A Travellerspoint blog

St Kitts/Nevis

Pirate Exercises

This week, I discovered the gym at Sugar Bay. The gym is not just for people staying there, it is public to anybody. One of the ladies from work goes there and had invited me along. For 15 EC, I got daily access so that I could attend the 5:30 class. The instructor is definitely not professional, but the atmosphere is fun. Some nights, he runs a “circuit.” It's in quotes because the activities are very repetitive and not timed. For example, he'll hand out a jump rope and say “do 1000 jumps.” He gave us sticks and said to kick to touch the sticks 100 times. Other activities include standing up from a chair and lifting each knee 100 times, doing 10 laps around the courtyard with a basketball, or swinging a tennis racket back and forth 500 times. I did the activities in sets because I felt it would be most healthy and effective, but I was definitely sore in the end (which is good). Some nights, he teaches tae-bo. This class is even more unprofessional, but definitely more fun. I say unprofessional because he's counting to 10s (mostly, but also whatever number he feels like) instead of 8s, ending up off with the music; he switches moves in the middles of counts, or at the end sometimes, but without warning as to what's coming next; he's obviously making a lot of this up as he goes; and a lot of the moves aren't symmetrical- he'll do a set of punches with the left and completely abandon the right. That being said, it is a great group and a ton of fun. The music is very upbeat and caribbean, which helps with the motivation. The instructor is pretty funny, and so are a lot of the regulars. The atmosphere is very conducive to working out for a long time without realizing it. Some days, it was close to 7:30 when we were done and I most certainly didn't feel like I had been exercising for a whole hour, much less 2. The class is effective for getting me off my bum, and it is good, safe, evening fun. For those who are curious as to how effective it is at weight loss- the guy in the class said that he lost 75 pounds doing it. Not bad! I highly recommend the class to anybody who is looking for something non-alcoholic to do in the evenings.

One night, the plant manager took me on a tour of the island. I had already seen a lot in my own explorations, but she was a very good tour guide and added a lot of local knowledge that you just can't get from exploring on your own. She explained the different housing styles along with the government programs that inspired the newer cement ones. She took me to the part of the island where the sand turns from white to black (volcanic). I got to see black rocks, which is a very beautiful place. It reminds me a bit of parts of the Great Ocean Road in Australia, but is also very different. Someday, I'd like to go back and explore there a bit more. She showed me all of the little villages and towns and shared with me some of the unique properties of each. For example, there is one town where all of the locals still go out in their boats to fish every day. There is another town that is known for taking a lot of pride in their homes and in their town. I saw the high school that my company adopted and supports. Also, I found out that what I thought was monkey sounds on my previous adventure was just very, VERY loud cricket sounds. Overall, it was a very pleasant and educational drive. The only really negative I have to say about this week is that I'm getting a bit tired of the mosquitoes. I douse myself in Off, but I'm still getting bitten. The mosquitoes that live under my desk eat me alive in the mornings and evenings. I guess that the lizard that lives under my desk either doesn't eat them or can't get as high as the mosquitoes are.

Black Rocks

Black Rocks


Fred, the friendly desk lizard

Fred, the friendly desk lizard


Mural at town along road around island

Mural at town along road around island

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

Exploring the Pirate enemy stronghold

Saturday, I got up with plans to run before I had to go to work. Unfortunately, it was raining. It seems to rain a lot here. I relaxed a bit, but it was still raining. So, I got dressed and went to work. Of course, it stopped raining then. At work, we were decorating for Christmas. This was the first time I've ever decorated, and it was fun at first. At some point though, the place was decorated, and I was done. The girls who worked in the two different buildings of the factory were still competing with each other to put up more stuff though. They each wanted to have the more decked-out building. So, I stayed and put up more stuff in an effort to be a team player. I had expected to be there for a couple of hours max, and we were now going on 5 or more. Then, we had to go get the Christmas trees from storage. Even in St. Kitts, a tropical place, they were using plastic pines. I would have been more excited to decorate a palm tree, but apparently that's not how they roll here. Instead, I attempted to decorate this 3-foot tall plastic pine with whatever leftover garlands were about, and do it quickly just so that I could get out and explore. The girls who worked at the factory did a much better job than I did. It was easy to tell which tree was decorated by the first-timer who was very much over the whole decorating thing. I was more than ready to go, and then they decided that the trees needed presents. I felt special because I got a present (wrapped empty box) with my name on it in under the trees in both buildings because I was the visitor. However, it would have been nicer to get out of there before dark.

