Monday, July 28, 2008
CLICK ON THE MAP - IT WILL ENLARGE TO A FULL VIEW OF THE CARIBBEAN
I had received an email today saying that I would be receiving a phone call between noon and 4 p.m. from the heads of the Eastern Caribbean Peace Corps group. At 2:15p.m. the phone rang and before the conversation was over, I learned that I was not going to be going to the island of Grenada but had been switched to the island(s) of St. Kitts and Nevis. These are a lot closer to the US and British Virgin Islands. Click on the map above and you can see an enlarged view of the Caribbean and there is St. Kitts/Nevis just across the way from St. John's Antigua.
I will have a change in job responsibilities as well. No longer will I be working with NGO's (non-governmental organizations - non-profits) but using my years of experience as a Small Business Developer. Right now I am just in a state of shock! I've Googled St. Kitts and Nevis and put some information on this page for you all to read, but I'm a little flabbergasted and confused at the moment. At least it's still the Caribbean, the weather is the same and all the summer clothes I have packed will not go to waste! As I learn more, I'll share the information with you. As do most of the islands in the Caribbean, St. Kitts and Nevis seem to have glorious beaches, wonderful snorkeling and diving, great resorts (even a 4 Seasons) and a fairly poor native population. Here is a small history of this island nation.
Federation of Saint Kitts and Nevis (also known as the Federation of Saint Christopher and Nevis[1, located in the Leeward Islands, is a federal two-island nation in the West Indies. It is the smallest nation in the Americas, in both area and population.
The capital city and headquarters of government for the federated state is on the larger island of Saint Kitts. The smaller state of Nevis lies about 2 miles (3 km) southeast of Saint Kitts, across a shallow channel called "The Narrows".
Historically, the British dependency of Anguilla was also a part of this union, which was then known collectively as Saint Christopher-Nevis-Anguilla.
Saint Kitts and Nevis are geographically part of the Leeward Islands. To the north-northwest lie the islands of Saint Eustatius, Saba, Saint Barthélemy, and Saint-Martin/Sint Maarten. To the east and northeast are Antigua and Barbuda, and to the southeast is the small uninhabited island of Redonda, and the island of Montserrat, which currently has an active volcano (see Soufrière Hills.)
Saint Kitts and Nevis were amongst the first islands in the Caribbean to be settled by Europeans. Saint Kitts was home to the first British and French colonies in the Caribbean.
Saint Kitts and Nevis is the smallest nation on Earth to ever host a World Cup event; it was one of the host venues of the 2007 Cricket World Cup.
Intoxicating natural beauty, sunny skies, warm waters, and white sandy beaches combine to make St. Kitts one of the most seductive spots in the Caribbean. Christopher Columbus first spotted St. Kitts in 1493, when it was populated with native tribes, but the Europeans did not colonize until the British arrived in 1623. Its strategic location and valuable sugar trade led to an advanced and luxurious development that was among the best in the Colonial Caribbean.
While development has been of the highest quality, it has fortunately remained in low quantity, so St. Kitts remains un-crowded and unspoiled, famous around the world for excellent preservation of the ecosystems. Nature lovers will want to take advantage of the various tours through lava formations, tropical forest areas, and seaside lagoons. Boating tours and scuba diving expeditions are also favorite activities. Plantation homes have been transformed into grand, intimate inns. Quaint shopping areas and beautiful Colonial architecture draw visitors to the tiny towns. If a quiet vacation in a luxurious and alluring corner of paradise is what you seek, you'll find it on St. Kitts.
The peaceful calm of St. Kitts suggests nothing of the extraordinary history of the island. For centuries, St. Kitts occupied a critical position in the European struggle for the West Indies, combining exceptional wealth as sugar colonies with a vital strategic position as gateways to the Caribbean. As a result, the struggles and conflicts that marked their history are among the most decisive episodes in Caribbean history.
St. Kitts is a volcanic island, a fact to which it owes its dramatic central mountains, its rather unpredictable geologic history, and its lush tropical vegetation. In fact, St. Kitts' pre-Columbian Carib inhabitants knew their island as Liamuiga, or "fertile land," a reference to the island's rich and productive volcanic soil. Today that name graces St. Kitts' central peak, a 3,792-foot extinct volcano.
