline, especially a more expensive one.Upon landing in Tel Aviv, I discovered that my sim stopped working, even though I last used it (accidentally) in March, and it's not supposed to expire until 11 months after the last usage. I figured it was something I could get resolved later, so I passed the phone stores at the airport and headed to the car rental counter.Again, drama. I rented online through Payless through Expedia, and Eldan is the service counter for Payless. This is confusing because there is a sign for shuttle to rental cars and also a sign for rental car center that doens't say Payless anywhere on it. As a result, I first went looking for the shuttle, couldn't find it, asked and was told that rental cars are all in the same area, went up to the counters and waited. When I was served, they explained that they have a lot of problems with Payless in that there is mandatory tax/fee for insurance that most rental companies charge as part of the rental, but Payless doesn't. They did offer me the opportunity to check out the other desks before I paid the higher price (the insurance was more than the car rental, doubling the price). Nobody else had automatic or was nearly as cheap out of the desks with short lines and I didn't have time to wait around in long lines to be disappointed, so I went with them anyway.I made it to my cousins' house no problem, and hung out with them for a while. It was New Year's Eve, which is called “Sylvester” in Israel, because it is St. Sylvester's day. It is a tongue-in-cheek reminder that this is a Christian calendar holiday. Unlike in the US, nobody really has the day or day after off, so the parties aren't as big, but there are still plenty of people out. We went to a cousins' friend's house in Tel Aviv for a while and hung out, mostly being amused by her crazy cat and each other. After midnight (too early to watch the ball drop, which felt a bit odd and anti-climactic), we went out for food. There were a ton of revelers out and about in the neighborhood and plenty of restaurants open with lines out the door and around the corner. We finally settled for one that had pizza and homemade pasta. I did stick by my rule of always getting the homemade pasta. While it was good if it was regular pasta, it also didn't have the toothiness I expected, so I'm not really sure it was as homemade as advertised. As we walked back to the friend's apartment, we saw the “Hasidic Party Bus,” which cracks me up. This is a van filled with religious men (not necessarily Hasidic) in their religious clothing that was blasting pop-sounding music. The van stopped, the guys jumped out and danced (the song was either Gangnam Style or a lyric-altered version, I couldn't really tell) and then jumped back in a kept going. Later, we saw another similar group handing out (or probably selling) CDs. It was pretty funny to see the guys all into the dancing and the music, but hey, good for them to do something fun like that.

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Israel Comments (0)

CARNIVAL!! Jouvert morning

Details to come, but here are some pictures to get you started.

streets during Jouvert

streets during Jouvert


Jouvert morning

Jouvert morning

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in St Kitts/Nevis Comments (0)

Don't stop the Carnival!

Holy crap it's fabulous to live on a tropical island during Carnival time! (I'm saying as it's all just beginning.)

At work, the plant manager announced that there would be no overtime Friday and Monday would be a half day (Tuesday/Christmas and Wednesday/Boxing Day we have off already) to a crowd full of cheers. I had been sick this week and still had a headache and stuffy nose, so I took some meds and a nap in order to get ready to go out. I awoke still a bit sick, but partying made all of it disappear. For real- I think it's the best medicine.

We started at Fat Tuesday because it was early, and headed over to the terminal. "The terminal" is the bus/ferry terminal, which happens to be lined with dozens of tiny stands all selling the same beers, snacks, and sodas. Friday night, a dj gets the music going, and everybody is just liming, having a good time. The music was mostly reggae (the clubs here tend to play more soca), but a lot of it was upbeat enough to dance to, and some had a more latin beat. [Quick music primer: Reggae tends to be a bit slower or more calm music that often has a religious/moral/political message. Some songs can still be danced to, but others are for chilling. Soca is very upbeat fast-paced dancing music that tends to be mostly about partying, carnival, bacchanal, jouvert morning, etc. This is what we work out to at the gym I go to. I love dancing to this the way I love dancing to reggeton more than pop back home. Calypso is also popular here, although it is not really good dance music. It is very political and the revolutionary/humanist/moralist/socialist/anarchist in me thinks it's about the greatest thing since sliced bread.] If you're a tourist who just wants to go talk to locals and chill with them, maybe dance a little on a Friday night, the terminal is probably the right place to start. (Later, the strip might be better.) It's cool even for females- the guys were pretty respectful and not creepy, although some of that could be that it was still early and there were still a few kids around.