It was long after dark when I finally did get out. I explored town a bit to see what was going on, as there was a cruise ship in the harbor and a lot of people, but didn't really see too much. The restaurant that I'd been trying to get to was closed, so I headed back to my hotel. I didn't feel like cooking or like Indian food, which is what the restaurant on hotel grounds is, and next to my hotel is a restaurant with a sign that named it Bangkok. The sign said that their specialties were “Chinese, Mexican, Sandwiches.” That intrigued me, so I ate there. On the inside, it is called “Twist.” At least, that's what was on everybody's aprons and what the bill said. They did have about 2 Chinese items, 2 Mexican items, a couple sandwiches, a couple pizzas, and a couple Thai items, but most of the menu was Indian. I asked the server what his favorite was, and he suggested the tikka masala, which is Indian and not what I thought I was in the mood for, but I got it anyway. It was good. While I was there, I was people-watching and just observing. I was highly amused by the caribbean rap videos playing on tv, while the sound system was playing Jummy Buffet. I was also amused by the guys at the next table over. There were a bunch of Asian business men who were enjoying the large variety of beers. They even pulled the owner over and were having a pretty in-depth conversation with him about the beers. Apparently, the owner is actually a beer importer who brings in hundreds of varieties from various countries all over the world. The restaurant seemed like a second thought compared to the beer importing, (but the food didn't make it seem like just an afterthought). The owner seemed like a nice guy. The waiter had given me the student discount (I love how people keep assuming I'm a student!) and the owner let me keep it, even thought I was not a student.

Today, the weather was drizzly- wet again! I wonder if all the rain gathered in the potholes in the street is a good breeding ground for mosquitoes. I am so bitten up by them! Despite my itchiness and the weather, I felt that it was still important to go explore, especially since I missed out yesterday. I started out in the direction of Turtle Beach. The roads in "the peninsula" are very hilly, windy, and potholey. I was driving very slowly up and down the hills, and was getting passed by a bunch of the locals, on the rare occasion that there were other cars on the road. It was pretty empty for the most part though. For much of the time, the only other primates around were the monkeys. I saw whole monkey families crossing the street. There wasn't a whole lot to see that that end of the island, so I headed in the other direction, aiming to stop in town for food. Nothing seemed open though. I passed closed restaurant after closed restaurant, right to the other side of town. So, I kept going. I passed ROSS (the veterinary school) and the med school before hitting the "countryside." The road was a lot of fun to drive, as it was right by the ocean. It twists and turns through various villages and even crosses a couple of creeks. There are signs telling what is what, but they are so text-filled that I couldn't read them. Eventually, the road leads to a sign for Caribelle Batik and Romney Manor. I went up to the entrance, and the guy who lives near there told me that the place was closed because it's Sunday and there were no cruise ships. So, I turned around and kept going on the road toward the fort.

