Tag Archives: St. Eustatius

It’s not Easy

Another great song, made on Statia.

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10 things I’m going to miss about Statia

In little more than one week I will be moving back to Curacao. There are many nice things to look forward to, but of course there are things I am going to miss too. Except for my friends, young and old, and special people I met, these are the 10 things I will miss most of all about the Golden Rock:

1. The travel time

Wherever you are on Statia and wherever you need to go, travel time is minimal on an island of 21 km2. Have an appointment at 11:00 sharp? Leave home at 11:00 and you will be right on time, Statia time.

2. My scooter

Although I sometimes have to tape my scooter to prevent it from falling apart, I love my blue monster. No need for air conditioning, the wind through your hair and Makeda’s arms around my waist.

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3. My running route

As a runner you love certain roads. I will miss running the road to the Botanical Garden and the road at Lynch going down towards the Berkel plantation.

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4. The animal shelter

For almost two years I have been volunteering at the SEAWF animal shelter. How I will miss all these cuddles!

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5. The roaming animals

Although there are roaming animals on Curacao, it is nothing compared to the number of cattle and goats on Statia. I know, they are supposed to be fenced and kept under control, but I still love it when a big  bull is slowly peering through the shutters of the pub.

6. Everybody greeting each other

On Statia everybody is greeting each other. Waving, honking, nodding, “good morning”. I think I’m going to stick with this habit on Curacao.

7. The Leatherbacks swim team

Makeda has been swimming with the Leatherbacks since almost two years and I have been a coach for a year and a half. I will miss all my kids, the swim meets to St Maarten and St Croix, the fun we had and even the times they drove me crazy 🙂 I love you, guys!

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8. Turtles hatching 

I’ve witnessed Leatherback turtles, Green turtles and Hawksbill turtles hatch on Zeelandia beach a few times. This is so special!

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9. My big yard with fruit trees

Mango’s, guavas, bananas, soursop, starfruit, cherries, cashews, sugarapple, papaya… and a hammock.

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10. The chance to find my own blue bead

Blue beads are very special for St Eustatius. I have been given one by someone special, but I never found my own. If you find your own, or as some say ‘if a blue bead finds you’, you will always come back  to Statia.

We’ll see where the wind takes me.

Next: 10 things I’m looking forward to about Curacao.

 

From the Golden Rock to Dushi Korsou

It has been a while since my last post. Many things happened. I’ve traveled to St. Croix with the Goldenrock Leatherbacks swim team, to Costa Rica and Panama with my daughter and to Saba with my family. In the meantime I decided to leave St Eustatius, the Golden Rock, after two years, one month and three weeks and go back to Curaçao where I was living before July 2012. Curaçao, or Korsou in the local language Papiamentu, where everything is ‘dushi’ (sweet), is another part of the Dutch Kingdom in the Caribbean. Yes, it’s confusing. Soon I will be working again in the dive center of Go West in Westpunt.

It’s quite a hassle to arrange flights for not only me and my daughter, but also for my three dogs Nelson, Onai and Rosa. Plus some excess luggage of course.

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The move back to Curacao also means that I will rename the blog from “Life on the Golden Rock”, to “Life on a rock”. And that I will do my best to post more often again. Promise.

 

3 days and 500$ to go for the Goldenrock Leatherbacks!

As you might have read in my post On our way to St. Croix, swimmers take your mark! we are preparing for the annual swim competition in St. Croix. “We” are the board members and parents of the Goldenrock Leatherbacks in St. Eustatius and especially the swimmers Matthew (16), Mel (10), Marshel (10), Jason (10), D’Seante (10) and my daughter Makeda (8). I’m the coach of this crazy bunch.

Last year in St. Maarten we looked like this:

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This year in our brand new uniform we look like this:

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Because of some organizational issues (let me not get into detail with that because it will take a week), we all of a sudden have to travel on Thursday instead of Friday, and we have to come back on Monday instead of Sunday. This is going to be a looong weekend. No problem, because we love long weekend on new islands, BUT….

* We have to pay for 2 more nights hotel, transportation and food

* We leave THIS Thursday, June 12!!! That is three more days to go to get the funds together for these extra costs. We already harassed all our friends and family members, so things are really getting tight.

If you would like to help us out and give a little donation, please contact me on vfraukje@gmail.com and we can do this via Paypal. I wanted to add a Donation button, but apparently I do not have the right account type 😦

Also if you don’t like to donate, all crossed fingers, toes, prayers, positive vibes etc are more then welcome!!!

GOOOOOO LEATHERBACKS!!

