Throwback Thursdays – on holiday in Nevis

Nevis was a paradise holiday island filled with animals

From Dominica, we had a day’s sail to Guadeloupe, anchoring south of Basseterre overnight before sailing the next morning past Montserrat towards Nevis. An ash cloud still hung over the top of the volcano, visibly different from other types of cloud, and lava trails and the destruction they had caused were clear to see.

We arrived at Pinney’s Beach, Nevis, shortly before sunset, and took the dinghy to shore to meet my uncle and aunt who were on holiday on the island, staying in an incredible villa.

There was a wonderful beach bar called Double Deuce that became our local for the few days we were in Nevis, serving the best barbecued, garlic shrimps I have ever tasted. It had wifi, a beautiful view, and a wonderful book case where I swapped many of our old books for new ones (kindles had only just hit the market back then!) The main town in Nevis is Charlestown, a lovely little town with brightly coloured buildings, numerous outdoor bars and tiny leafy squares. One day we walked into town on a Sunday, past several churches filled with people on their feet, singing, clapping and dancing along.

But the main sound of Nevis was the sound of animals. Goats roam everywhere, including tiny baby kids, with birds following the goats around. Vervet monkeys swing in the trees and chatter by the roadside. A chicken and a cockerel stalked the garden of my uncle’s rented villa, answering a nearby donkey’s braying. On the seafront, pelicans divebomb for fish, only a few metres offshore and always exciting to watch.

Nevis is one island of a little country – St Kitts and Nevis. St Kitts is the big, main island. Although we spent most of our time on Nevis, we had to pop over to St Kitts to pick Jilli up from the airport. The port was very weird as we were right by the cruise shop dock. Immediately surrounding it was an incredibly posh, paved area filled with expensive shops including lots selling diamonds. This area was completely devoid of people, and it was only after a short walk that we arrived in the town proper, with music booming and lights everywhere.

The next Triple D disaster occurred one night as we made our way back to the boat after dinner. There was quite a big swell washing waves onto the beach, and there was no dock to tie our dinghy up against. Thus coming into shore involved motoring the dinghy as near as possible, lifting the engine up, letting the waves wash us onshore and judging correctly when to jump out and steady the boat. If coming in was hard, getting out was harder, again, in judging the right point to jump into the boat and push it out into the waves. We had had some near disasters with “Little D” almost getting swamped and had learned to pack our stuff in a big waterproof bag.

So one night we were heading back to the boat in the pitch black around midnight. We tucked our skirts into our knickers and waded in to the water at knee height, holding Little D steady. We gave the dinghy a push and all jumped in. Just as we did so, a huge wave towered over us and broke on top of us. The dinghy tipped completely over, mum went underneath the dinghy, she lost her glasses and Jilli dropped the torch. Luckily in the commotion the torch had managed to turn itself on and so there was a vague glow under the water, meaning we were able to pick it up again. We finally managed to get off safely and were all laughing so much we couldn’t drive the dinghy straight. Or maybe that was the fresh mango daiquiris…..

As my uncle and aunt were on holiday in Nevis, we were kind of on holiday too – and so one of my main memories of Nevis was the wonderful food we had. Double Deuce, where we spent most of our time, drinking daiquiris, eating barbecued prawns and chatting to the owner and the locals. We got talking to an American couple who have kept their boat in Antigua for the last few seasons. The husband said “I saw you heading out in that gale yesterday” – at which we almost laughed, because we hadn’t thought it was windy at all! The restaurant at Chrishi Beach, with the best tuna tartare I’d eaten at that point, and wonderful breakfasts at Cafe des Artes, in a beautiful little garden in the heart of Charlestown. I would love to go back, even if just to eat all the food – it is actually one of the few places in the Caribbean that I really, really want to go back to on holiday.

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