If I Wandered


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If I were to begin on a Saturday, I would tell you about the boat from St. Kitts that advances toward the island as I sit on the top deck wearing a sun hat and watching as Mt. Nevis grows larger and the clouds ringing its peak grow distinct.   I would tell you that the cottage faces the sea, the gardens are lush and wild donkeys bray outside the open windows at night.  I would share the sweetness of the oleander and the Bougainvillea and the sharp sting of a daily swim in the salt. 

Immersion has its advantages.  It is easier to forget the expectations of nicely paved roads and well-stocked groceries and consistent internet service.  It is not hard to slow to the local tempo, to dawdle deliberately on the black sand of the cove or to linger for an afternoon or two in the seclusion of Lover’s Beach.  Amenities left behind are eclipsed by the luxury of a breakfast of papaya picked from the tree just outside the window. 

Exploration is necessary.  The car belongs to the caretaker of the cottage and he gives few guidelines other than a suggestion to follow the highway that rims the island.  Without stops, it could be done in just shy of a couple of hours but with curiosity at the wheel, the car veers away from the road and up to the hills where lie the remnants of old sugar plantations.  These are the last remains of a time when colonists brought iron and industry and dresses that were too confining for the climate and refinement of a type that might not have been particularly welcome.

For a time, more sugar was produced in Nevis than in all other Caribbean islands combined.  Changing economies and British laws about slavery kept the boon short-lived but there is still evidence of profiteering all about the island.  At the first stop, the path is overgrown and murky and the only other visitors are monkeys, who are shy and too quick for the camera.  This site has been largely untouched, except by weather, and seems forgotten.

The second stop is Golden Rock, where visionary folks from New York City and afar have reinvigorated the property by blending contemporary orange furniture and Zen taste with centuries-old stone walls.  There are spectacular trees in the entry to the property and lodging in cottages and the renovated sugar mill.  Lunch of lobster salad is fabulous.

The third stop is Montpelier Plantation which operates today as a Relais and Chateaux property.  Here Admiral Horatio Nelson married a wealthy widow on a hill overlooking the ocean in 1785 when the plantation was at its zenith.  He did her wrong before he met his end but there is still today an amazing view off of the dining room and pool at this plantation. 

From the green and abundance of the plantations, the car turns toward the ocean where the wind picks up and the vegetation is sparse.  There is evidence of hurricane damage on the beaches and between that and the strong currents, there is not much enjoyment to be gained from snorkeling.  What is enjoyed is that there are no other people on the beach.  A cooler of chilled Caribe is perfect company. 

Aside from the Four Seasons and the renovated plantation inns, development has come slow to Nevis.  The town of Charlestown, where Alexander Hamilton spent his childhood, is the capital and hub of commercial life.  Asset protection and off-shore tax haven advantages are marketed by the banks.  Outside one of these is a walled alley marked as the place where slaves were traded long ago.   As the car moves through the narrow streets, an arm reaches out from the shuttered window of a house built up to the edge of the road.  The arm is within grasp of mine, and I hear a giggle as the car weaves, startled.

If I were to end on a later Saturday, I would tell you that as the boat leaves the dock and I turn to look again at Mt. Nevis, my skin is browned and my hair is light and my feet are bare and what I carry with me is lighter.  I would tell you that as the roll of the ocean picks up, I say goodbye with a tear in my eye.

I will not be returning this winter.  It is not that I did not love it nor is it because my wandering is over.  It is simply that I have a large list of places to where I hope to wander.


What is on your list?



77 thoughts on “If I Wandered

  1. WOW! These are so beautiful photographs, fascinated me… You did great set. Thank you dear Bella, how nice to watch them in these cold days… Have a nice week, with my love, nia

  2. An awesome post as always Bella. You are a wonder with words and with the camera. I lost the wanderlust some time back, but you may be reigniting that submerged urge.

  3. There are so many gorgeous places in the world. I’ve gone back a few times to San Diego and Death Valley. Generally, I try to hit new wonder spots,but those two are so close to my heart.

  4. Beautiful, naturally.

    Me, I want to go back to the mountains in Switzerland. Magical. Of course, the islands look appealing on this cold January day!

  5. A positively lovely post. It was a delight, in the midst of cold winter, to go barefoot, fill my nose with Bougainville perfume, absorb salt-and-sunny air into my skin, and for my eyes to get drunk on intoxicating island beauty. Thank you Bella.

  6. I had a hard time getting to your beautiful story because I couldn’t take my eyes off the slide show. You amaze me with the beauty of your words and images. Brava!

    • Thank you, Barbara. So glad you liked this. I am not good at expanding my blogging horizons but had decided it was time to figure out how to do a slide show. I used to be able to call the IT department but here I am flying solo 🙂 Actually, it was quite simple–should have done it long ago.

  7. Oh, my…..winter in Central Massachusetts looks far less enticing than it has at other times…….
    Gorgeous pictures! I will look at them again just before bed, hoping for some Caribbean dreams!

  8. I feel as though I was on vacation with you. Your writings and your photographs brought it all to life. Lovely.
    I would love to visit the Northern European counties; then Southern France, Northern Italy…However, I would love to live in the Cotswalds.

    Thank you for the journey.

  9. Beautiful, both in pictures and in words. I just returned from St. Thomas over the New Year’s break and the warmth and sunshine was most welcome. On the other hand, very much like your sentiment, there is a vast world out there to explore, and I think the next destination the bucket list will be a City, bubbling with culture and activity. Maybe Europe this year for me. Time will tell.

