Day 12. When we woke up, the ship had docked at St. Kitts. We had a leisurely breakfast of eggs to sustain us until supper. We don’t like to waste time on shore sitting at a restaurant for two hours waiting to be served. The only time we eat on shore is if the shore excursions lecturer has recommended a particular dish that you cannot get anywhere else. Since our shore excursion lecturer told us next to nothing, we had no designs on the local food. Nor did we have any excursions selected.
Our ship was docked on a long narrow dock beside another cruise ship from the P&O line. The two ships created a wind tunnel and noise echo chamber. Down on the dock, looking up, it was like being trapped between skyscrapers.
Since we had already cleared customs on the ship yesterday, it was simply a matter of strolling down the gangplank. The entrance to the town was a pleasant building featuring a local group of musicians playing local music. These guys had been playing for a long time, and they were good.
Past the entrance was a shopping village featuring, ta da, diamonds, and not much else. Everywhere, men with plasticized maps accosted us, offering an island tour. We bought one from a low-key guy who didn’t hassle us. $20 each for a two-hour tour in a covered, open-sided bus that held 23 people. We met at 11:00, and when the dust had settled, the tour had lasted three hours. But I am getting ahead of the story.
We were, in taking this tour, supporting the local economy, instead of supporting the cruise line, which had offered similar tours, on nicer buses, for considerably more money. Our driver laughed like Eddy Murphy, which caused a couple of Australian women to howl with laughter every time he laughed.
We began with a drive through the poorer part of town, shabby buildings, overgrown lots, and fishermen gutting fish on the beach. Along a bit further were the University of the Caribbean in Medicine, the Ross University of Nursing, and a veterinary university. It seems like, when all the Caribbean countries divvied up the education pie, St. Kitts picked the health wedge. We drove past the hospital where Roberta would now be having surgery, and thought it looked pretty good.
We drove up the mountain past the ‘flying flowers’, which was a tree full of birds, through a rainforest, to the mandatory shopping experience. This one was a batik factory. A lady explained the intricate process of creating batik, applying wax and dye in layers, like painting a Ukrainian Easter egg, and then boiling down the finished piece to remove the wax and reveal the finished design. The results were colourful and quite beautiful. They were also expensive, due to the labour-intensive nature of the work. Sadly, we have seen similar designs printed on cotton in many cheap stores at home. So if you bought one of these works, when you got home, people would think you had just picked up something at Walmart.
Our tour now went to the rich half of the island, so we could see the island’s biggest building, the Marriott Hotel. Further on was a vista where we could see both the Atlantic Ocean on the left, and the Caribbean Sea on the right. At this photo stop, and the others that followed, there were tents of local merchants selling stuff. The same stuff at each one, as I discovered later. Beer, water, pop, clothing, jewellery.
Our driver took us to a beach belonging to a fancy resort. We are allowed to swim here, and if we choose to swim, the driver will come back in an hour to pick us up. It looks like nobody brought a bathing suit, which was mandatory, so we all passed on the swim and settled for walking on the beach long enough to get sand in our toes. We stepped into the water to say we had done it. Nice and warm. The sun was scorching hot. We of pale skin fled back to the bus.
Although the ship was not leaving until suppertime, we went back for a shower and rest. After we watched the ship leave the dock, we went down to the infirmary to see if we could spring Roberta for dinner. She was just being discharged, wearing a cast from crotch to ankle, with crutches, and a ship wheelchair.
We escorted her to dinner, as she appeared a little hopped up on drugs, and with her leg stuck straight out in front of her, maneuvering the wheelchair required finesse. Dale had the finesse. Until we got her to the door of the dining room where our waiter Michael stepped up and took firm charge. Between him and his assistant, they got her into a dining chair with a flourish of linen napkins and much clucking and hovering.
Roberta regaled us with the story of her adventure over dinner. She had been ferried to the hospital with two other sick and injured passengers early in the morning. The nurses, perky in white uniforms with red caps and sashes, did not seem to understand the concept of caring for patients, and instead lounged at the nurses station talking, and mixing up the patient files. Every time someone attended to her, they did so using the wrong name and the wrong ailment. She had to keep correcting them. There was no soap at any sink, so clean hands were not high on their priority list. The doctor examined her knee, decided yes, the kneecap was broken, and no, she didn’t need surgery. He drained the fluid off the knee and created a half-cast, which held the back and sides of her leg straight, but left the shin and thigh exposed. The whole business was held in place by elastic bandages. Much better than surgery.
She asked them to get the ambulance to take her back to the ship. This could not be done. She asked them to call her a cab. Yes, this could be done, but the hours ticked by and nobody called the cab. She got a little strident until a doctor said he was going that way, and could drop her off in his car. She came close to being left on the island.
Margaret says she is going shopping for a television set tomorrow, as St. Maarten is the cheapest island for shopping, and she is getting off in St. Thomas to take the ferry home. We thought a TV might be a bit big to maneuver off the ship and onto a ferry, while dragging a wheeled suitcase, but she said nonsense, they are not that big because they are flat.
Roberta is disappointed because she cannot get off the ship with the wheelchair and all the problems related. She really wanted to go ashore and buy a fridge magnet for herself. She always buys a fridge magnet wherever she travels. Margaret said she would get one.
Chilled apple and cinnamon soup, pork loin with Brussels sprouts, carrots, potatoes, ice cream.
The ship is travelling at 4 to 7 knots, as it is 40 miles to the next island and we have 12 hours to get there.