>> Saturday, August 15, 2009
Ah, I'm back and the trip was delicious.
To prepare you for some of the oodles of info in future posts, I am going to give you a teensy bit of background info on the history, land, and ecology of St. Kitts and Nevis. Don't be scared. I promise it will only take a second. I gotta leave some of it for future posts!
The island of St. Kitts was originally named Liamuiga by the Kalingo peoples that inhabited the island before the colonization of the West Indies. Liamuiga is now the name of the tallest volcano on the island. It stands at 3,792 feet (1,156 m). There are four volcanic peaks on the island but none have been "active" since the late 1600's or possibly one in the mid 1800's, but these reports have been unverified.
Liamuiga literally translates to "fertile land," which St. Kitts definitely is. The peak was originally referred to as Mount Misery. The peak was renamed in 1983 after St. Kitts gained independence as an homage to the islands original inhabitants. Because of all the volcanic soil, St. Kitts used to be an agriculture island. There is still evidence of this in fenced off fields that now lay fallow with overgrown sugarcane. About 15 years ago, however, St. Christoper and Nevis decided to focus on an economy based on tourism. I refer to this as "Making a Deal with the Devil 101." Ridiculously, even though St. Kitts was one of the largest sugar producers until just over a decade ago, it now imports its sugar.
The island is dotted with a multitude of ruins from the plantation days of sugar and other crops. Crumbling mills are found in people's backyards, on the side of the road, in school yards, and on hill sides throughout the island. Makes the few we have in the Virgin Islands seem piddly in comparison. The land is very windswept and dry on the eastern side as intense trade winds from across the Atlantic blow constantly. The sides of the volcanoes are covered in dense tropical rain forest. The tops of the volcanoes are virtually always covered in cloud and do contain cloud forest.
All of this, combined with lack of any natural predators made this a perfect home for the imported Vervet monkeys on island. I only saw one species of Anolis lizard while I was there and a few species of birds and butterflies. There are also salt post with their own plethora of wild life, albeit mostly tiny!
I hope this gets you all acquainted and salivating for more information!