Next, we headed to Party Central. During Carnival time, one of the streets in town is blocked off and becomes a huge street party. They have a dj or bands there every night and people are just having a ball in the middle of the street. (During the day, it's just a blocked off street.) It was early and the party hadn't started so much, so we went to Potential, where Grandmasters were playing. Throughout the night, I met a few dozen friends of one of my friends. Every 5 steps and she was introducing me to somebody else. I felt like I was at home with Lisa! The funny thing was that I was acquiring "nicknames" every few seconds. Some of them were not so cute (whitey, although that's not meant as any sort of insult), some cute (butterscotch), and some bland (Washington, because everybody wanted to know that I was from DC). About the first two- yes, I'm frequently about the only white person at most of the places we go. It has never been an issue though (with me or anybody else). I think that in the US, we overanalyze things and have different perceptions than people in St. Kitts. For example, in St. Kitts, when people are talking about each other, they might say something like "the fat one," "the lady with a man-head," or something else that we'd take as an insult in the US. In St. Kitts, those types of descriptions are judgement-free. That somebody is fat is not bad or good it just is. That somebody is white or "clear" or black isn't bad, it just is. That being said, there are still plenty of guys who give this amazed "she can dance" comment to me or my friends after we dance, and I've been led to believe it's because of the stereotype that white people can't dance. Back to the story- we left Potential for Party Central to see Small Axe. I had a blast! I'm going to admit that some of the excitement is that I knew people. It probably wouldn't have been as much fun as just a pair or few people, but I knew enough people to keep moving around the crowd and got to dance with a lot of different friends. The party just kept going. I have to admit, that I'm amazed at how big the party still was at 4:30am, when I decided to call it quits. I had energy to keep going, but we were into "repeat mode." The bands here have a few songs that everybody really loves, so like a top 40 radio station, they tend to repeat them every hour.

Woke up in the (almost afternoon) feeling like P. Diddy. Grabbed my (sun)glasses, I'm out the door, I'm gonna hit this city... I got "breakfast" at El Fredo's, a restaurant on the Bay Road between Basseterre and Bird Rock that I've always wanted to try, but it's only open for lunch and I work most of the days it's open. The food was authentic food, but in a sit-down setting. It's got a "view" of the main road, and a beat-up neighborhood, but the place it pretty covered in vines and greenery so that you feel like you're in a little oasis. The food wasn't anything special, but it wasn't bad and was actually authentic. I grabbed some golden apple juice at Redi Chicken. (Golden apple isn't an apple, but a fruit more similar to a mango.) Eh. Next, I hit town to try to pick up my jouvert package. Jouvert morning is the biggest carnival even on the island. All the music talks about it and I've heard it said that Kittitians are either at jouvert morning, or waiting for the next one. The music here certainly supports that statement. On jouvert morning, people in troops all dress in the same costumes and go dancing in the streets. Each troop has a band/dj and a sponsor who get together to organize it all. I had to stop by the digicell (sponsor) tent to pick up my package that contained all of the items for my "costume" for jouvert. On that errand, I also picked up some strawberry cheesecake ice cream from the pink-and-white-striped ice cream place on Fort Street. (I'd always wanted to go there, but it's always closed.) That was easily the best ice cream I've had on the island. I highly recommend it. I also went to get some gifts for some cousins I'm going to see soon. Since it's not a cruise ship day, a minimal amount of stores are open in Port Zante and the Amina Craftmarket isn't open either. I did see a new art gallery on the other side of the National Museum building, and one of the artists was there to show off his work. The stuff there is very nice, but out of my price range for what I was looking for. I got into a debate with one of the shop owners in Port Zante. He's seen me a bunch of times, which is helpful in that I get a "locals discount" which basically means he'll take the time to let me bargain instead of giving me the listed price for tourists. I was looking for stuff that was actually made in St. Kitts, and not just handmade elsewhere with a beach theme and sold in St. Kitts. His comment: you can tell them it was made in St. Kitts and they won't know. He only had a few items actually made in St. Kitts, which I find a bit sad, but he does recommend the Amina Craft market as those items are actually made here. Some of the materials come from elsewhere (example, they buy his jewelry, break it, and use the beads to create their own), but most of the stuff there actually has island labor in it. I'm not a jewelry connoisseur, but I can't tell the difference in the jewelry. That being said, I'd rather buy from them (or someplace like Caribelle Batik) that uses actual island labor to create something unique, than a shop that sells some generic item that happens to say St. Kitts when sold here, but says the name of any other island or beach when sold there. I think it says something about commercialism and how the tourism industry has caused places to lose their character. If the tourists all wanted locally-made items to remember their unique St. Kitts (or wherever) experience, that would be what the stores stocked. Instead, the tourists all buy the same crap everywhere (generic t-shirts with offensive slogans, half-mugs that tout how expensive the vacation was so that only half a mug was affordable, plastic mass-manufactured magnets, imprinted plastic lighters, light up keychains with "your name" on it). I'm not saying I've never bought that stuff or that I have anything against it as a gift for somebody who wasn't on the vacation. However, I do generally at least try to get something that is made wherever I go instead, and the ratio of generic foreign-manufactured stuff to unique stuff is pretty high.