The road to the fort entrance is extremely curvy and only wide enough for one vehicle most of the way. There are a few arches to drive through that are barely wider than a car, right at a curve in the road, and on a slope. There are a couple of pull-over points where vehicles can move over and pass each other, but only if you know the other people are coming at you. (There are signs that tell you to honk to alert other drivers, but I'm not sure how many people follow the signs.) It was quite the drive. When you finish climbing the hill, you're greeted with quite a view. You can see the fort above you, the sea below you, and the green of the mountains. It's gorgeous, but also practical as it would be virtually impossible to sneak up on the fort. I started my tour with the views, but then moved on to the gift shop area where they have a video to show about the fortress. The video is ok. It's short and gives an overview that's useful if you don't really know much about the history yet. Then, I went up the entrance ramp and into the fortress itself. The main area has a bunch of rooms, some of which have been renovated to look like they would have when the fortress was in use. It was interesting to see them, but I think it also would have looked nice to see the rooms as they are now. The various rooms had displays that talked about the history of the island and fort, the daily lives of those who worked at the fort, and the renovation process. Many of the rooms had posters that were from some other source (like National Geographic or some US tourist site). It was an interesting collection. Really though, the cool part was climbing to the top and seeing Saba and Aruba in the distance. Hanging out with the cannons and the serenity was definitely worth it. Maybe when a cruise ship is in town it's not as serene, but the day I visited I felt like I had the place to myself. When I arrived, there was one other car in the parking lot. When I left, there may have been four. It really was a calm day at the fort. Unfortunately, that may be why the "canteen" only had beverages. I was still hungry as the only thing I had was part of a very untasty cookie from the gift shop. Town still seemed shut down. I think the only places open were Dominoes and Subway, neither of which I was interested in. With nothing open and a constant drizzle, I decided that the best option was to return to my hotel room I ended up spending the rest of the afternoon cooking, skyping with the fam, and reading. Those aren't bad choices, but maybe I'll find someplace indoor and open on a Sunday for next time.

Peninsula

Peninsula


Peninsula

Peninsula


Display in Brimstone Fortress

Display in Brimstone Fortress


Drive up to fortress

Drive up to fortress


View from fortress

View from fortress


View from fortress

View from fortress


On top of fortress

On top of fortress


Saba and Aruba

Saba and Aruba


Fort

Fort


Monkeys

Monkeys

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

I prefer rum. Rum's good.

Today was better than yesterday. This morning, a reggeton song I like was on the radio on my way to work, so I was in a fabulous mood when I got there. Work was fine, and even ended early because it was Friday. We did have an Office Space moment where I was asked to come in on Saturday. That's not usually my thing, but we're decorating for Christmas. (It's ok to work on Shabbat to decorate for Christmas, right?) After work, I finally got to see the beach. I wasn't out for too much more than an hour, but I still got some good pictures and had a nice time. The scenery is very pretty. Also, I didn't get bitten by one of the killer caterpillars that took out a colleague of mine. In fact, I didn't even see any, just crabs. Had I not been a vegetarian, I would have just picked up the crabs I saw and had them for dinner because they were just right there. After my walk, I made dinner with a hot sauce that is made right on the island and is really hot, but in a good way. I then went to check out "the strip" as somebody from work recommended. The first place I saw was Mr. X's Shiggidy Shack. Hilarious name! I parked and checked it out. On the way in though, a creeper taxi driver stopped me to ask if I wanted to sleep with him. No pickup line or anything, just "we sleep together?" No, sir. We don't. He wasn't violent about it, just persistent until I went to the Shiggidy Shack bar where the bar tender lady and two other ladies were very nice and helped me out. After a few minutes though, I realized that it was too early for the Shiggidy shack as all of the people there were families with kids eating dinner. (This is almost 8pm.) She was nice enough to direct me over to the Docks, where happy hour was just finishing, so there was a crowd. I totally owe the nice Shiggidy Shack lady. I met a bunch of new friends at Docks, which was nice. Apparently, that's where a lot of the expats (read, people on the island to put up developments) go. They each took turn giving me advice on things to do on the island, how to deal with people or mosquitos on the island, and just general tropical stuff. When the lady I was talking with said "all good bars have Off behind the counter," I thought she was joking. Then, she borrowed the Off from the bar. Other than bug spray, the bar has other good liquids. Tip- have Clovis make you a rum punch. You'll not only be drinking like a pirate, but it was actually decent. We hung out for a while and then I came back because I had to get up for work :( It was nice to get out and meet people though. Everybody is very welcoming and friendly here.