Vogelfestival * Bird festival (or pro #7 of living on Statia)

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Monday April 28 STENAPA (St. Eustatius National Parks Foundation) held its first Bird (Vogel) Festival.

After being tested what our knowledge of the local birds was -I admit, I am terrible in identifying birds- we made a guided walk through town to spot the local beauties.

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Spotting and identifying the birds is hard enough as it is, taking sharp pictures of them is a nightmare. Most of my pictures looked like this:

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Not a bird in sight!

We spotted our national bird, the Kili Kili…

IMG_0220the common dove…

IMG_0225the banana quit….

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and many more, that of course wouldn’t sit quiet.

Back in the library, there was enough to do for young and old.

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bird feedersMaking bird feeders out of empty plastic bottles.

In the end prizes (camera’s, binoculars and bird books) were given out to the kids that handed in the most beautiful picture or drawing of a bird. The jury, that consisted of two professional iguana-watchers that visited the island for the opening seminar of CNSI, had a hard time.

whisperingThe winning photograph by Tom showed one of the few (pet) parrots the island has. Congratulations!

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More pros of living on Statia:

How to become a Frequent Flyer (or pro #1 of living on Statia)

How to tape your scooter (or pro #2 of living on Statia)

How and where to swim (or pro #3 of living on Statia)

Wedding Witness (or pro #4 of living on Statia)

Statia in Shape (or pro #5 of living on Statia)

Nevis Agricultural Fair (or pro #6 of living on Statia)

Relaxing en masse on the beach

Due to unforeseen circumstances like moving and not having an internet connection, I missed a few posts in the April A to Z challenge. I already made up the P (Paint it Purple) and Q (Quill).

Yesterday was Easter Monday. On Statia that means: going to the beach en masse, partying, dancing, drinking, dancing, eating, a lot of music. Some people also camped on the beach at night. The shoreline was covered with party tents.

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Nevis Agricultural Fair (or Pro #6 of living on Statia)

March 27, 6:00 AM

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A group of more than 20 people from St. Eustatius, including crop and livestock farmers, gardeners, employers of the department LVV (“agriculture, livestock & fisheries”) of the island government, the vet and other people interested in agriculture, boarded the Waterman to go to Nevis to visit the yearly agricultural fair. As policy adviser of the directorate Economy & Infrastructure, working with the unit LVV, me and my camera were there 😀

Apart from people, the Waterman carried around 1000 kilos of sheep meat and a small amount of cow meat. Over the last year, Nevis has become a regular buyer of Statian meat.

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The manager of the agricultural department and the veterinarian/meat inspector made sure the meat was delivered properly to the Nevis abattoir.

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The fair was very educational and covered a wide range of agricultural subjects. Various techniques of growing vegetables were displayed. This can easily be done by anyone without a big garden:

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The information was abundant, on growing different types of grass, invasive species, health, backyard farming, pesticides etc. Farm animals, pets, flowers, vegetables, seeds, meat, herbs, homemade products like tomato and spinach-wine and much more was for sale. Especially the fruit trees were favorite: guava, lemon, lime, Julie mango, avocado, starfruit, grapefruit, you name it.

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The Waterman arrived back on Statia at 5:30 PM filled with fruit trees, flowers, herbs, seeds and many other goods, possible business deals, a wet goat and a seasick Rottweiler puppy.

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Pro #6 of living on Statia is; for a work-related trip you just hop on the boat to another Caribbean island!

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More pros of living on Statia:

How to become a Frequent Flyer (or pro #1 of living on Statia)

How to tape your scooter (or pro #2 of living on Statia)

How and where to swim (or pro #3 of living on Statia)

Wedding Witness (or pro #4 of living on Statia)

Statia in Shape (or pro #5 of living on Statia)

Vogelfestival * Bird Festival (or pro #7 of living on Statia)

Knock knock, who’s hatching?

Knock Knock!    K

I  know I’m blessed. Happy, lucky and blessed! 😀

This morning I witnessed 81 Hawksbill turtles hatching on Zeelandia beach, THE sea turtle nesting beach in the Caribbean Netherlands. This is the 7th Hawksbill nest already for this season.

Apart from Hawksbill, also the Green turtle and the critically endangered Leatherback nest here, thanks to the never-ending sea turtle protection by Stenapa. Last month the entrance to this beach was finally blocked for vehicles, to prevent illegal sand mining here (high 5 for NuStar for their support). Sea turtles always come back to lay there eggs on the same beach where they are born, so it’s extremely important to keep this beach in good shape for the future generations of turtles.

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Also worth mentioning here: the Stenapa Junior Rangers, small kids with a big future!