Party Central by day (empty)

Party Central by day (empty)

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in St Kitts/Nevis Comments (0)

St. Maarten

A few times each year (usually pre-Christmas, pre-Easter, and around the time of the new school year), the ferry company that usually runs one of the ferries between St. Kitts and Nevis runs a “shopping ferry” to St. Maarten. I don't really need to shop, but I had never been to St. Maarten, so I got a ticket.The tickets aren't available more than a week in advance, you have to buy them in-person at the ferry dock, and they sell out quickly. I had to give my passport to the ferry company when I bought the ticket, and they held on to it to pre-clear us through St. Maarten immigration. I felt a bit naked without my passport for the week, but didn't have a choice. I'm also not sure if you can get the tickets without St. Kitts residency. When I put my US address as my “permanent address” on the St. maarten form, she asked my to change it to my St. Kitts address, but that could just be because it's easier that way, not that it's impossible to go without a St. Kitts address. The ferry was supposed to leave at something like 5am on Saturday morning, and they told us to be there to load at 4. I had heard that it was a bad idea to park my car at the ferry terminal, so I left it at the apartment and walked to the terminal. I was on a main road the whole time and didn't feel unsafe at all. Besides, there were still plenty of people still out partying from Friday night. I was amazed at how many people were still at Party Central that time of morning.The process of loading began. Even though we were only in St. Maarten for a night, most people had huge suitcases (although they frequently appeared to be almost empty), huge coolers, and huge empty barrels. I had been told of this ahead of time and knew it was a shopping trip, but I still wasn't quite prepared for the colossal amount of empty barrels that were going over. Later, I found that some people even pre-shipped their empty barrels and had them waiting in St. Maarten already.The boat was loaded and left within a half hour of the scheduled time, which I was impressed with. The first part of the journey was dark and most people were sleeping on the boat. Towards the end though, we got some great views of the other islands we passed and the approach to St. Maarten.We were landing in Phillipsburg, on the Dutch half of the island. The ship didn't land at the cruise ship dock, but instead, at the cargo port. That meant that 1) we were farther from town, and 2) we had a very different disembarkation procedure. Instead of getting off the boat one-by-one whenever we were ready and getting individually processed through immigration, we all got off the boat at once and stood in lines. Our passports had just been handed back ot us on the boat on the way over, and now they took them back from us again to keep for the night to process us back into St. Kitts. We all had to wait while they checked whatever we were bringing in, and then we could go The whole process took about an hour. From there, many people got taxis, but the walk wasn't bad and I didn't have barrels, so I just walked up the pier and into town. Fortunately, on the way was the sailing outfit I had read about and wanted to join. 12 meter challenge had a spot for me in a short while, so I signed up and went to get some breakfast until sailing time. I got pancakes at a little restaurant overlooking the beach called Bottums Up. They were good, but nothing special. When I asked if they had any local juices or sodas, the waitress said, “well, there's Fanta.” That's not a particularly local drink in my ind, but I got it anyway. After breakfast, I joined the sailing group. I think everybody else in the excursion was from one of the cruise ships. The staff split us into 2 teams, 1 to sail the Stars and Stripes that won the America's Cup back in the 80s, and 1 to sail some Canadian boat that also raced in the America's Cup. I ended up on Stars and Stripes. The staff explained to us that each of us would have a job. Some people were assigned less-active jobs, like bartender. Others, like myself, were assigned more active jobs like “grinding.” Basically, that means that whenever they needed to move the sails, we had to turn some cranks to move them. We practiced our jobs a little and then got prepped to race. We were off! The course was around some buoys and back a few times. First, they