Nevis is only a few miles from St. Kitts but quite different. Nevis is an undeveloped tropical island paradise. Clearly many folks have tried to do more but for whatever reason they have not succeeded; there are many boarded up motels and cabin areas. The people were consistently wonderful and participated in Bunny’s interviews with genuine interest in her genuine interest. Rich in history and cultural influences from Africa, England, and the early U.S. We travelled on the local “busses”—little unmarked family vans that circle the roads picking up workers, school kids, and the occasional tourists who simply walk out on the road and give a nuanced little wave and they stop. No fixed fares, no “bus stops”, just tap on the driver’s seat when you want to get off. This enabled Bunny to interview little kids, their shy mothers, and various workers. It also gave us the opportunity to see the behind-the-scenes parts of the island. Very clean, very tidy, modest homes, well cared-for, and reflected well on the local population. We stayed in a very sweet little cottage on Oualie Beach (six letters, one consonant). Sand and snorkeling right out the front door. Nevis was the hub for the slave trade. It is where Amazing Grace was written in a ship captain’s personal confession to the horrors of slave traffic. Most of the slaves (estimated to be 2 million) passed through this tiny island on their horrific route from Africa to the US, Central America, etc. The square where they were auctioned is still there. There is a certain air that hangs over it to this day…. Nevis is where Alexander Hamilton was born and grew up (until he was sent to New York to go to school). His house is still there….. showing its age. So, two different responses to the same heritage. Thomas Jefferson, the great egalitarian, was a slave owner. Hamilton was an abolitionist and was not the ardent supporter of agriculture as Jefferson (could that have been because Hamilton could see that a large agricultural industry could only be supported with slavery under the technologies of the day?). So, two of America’s founders had their roots in these two islands and it influenced their roles in shaping the structure and operation of the US economy and its government. England had its role in shaping history on Nevis and Nevis had its role in shaping England. A relatively young sea captain named Horatio Nelson was stationed here for years to harass and otherwise keep the Spanish and French at bay. During this time he met a sugar plantation owner and, more importantly, his daughter Fanny Nisbit. In between sojourns at sea, he grew fonder and courted Fanny—eventually marrying her in what, the reports say, grew to be a less than happy marriage. Nelson returned to England as an Admiral and was lost in battle at sea.

St Maarten is a true anachronism….. carved in two when France and the Netherlands disputed who owned what. So they commissioned two men to walk in opposite directions around the island. When the met again, the straight line that connected the starting and finishing points defined the Dutch “half” and the French “half”. The French got more. After hearing about it for decades, we certainly expected it to be much more developed than it is. As a guess, less than 1/3 of the island is developed and the rest appears to be pretty well protected in a more-or-less natural state (“natural” only because many of the plants have been imported over the centuries). Initially we stayed for 4 days in Grand Cos (“cause”) on the French side at the Blu Emeraude a very small “boutique” hotel (8 rooms) right on the beach. At any given time there were never more than 8 or so people on the beach. Walking distance to quality French and Creole restaurants, and live reggie music all on the beach. One night our dinner table was over the surf lapping at our feet. Then we moved to try the Dutch side at the Simpson Bay Resort. Also lovely but in a different way. Our room was right next to the pool which was always quiet. No usable beach at this location. From here though we launched on a round-the-island all day snorkeling adventure from a small boat. We made it about 2/3 of the way around the island with numerous stops for snorkeling but had to turn back when we got to the Atlantic side because the seas were too high for our little boat. The Dutch side is also the local Amsterdam….. casinos, red-light houses, and sidewalk bistros on the beach with great music and knock-out drinks. Many more tourists but still not crowded. Just more of a buzz.