Stenapa Junior Rangers sign

Last year I witnessed a Leatherback nest hatching. There’s a clear difference between the two. The Hawksbill is much smaller than the Leatherback. Also, the Hawksbill has a “real” shell, while the Leatherback’s back is, well, leathery (I’m a genius).

First the baby turtles just look like moving sand.

first they look like moving sand

Everybody get your camera ready! Also the kids from the NuStar school were there. Last week two groups from the Golden Rock school had the privilege to watch this miracle.

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There you go!

hawksbills there you go

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These guys and girls must be pretty smart. Without too many problems they can find their way to the sea. Follow the light! During this short time on the beach (maximum half an hour I’d guess, and that would be a very slow turtle) they have to learn to remember this beach. Thirty years later they will come back to the same spot! I can see the smartness in this turtle’s eyes.

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There are ups and downs.

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Those human footprints are not an easy hurdle to take.

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Follow the leader.

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It’s a long way for a tiny turtle.

it's a long way for a hawksbill

Almost there. Get ready for the big splash!

hawksbill ready for the splash

See you in 30 years!

 

How to become a frequent flyer (or pro #1 of living on Statia)

Statia-Airport

After flying up & down to St. Maarten twice in the last month (the first time to do an exam, the second time because I was not having a heart attack), I decided to make a list of 25 advantages or pros of living on Statia. Where? Statia, or St. Eustatius, also known as the Golden Rock. Caribbean Netherlands. Confused?

Statia is a 21km2 island with around 4,000 inhabitants, five schools, one small airport, some bars, a bunch of churches, too many roaming animals and one medical center. Reason enough for all Statians to be Frequent Flyers.

To visit a medical specialist (cardiologist, optician, orthodontist, pneumosomethingologist, you name it) you have to fly off-island 😀 For many cases you will be sent to the Dutch side of St. Maarten. If you’re lucky enough you have a free trip to Colombia or sometimes Guadeloupe. Forget about the fact that you have to leave family, friends, pets and work behind. Your hotel room is ready for you, your bed is made, you don’t need to clean, cook or work. Finally some privacy on a different Caribbean island. Forget about the fact that you have to stay in your hotel day in, day out to wait for the hospital personnel to finally call you for an appointment. Who needs to get out of a hotel anyway? Why go shopping or explore the place? You are on a Caribbean island!

I recently experienced this when I did not have a heart attack, but still had to check with the cardiologist on St. Maarten. Unfortunately I could stay on St. Maarten for only 1 night. The hotel that was booked for me and a good amount of fellow medical Frequent Flyers from Statia, was just lovely: the Paradise Inn.

Paradise Inn

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But for true, for a small island girl like me the location of the hotel is paradise.  KFC, Burger King, McDonald and even a proper restaurant with grilled mahi mahi and red wine are on walking distance. Not to mention the Grand Marché and Cost-U-Less. Paradise for Statians!

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Cost-U-Less

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Apart from the doctor’s visit, there are always tons of other reasons to fly off-island: big feet (no shoes my size for sale on Statia), schools/exams, the lack of a notary, jail…

And the greatest thing of it all: we all really support WinAir! Because St. Maarten is our only direct destination and WinAir is King, we just love to pay the highest price for a ticket. We love WinAir! We love being Frequent Flyers!

WinAir

I love living in the Caribbean!!

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Other pros of living on Statia:

How to tape your scooter (or pro #2 of living on Statia)

How & where to swim (or pro #3 of living on Statia)

Wedding Witness (or pro #4 of living on Statia)

Statia in Shape (or pro #5 of living on Statia)

Nevis Agricultural Fair (or pro #6 of living on Statia)

Vogelfestival * Bird Festival (or pro #7 of living on Statia)

Going green inside the crater

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In my last post I wrote about a new endemic plant species being discovered on the inner slopes of the Quill. The Quill is the dormant volcano on Statia, soaring to a height of 600m  (1,969 ft) at the Mazinga Peak. The name Quill comes from the Dutch word Kuil, which means ‘pit’ or ‘hole’. Thanks to the English settlers who couldn’t pronounce Kuil properly, we now have a volcano named Quill. I admit, it does sound more exotic and exciting than Kuil.

After reaching the rim at 380 m (1,246 ft) you can descent into the crater, which contains a lush tropical rainforest with enormous trees, like Fig trees and Yellow Plums.

The national park is managed by Stenapa and the crater trail is well maintained.