were in the lead, then we caught up and were way ahead of them. Going into the final leg, we got a good head start, but they picked the other direction to turn around the buoy and ended up beating us by just a bit. Regardless, we all had a great time sailing the ship, shouting taunts at the other team, and just chilling in the sun when it was the “backup grinders'” turn to grind. For those who are really into sailing, I bet this is an exciting excursion because you get to race boats that were in the America's Cup race. For those of us who had never been sailing before, it was a neat little introduction to sailing, without getting too deep. For those who have sailed before but aren't enough into sailing to appreciate the history behind the boats, it might not be the best excursion as you really don't get to do that much. We each only had one small job, and we even had to share that with another person so we were only doing it half of the time. The boat was a bit crowded, but I enjoyed it. After sailing, I grabbed lunch at a little Italian Gelato place, Gelateria Milano, that also had homemade pasta that was good. After that, I walked around town a little, trying to find the museum I had heard about before it closed. It wasn't even open on Saturdays, despite what the guidebook said, so I didn't get to go in at all. However, there is a “Yoda Guy” store/museum I saw instead, that isn't in the book.Basically, some Hollywood costumer left the limelight to retire to St. Maarten. He was one of the original designers of Yoda, other Star Wars costumes, and costuemes for many other movies. He has a museum and shop where he displays all sorts of movie artifacts and sells autographed framed original documents related to Star Wars. For a Star Wars fan, this is worth a look and it's neat to see the stuff. For a Star Wars geek, this is a suburb of heaven. The “Yoda Guy” himself was manning the shop on the day I went, and was taking questions from people who were interested in what it was like to work in Hollywood, to work on Star Wars, and to be an artist. I wandered downtown some more, aiming in the general direction of the hotel, and found it at the far end of town, right by the McDonalds and casinos. I was staying at the Seaview hotel because it was inexpensive and available, but it turns out to also be in a good location and I got a nice view. The hotel was very clean and the rooms were a good size. It was a good place to change and get cleaned after the sailing and before I went exploring some more. I checked out the various SCUBA shops and none I went to in the morning had afternoon dives. The ones I checked out in the afternoon (too late to make it on the afternoon dives) didn't have night dives that night for just one person, but they had them other nights and available for groups. Oh well. I walked the town and the beach a little before decided that I also wanted to see the French side of the island. Also, there wasn't too much to do in town other than shop, which was not really what I was there for. If I was there for shopping though, I'd be set. There were more than just the souvenir and duty-free shops that Port Zante has. There was real clothing shopping, shoe shopping, and even a department store. The busses in St. Maarten are similar to those in St. Kitts. They're vans driven by independent drivers with various routes around the island. You just kind of hail one like you'd hail a taxi, make sure it's going where you want, and hop on. The one I hopped onto by coincidence already had a Kittitian lady on it who was telling the bus driver about some Carnival things in St. Kitts. They weren't slowing down their speech for me to understand, but I understood every word. I have to admit that when I realized I was able to follow the conversation, I got pretty excited and proud of myself. I can guarantee that I would not have understood before I moved to St. Kitts or even during the early part of my time here. Eventually, the lady and I got talking and she was telling me all sorts of stories about how St. Kitts was 20 years ago before she moved to St. Maarten. She was extremely friendly and also gave me a few tips on what to see and do in Marigot.I got off the bus at Marigot, and following her advice, went down to the pier area. Marigot was dead. There were a few shops on the way that were open, but most were closed. There were a few restaurants that were open, but most seemed closed. There was almost nobody down at the docks. There were