OK, it’s time for me to confess that I hadn’t heard of St Kitts until I started discussing this contract, as it was one of the 3 places I would likely live (along with Antigua and Grenada, which I had heard of). So, since this place is my home for the next 3 months (or maybe more) I should give you a little run down, especially since I’d love you to visit me.
St Kitts is in the Eastern Caribbean, near to Antigua, west of Barbados, north of Trinidad, and east of Jamaica. You can actually fly here direct from Miami (3 hours – once each day), London and New York so it’s not altogether in the middle of nowhere (although I think I saw a sign to nowhere somewhere near here. Its population is around 32,000 and it’s home to the Central Bank of the Eastern Caribbean – needed because 8 of the EC countries share the EC dollar, which is pegged to the USD at a rate of around $2.70 to every USD – although you can use USD here in most transactions. I will be based in the Central Bank, which is why I’ve ended up here.
The island is, like Australia, a former colony, and in fact was the first British and French colony in the Carribbean. It was originally settled by American Indians around 5,000 years ago and, from what I can make out, they have received about as much love from England as our own Aboriginal population. The law is common law, mainly based on English law, with appeals still to the Privy Council (although a new court of ultimate appeal has been established, it hasn’t yet come into operation).
However, rather than being a destination for England’s criminals, was a source for slaves so it is very much tinged by that past. It is part of what is known as the “West Indies” and, when they discover I’m from Australia, many people are asking me if I’m here for some cricket. It looks like there are a couple of one day internationals here between Australia and the West Indies in July, so of course I’ll head along to one or both of those.
St Kitts (whose proper name is really “St Christopher”) has a smaller sister island, Nevis, so you will often see them described as “St Kitts and Nevis” and they are governed together. They gained independence from Mother England in 1983, and drive on the left. Tourism drives the economy, even though its better known neighbours like Jamaica and the Bahamas seem to get more press.
The island itself is extremely beautiful, with some large mountains on the northern part, and is shaped like the entire south-western section has been “stretched” – I like to think of it like a big chicken drumstick pointing south-west toward Nevis, a blob of gravy. I am staying in Frigate Bay, where most hotels are based, and the island is narrow enough at this point that you can walk from the northern/Atlantic side to the southern/Caribbean side (which has less waves and seems to me to be prettier).
I think I want to live on the Caribbean side.