Thursday, October 10, 2013

We Have a Hulk!

"Things are getting a little bit strange!" 

Not exactly what you want to hear from your buddy. Not when he's 200 feet up, high atop the ramparts of a centuries old fort, the stonework is uneven underfoot, and there is no guardrail. This is no rowdy frat boy drinker. This is a seasoned party warrior used to mixes of boozes and drugs that would make Hunter S. Thompson feel at home. He summed it up as "Much like a tuxedo shirt, I'm serious but I'm here to party." 

No. This is not a good sign.

He has been tangling with "The Hulk." 

And "The Hulk" is kicking his ass.

An unique drinking experience is to be found in partaking of the local magic potion known generally as "Moonshine." There is no glamour in drinking Moonshine but it is quite the experience. 
Made as an over-proof rum, Moonshine is offered as a double threat because it is flavored with herbs and spices which not only provide a more palatable taste but add to the kick usually by adding some psychotropic properties. And let me be clear about this, Moonshine is drunk for the high not the taste. You don't have to drink much to get to a strange new mental place.

In many of the small neighborhood or town bars, there's a mysterious looking jar or jug. Think 2-liter wine jug. Sometimes they have are homemade label with a name like "The Hulk." Moonshine names imply strength, power, and damage. There is no Moonshine named "Hello Kitty." Only sold across the bar to those in the know but sold out the side door to neighbors who bring their own small bottles. . 

Two points to consider regarding moonshine.1) You may be breaking local laws by purchasing moonshine. 2) If drinking moonshine in bar make sure (if possible) you are buying it from the bar and not from an employee. Drinking other person's booze in a bar is rude and lacking class.

Many taxi drivers can arrange for you to get to a venue or seller who will get you some moonshine.

Monday, September 27, 2010

It's A Feeding Friendzy!!

You rarely eat alone.

In St Kitts, you go out to eat with friends, new friends and old friends, and friends of friends. When family comes down, you take them out to eat and invite along some friends for them to meet! So allow me to talk about a few of my friends and their faves.

Mr X's Bastard Fish Burger - My friend Amy craves this year round. When she visits at Christmas, she can be found most afternoons or evenings at X's tucking into one of these puppies. Ask what she did during the day and she usually admits, somewhat sheepishly, that she "ate at X's again." She's right! A juicy piece of nicely seasoned grilled fish served burger style, washed down with an icy Carib Lager, just feet from the Caribbean Sea is heard to beat.   $16EC/$6US
Also of note is the Melted Lava Jerk Chicken - Spicy and moist. Grilled and served with Kittian style rice and vegetables.    $37EC/$14US

Solarizing             (Photo courtesy of Amy Hodges)
"De Strip" at Timothy Beach at Night             (Photo by Amy Hodges)

Cathy's Grilled Lobster - My friend, Dawn, swears that Cathy's serves the "THE BEST LOBSTER I'VE EVER EATEN!" Take Dawn's word for it. It's that good! Gently grilled and served with a perfect sauce it's worth the price and the wait! Served with rice and peas, salad, pumpkin, plantain, and if you're lucky, a bit of macaroni pie. Enough to split.     Price Varies but usually between $30 - 40 US
Also Recommended Anything Cathy Cooks!!!

Dawn (Left)

El Fredo's - Drive on Bay Road east of downtown at lunch time and you'll see the cars parked on sidewalk. On the Blue wall there is a menu chalked on the blackboard outside the gate. Frequented mainly by local business persons and the occasional tourist, it rarely draws students. That shows that students aren't as smart as they let on. It's the students' loss!  Matt dragged me down there and bought me an amazing lunch!
El Fredo's has a varied menu with some items not offered at any other restaurant on the island. The Specials change daily, and when they run out of a dish, that's it for the day!  Stewed Oxtails, Goat Water (Fridays), Creole Fish, and Manish Water (aka Jamaican Viagra). Traditional Sides. Jasmine & Ken are your hosts and their personal service is Fast and Friendly. Ken is very knowledgeable about Caribbean and world cricket and Jasmine is one of the nicest women in the world.  Open weekdays until 5. Later on Fridays.
I have never been served any food there that was less than superior.

El Fredo's Menu Board
Exquisite Food in the Peaceful Garden Behind the Wall 

MS Steads - Freddy, My Friend and Island Guru, prefers Home Cooking over Eating Out. When I asked after Goat Water, he sent me to MS Stead's. Freddy and many Taxi Drivers get food there in the mornings to start their days. It took me months to get there on a day when they served goat water, but there was always something Yummy cooking every time I stopped in. The food is delicious, the service fast and pleasant, the portions huge, and the prices downright cheap. The Cook Up is my Favorite! Lots o' meat and rice. A Small will leave one with leftovers and the Large ($11EC/$4US) is 2 meals for me and my wife. Take away only and closes in late afternoon. Thanks, Freddy!!!!