The recorded history of St. Kitts begins with the second voyage in 1493 of Christopher Columbus who sailed past the island but did not land. There is some doubt as to whether it is this island that Columbus gave the name St. Christopher (after himself ). In any case, by the time the Englishman Thomas Warner arrived with fourteen other settlers in 1624 to found the first non-Spanish European colony in the Caribbean, the island was known as St. Christopher's.
Thomas Warner chose St. Christopher for its abundant forests and fresh water, its fertile easily worked soil, its accessible physical structure, and the presence of salt.
St. Kitts, the larger of the two islands, is roughly oval in shape except for a long, narrow peninsula to the southeast. Its highest point is Mount Liamuiga (3,792 ft [1,156 m]). The Narrows, a 2-mile- (3-km-) wide channel, separates the two islands. The circularly shaped Nevis is surrounded by coral reefs and the island is almost entirely a single mountain, Nevis Peak (3,232 ft [985 m]). A volcanic mountain chain dominates the center of both islands.
Posted by Re's Home on the Road at 12:16 PM
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
3685 miles! Me and my little blue, PT Cruiser saw a whole lot of the Midwest before we got home on Monday afternoon, June 21st.
I left you as I was leaving Wisconsin and heading into Chicago. Chicago is still 'my kind of town' and it was so great being back. I sure miss the hustle and bustle, the ethnicity, the great restaurants and bars, the shopping!!!, all my old friends and neighbors, Lake Michigan, the theater, the museums, Michigan Avenue, the ease of getting around town on trains, subways, the 'L' and buses. What I don't miss is the winters that come along with living there - but it's still my favorite city in the entire world!
Attended at 3-day textile-arts workshop at O'Hare. Stayed right downtown Chicago with my good friend Cathi Quinn and her husband Jim. It was fun to catch up, even if I end the visit by catching my little toe on her couch and dislocating the heck out of it! Still not back to wearing 'real shoes.'
After the conference was over, I moved in with friends Laura and John Radke in the far western suburb of Crystal Lake. Laura and I immediately hopped on the train and went back downtown so I could see the completed and absolutely fabulous Millennium Park that Frank Geary designed. I fell in love with The Bean and how it reflects the skyline as you move around and under it. The 'band shell' for outdoor concerts is an absolute marvel of engineering and sound. The Chicago Symphony was practicing for a concert the afternoon we were there and the glorious notes of Beethoven were wafting all across the park.
Next we cabbed up to Lincoln Park where we had a fabulous lunch at North Pond overlooking the Hancock building and city skyline. Ended the day shopping on Michigan Avenue. A perfect day! After visiting with my old 'sew club' members on Wednesday, dining downtown at the trendy, new Bistro Zinc on North State with dear friend Jim Woodward, and brunch with one of my oldest friends, MJ Parkhill, in La Grange Park, I was off to Central Illinois to attend my 44th high school reunion in Danville. (Oh - I do not miss the Chicago tollways and summer construction on them!!!)
Danville is the little town that everyone forgot. Located almost directly between Champaign/Urbana (home of the University of Illinois) and Indianapolis, IN (home of the Colts, etc.) Danville got left out of the growth and industry has moved away. It's sad to visit when all your memories of your home town were so good. When I was growing up there were over 50,000 people living and working there. Now there are less than 34,000 and the 'downtown' is now non-existent. But the Classes of '63 & '64 made the best of it and it was so much fun to see everyone. The women all had aged much better than the men (ggg) but the majority of both sexes now have white hair and wear glasses! Got to play golf on both Friday, at Harrison Park with Skip Pierce, and Saturday at the Country Club, which hosted our reunion golf tournament. I actually won the award for lowest score shot by a woman! On Sunday morning, my dear friend, Carol (Hall) Sims' mother Betty, had me out to the farm for a huge-mongous breakfast before I hit the road back to North Carolina.
The drive was uneventful and easy. I made it from Danville to Hurricane, WVa where I stopped at a Super 8, just off the freeway, for the night. What a hoot! It was filled with truckers, standing outside in overalls, sipping beer and grilling burgers on the back of a pickup. But those guys hit the road really early so everything was nice and quite. I managed to sleep in until 4 a.m. A cup of coffee and I was just 6 hours from home!