Crabs

Crabs


Beach

Beach


The Strip

The Strip

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

Pirates don't get homesick

Today, I made it to work pretty directly. It was an interesting day that made me a touch homesick- not good for halfway through week 1 of a 3 week trip. I don't know how pirates could be away from their families for so long! I got out of work early enough to drive home in the sun (and get some nice pictures of my commute.) By the time I got to my room and got settled though, it was just before sundown. I was able to spend all of 8 minutes enjoying the beach. Tonight's activity is sorting through pictures and putting up the blog. At least I'm getting overdue projects done on this trip.

My commute

My commute


My commute

My commute


My commute

My commute


Bay by the hotel

Bay by the hotel

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

Exploring like a land pirate

Yesterday was my first work day here. I got up, grabbed a pastry breakfast at the cafe next to the hotel entrance, and then met my ride in the lobby. We went to pick up the rental car, but they wouldn't give us the car until I had my license and the person who signs for the licenses wasn't there yet. So, we went to the police station. The police/fire/rescue station is a small building with a large parking lot and garage. We went up to the desk and were told... the person who signs for the licenses wasn't there. We “could wait 10 minutes or come back in a half hour.” While this led me to believe that the 10 minute wait would actually be 30 minutes, we waited anyway. The person I was with kept double-checking with the police station people to make sure that “the 10 minutes already started, right?” It was actually more like 5 until the guy showed up to sell me a license. Yes, that's really what it is-selling. If you have a license from anywhere else, you show it, pay, and they give you a little yellow paper with your name hand-written on it. There is no test and the license doesn't even have your picture on it. Next, we headed to the factory (unfortunately, not a pirate ship). The people there were very friendly. Everybody was more than willing to answer my questions and help out. I love the ladies at the plant! First, all of them are working in a factory wearing nice clothing. I saw the occasional jean skirt or nice t-shirt, but pretty much everybody from the boss to the lady that sweeps the floor were dressed like they had someplace nice to go. Second, they are most certainly not Barbie-brainwashed. The women are curvaceous and aren't trying to hide it and seem super-tiny. They are confident and proud, but not in a bad attitude type of way (in general). Third, all of them (and the guys too), were very honest (candor!) about what they did vs. what they were supposed to do. Fourth, they were all very friendly. Finally, one of them said to me, “you have an African woman's body,” which I take to mean “baby got back!” She cracks me up! I definitely was amused my first day in the factory, and very interested to learn more, not just from a technical perspective, but a cultural one as well. After work, I was shown two of the three major grocery stores on the island. First, we went to the Best Buy. It had a lot of items I was used to seeing in a store- including Silk and Morningstar Farms, which eased any concerns I may have had about eating on the island. The prices were a bit high (some items more than double what they'd be in the states), but that's what happens when you import. The only disappointing thing was that I could pretty much recognize all of the fruits and veggies in the produce section. The most “different” item there was that they called chayote “christophene.” Next, we went to Ram's. This was much bigger, but still only had fruits and veggies that I recognized. It did have a much larger freezer section and international section, so if I need frozen Indian food, I know where to go.

Finally, I learned the route back to the hotel. It was raining, so I cooked and spent my evening finishing up work on my computer. But, at least I did all that with the balcony door open so I was still enjoying the warm temperature.

