Tuesday, April 20, 2010

For my niece, Aly. I miss you Aly-Goo!

Dear Aly, 
Wow have I been busy here in St.Kitts & Nevis! I miss you and your brother all of the time. Luckily, you sent me a little friend to keep me company. Flat Aly and I have done so many things together here on the islands. She is very brave and adventurous. She reminds me a lot of you! 
One of our first adventures together was a hike up the Nevis Peak! Nevis is the smaller island right next to St.Kitts (where I live). Both islands were formed long ago by active volcanoes, and now each island has a big mountain, which is really a dormant volcano, right in the middle of everything. The Nevis Peak is 3,232 feet high, and is covered in rain forest near the top. It was a very hard climb. It took us about 1-2 hours going up to the top, and about another 2 hours to come down. In some areas we used ropes to pull ourselves up, and in other spots we had to climb over large roots systems from some of the rain forest trees. Flat Aly did a great job, and just kept on smiling the whole time. When we finally reached the top, we looked down to see the villages and the Caribbean sea below. The houses looked so small from that high up. I had a great time hiking with Flat Aly, and I was really impressed with her positive attitude, she really is a lot like you!
Here is Flat Aly getting ready for our big hike. 
Here is a view of the Nevis Peak from our ferry boat. We are going straight to the top!
Flat Aly is imaging what it will be like at the top. 
Our guide, Office Hanely, is a Police Officer in Nevis. 
Flat Aly, with Maggie (a Nevis Peace Corps Volunteer), and me. We made it! Look at those teeny tiny houses below. That's where Maggie lives, Gingerland Village.
OH NO, Flat Aly, don't fall!
On the ferry boat, heading back to St.Kitts.
A view of the Nevis Peak at night. Flat Aly's still smiling :-)

Our next adventure together was Carnival! It is a lot different from the carnivals we have in the United States. Every year in December, Kittitian (Kah-tish-uns) celebrate Carnival Season. It is a time when Christmas festivities, Calypso music, Caribbean dance, costumes, and culture all combine for a whole big party season on the island. The Carnival Season lasts for most of December, but the best days come right towards the end. There is a Jouvert (Ju-vey) Dance Parade on Dec.26th, then a Masquerade Parade on Jan.1st, followed by Last Lap Party on Jan.2nd. Flat Aly and I went to the Masquerade Parade together. This is when a lot of the islanders dress in colorful and wild costumes and dance, dance, dance all through the streets of the capital city, Basseterre. They have women in feathered headdresses, Moko-Jumbies on stilts, and brightly colored clowns, and LOTS of music. I loved to see all the costumes, and Flat Aly really liked the tall moko-jumbies. 
We are really excited to be a the parade!

The costume are so bright and colorful. This last one even has wheels on it!

Flat Aly keeping things safe, and making friends!
Here comes one of the bands. Caribbeans love to play their music LOUD!
Some of the Masquerade Clowns. 
Our favorite dance troop!

There is so much to do and to see in St.Kitts. After our big hike, and all the "liming" at Carnival ("lime" is a Caribbean word used instead of "hanging-out" or partying), Flat Aly and I decided to slow it down a bit. We took a walk Rawlins Plantation in my home village of St.Pauls. For a long time St.Kitts & Nevis used to grow and process sugar cane all over the islands. Many of the homes where the Sugar Plantations were located are still standing, and now they have been turned into beautiful hotels and restaurants. When we visited the Rawlins Plantation, we were able to see the old sugar mill that they have turned into a hotel suite! It is very pretty and peaceful at the plantations, and it was just the break that Flat Aly and I needed. 

This is the old sugar mill, that is now a room you can stay in. There are so many plants and flowers everywhere you look!

Flat Aly and me relaxing by the pool. 
Flat Aly & our friend Annivea smelling the flowers. 
Flat Aly climbing trees. 
Flat Aly with a view of St.Estacia island behind her. 

Flat Aly and I were having such a good time together. I decided to take her to the school where I work, St. Paul's Primary. She was very excited to meet the students and find out what Kittitian schools are like. Some of the things are a lot like schools back in the United States, and some things are pretty different. Students in St.Kitts start kindergarten at around 5 years old; they have mixed classrooms of boys & girls; and go to primary (elementary school) through grade 6, all very similar to the U.S. Some of the differences Flat Aly noticed were the clothes the students wear. Every single school in St.Kitts & Nevis require uniforms for the students, and you can tell what school a person goes to by the color and pattern of their uniform. Students in St.Kitts are also expected to pray together everyday. They have a daily assembly where the read from the bible, and they pray for their meal before they are dismissed for lunch, and at the end of the day before they go home. The school buildings look a lot different too. They are all cement buildings with no carpet anywhere! But the students sit at desk, just like students back in the United States. 
Grade 2 & Flat Aly
Flat Aly & the boys from Grade 2. She liked their checkered shirts.

Flat Aly with the girls from Grade 2. She just loved the braided hair styles that all the girls wear. 
Time to learn, and Flat Aly is ready!
Prayers before lunch. 

As you can tell, we really have been very busy. But I still should have written you much sooner, I bet you were worried about Flat Aly. Don't worry, she has had a great time in the Caribbean, but she is ready to come home to Yucaipa, CA. I will be sending her back to you very soon along with a little gift from the beautiful island of St.Kitts.
I hope that you and your classmates enjoy reading about all of our adventures. I would really like to know what other places their Flat Stanley dolls got to visit, and who traveled the furthest. If you, are any of the students have questions about St.Kitts or the Peace Corps, my students and I love getting letters and answering questions. 
I miss you so so much. I wish that you could have come to visit me, but thanks for sending Flat Aly in your place. Be good!

Lot's & lot's of love, hugs, & kisses, 
Auntie Tiffy