A Caribbean education

We recently returned from a vacation in the Caribbean. It was a cruise on a Viking ocean going ship.  They have recently added ocean cruises to their well known line-up of river cruises.
I didn’t know if I’d like it. 900 plus people sounded like a lot for a ship, but that turned out to be “small” in comparison to the companies that pack in 5000 plus! And — I was hesitant about the “cruise” format — to breeze in and out of an island in one day — what can you get to know about it?
It turns out, quite a bit.
There were plenty of folks who came for the sun and sand, and that’s all.
But there were also a number of us who cared about history and culture as well.
The included shore excursions were led by knowledgeable guides who gave us a thorough overview, including history and economy. For one thing, all of these islands are dependent on trade and imported food. Many are really too rocky and mountainous to do much farming. Some, if they don’t have resident monkeys, raise and export bananas. Some have virtually no agriculture at all — tourism has taken over so competely.
There was a great variety of shore excursions to chose from, and a resident historian and a biologist who we got to know, and attended their lectures.
Here is Darius Etienne, artist from Dominica, whose studio we visited — a highlight of the whole trip.

Darius Etienne, artist from Domenica.
The Beginning and the End, painting by Darius Etienne
Bless Epi Bobo (Trauma and Wounds), by Darius Etienne

Another art-related highlight was a visit to Caribella Batiks, at Romney Manor in St. Kitts. I used pieces of their batiks for the rest of the little quilts I made on the trip.

We walked in the Yunque National Rainforest in Puerto Rico:

And through Old Town in San Juan during a festival and visited sugar mill ruins.

Old Town, San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Sugar Mill Ruins, St. Kitts.

Hurricane damage was evident on most islands. Some from Maria and some from Irma.  There were many roofs torn off and not replaced yet, and much re-building.

Hurricane ruined cars, Dominica.
Hurricane damaged boat, St. Martins.

We walked on the deserted beach in Loquillo, Puerto Rico, visited the oldest Synagogue in the Americas, and a museum in Antiqua, including the history of sugar and slavery.

Jewish Cemetery, Antigua.
Museum of Antigua and Barbuda.

Here are a few more of my art quilts.  I made 15 in total! (that includes 3 which are not yet finished.)

Martha Ressler, Antigua Doll
Martha Ressler, Beached
Martha Ressler, New World
Rum Punch, Martha Ressler

9 thoughts on “A Caribbean education”

  1. You took me there, a trip to the islands I fear are in disrepair. I can imagine you were very welcome. Janet

    1. meressler@gmail.com

      Yes, They are getting along, but for those who live there, the islands are not the romantic get-away they are to tourists.

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