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Saturday, June 8, 2002
Exploring Basseterre St. Kitts, and the Passage to Ballast Bay

We woke up for a leisurely morning and headed into the marina for adventure (and fuel, actually). We had seen advertisements for St. Kitts' "Port Zante… a brand new port facility of twenty five beautifully landscaped acres of land, reclaimed from the sea, where you will find duty free shops, spacious plazas, elegant restaurants, and wonderful marina." We arrived to find barges, tractors, the ruins of a cruise ship dock mowed over by a hurricane, and the marina was four cement walls encompassing a small area where you could tie-up your boat. We were immediately approached by a cab driver trying to offer us a ride to the customs office and a three hour tour of the island. Once on our way, we learned he had seen a new boat (us) anchor last night and watched us dinghy in this morning, so had been waiting for us at the dock. He seemed quite pleased that he had been so fastidious in keeping us in his crosshairs. Curt and I were kind of creeped out, but also noted there must not be a lot of work on the island.

The tour took us by the local open-air market where locals peddled their produce, the Carib Brewery, and the immaculate Caribelle Batik and Gardens. We saw monkeys (in a cage on the side of the road) and rainforests, as well as Fort Charles and Brimstone Hill. The landscape of the island was beautiful, and the views from Fort Charles captivating. To get to all of these places, we drove through many towns on the island and were both taken by both the level of poverty and reminders of hurricanes past everywhere. Many of the homes are really like shanties, with corrugated metal roofs and dirt floors. Folks sat on the side of the road watching traffic go by. A group of women sat on a porch putting rollers in each other's hair. Laundry hung on lines from a window to a nearby tree. There would've been a bit of charm to it I suppose, if we had noticed anyone who might've been smiling. But everyone seemed quite stoic as they stared at us (anonymous tourists) in the windows of the taxi going by.

We were equally as glad to've seen the island as well as to return to our dinghy when the tour was over. While Curt filled up our tank with fuel, I squared away the fee for using their dock. Though I've begun wearing a silver band on the fourth finger of my left hand, a man still approached me for a chat about where I'm from, where I'm going, our boat etc. I'm not sure if he was just being friendly or forward, but it left me feeling even more pleased to leave Basseterre sooner rather than later.

We had consulted our cruising guide in hopes of finding a place more remote down-island and chose an anchorage called Ballast Bay. We were rewarded with a deserted stretch of beach with only two other boats at anchor. The landscape looked like we could have been in a California desert, and the sea here was calm and cool. The sun was shining and we felt like we could once again have a quiet and easy afternoon. Curt went off to clean the bottom of Force Five, while I popped in a CD and cleaned up below. I was enchanted with a man passing the time fishing off the rocks of the shore with a net as the sun went down. It made for a beautiful setting. I duly scorned myself when I realized he was on the same boat we had thought "sinister" the day before in Basseterre. A spoiled American I am indeed.


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