You know, one of the best things about this trip has been learning unexpected things about the islands we’re visiting. Here’s a trivia question for you. What was the first island to officially recognize the newly formed United States of America? St Eustatia. Didn’t learn that in US history? Don’t worry, neither did I. Here’s the story. In the 17th and 18th century, St Eustatia was the major trading port in the Caribbean. Countries who couldn’t trade with each other directly, did so through Statia.Each year thousands (I said thousands) of ships anchored off Oranjestad and the shore of the bay was lined with warehouses. The islanders were extremely wealthy. Statia was trustworthy too and Benjamin Franklin used to have his mail sent through here to Europe. During the Revolutionary War, Statia was our only link to Europe. In fact, Statia played a pivitol role in our war of Independence, by giving us a place to trade our goods, and by the Dutch Jews on Statia supplying us with arms and ammunition. On November 16, 1776, the American Brig-of-War, the Andrew Doria sailed into Statia harbor and fired a 13 gun salute announcing itself as an independent country. Statia acknowledged it with an 11 gun salute, becoming the first country to officially recogonize the United States of America. And how was Statia repaid for this? The British were extremely upset, and soon took over the island and it’s wealth, and expelled the Dutch Jews. Later the Dutch reclaimed the island, but it never achieved its past glory. On November 16, they celebrate St Eustatia America day, where American songs and Statian songs are sung. Though it ended badly for them, they still think fondly of us.

Kathy and Fred weren’t feeling well when we arrived, so we went with Craig and Liz from Salida, to explore the island. The old harborfront was long ago reclaimed by the sea during a hurricane. Now you have a steep walkup to get to town, and the fort. There is a medical college here, and about a half dozen chinese restaurants. Figure that one out. Of course we coudn’t wait to eat Chinese at Sonny’s Cantonese restaurant. Very good. After that we strolled through town. Everyone waves at us first, something that hasn’t happened that often on other islands. Its a very nice feeling. The town has nice paved streets. There is definitely a sense of pride here. We walked past the old cemetary, and down to Kings Well. King’s Well is a restaurant/hotel owned by Laura and Win. They owned a restaurant on Long Island New York, before deciding to make a life in the Caribbean. Dinner is by reservation. We had dropped in unexpectedly, but Laura gave us a quick tour and invited us to come back the next day for a swim in their fresh water pool.
After leaving King’s Well we headed down the road to Smoke Alley, a restaurant overlooking the water. We were still full from Chinese food, and decied to have a drink. Manuel the owner came over and talked to us. Here’s a story. Manuel owned a trucking company in Las Vegas. He saw this restaurant for sale on EBAY, (yes EBAY). He came to Statia to check it out and ended up buying it. That was 5 years ago. He says he isn’t getting rich, but he really likes it. The people are friendly, the diving amazing, the history of the island immense and the prices cheap. He is renting a 3 bedroom house for $300.00 per month. Unbelievable!! The houses are good cement houses too, well built. The only downside I see is a lack of white beaches, but other than that, we could live here.

  Statia houses  street

 Another great thing about Statia, they have a cute little library, with a big kids section, and plenty of history books on the Eustatia and the Caribbean islands.  We spent a few hours in here one day.





  Craig, Liz and us at Smoke Alley

  Walking back to the boat down the slave trail.  Very steep!

 goats in the fort   

Alegria, Makai, Salida and Wanderlust in the harbor