Here’s an impression of the crater trail.

getting ready My new bag – thanks mom & dad! 😀

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Shelter Helper

St. Eustatius Animal Welfare Foundation (SEAWF) is a non-profit organisation that was founded in 2002 to help the dogs and cats on Statia. Twice a day volunteers are feeding the animals at the shelter, walking the dogs, cleaning up the cages, the kennels and the outside run, squeezing ticks and giving the furry guys their daily portion of TLC. It’s not that we love cleaning peed & poo-ed up newspapers. It’s not that we love coming home covered in mud, with dust in our ears and nose. We do it (or at least I do it) for the thankful looks, the wagging tales and sometimes the outrageous love-explosions you get from your friends. Because that’s what they are: friends on four legs.

I remember the days we had one or two dogs at the shelter, sometimes three. That was when we adopted our first dog, Gipsy.

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Over the last year the number was growing and growing. At one point we had 22(!) dogs at the shelter, plus some kittens. It was a madhouse! It was decided that some dogs had to be put to sleep. But on the day the vet came to the island, around 6 dogs were adopted and we could keep the rest. That really was one of the best days in my SEAWF-history! I couldn’t stop dancing.

Another great event was the official opening of the extension that was built behind the existing kennel room. Thanks to donations from Statians, people in Holland and NuStar (the oil terminal) and thanks to the great work by the constructor, we now have 4 pretty big outside kennels with separate sleeping parts. One-bedroom apartments so to say 🙂

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Sometimes we find dogs or cats (often being dumped and left to die!!!) that are too young and vulnerable to stay in the shelter. They need to be bottle-fed and kept nice and warm the whole day. They often end up being temporarily fostered by one of the volunteers. That’s what we did with these guys. We decided to officially adopt them. Yes, it’s a full house at the moment (they have grown about 10 times their size), but pure happiness!

Onai, Rosa & Nelson

Once every two weeks the vet from St. Maarten, Dr. Garry Swanston, comes over to help the Statia pets.

The animal shelter is located behind the LVV office in Concordia and their phone number is 318 4150. They also have a Facebook page.

If you move over to Friends with Paws you’ll find an overview of all the dogs that live in the animal shelter at the moment. They are all available for adoption. I’ll update it regularly with stories about my friends. Please check it out. If you are looking for a friend, or if you know someone who is interested, please let me know or just pass by the animal shelter any day around 9 a.m. or 5 p.m. Some dirty, sweaty but happy person should be there.

The Blue Bead & another story of slavery

This is “my” blue bead.

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In the 17th century the Dutch used these pentagonal shaped blue beads for trading. The beads were made in Amsterdam, out of glass. In St. Eustatius they were given to slaves as “wages”. {Sometimes I am so terribly ashamed of being Dutch!!}

picture from the Secar website

After emancipation, the legend says the ex-slaves gathered at the cliffs and threw their beads in the sea to celebrate freedom. Up till today blue beads can be found in the sea or on land. Mostly they are found on a dive spot called “the Blue Bead Hole” after a storm when the sand has been stirred up. It’s likely a ship loaded with blue beads sank there (or maybe all the blue beads thrown in the ocean by the freed slaves somehow ended up at the exact same spot, hm hm…).

Occasionally the beads can be found on the beach or somewhere in the mud on the roadside.

There are many fake blue beads around, which you can buy for a few dollars at gift shops. The real blue bead though is always pentagonal, sometimes a bit rounded by the sand over the years, and has this typical dark blue colour. There are very few white beads found too, but it’s just a handful of people on the island that ever found a white one. And be assured: a real blue bead will never be for sale for a few dollars. I heard stories of blue beads being sold for US$ 250 or US$ 300. But a real Statian will never sell his blue bead out of respect for the slaves. You can give it away, but not sell it.

I can tell you it’s a funny feeling having a blue bead. It may be “just a bead”, a useless piece of blue glass, but knowing that one day “your” bead once was a slave’s only possession makes it… unique.

The legend says you don’t find blue beads. The blue bead finds you.

And if you’re found, you will always come back to Statia.

I will always come back to Statia.

The first salute was fired…

After 2 weeks of “issues” with WordPress… I’m back!

In the meantime, I mashed up my blog by first deleting some big pictures (thought the problem was there), then deleting some posts (thought the problem was there) and then deleted the whole content (the problem wasn’t there). So here I am starting from scratch.

I decided to change the address and the name of the blog. Instead of showing you “My Planet Earth”, I now write about “Life on the Golden Rock”. Which is basically the same since my own little planet is situated on the Golden Rock.

The Golden Rock is the nickname of St. Eustatius, better known as Statia. If you’re not living on Statia or one of the neighboring islands, if you are Dutch and didn’t pay much attention during history class, you probably have no clue where I am or what Statia is all about 🙂

Let me introduce Statia to you with a little video about the island’s rich history. Enjoy!