(Blog 2 as I continue with stories from our trip to St. Kitts.)
St. Kitts is a tourist stop for the cruise ships. While we were on St. Kitts visiting Jill and Andy there were three cruise ships that visited the Port Zante dock in downtown Basseterre. As the tourists venture off the boat, they exit onto a lovely couple of palm tree lined streets with beautiful shops and restaurants to entertain them. Tourist shops and cheap nick-knack souvenirs do not interest either Ted or me, but we wanted to check it out with all the other boat tourists. The stores were lovely with their bright tropical painted fronts. Colorful and tantalizing arrays of tourist treasures beckoned to passersby. Jill and Andy explained to us how these streets were deserted when there were no cruise ships docked. Many of the stores don’t even open unless a boat was in. The bright, clean, and bustling shopping area was for show only.
Back up to a little economic history of St. Kitts. The island originally produced tobacco but in the 1600’s switched to sugar cane with the help of the slave trade. More than sixty sugar plantations once thrived on the island. In 2005 the government closed the sugar industry. Apparently sugar made in the states and elsewhere from sugar beets was cheaper than what St. Kitts could produce. The number one industry now? Tourism.
If you happen to be at one of the resorts on St. Kitts or Nevis Island, taking in one of the attractions, or shopping at a souvenir shop, you will see the smiling faces of the people native to this beautiful tropical island. On a scenic tour that we took on a train, we were greeted by waving and smiling children each time we passed a school. It was as if they were trained to greet the tourist train with happy faces as their contribution to the tourism industry. Oh they made for a darling picture.
But because Jill and Andy actually live on the island, we got the chance to see the real lifestyle and story. The pretty streets and shops with the smiling native faces were for tourists only. A visitor from a cruise ship would have a very nice picture of life on St. Kitts. In reality, it is a rather poor little island. We saw the government housing, the crumbled buildings, the dirt roads, stray dogs, and piles of litter. Andy told of how he has made several trips to the local grocery store. The chatty locals shopping and working in the store did not keep up their friendly smile when it was Andy’s turn to check out.
Of course, Laurel sees a lesson here.
Do you know how people are when asked how they are doing? The stereotypical answer is, “I’m fine.” It is a pretty safe answer. But behind that benign answer you may find conflict, pain, stress or sadness hiding. Like a tourist’s visit to a tropical island. Oh, it’s all pretty and lovely from the face view … its fine. But beneath that glossy façade is a real island with real people who are struggling to live and provide for their families.
As we meet new people, we are like tourists who are just visiting and seeing the pretty side of our new acquaintance. But as we get to know a person and become friends, we become privy to the real picture of what is beneath that public exterior. It’s a good thing to keep in mind. What you see is not always what you get. The smile on the outside can cover what’s inside.
St. Kitts is a beautiful island of beaches, tropical plants, and smiling faces. Beneath that show-offy cover there is a hot dusty island – still very beautiful but in a different, personal way. It was good to see both faces.
Colossians 3:1-4 So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.