So here I am - back in North Carolina and the mad rush to get everything in order and taken care of before I depart on August 25th has started. My Staging Kit from the PC was awaiting me when I got home. I fly from Wilmington to Miami where I meet up with the rest of the Eastern Caribbean Peace Corps volunteers. We have 12 hours of meetings, vaccinations, and getting a lot of questions answered before we board the plane for St. Lucia where we'll spend the next 6-7 weeks, living with a host family and officially starting our Peace Corp volunteer training.
Early September will be the next time you hear from me. Thanks for reading and cross your fingers I rent my house before I leave the States!
Posted by Re's Home on the Road at 7:46 AM
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Road trips are so much fun! Even if you have a planned itinerary, you can deviate when and where you want - just put on the break and turn around when you see something that interests you.
So far I have put 1724 miles on my little PT Cruiser convertible since leaving Wilmington on the 28th of June. I had a wonderful week in South Haven, MI with the entire Hoard clan, celebrating Rich and Sandy's 50th wedding anniversary. There were up to 45 family & friends staying at The Springs Resort at one time. I had 12 bunk beds in my room - 3 high! And only one bathroom. It was like being back at camp. Wet towels everywhere and someone constantly stubbing a toe on a ladder or not being able to get out of the top bunk! I 'shared' my room with Fernando and family from Brazil.
Fernando had been the Hoard's foreign exchange student while in high school and had fallen in love, like we all do, with this wonderful family. He has always stayed in touch, visited and now is married (both he and his wife are dentists) with 3 grown children (the oldest just finished her senior year in HS as an exchange student in Kalamazoo) and they made sure to be in the States for this great event.
After a week's idle on the mosquito-invested shores of Lake Michigan I drove to Traverse City to see old friends from our years in Brussels. It had been 32 years since Kerm & Sallie Campbell and I had set eyes on each other. We agreed we hadn't changed one bit! Kerm now runs about 10 businesses, including the fabulous Black Star Farms Winery. Their beautiful home overlooks Traverse Bay and is surrounded on all sides by rows and rows of grapes. Their gracious hospitality is the same as it was in Brussels - fabulous. We shared a bottle of their wonderful Pinot Gris over a delicious lunch overlooking the Bay. Next we went from winery to winery for an afternoon of 'tasting' the competition. We ended the evening at the Traverse City Symphony with a evening of glorious Italian music, including Vivladi's 4 Seasons. What a wonderful visit.
Next I drove a short distance to Boyne Mountain in Harbor Springs for a night at the main lodge and a round of golf on the Donald Ross showcase course. What a delight. The tourist traffic is really down as seen by the small numbers staying in the Lodge and on the golf course. I had the entire course to myself.
The next morning, after a hectic 3 hours of shopping in downtown Petoskey, I headed up and over into the UP. I stopped overnight in a little town with in the middle, and spent the next night at Terrace Bay Resort on Bay du Noc with a glorious golf course on the bluff over looking the Lake. What fun. Played a great round of golf with two ladies who live right there in Escanaba.
After wandering around and getting totally lost trying to find a supposedly wonderful craft farm in the courtyside outside of Escanaba (not!),I headed out of Michigan into the land of cheddar cheese and Bret Favre. I love Wisconsin. It's so very Midwest. Cows, red barns, big, white farm houses, waving wheat and corn in the field. I sure miss this area - but not the winters or the summer floods! Arrived in Berlin yesterday afternoon (about 18 miles west of Osh Kosh) and am staying with my good, long-time friend, Linda Hanson, whom I met in Spain 8 years ago and who I went to Ireland with last summer.
Linda and I are off to check out the bustling city of Berlin (pop. 5345), visit with John's best friend from the Navy, Dennis Carroll, who lives in Green Lake, only 9 miles away, and enjoy the 4th of July the old-fashioned way - small-town parade and cook-out. I leave here on the 5th and pick up my friend Cindy Kilkenny and head to Door County for 3 days for photo shooting, sailing on Lake Michigan and visiting with our Ireland tour leader and professional photographer, Dan Anderson.
So that's it for now. My laundry is ready to come out of the dryer (just love staying with friend's with washing machines when traveling!). Will try to post once more along the way, but might wait until I return home after the reunion to finish 'little trip'.
Posted by Re's Home on the Road at 6:18 AM