Friday Nights There's Fire at The Ackee Cafe! Jerk Pork! - The Big Red Grill and the picnic tables are out in the parking lot. And the seats are full. First thing you notice is that wonderful aroma and that your mouth is starting to water. Then you hear the voices. The accent of several of the customers is different. That's because many of the Jamaican residents of St Kitts make it a point to get their weekly fix of Jamaica's fabulous fiery meat. They love Gary's Jerk, Mon!. Two sizes. traditional sides. Oh My God Is It Yummy! Keep the Caribs Coming!
Large is $55-65EC
Gary Serves up The Fire!
You'll want a couple of these!
Carib - On Fire Duty!

Reggae Beach's Home Made Banana Bread Pudding - served warm, topped with mango sauce and rum soaked raisins! If you only eat dessert once a year, this is the one thing you want to eat! Kittian Banana Bread is the best I've ever eaten and these guys nailed the pudding part! The raisins are plumped by the rum and give you a flavor burst when you bite them. The mango sauce sets it all off! My friend Debbie came 3500 klicks with this on her Must-Do List and she wasn't disappointed. A Sweet Ending! Live De Life! $22.50EC/$8.50US
Debbie's Temptation

Enjoy! Live de Life!

Mr. X's Shiggidy Shack
On De Strip
South Frigate Bay Beach
Cathy's Ocean View Bar and Grill
On De Strip
South Frigate Bay Beach
El Fredo's
Corner of Sandown & Bay Road
869 466 8871

MS Steads
The Red Building directly next to the East end of The Pelican Mall 
Bay Road

Ackee Cafe
Sugars Complex, Frigate Bay
Or: 869-762-0580

Reggae Beach Bar & Grill
Cockleshell Beach
Southeast Peninsula

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Sunday Night Beach Dancing

Cold Winter Dreams are made of This!

BBQ at Water's Edge, Lovely Beverages 
Warm Breeze in from the Sea. The Surf a gentle rumble and sizzle at your feet. Subtle, more sensed than heard. A rattle of Coconut Palms
Live Reggae Music with the whole bar singing along.  Dark Eyes Bright with Love during the Bob Marley songs. Smiling, Happy Faces Everywhere.
Dancing the Night Away on the Beach...

Sitting with a beautiful Veterinarian student, a Rastafarian with his baby boy, a Scot that battles with the cranky Power plant, and a bunch of Brits down for Holiday,

Choice of Barbecued ribs, Barbecued Chicken, or Grilled Creole Fish in Foil. Rice and Peas. Tossed or Cooked Vegetable Salad.. Delicious!!!    $13USD / $35EC 
At The Dock at Timothy Beach Resort
Probably Not Discussing Politics
Tiny Dancer

 Mighty Dreads!
FourPlay Band Starts around 8
Too Busy Dancing to Pose!
Shaba keeps 'em comin'

Buy "Cookie" at the Buffet Line a beer.
Ladies, watch him. He's a great Dancer!
BBQ starts at 7pm
FourPlay Band starts at 8pm       

The Dock
Timothy Beach Resort
South Frigate Bay

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Doesn't That Make You Sound Dumb!

One night after dinner with 11 Doctoral Students, I heard some alarming figures and percentages for the prevalence of HIV/AIDS on St. Kitts. 

"40% diagnosed/~70% including estimated undiagnosed on SKN" 

Please consider that SKN has a population of ~45,000.
40% of that would be 18,000 persons.
70% of that would be 31,500 persons

Could this be?

I researched and here is what I found.
First indicator: Highest % of prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the world is 26.1% in Swaziland
Second indicator: Total % of prevalence of HIV/AIDS for the Caribbean is 1.2%
There is no evidence for a generalised or concentrated epidemic in Saint Kitts and
Nevis. The precise extent of the HIV and AIDS epidemic is not known, because the required
(2nd generation) epidemiological surveillance is not implemented, and HIV and AIDS cases
are underreported in the health sector due to stigma. CAREC estimates that the Caribbean
regional epidemic is serious, but may have peaked in 2003. Unlike neighbouring counties, Saint Kitts and Nevis does not experience a ‘generalised epidemic’ (defined as more than 1% of the adult population infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS). There is also no evidence for a ‘concentrated epidemic’, i.e. prevalence of more than 5 % in certain most-at-risk groups, such as sex workers (SW) or men who have sex with men (MSM). One study in 2005 found 2.4% of Basseterre prisoners living with HIV.
---National Advisory Council HIV/AIDS SKN  - UNGASS Country Report 2007:

Total number of HIV diagnoses on SKN  1984-2007  is 280
Annual prevalence in 2006 is ~0.2% (which is considered a stable rate)
Don't Believe All that you Hear!
Think before you Speak!
Please pass this along.