very few people out in the streets. I guess that when there are not cruise ships in port, there aren't as many tourist maybe. I walked around for a while, just taking in the town. Eventually, I wandered into an art gallery that had some nice art. After that though, it seemed time to head back to Phillipsburg, so I grabbed another bus.The views (both ways) from the mountains and of the windy mountain roads were nice. They weren't as nice as St. Kitts though, because St. Maarten/Sint Martin is pretty built up. There are developments and big box stores dotting the mountain side, which detracts quite a bit from the beauty. I can imagine that there may be parts of St. Kitts that look this way in 20 years or so if the government doesn't limit construction, and I have to admit that thought makes me sad. One of the things that I find so fabulous about St. Kitts is that it's so green and the mountains are so undeveloped. However, most of the expats I know on the island who aren't associated with Ross are developers. Even in my short year there, I've seen one area go from majestic greenery to bulldozed for a new development.In any case, I got back to town and had dinner at this beach bar, then headed to the hotel to chill for a while. I hadn't gotten so much sleep the night before and we were supposed to be back at the dock at 6am, so I turned in early. When I got back to dock in the morning, I saw so many people I knew. It was fabulous and really made me feel like a part of the St. Kitts community. I chatted with some ladies from work who had been on the other boat that went over for the weekend, and then with some from my boat. The other boat had been in St. Maarten since Thursday or Friday, and there were even more barrels of stuff on it than on ours. However, I now understand why. One lady was telling me that the perfume she buys for $90 US in St. Kitts is available in St. Maarten for $25. The deodorant you can get in St. Kitts $10 US for 3 sticks is $5 US for 6 sticks in St. Maarten. Everything is so much cheaper here, that you can easily pay for the ferry fare and night at a hotel by filling a barrel. Instead of buying shampoo whenever they get close to the end of the bottle like we'd do in the states, they figure out how much shampoo they need for the year, save up for it, and then buy it all in St. Maarten once and hope it lasts the whole year. In addition to filling the barrels with non perishables (diapers, laundry detergent, cake mix), people had coolers and cooler bags of frozen meat, carry-on bags of who-knows-what, and all sorts of Christmas presents. This also explains the street vendors of St. Kitts who sell deodorant and other personal items. I always thought that was odd, but now I understand that they go to St. Maarten, but the stuff, bring it back, and sell it for cheaper than the grocery store can and make money. We loaded the boat and headed back to St. Kitts. Along the way, I noticed that there were some really cool birds that were following the boat. I assumed that they were just catching the wind from the boat, but then I noticed all the flying fish the boat was kicking up. As we cut the water, we could see hundreds of flying fish swim and then fly in the direction away from us. The birds obviously saw them too. They would periodically skim close to the water and just plop right into a mini-wave, then come out with food in their mouths. I felt like I was in the middle of a Discovery Channel special, watching the birds hunt. When the boat got back to St. Kitts, they unloaded us and then everybody waited. I asked what we were waiting for and found out that it was all of the “checked” luggage. Since I had nothing other than the backpack I went over with, I didn't have to wait and was able to go straight to the makeshift customs center they had set up at the port. My duty charge was 0, and I was on my way. I don't know what the duty rate everybody else had to pay was, but even if it is close to 100%, they're still making out ok.

Loading barrels

Loading barrels


View on the way over

View on the way over


Approaching St. Maarten

Approaching St. Maarten


Unloading the barrels

Unloading the barrels


Philipsburg Marina

Philipsburg Marina


Sailing

Sailing


Sailing

Sailing


Yoda Guy Museum

Yoda Guy Museum


Philipsburg

Philipsburg


Mountainous road to Marigot

Mountainous road to Marigot


Marigot

Marigot


Marigot walk

Marigot walk

Posted by spsadventures 16:00 Archived in Saint Martin Comments (0)