From the West Side to the West Indies: St Kitts & Nevis ๐ŸŒด๐Ÿ‡ฐ๐Ÿ‡ณ


I crossed it off my bucket list and went on my first international trip and attended my first official Caribbean carnival!

Traveling has always been on my list of things to do, but I honestly barely made time for it. Plus, for some reason it always seemed like a big, overwhelming chore. But once you do it, and see how easy it is, it's a piece of cake! I'm legit ready for the next trip. Here's the rundown on the journey:

Getting The Passport


The process was easy as pie. I applied for it in September and received it the next month, earlier than expected seeing that I had to wait about 6-8 weeks. I filled out an application, had to take a picture, pay $140, sent in my birth certificate and social security card with the application. By the end of October, I received my passport with my certificate and card sent back. I looked a hot mess in the picture, like...very much giving the girls mugshot from stealing out of Moo & Oink realness. Tragic.


Airfare 

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I wanted to find a "layaway" type payment plan to pay for my ticket. It was about $959 for a round trip ticket from Chicago to Basseterre. I wanted to at least put majority of the money down. I remembered hearing about a flight layaway installation plan called Airfordable a few years ago. Checked out some reviews (all great and legit, by the way), registered, put down about $350 and the rest is history.

I made a payment every month until a month before the trip (November) and it went super smooth. I was given a confirmation e-ticket with American Airlines. I'll do a separate, more detailed review on that. Sign up with my code here if you're looking to book your next trip.

The Journey


I haven't been on vacation in so long, I almost forgot the process of flying! But I'm one smart cookie, so everything went smoothly. I left Chicago Saturday December 21st. Got to the airport about 6am ish. Even though it was a holiday weekend, the airport (O'Hare International) wasn't crowded at all. Had my big piece of luggage, paid my $30 fee (thankfully I didn't over pack), got my personal bag and carry-on. The TSA process went super smooth. Boarded my plane to Miami and got there in three hours.


This process did remind me why I dislike flying so much and I'd much rather take a train, bus, or car trip. Short trip, but Lawd so annoying.


I got to Miami and chilled for a bit. Didn't get a chance to really explore the city. Until next time, MIA.


I got to St. Kitts Bradshaw airport at 10pm in their timezone. 

Food

As you guys know, I'm vegan. I wasn't too pressed on finding food because a lot of Caribbean food is pretty plant based in comparison to American cuisine. I was lucky to find two exclusively vegan spots: Life Span Organic Vegan food truck in Independence Square and Ital Creations.

Life Span


I visited this spot frequently. The owner is super cool and would always call me "princess" when I slid through. My first time I visited I got chickpea stew, quinoa, salad and okra. Although I didn't get any pictures, I had some absolutely delicious sea moss banana cake and spelt flour Johnny cakes. Oh my Gawd. You talkin' about somethin' good? I'm still dreaming about those two dishes. Lastly, the owner gave me a sea moss drink to try. I've been wanting to try it for the longest. Let's just say I'm a fan and a believer now.



Ital Creations 


Ital Creations is located closest to the beaches in Basseterre. It's family owned and even has a farm. I had chickpeas, quinoa, salad, and a veggie nugget. The veggie nugget was my absolute fave! This whole meal costed a good $10 USD. U.S. vegan restaurants could nevuh.




I visited a couple of regular restaurants and bars too; Vibes Bar & Grill, Sunshine's Bar Grill, and Lime Beach Bar in Nevis.

Lime Beach Bar


After a tour on Nevis, my group and I went to Lime Beach Bar. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous. It looks like your typical, fancy beach restaurant. They played a lot of old school soul music from Aretha Franklin to the Chi-Lites. What I enjoyed most was how accommodating the place was for me being a vegan. I got a specialized coconut pumpkin soup and a roasted veggie plate.




Sunshine's Beach Bar & Grill


Sunshine's is a bar and grill located on the island of Nevis right by Lime Beach Bar. It has a Rastafarian theme going on with a gift shop too. The owner Sunshine came out and greeted everyone and he was super nice and sweet.





History 

St. Kitts & Nevis is extremely rich in history. The island was founded by indigenous Kalinago Carib peoples over 5,000 years ago. They named the island Liamuiga meaning "fertile land". Colonizer Christopher Columbus landed on the island in 1492. By the 1620's, British and French colonizers landed on the island and later collaborated in murdering the native people. Enslaved Africans cultivated the nation's economy by working on sugar cane plantations. The descendants now make up the majority population of both islands.