Other Sources Checked:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention  -  USA
WHO  (World Health Organization)
Pan American Health Organization  (this region's arm of the World Health Organization)
UNAIDS  (Joint United Nations Program on HIV/AIDS)
US Department of State  -  SKN Country information
CIA World Factbook
SKN Ministry of Health

Comfort Food - Tastes of Home

You're tired of your own cooking.
You're tired of Island Food.
Nothing Tastes Right.

You may be experiencing a bit of Culinary Homesickness.

The American franchises in St Kitts just didn't taste like what I was used to at home.
There was always something different. No satisfaction there.

KFC used the world's smallest chicken. I'm talking Cornish Game Hen small. And the fastest I even got through the line was 35 minutes. Their shake machine was always disassembled or "not workin'".
Domino's wasn't my favorite at home and the St Kitts version was better but not what I considered a great pizza. 
Subway was almost an empty bun at best and the bread tasted funny.

There are some places serving good North American type foods

I call them Secret Foods

I'm a bit of a pizza snob. I was lucky enough to live in the Franklin Ave. neighborhood in Hartford, CT. It's an all Italian neighborhood and the pizza there is wonderful. In fact the whole Central CT area (including New Haven) offers Great pizza.
So I was looking for the good stuff  while on St Kitts. Crust, sauce, spices, cheese and toppings. It all has to work together.
Spratnet earned a solid B. The Marriott gets a B to B+ .
For the A go to The Pizza Place in Downtown Basseterre!
A Tasty crust which the sauce compliments with plenty of cheese and toppings. Baked right!
A Good Value. Short on Atmosphere, Big on YUM! 

A Surprise Awaits You!
I heard about Redi-Fried Chicken on Bay Road, in Downtown Basseterre during orientation. It was just a passing comment, so I didn't get around to going there for about a year. My Loss!
To say I was pleased was a major understatement! Crisp on the outside, Juicy on the inside. Well seasoned. Greasy factor well within established parameters. And BIG pieces! Gigantic by Island standards! Bigger than any I have ever bought from any restaurant, fast food place, or Deli-counter in the USA! Good fries!
$22 EC Gets you 4 HUGE Chicken Breasts and a Sub Box Full of Fries. (called Chjps in St Kitts) Split it and have leftovers.

Kittian cooking takes time. A long time. When your blood sugar is plummeting, there is a place for you.  
The Bar at Rock Lobster in Frigate Bay serves Fish and Chips on record fast time. There's a big piece of Tilapia and plenty of Fries.There is not much of a crowd in the bar even when the restaurant is full. BAR MENU ONLY! About $15 USD.
Diabetics keep this one in mind.

I was raised on a big Sunday Dinner after church every week. The good plates and the good silverware came out. It was the one day a week that we had a roast. On summer days, that meant the house was hot from the oven being on. But it was great! A Juicy Roast, Gravy and Mashed Potatoes, 2-3 Vegetables, and Dessert.  
You can get this at Ackee Cafe in Frigate Bay. Sunday starting at 1130, they serve up a Roast Dinner Special. Roast Pork, Roast Lamb, or Roast Beef (one each week) served with 3-5 veg., gravy, mashed taters, and Yorkshire pudding. This is so Yummo! Comes in Large or Small size. My wife and I split a Large and have left overs. 
Skittish about Lamb? Gary serves New Zealand Lamb with Mint Sauce, and It is Incredible! Don't be shy! 

For breakfast, my nod goes to Ackee Cafe. Eggs and omelets done right, and gotten to the table hot. Inexpensive by St Kitts standards. For those liking a bit a "Man vs. Food" challenge in the morning, there is the "Full Monty" a Full English Breakfast of eggs, taters, sausage, bacon, toast, fried bread, and baked beans. It'll fill you up. Mimosas are available, too! Bring 'Em!

Sorry! There are no good Hamburgers served on St Kitts. The beef is different and no amount of condiments and/or beer can fix that. There are some places that come close, Shipwreck Beach Bar & Grill and Ackee Cafe, but it's still just not the same. 
Sorry! You'll just have to get used to it.

Go Banish Your Blues!

