gall and gumption

Friday, June 19, 2009

Northwest



Susie sent me another photo she took in St. Kitts this past April. Don't mind the mysterious object in the foreground, there's nothing there but more sugar cane anyway. This is the view from the northern end of the island. If you look at it on a map you'll see the island is in the shape of a chicken drumstick. The southeast peninsula is the thin end and the thick meaty end points northwest. You can see from the direction in which the cane leaves are bending that the wind is coming from the southeast--it always does. At the far edge of the cane field, you see a dark rough cylindrical object with some bush around it--that's one of the old windmills that were used in the 18th and maybe early 19th century to crush the cane to get the juice out. These are a common sight in the Eastern Caribbean small islands. Later, the sugar producers switched to steam-powered sugar mills, and from these around the island you find these tall tall chimneys rising from ruins. There's nothing inside the windmills. A few of the better preserved ones get rescued and turned into nice vacation homes. Some of them disappear because people steal the stones from them to make goat pens or retaining walls or for whatever odd job a free supply of already cut stone comes in handy for. There are places in the Caribbean where people have had to be educated into a sense of the value and meaning of their own history and its artifacts. The governments are a lot better about this than they were, say, thirty years ago. And the people are better about it too.

The nearest island is Saba. Beyond it is St. Eustatius, known all over as "Statia." Statia is actually the bigger of the two though this does not appear in the photo because it is farther away. Small as they are, both those islands have people living on them. To get an idea of how small they are, it takes maybe an hour to drive around Nevis. Nevis is about 36 square miles; Statia is 8.1 square miles. The bit of Statia that you can see sticking out to the right has a dormant volcano on it. From where you are standing, there is another dormant volcano a few miles behind you up in the mountains of St. Kitts. Nevis has one of those too.

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