Peak Heaven’s traditional Nevisian village attracts cruise ship passengers

Azamara Journey cruise ship passengers

Article courtesy, Peak Heaven

RAWLINS, Nevis, March 28, 2012–Azamara Journey Cruise ship passengers who signed for an excursion last Thursday to Peak Heaven located in Rawlins, Gingerland, were impressed by how a Nevisian family have preserved and conserved the simplicity of past Nevisian life in unspoiled natural surroundings.

Through collaboration between Peak Heaven, Azamara Journey and Kantours who are Azamara’s agents, a cross-section of cruise ship passengers were able to see the lush vivid mountain fauna and flora enhanced by a panoramic view of neighboring islands of Antigua, Redonda and Montserrat.

Peak Heaven is the brain child of Edward Herbert. His wife Claristine and children strongly believe that the environment, good traditions and history should be preserved, “I want local people and visitors to come here and view the beauty of our island as I tell them about our traditions and our history,” Herbert said in an interview last week.

Kathleen Herbert holding a bread fruit

The visitors were driven to the historic village of Rawlins elevated 1200 ft above sea-level. The 4.9 acres, affectionately called Peak Heaven, which were used by two families for agriculture for 100’s of years.

Visitors were able to see the preserved village which includes a large picnic area, Eddies Tree House and a tri-level playground. The Monkey House, where several of the “green monkeys” live in natural and spacious surroundings. There is a Heritage House, where visitors were educated about the the history from the 17th century to the present, and “The Ginger Lily Massage Spot”- where one can relax and enjoy a massage in a serene and tranquil chattel house.

Kathleen Herbert, dressed in traditional attire that Nevisian women wore in yesteryears told the story of her village.

“My father grew up here as a boy. He would bathe his skin in that pond (pointing at the pond). Rawlins was the breadbasket of Nevis.. A lot of provisions were grown here and sold in St. Kitts. My grandmother was very hard working. She would place her farm produce in a basket and place the basket on her head and as soon as she got to the market and put her basket down, she would chant ” Dem a Done..Dem a Done” this meant come and gets your provisions quickly. The land was fertile and is still is,” Herbert told visitors.

Azamara cruise ship passengers sampling bread made in a traditional oven

Visitors were shown the traditional foods that kept people healthy and strong and kept off lifestyle diseases. Ms Herbert let the visitors have a feel of the pumpkin, breadfruit, sweet potatoes and bananas which were also displayed. All these, she said, would be cooked in a coal pot “My grandmother would go to the field and before she goes to work she would put the provisions in the coal pot which operates like a slow cooker and when she would come back from tilling the land, the food would be ready. Nevisians made the pots. Nevisians are innovative and resourceful.”

She told the visitors about the traditional stone oven. “Although individual families owned stone ovens, they were also communal. Everybody had to get along. All cooking was done outside. There was community life. Logs would be cut and put into the oven and it would be lit for at least an hour. The burnt logs and the twigs would be brushed out and the remaining coal moved to the rear end of the oven. Bread would be placed on a galvanized baking sheet lined with banana leaves to prevent the bread from burning.”

Philicia Morton, the Peak Heaven chef demonstrated to the visitors how the bread was prepared prior to being baked in a traditional oven.. ” I can remember my parents and my grandparents used to make and give us hot bread. They would wake up early morning and bake the bread. Everybody would enjoy the bread.”

Edward Herbert, the brain child of Peak Heaven cleans out the traditional oven after heating it with cut logs

Kathleen also spoke of the miracle soursop fruit that grows on Nevis and science is now discovering has cancer healing properties allegedly more effective than chemotherapy. “The leaves of the soursop make a wonderful tea. If you have grandchildren who cannot sleep, give them a cup of this tea and they will sleep,” she said.

She told the visitors that after the Second World War breadfruit could only be found in Rawlins village. Ginger was also a preserve of Rawlins and hence the origin of the name, Gingerland.

Also displayed for visitors to see was Nevisian traditional “China” the calabash. Visitors were shown how to scrape out calabash flesh and turn the calabashes into all kinds of utensils.

Shortly before the visitors left to get back to the cruise ship, they sampled traditional oven baked bread at the Peak Heaven’s Coal Pot restaurant as they watched a Nevisian woman weave traditional baskets. It was a real Nevisian experience that the visitors will live to remember.

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