    In the meantime, thank you for transporting me to a beautiful tropical clime, so refreshing and renewing.

  10. Absolutely beautiful. I’d go back to the Kenai Peninsula, the Cascades, Arizona, San Diego, Monterrey, the Rockies, the Loire Valley, or the Swiss Alps in a heartbeat. But I also want to see my family’s ancestral areas such as Great Britain, Crna Gora, Serbia, Greece, and the Czech Republic. Someday.

  11. Such stunning photographs my friend! May I ask you what kind of camera you use? I’m looking around for a camera that shoots crystal clear shots. The sunset or sunrise one was just amazing! There are so many beautiful places on this earth I’d love to visit. One of the places I’d love to wander around would be China as it is a country full of history and mystery. 🙂 Have a wonderful week!

  12. Bella … these pictures are gorgeous. Have you printed these shots out? Are any hanging on your walls? I want to go back and look again and again and again. Thank you for taking us along with you. Glorious! Absolutely glorious!

    Where do I want to go? Man, wherever you go … you have great taste.

  13. There are so many places, I’m not sure I could name them all. In a weird way, I think I’d just like to wander to places I haven’t even thought of. Or that wouldn’t occur to me. Sometimes I think it’s the surprise places that really strike us. I guess the key is just to make sure you go somewhere!

  14. Excellent photos! Interesting how many of them remind me of places all over the world – Bougainvillea in the Middle East, sunsets over the Pacific, vanishing pools next to the Dead Sea, stone walls in Britain. Next on our list? I think Norway and the fjords.

  15. They’re just going to have to invent more words to describe your photography, Bella. I’ve used all the superlatives that exist already. Right now I’m thinking….Fantastincredilievable!

    As for the list…..Machu Picchu.

  16. I’m glad you have wandering shoes and a camera. It’s so fun to travel through your lens and stories. Can’t wait to see where you go next.

  17. The list of places-to-go and those beckoning me to return is almost infinitely long, and the budget (of time as much as of money!) so very finite. It makes me all the more glad that you have such immense powers of conjuration that I am swept right along with you each and every time; that you see and sing the poetry of each place and moment so deeply and eloquently; most of all, that you have a heart so open to sensing and sharing what is beautiful with all of us.

    This is another such luxurious and dreamlike expedition, carried on the wings of your imagery, incomparable lady.


    • I mentioned your blog one more time in my blog for one more time. This time for a different award but the reason for passing on it to you is same; it is just to say thank you and to pass on my good wishes to you. 🙂

  18. I’d love to visit Denmark someday. My heritage is a mish-mash impossible to trace in most cases, but the one exception to that is the fact I’m 1/8 Danish. The thought of living in Denmark captivated my mom, a captivation that’s carried over to my heart.

    Also, what Arindam said. 🙂

  19. Winsomebella –

    I have nominated you for the “Versatile Blogger Award.”

    Nominate 15 fellow bloggers
    Inform the bloggers of their nomination
    Share 7 random things about yourself
    Thank the blogger who nominated you
    Add the versatile blogger award picture to your blog
    (here’s the code to insert when the widget asks for the URL or link: http://i1109.photobucket.com/albums/h435/thatswhatchesaid/Thats%20What%20Che%20Said%20Blog/VersatileBloggerAward.png)

    You can see the complete list of 15 near the bottom of the comments section of my current post: http://holessence.wordpress.com/2012/01/31/write-or-wrong/#comment-8783

  20. Love the colors with the ship, and the tower and the monkey crossing. I’ve never been anyplace like that. Some day….

  21. That was indeed a lovely travel tale. Whenever I leave a place I have a strong urge to go back again. But I also know that the world is wide and my time on earth way to short. Beautiful pictures. I particularly love the one with the boats in the foreground. Place I would like to go to? Sahara. Laos and Cambodia. Galapagos. Bhutan. Half a year island jumping in Greece. Krakow. Just to mention the beginning of my list. For those of you who wants to go to Norway: Ge me some words, and I will do my best to help you.

  22. To see the world with you is a joy for the soul. You brought back memories of Hornblower and Hamilton and the times of other aesthetics. The Caribbean islands got a raw deal on sugar and have never recovered. So happy you had a chance to spend a little time away from winters wind.

  23. Pingback: Age Matters – Bucket List Tip: Thailand «

  24. I stayed at the Four Seasons a million years ago. Way before they closed for a year to renovate/regroup. Remember the landing on St. Kitts as sort of harrowing and being picked up by the hotel boat to get to the resort. Went all over the island. But remember having dinner cooked by a local in her house (no more than two rooms) and it being the best meal ever! Then returning to St. Kitts in the resort’s Cessna. Amazing flight that I don’t think lasted more than 12 minutes. Thank you for bringing back wonderful memories! Rarely do I hear of anybody that has been there.

  25. Finally doing a trip that I have longed for and dreamed of… headed to Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Hong Kong in 11 days. Incredibly excited!

  26. Though I would love to return to Ireland, I am content to stay a week in Cape Cod this summer. That is a special place of ours. Your pictures and description were lovely.

  27. Is there anything better than fresh warm papaya freshly picked – knowing it was hanging on a tree moments before? You took me right back to the tropics. And your pictures are just spectacular – as usual.

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