Soooo, apparently the word is out in Melbourne. I may as well share with you the details of an unpleasant experience that occurred at the start of our Caribbean tour. Our week-long visit to St Kitts earlier in the season was bookended by two very different types of punch. One was a rather lovely rum punch, which we shared with the O’Donohue family one evening at an idyllic beach bar shack, before they set off the next day to continue their yacht charter. The other was unfortunately the kind of punch that nobody wants to be on the receiving end of. Yes, I was assaulted. In broad daylight. At 10:15 in the morning. On a main road beside the waterfront. Happy Valentines Day. Not!!! The people who came to my aid were Venezuelan, as well as their gardener, who was a local Kittitian. The attack happened right outside their embassy and it was the Ambassador and his assistant who called the police, drove me to hospital and stayed with me the whole time until the police came back. They also managed to get word to Fitz for me. (We didn’t have local SIMs, so that was a little challenging). The irony was not lost on me that Venezuela is the one country here whose waters we can’t sail in. Our insurance policy specifically excludes their waters as being too dangerous. The fact is that there are good people and bad people everywhere.
Whilst my attacker gave me a broken nose he was unsuccessful in robbing me and is now sitting in prison. (Pleased to say I am all fine now, with no lasting damage). The police did a fabulous job, they had their suspect within an hour or so of the incident. Tourism is just about the one and only thing that drives the St Kitts economy, so the police were very determined to prosecute, show that Kittitian justice is done swiftly, make an example of the offender and send a very clear message to his mates. We’d planned to sail north to St Bart’s the next day so they rushed through proceedings and we were in court that same afternoon. The young man got eight months prison with hard labour. The police said he’d serve at least six.
Up until that point we’d enjoyed our time in St Kitts, met and interacted with some very friendly locals and had not felt at all threatened. Generally speaking, the people here are good people and are exceedingly polite. As locals board a bus or walk into a supermarket they say: “Good afternoon”, to which others respond the same. Many people here have better manners than a lot of the “first world”. The unfortunate reality is that bad things can happen anywhere. They even happen in Melbourne.
Whilst my assailant didn’t have any priors and pleaded guilty I think he got what he deserved; he wasn’t particularly remorseful. But the philosophical flip side of that is that there is a huge gap between the haves and have nots, not just here, but in many, many places. And that gap seems to be widening. I don’t have any great answers, but I can’t help but wonder if we aren’t part of the problem too. Whether you come here by private yacht, fancy cruise ship, or stay in your luxury gated hotel you are still a million miles away from most of the locals’ day to day reality. When you see the incredibly modest, humble homes that these people live in, juxtaposed to wealthy tourists, like us, you can’t help but contemplate that it’s a recipe for disaster. I feel that as this gap between the haves and have nots continues to widen, not just here but right around the world, this seriously isn’t a good thing.
I didn’t mention the incident in my first post of the season as I didn’t want family and friends to be unduly concerned about our safety. Travelling is fun, but at times it can be just a tad risky. It goes with the territory. The good thing is that it hasn’t stopped us continuing to explore new places and meet new people. Don’t feel too sorry for me as we’re not doing too badly over here, as you can see by the poolside shot of us taken at Marigot Bay, St Lucia recently. We are now in Bequia brushing up on our scuba diving skills and very much enjoying ourselves!
Take care out there!