February 2024: For years I planned this moment out so that I would visit my last United Nations recognized country (197/197) so that I when I did the event would coincide with my 6-month-old daughter, Indie also visiting her 1st country. As an added bonus Indie’s first country just so happened to be in a region of the Caribbean called the West indies.  It is hard to believe my plan actually worked and along with my wife, Paula, her mom and my nephew and some good friends, I spent almost a week in Saint Kitts and Nevis, mostly on Nevis Island celebrating this incredible achievement while also exploring Nevis.

 

 

About Saint Kitts and Nevis

Saint Kitts and Nevis are two different islands with different governments unified as one country. Saint Kitts and Nevis was once a British Colony that dated back to the 1600s and at one time was one of England’s wealthiest colonies with plantations of mostly sugar that were built off of the backs of African slaves. Today the country is independent, and the majority of its citizens are descendants of African slaves. Geographically both islands are dominated by dormant volcanoes shrouded in rainforest that sit at their center.

 

 

Location of Saint Kitts and Nevis

Rough Public Ferry from Saint Kitts to Nevis

There are two ways to get to Nevis from Saint Kitts. The cheapest from the airport is the public ferry from Basseterre but this is also the longest option-1-hour approx.- on sea at least since the ferry travels the length of both islands. The other option is via water taxi at the end of Saint Kitts that is only about 10 minutes long and the water is much calmer than the other option, but the downside of this option is that you wither need to hire an expensive taxi or take a shared van to travel 40 minutes across Saint Kitts Island just to get to the water taxi. I unfortunately I chose poorly and went with the public ferry route from Basseterre, which I later regretted.

My nephew and I arrived from Saint Lucia and met Paula, her mom and Indie in Saint Kitts and together we took a taxi to the public ferry portal in Basseterre including all of the luggage, and there was a lot, something we never used to travel with before having a baby. We waited for the ferry departure on a street side bench while reggae music loudly played in the background. We looked out at the rough sea along with other nervous waiting passengers wondering if maybe we should have driven across the island instead to the shorter water taxi ride. But we were already here and the thought of transferring everyone and our luggage into another taxi seemed like more work than just taking the ferry. But this turned out to be a mistake. The rickety ferry, the Mark twain set off from the dock and was instantly hammered by towering waves. It felt like a rollercoaster and locals on the ferry screamed every time a wave picked us up to its crest as the captain simultaneously cut the engine sending us plummeting downwards. The engine started to overheat after ten minutes of being battered by the high seas and we had to return to the port and swap boats. When I asked the Pilipino Captain what happened, he said the engine overheated but not to worry because we were now taking a safer boat. In the back of my mind, I wondered why we would take the less safe boat to begin with and I also thought about the public ferry to Nevis that sank decades earlier whose wreck is now advertised by dive shops as a dive site. Sadly, everyone on board drowned. This was a detail that I decided not to share with anyone until we made it to Nevis. The rest of the ride to Nevis was torturous and the waves did not relent. It would take us a total of one hour to get to Nevis and Indie became seasick and vomited and I was so worried about her choking on her vomit that I couldn’t stop staring at her and I too started to vomit. A lady on the boat handed me a plastic bag and some peppermint, which was helpful. When we finally reached land, it never felt so good, and we vowed to return to Saint Kitts by the 8-minute water taxi instead of the public ferry.

 

 

Public ferry

Family on the ferry

Rough seas

My Favorite Air BnB of All Time

 

 

 

I found a house rental on an old plantation that dated back to the 1700s and overlooked the whole island with an incredible view of the ocean and surrounding islands including the volcanic island of Montserrat. Behind the house loomed the enormous verdant Nevis volcano adorned in rainforest. We loved our house and its spacious deck with sweeping views. We had a pool, and the property was well groomed by a kind landscaper who visits every day to ensure the plants and trees are well kept. A troop of wild monkeys were everyday visitors to the trees around the house. An even friendlier housekeeper also stopped by every day to help keep the house immaculate. Our place was really a blessing and cheaper than any hotel on the island, which for the same price we were paying would have been significantly inferior. We enjoyed our time so much in the house that we found it difficult to leave and, on some days, we spent the majority of the day just lounging around the house.

 

 

Our Home for the week

My favorite place the porch

Our pool

Nevis Volcano behind our house

Nevis Volcano behind our house

Indie exploring the house

Indie exploring the house

Waking up in the morning to the amazing view outside our bedroom

Being visited every day by one of the wild monkeys that came over on slave ships from Africa hundreds of years ago.  This one locked eyes with Indie and for a good 30 seconds they stared intently at each other from only a few feet away. 

Celebrating 197/197

It was an amazing feeling to finally reach the goal of visiting every United Nations country, something that took me about 28 years to accomplish over the course of my travels. It was a lot of fun celebrating my accomplishment with my family and friends.

 

 

Celebrating at a local restaraunt 

Dan drinking local rum

Paula, Indie and I

Exploring Nevis

We weren’t lucky with the weather and a tropical storm that was out of character for this time of year marched passed the region pummeling it with rain and lightning and my plans for scuba diving, renting a catamaran and hiking the Nevis volcano never materialized. But we still managed to see a lot of Nevis. I rented a car, and the owner of the company delivered the car to the ferry port for our arrival and even escorted us to our house. To legally drive in Nevis, I obtained a local Nevis driver’s license for 20USD through the rental car owner instead of the police department office-the usual route- and every day we were able to drive around the island visiting its capital, the old city of Charleston and many of its other historical sites such as the old Hamilton Plantation. Because of the rain, the beaches were full of rotting seaweed, flies and the water had poor visibility. I wanted to reach one of the remote local beaches but ended up getting stuck in thick mud on the side of the road. However, it didn’t take long for several kind locals to pull over and help tow us out with nothing asked in return.

 

 

Charlestown 

House where American founding father,Alexandar Hamilton was borne 

I loved the history of the island and the many abandoned historical buildings. We visited the old abandoned British Fort Charles on the outskirts of town. The fort changed hands a few times between the French and British and I imagine has seen more than its fair share of blood. Ancient, rusted cannons lined the edges of the collapsing fort walls. The setting for the fort was beautiful and we had a great view of the coastline and the Nevis Volcano. We were the only visitors which was the case with most of the historical sites on Nevis, which I really appreciated. But aside from the crumbling old fort there were also some other eerie buildings in the area that appeared abandoned like a factory building and a series of condos that were deserted.

 

 

Paula and Indie by an old cannon in the abandoned old British Fort Charles

Derelict british building in the abandoned old British Fort Charles

Paula and Indie admiring the view

We by chance drove passed a series of old abandoned brick buildings that we decided we needed to properly explore, and the buildings turned out to be part of the old sugar plantation that belonged to the Hamilton family.

 

 

Abandoned house by the Nevis Volcano 

Paula and Indie by one of the old brick sugar silo buildings 

Brick sugar silo 

Paula and Indie in one of the old sugar mill buildings 

We loved our time in Nevis celebrating my last country but for me the true celebration was being together as a family with Indie on our first international trip together. This I hope will be the first of many more to come.

 

12 + 8 =

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