Arrival in St. Croix – “That will shave fifteen minutes off of my morning prep time”
Today we ventured from Atlanta to Christiansted. Security was light, and we breezed through in minimal time. Everyone showed up, and no one got lost. We had some breakfast at the food court in the airport and boarded the plan uneventfully.
The flight arrived close to on time and with the exception of some turbulence and failing to provision enough sodas, was uneventful. I napped, dreaming of providing the survey for the celebrities of Love and Hip Hop, speculating if Joselyn – “The Puerto Rican Princess” Hernandez would be willing to host an exhibition of Lionfish products. After all, combining environmental awareness, economic potential, fine dining (Lionfish of course) and maybe fashion (Lionfish jewelry) #loveandhiphopatl. When I awoke I read some about the geographic history of the USVI and learned that, in general, St. Croix swiftly recedes up from the shore to high elevations.
The point at which we deplaned my expectations were challenged. The airport was tiny and crumbling, and we walked off the plane, down the stairs and on to the tarmac.
I had expected more infrastructure with tourism, but wasn’t let down by what I found. As we exited the airport a greeter of sorts welcomed us to St. Croix and we found a rum stand immediately outside of the airport and heard the Calypso music coming from the luggage claim area.
We departed for the grocery store to provision supplies for the coming week, passing the famous Cruzan Distillery. The store wasn’t significantly different from any supermarket in the US. Jeffery and I tried a local baker’s pastries and found them so good we had to share with the group. As it turns out, we will be working in that area tomorrow. I hope the pastry chef remembers us positively.
From there, we travelled to where we are staying – Mount Victory Camp. Passing through Fredricksted, we passed dozens of buildings in bad shape, some with active businesses, some abandoned.
I was aware that poverty might be an issue here, but this was worse than I had expected. The journey took us past the beaches, with ominous signs saying swim at your own risk. Despite this many happy families were out enjoying the ocean. The Caribbean beach was breath taking and our students all wanted to go for a swim, but it was a cruel taunt as our path lay not beach-ward, but instead inland.
Up and up the mountain we went, weaving and turning up the twisty road, with some precipitous curves. This one-lane road definitely inspired some concern, but we made it to MVC intact. We were greeted by the call of a close relative of the mourning dove and our hostess, Carmen.
She showed us to our cabins and where the communal amenities are. She also showed us where the Tortoise Reserve was!
Everyone seemed to like them, and I got to jump into the reserve first. They are housed in the ruin of an 1830s Dutch monastery and they are friendly. When I jumped in they came to me quickly, so much so that I was a little concerned for their safety. Everything worked out and Paige had the honor of being the first to successfully feed the torti. I also noticed lots of lizards springing around the reserve. We also encountered some chickens roaming freely on the camp grounds.
From there we gathered up and went out to dinner. On the road down the mountain, we saw our first invasive species – a mongoose! Dinner was pleasant, though somewhat touristy. I had the jerk pork and it was tasty. During dinner we discussed the day to come – realizing that Sunday may not, in fact, be a good early day. I inquired about the expected professional appearance and whether the males had to be clean-shaven to which we learned we did not need to be so. I replied, “That will shave fifteen minutes off of my morning prep time”. After this, Tracy issued the challenge to catch the best pun of the day for the blog and today that one was the winner.
After some minor issues upon our return, the men retired to the mens cabin to the drumbeats of the Reggae festival of the other camp. We discovered that those supercool lizards from the preserve wanted to hang out with us, by surprise, but we didn’t like that, so mighty Jakob chased the lizards from our cabin. All hail Jakob the lizard banisher!
That about wraps it up.