Brimstone Hill Fortress National Park


This military fortress was designed by the British but built by enslaved African peoples for a span of 100 years. In the 1700's, British and French armies warred for control of the island resulting in the English gaining control.




Hermitage Plantation


While taking a tour on the neighboring island of Nevis, my group and I stopped at a former sugar cane plantation. The plantation is now a hotel. The hotel's website makes barely a mention of the location being a former plantation and literally sugar coats the background. 




Romney Manor


The Romney Manor is a 400 year old fortress that is said to be the original site of indigenous Carib leader Chief Tegraman's village. In order to take over the land, English and French colonizers collaborated in murdering him and over 2,000 of his people. Throughout the decades, different European families owned the property including Sam Jefferson II, the second great grandfather of U.S. president Thomas Jefferson. He first purchased the property in 1625.






New River Estate - Sugar Cane Plantation Ruins


After visiting the Hermitage Plantation, our tour led us to an old sugar cane plantation. Most of the contraptions and tools enslaved Black people used to create sugar into molasses are still set in stone. Much of the buildings have been destroyed, however it's still an echo on the realities of chattel slavery and how it contributed in forming nations like St. Kitts & Nevis.



St. James Anglican Church



During our tour bus trip, we passed many historic churches across the island. I was able to snap a few pictures of St. James Anglican Church which was built in 1750. During the British colonization, the colonizers brought the Anglican brand of Christianity to the island. What makes this church so important is that it's one of three churches in the entire Caribbean with a black crucifix. 

Culture

Enjoying, participating in and exploring the culture of the Caribbean had to be one of my favorite parts of my travel journey. I've always loved and adored Caribbean cultures, but to be in the actual space was amazing. I felt comfortable (although a little homesick the first couple of days) and got in where I fit in.

J'ouvert- Sugar Mas 48


It has literally been my dream to attend a Caribbean carnival for years now. I've always loved Caribbean cultures and history and the celebrations of different carnivals has always been fascinating to me. Carnivals aren't just about dancing and wearing sexy outfits. They're rooted into the deep history of Black West Indians spanning into the days of slavery. During slavery in the West Indies, enslaved people were given days off during certain European holidays and took the time to incorporate their traditional West African practices into creating new traditions.



J'ouvert started at 4am. Yes, you read the right. Four o'clock in the morning and ended at 12pm. I joined the X-Treme Nation troupe and boy did things get extreme! Crackin', lit, bussin', turnt, ain't even the words to describe how fun, liberating, amazing, and beautiful the event was. We danced to soca music all morning long. 


While I've always known that in many Caribbean cultures, dances like what we call "twerking" or wining, are not sexualized, being in that atmosphere was so eye opening. The outfit I wore had a cheek out (and I ain't talkin' on my face either). No slut shaming, no stares, no groping or grabbing, no disrespectful, thirsty men (with the exception of one, chile). Next time, I'm playing mas.

Caribelle Batik


Caribelle Batik is located at the Romney Manor in St. Kitts. Batik wax-print designed fabric is produced here. The artistry originates from Indonesia and the place was founded by Maurice Widdowson of Yorkshire who opened up in 1976. We saw a live process of how batik is made too. This place has thee cutest gift shop ever. Handmade soaps, jewelry, fabric and more.



Masqueraders 


While in Port Zante, I noticed a group of men wearing intricate, fringed costumes dancing to drums and flutes. These are the masqueraders of St. Kitts. They mix African and European cultures and usually perform exclusively during carnival season. A source I read stated these masqueraders' origins are linked to the Yoruba ethnic group in present day Nigeria, Benin, and other West African nations. The masqueraders perform 6 dances: quadrille, fine, wild mas, jog, waltz, and boillola. Some of the dance moves were traditionally performed to symbolize mocking or beating slave masters and to ward off evil.




And y'all know I had to bring the Chicago to 'em and dance:



Currency

Like a few other foreign countries, St. Kitts & Nevis uses USD. They also use the Eastern Caribbean dollar. Most of the food is pretty affordable, especially from my vegan spots. Visiting the landmarks was super affordable too. For example, at Brimstone Hill Fortress, the admission is $27 EC, which is pretty much 10 bucks! There are a few banks in downtown Basseterre and not many ATM machines as we have it here in America. It's recommended to carry cash at most places with the exception of tourist popular shops like those in Port Zante.

