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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My trip to the Caribbean

Sometimes I just want to count my lucky stars. About 10 years ago, I met a wonderful couple, Bert and Veronique. Our children went to elementary school together and we have become close friends.

Every couple of years, in celebration of her birthday, Veronique likes to gather a few of her close girlfriends to travel to a far away destination to rest, relax and enjoy each others company.

This year, her chosen destination was St. Kitts, which is a small island country located in the Caribbean. So, last week, I took a red-eye flight through Miami and arrived in Basseterre, St. Kitts, on Thursday afternoon. This was my second visit to the home they built there, but this time their house was finished and about a half dozen of us spent a few days eating, sun bathing and exploring the island.

St. Kitts sits next to an island called Nevis

Landing in St. Kitts


Everyone knows that because I am in the produce business, some part of every trip I take will either be spent in a supermarket checking out the local offerings, dining at a local restaurant or visiting growing areas.

On this trip, I got to visit a start-up nursery and tree farm. The young man, David, who built the home we stayed in, is quite the entrepreneur and has started a nursery and hopes to develop a tree farm to supply all the local home developers who want native plants to landscape their properties.

You can see from these photos that the nursery is small, but I got to see fruits I had only heard of before. I have never seen a “NONI” fruit – and he had a few small trees, one with a piece of fruit. NONI is a fruit that I heard about almost ten years ago, but only could find it in juice. Now – I got to see it, and was surprised that it looked like a mini Cherimoya!

David's small nursery

Noni tree
David is also growing some vegetables, including tomatoes, eggplants and zucchini squash. I shared an idea with him that he should offer the local upscale chefs some “Courgettes” (squash blossoms). He had never thought of that, but began to reminisce that his Italian grandmother used to stuff and fry up the squash blossoms for special family meals. David and I harvested a dozen squash blossoms that day and he then dropped them off for a local chef who immediately placed an order!

Squash Blossom

On our return drive from the farm, we stopped at a small shoppe to get a beverage. The owner offered us some Carambola (Starfruit) she had picked off a local tree. You can see her here, with my friend Veronique.

Veronique with shoppe owner and some freshly picked Starfruit!

Well, I don’t want you to think there was no time for regular fun. Bert took me on a tour of the island on his four-wheeler – a first for me!

4-wheeling!

And we did lounge around the pool!

Lounging by the pool
But the best part for me was meeting Chef Kelly, a St. Kitts native, who prepared the biggest freshly caught lobster I have ever seen. And a feast of a dinner.

Chef Kelly and the HUGE lobster


The Feast

As for David’s tree farm, it is still a dream. As we drove home from his plot of land and future tree farm site at the base of a mountain, I shared with David the possibility that a graduate of EARTH University in Costa Rica would be a perfect candidate to do a feasibility study and be the farm manager for the enterprise.
Site of David's future tree farm

Amazing what happens when the stars align.

Karen

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