I got up this morning with plenty of time to get to work, even if I got a little lost. Not if I got very lost. I knew I needed to turn at the Central Bank, but I hadn't see it from the side before the turn, just after, so I missed it. I ended up in town, which wasn't a big deal. There were 2 places on my list of things to check out, and I passed both of them, so in theory, I can find them again. I started asking locals how to get to the Central Bank. They all gave me different directions. One would say, go up this road and turn right. After I'd do that, somebody would say to go back the direction I came. Or, they would tell me to stay straight on a road, but it would dead-end. Or, they would say to make an illegal turn on a one-way street. In any case, I ended up calling work and getting directions from somebody. Eventually, I rolled in. Work was going pretty good, when all of the sudden, the power went out. It was only a few seconds before the generator kicked in. It was loud. I was very thankful when it turned itself off. Apparently, this is pretty common though. The lines knew just what to do and took it in stride. After work, I decided to explore a little. The more I explore, the less lost I will be and I will be better able to recover from wrong turns in the future. I got gas for the car (cash only, attendant only) and stopped by the IGA (the third major grocery store on the island). Why are we not surprised that my exploring first led to a food place? Like the other grocery stores, the IGA was very overpriced as most of the food was imported. At least they had starfruit (carambola) and a local hot sauce that I bought for reasonable prices because they were from the island. Also, they had my kind of Skippy, so I got some as I am a Skippy addict. I picked up some bread and guava jelly to go with it (because guava was the cheapest jelly and it seemed more appropriate for the tropics.) The one thing I was a little upset about is that they didn't have cumin either! Cumin is a staple in Indian, middle eastern, Mexican and other foods. At home, I buy it in bulk. Here, you apparently just can't get it. [Update: it is findable on the island, you just have to know where to look.] Grrrr. I had gotten a lot of produce to make Moroccan stew, but now I was going to have to rethink my meal. (I ended up going Chinese with some of the ingredients and using others for other things.) One more thing about the produce- at the checkout, I finally realized why all of the produce in all of the stores was wrapped in plastic- even in the stores, there are bugs everywhere!

Next, I decided to drive some of the ring road that goes all around the island so I could see the mountains that remind me of Pirates up close. It's a very pretty drive right around sunset, but at some point I realized that my headlights didn't work so hot and I was going to have to drive back with my brights on. Even with them, I was going slow enough to get regularly passed on the winding mountain roads where people were walking on the side. I didn't mind, I was just concerned for the other drivers and people because it didn't seem too safe in some places.

The drive was also interesting from an auditory point of view. The radio station I had on was whatever the last driver had it set to. Either it kept changing towers as I went on different sides of the mountain, or I was listening to a bizarre station. There were reggae songs about staying on your side of the road and eliminating the stigma associated with depression, there were a bunch of latin songs, Love Shack by the B52s, and some countryesqe song about Christmas. Then, I started hearing this odd squeaking noise. At first, I thought it was the car because the roads are so potholey. Nope. I'm pretty sure it's the monkeys. (Later, I found out that it's just really loud crickets.) Away from the mountains, you can't hear them so much, but when you're right in them, they're pretty loud. Eventually, I made it back to the hotel, where I promptly tried my PB and guava J sandwich. It was pretty good. It was also way too early to settle for the night, so I went exploring around the hotel area. There was nobody at the hotel bar or pool tables, and only a couple of people at the gym. Just past the gym, I scored! Beach! It was too dark to really go for a walk on the beach, but I did sit at the edge of the light and watch the waves roll in and then watch them roll away again. The stars were also a beautiful sight. There were so many and they were so bright. I was proud of myself for identifying the little dipper, which I can't often do (especially where I can't see stars). The serenity was nice, but I was relaxed in about 2 minutes and got bored after a few more. According to the guy at the gym, nobody is really out at this time. Everybody has just done their exercise and is eating/showering before they go out. At 10. With work tomorrow, starting to go out at 10 may not be the most responsible decision. Usually, I wouldn't let that bother me, but I really do need to keep my wits about me there. I read by the pool for a while and turned in.

Pool at night

Pool at night


Beach at night

Beach at night

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

(Entries 31 - 35 of 36) Previous « Page .. 2 3 4 5 6 [7] 8 » Next