It’s just a small spot in the Caribbean. Easy to miss on a map and difficult to get to on a plane. Yet, within this 36 square mile “spot” is a rich culture, an expansive history, and an unspoiled mix of white sand beaches, thick jungle and a dormant volcano – Mt. Nevis (3,200 feet) – visible from all spots in on the island of Nevis.
The grounds of my hotel – the Nisbet Plantation and Beach Club. Cannot say enough about
how peaceful, friendly and comfortable this place is.
I began my journey to Nevis on a freezing morning in Denver, leaving my dark home at 3:00 a.m. to board a 6:00 flight. This was to be a 14 hour travel day for me, so I talked my brain into accepting the cramped seats, smelly toilets (to which I contribute on every flight. Not sure why flying makes me poop – nerves? altitude?), and the long security wait lines in exchange for a visit to what I had heard was paradise.
On any trip there are a thousand moments that grab you – if you pay attention. I try to travel with an openness to people and experiences (except when I’m tired and irritated. Then I just sleep). I don’t want to ever miss the chance to hear someone’s story or the chance to shift my perspective. Instead of highlighting differences in people, travel always makes me realize how alike we are beneath the many cultural and outward appearances.
Denver –> Houston. Houston –> Puerto Rico. All pretty uneventful. Except for the people in 19A and 19B who did not know how to use their quiet, inside voices at 6am.
Then the adventure began to unfold. There is a moment when things shift when you travel. As you leave home you gradually shake off the place you left and begin to enter the world of the place you are going. It’s subtle, yet you know when you’ve joined a new realm and you have left behind your “other” life for a short time.
I searched for the ticket counter for my flight to Nevis on a small airline called Trade Wind. After scouring the airport with no luck, I finally saw a small sign. As I approached the empty ticket counter, the agent said, “Elizabeth?” First time I’ve ever been personally greeted by an airline rep or saw one smiling. She told me I wouldn’t go through security or need a boarding pass. Huh? I was escorted to a lounge with free drinks and snacks while I waited to board with three other travellers. Is this how famous people feel all the time? Well, non-famous people like me get boners over stuff like this.
We boarded the 8-seater flight for Nevis. 8:00 p.m. Dark, breezy, balmy. Not in Colorado anymore.
A Nevisian woman, Raynice, and I became fast friends. There was a cooler of drinks between the seats and we grabbed a small thing of wine which we shared and chugged straight from the bottle while she pointed out all of the islands – St. Croix, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, St. Kitts – to me in the dark. She knew them all by their shape. She smelled good and I fell in love with her island accent. Can you guess which one she is?
In Nevis I was greeted by Yvette from the Tourism Board. Yvette and I would be attached at the hip for the next two days.
Okay, this is post-race. You can still see my number on my arm. #tiredeyes
Yvette took me to my hotel, the Nisbet Plantation, about a mile from the airport. As we got out of the van at Nisbet, I heard a sound I’d never heard before. Tree frogs. At check in I wiped away the airplane scum with a cool towel and sipped on a strong rum drink. Yep. I’ve arrived.
We walked down a dark, grassy palm-lined area to my cottage. I couldn't see much but I could FEEL the magic of the place and I could hear the waves crashing, the frogs singing, the breeze through the palm fronds. I was seriously giddy.
My room. There was also a sitting area, mini bar, huge bathroom and patio.
Yvette and I had dinner on the beach. I told her I was tired and ready for bed. Then a live band started playing and the wine started flowing and, well, Yvette got tired and said goodnight and I stayed late and hung out with all of my new friends that I’d never see again. #travellife
I woke up late the next day and it was like Christmas morning. My room was dark, shutters closed, I could not wait enter into the life outside.
See that other hill? That’s St. Kitts. I would later travel on that zig-zag road from the beach to the airport
I asked to be in a Corona commercial here, but no one hired me.
I met Yvette for a tour around the island. We would be driving the bike course and seeing some other historical sites and hotels. There is one main road that goes around Nevis that is about 20 miles. I would be riding that twice during the race, so I wanted to see what I was in for. Hills and incredible scenery is what I was in for. People always tell me that because I live in Colorado I must be really strong on hills. Not true. There are hills and mountains in Colorado. That doesn’t mean I choose to ride on them. There are also flat roads.
I learned that no cruise ships come to the island (too small) and no chains are allowed (with the exception of the Four Seasons – that is the only chain). I knew I loved this place. Wouldn’t be missing Chili’s and Red Lobster one bit. Also, there are only a total of 400 hotel rooms.
We went to an old (think: 1700’s) sugar mill. Mmmmm…sugar.
We had lunch at Sunshine’s on the beach. Mmmm….lobster.
Look how tan I am. Those lobsters didn’t know what was coming. A very warm death bath.
People kept telling me I should try the “Killer Bee” drink at Sunshine's but that I probably didn’t want to because I would be racing the next day. Who are these people who clearly don’t know me very well? Bring on the Killer Bee (rum drink with passion fruit juice, sprinkled with nutmeg).
Back to the hotel where I promptly fell into a deep sleep at the pool. The kind of sleep where your mouth is splayed open and a bit of drool rolls out onto your chin. Sorry, no picture of my drool, just the pool.
That night I met up with the other three journalists on this trip with me (well, they are journalists, I am not sure what I am). Kevin Mackinnon who is the Senior Editor at Triathlon Magazine in Canada, Bob Taylor who writes for the Charlotte Observer and Nneya Richards who has a blog (‘N a Perfect World) and writes for Suitcase Magazine. I don’t have a picture, but they are all really real, not just my imaginary friends.
We got to bed pretty early as the next day Kevin and I had a little race to do in the morning.
Up next…Nevis Triathlon! Spoiler: I would find out there was a reason only six people (including myself) chose to do the long course.
Ever been to this part of the world?
My trip was sponsored by the Nevis Tourism Board. All opinions about the island and the race are, of course, my own.