Redi-Fried Chicken
Bay Road, Basseterre
(Across from the Pelican Mall)

Pizza Place Restaurant & Bar 
Central St, Basseterre

Ackee Cafe
Sugars Complex, Frigate Bay
Or: 869-762-0580

The Bar at Rock Lobster 
St Christopher Club, Frigate Bay

Friday, September 3, 2010

The True Green of Hope

"...a green which no artist could ever obtain on his palette, a green of which neither the varied tints of vegetation nor the shades of the most limpid sea could ever produce the like! If there is a green in Paradise, it cannot be but of this shade, which most surely is the true green of Hope." 
- Jules Verne The Green Ray
At Sunset, on clear days, people at the beach bars start staring out over the Caribbean Sea. Most have their camera ready. Sure sunsets are pretty but why are they just staring into the setting sun?


Just as the sun goes over the horizon, there may be a brilliant flash of green. Lasting only a second or two, the Green Flash is a Magical Experience.

The Green Flash is elusive.  I chased it on both coasts of the United States for more years than I am willing to admit.  Literally morning and night, as it also occurs at Sunrise. (at the second before the sun comes up)  I never saw it until I got to St Kitts.

And then I was Blessed!


This is my gift to you...

Now You Are Blessed!

You can catch the green flash evening after evening on St Kitts. (weather permitting)
What you need to see the Green Flash:
A Clear Unobstructed View of the Horizon -this can be from any height
The Caribbean at Sunset, the Atlantic at Sunrise
That's It!

Recommended viewing sites:
The Dock Bar at Timothy Beach Resort
Shipwreck Bar & Grill on South Friars Beach
Any beach bar on the Strip

RUSVM Campus
UMHS Campus

Supply Your Own Picture!


The elusive green flash. At The Dock in Frigate Bay, St Kitts, W.I.
Shaba and Andy holding forth on the music of Lucky Dube.
Property of Blake Simpson

Thursday, September 2, 2010

I'll Text You When I Get There.

"Hey Shooter! We Just Landed!"

Well that's what you wanted to say. What you got was "No Network Available."

Your cell phone won't work on St Kitts. You need a new SIM card.

Some schools give you a cheap new cell phone when they pick you up at the airport. This is the no frills model. Deal with it. You can contact the local cell phone companies for plan options.

Most cell phones are prepaid. You have to "Top Up" - buy more "local" minutes. You can do this at school, at stores, gas stations, snack bars, and some bars.  Most take your number and "call it in." Look for the signs. You can also buy via phone, (with account) and online.
When in Downtown Basseterre, I like to Top Up at  'Caribbean Gifts and Liquors' by the taxi lot in Port Zante. Ram's in Frigate Bay is quick.

Using "Local" minutes for International Calls is VERY expensive. For much more affordable International Cell calls, there is "888" minutes. This runs about $0.18 USD / minute to Canada and the USA. These are available on calling card, via phone, (with account) and online. There may be other plans available.

You can text out of country from your phone.

During natural disasters and emergencies always TEXT to instead of calling to family and friends as this
1> has a better chance of getting out. 2> uses less bandwidth, letting more messages get out.

You can use your cell phone to figure out what the Kittian price (ECD) costs in the currency that you are used to using.
Program your cheap phone's "Currency Converter" for 2.70 to 1.00, Eastern Caribbean Dollar (ECD) to United States (USD), using ECD as "Domestic" and USD as "Foreign". This exchange rate remains constant because ECD are tied to USD.
If you think in Canadian Dollars, Euros, Great Britain Pounds, or a different Currency, enter the appropriate  exchange rate, again using ECD as "Domestic" and the other Currency as "Foreign." Since these currencies are not tied to ECD, they will change and you will need to then need to change the in your phone.

Numbers to program into your cell phone NOW:

Pizza Delivery of Choice (gotta keep your priorities straight)
Your School's Main Number
Power Station
Internet Provider
Cable Company
Favorite Taxi Driver
Frigate Bay Taxi Stand (for rides after 10 pm)(fare is 1.5 times the day rate after 10 pm)
Campus Security
Your Island Doctor
School Nurse
Health Insurance Company
Automobile Insurance Company
Family members

If you don't have a Island Doctor, Dentist, Veterinarian, Favorite Taxi Driver, or Mechanic yet, Get a recommendation and their number from your Orientation Leader NOW!

You want all these numbers ready to call when you are stressing out. Believe me on this.

PLEASE CONSIDER DOING THIS  (Based on your own judgement and comfort level.)
Put your passport number in the "Notes" section of your phone. I'd label it something memorable, just not "My Passport Number!"
Under the Titles "Health Insurance" & "Automobile Insurance" & "Transportation Insurance" enter the policy numbers in your "Notes" section of your phone.
Under the Titles "Medical Information" & "Medications" enter all medical conditions and all meds and doses in the "Notes" section of your phone.
If your phone is camera equipped, Take CLEAR pictures of your St Kitts Drivers License, and your St Kitts Automobile Insurance.  Consider taking a CLEAR picture of your passport. (THINK ABOUT THIS FIRST!)