The only thing that was on the more costly side was food from grocery stores. While visiting Ram's market in Nevis, I noticed some of the food items were a bit marked up in comparison to here in the States. Other than that, navigating the costs was easier than I expected.

Sightseeing

You can't go wrong with 80 degree weather in December! This just added a plus to the lovely scenery surrounding the island. 

Streets of Basseterre


Basseterre is the capital city and largest city in St. Kitts and where I stayed for my week there. It has a main residential area, a downtown area where there are shops, restaurants, a bank, police station, etc. 












In downtown Basseterre, there are street vendors literally everywhere. I love that entrepreneurial spirit that's alive and well in the city. People are able to set up shop and sell fresh fruits and vegetables which is so wonderful to me. I wish I got a chance to check out some prices on sour sop fruit. Until next time!




Pinney's Beach


Out of the two beaches I visited while vacationing, this was my favorite. The sand was a lot smoother, a lot more seashells to collect (and TSA ain't collect 'em either, ha!) and I overall liked the feel much better. This beach is located in Nevis right by Lime's and Sunshine's. Swimming in the Caribbean Sea was so relaxing, liberating, rejuvenating, spiritual. 




Port Zante


Port Zante is the super touristy area in Basseterre. It's right by the coast where cruise ships usually land and is filled with jewelry and tourist shops and food spots that tend to lean more towards the American brand of cuisine.



The Amina Craft Market is located at Port Zante. Most of the locals rent out booths and sell handmade goods in that area. I purchased most of my souvenirs there.



Boat Trip to Nevis


Nevis is the neighboring island across from St. Kitts. Literally got up at 6am to take a 7am boat ride. Getting up early has been a major theme here, haha. My ass was asleep on the way, but I enjoyed watching the gorgeous sunset on the Caribbean Sea on the way back to Basseterre.







Carambola Beach


Another day of waking up in the wee hours of the morning. Saw the sunrise at Carombola Beach Club in Basseterre and got a shoot poppin' too thanks to my bff. Baywatch could NEVUH.


Sir Timothy's Hill 


Like many islands in the West Indies, St. Kitts is extremely mountainous and has many hills. Although the hike would have been a good exercise (and tiresome), a drive up Sir Timothy's Hill exposed more of the beauty of the island. The hill is located towards Frigate Bay where a lot of luxury hotels are located and is one of the most popular landmarks on the island. Plus you can take amazing pictures up there!




Black Rocks 


Black Rocks is a natural formation of rocks near the town Saddlers. The rocks contain lava flow from the island's stratovolcano Mount Liamuiga. Unfortunately while on the tour, we couldn't get closer to explore. It's an absolute no swimming or diving zone.


While there are no pictures, a few other places I visited included Boozie's Restaurant, Vibes Beach Bar at Frigate Bay, and the Nevis Hot Springs.

I enjoyed my trip immensely and St. Kitts has a very special place in my heart now. It will always be remembered as my first carnival, first J'ouvert, first international trip and I will definitely be back for more! Thank you for everything, St. Kitts.





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6 comments:

  1. Looks like you had an amazing trip!! I love the pictures!!

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  2. Sounds like an awesome trip. One of my friends on IG Cris from Bahamianista was covering the carnival and it looked fun. I would love to visit St. Kitts.

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  3. The colors, the food, the vibe...all of it looks amazing. St. Kitts & Nevis is on my bucket list of places to go.

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  4. Wow, your pics look amazing! I know you had an awesome time.

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  5. Absolutely happy for you and thanks for sharing your first here. You travelled to such a beautiful place and made so many great memories!

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  6. Soooo, this is definitely on my bucket list as well. International travel all over is definitely my dream lifestyle. I'm currently trying to get my funds right so I can do more of it. You captured the scenery and culture so beautifully. Might I suggest Barbados for your next Caribbean adventure? You would love "Crop Over" which is their Carnival! Join a Mas Band and get litty! Lol! I did not jump in Crop Over my first visit, but I definitely will the next time I go. Happy Travels! May your adventures be many and marvelous.

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