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Magens Bay

May 15, 2013

Virgin Islands – Sunday, May 5

Magens Bay is located on the north side of St. Thomas, and was said to be one of the prettiest natural beaches in the whole Caribbean. As such, it is often overly crowded with tourists. But since it was close to where we were staying, we loaded up towels and sunscreen and all, and walked a steep 3/4 mile down to the beach. And it was gorgeous. The sandy beach itself is nearly 3/4 mile long – a big beach for a small island. The bay was deep, the water was crystal clear, and the bottom was sandy everywhere. And the water was so many beautiful shades of blue – shades that just can’t be re-created in photos, paints or crayons. We found a table in the shade and settled in. And best of all, it wasn’t crowded at all – we’re here in an “in-between” season” and apparently no cruise ships were in. St. Thomas is one of the busiest cruise ship ports, and so far we haven’t seen any.

The water felt chilly when we first stepped in, but once we were all the way in, it was so comfortable and refreshing, which felt good because the sun was hot. Christy and I figured we would do some of our walking on the beach, and each round trip – from one end of the beach to the other and back – covered 1.3 miles. So we’d walk, and then usually get back into the ocean to cool off. Because of its sandy bottom, snorkeling wasn’t good here, so most people were just swimming and floating. Taryn and Jared explored the beach too, and we got a bite to eat. Chris did an extra lap of the beach to make up for the mile and a quarter of walking that I did before getting her from the airport yesterday. By mid-afternoon, the sun was blazing hot and we spent a little time reading at our table in the shade. Everyone wanted heat and sun, and that’s what they got! Having had a bout of skin cancer 6-7 years ago, I kept the sunscreen on, and ended up with a hat and t-shirt on, even in the water. The kids eventually headed back up, and Chris and I read a bit more in the shade, then did another lap of walking on the beach and got in the water again. At the far end of the beach, there was a cute little lifesaving rowboat that looked really old, along with another little boat named No Mo Troubles. I wanted a picture of that boat but the glare of the sun made it hard to see exactly what I was taking pictures of, so sometimes I just had to point and shoot and hope what I wanted was in the picture. I was not successful with No Mo Troubles! Finally Christy and I made the steep walk back uphill – waterlogged and sun-satiated.

A little later, we still wanted to walk a couple miles to finish off our 8 miles for the day, so we headed into town, which was pretty quiet on a Sunday evening. Darkness comes pretty early and falls fast, and we didn’t have that much to do, so we got it finished off and called the kids – we had made plans to meet them at a little open-air restaurant by the resort that had a hand-printed sign out front advertising “local food”. But then we got lost again while driving back! There’s one main road that crosses the island north to south in the middle, but there is construction on the town end of it, so it’s blocked off, and there’s so many one-way streets that it can be confusing to find the way to the correct road (in all reality it was very easy – we just hadn’t found the right connecting street yet). So we had a very colorful side-trip through the little neighborhoods of tiny old homes and people lingering about, and steep streets and I even found myself going the wrong way on a one-way street (they are not marked at all corners!). I still think some of the streets I was on are some of the steepest I’ve ever driven – I was happy to be in a newer vehicle with good brakes!

We finally found our way out of the tangle of houses and streets and met Taryn and Jared at the restaurant, which was mostly a roof with tables and chairs – bugs don’t seem to be a big problem here. It was surprisingly noisy for a Sunday night. They didn’t have menus so we weren’t sure what we were in for – the lady just told us what they had, which was mostly assorted vegetables served with a meat of your choice. They all ordered shrimp, and I ordered conch. I had tried conch in Florida a long time ago and found it kind of rubbery, but it seems to be served a lot here, and I figured it was time to try it again. And we were all surprised by how good everything was – definitely a little hole in the wall worth remembering! The conch was served mixed in with vegetables, kind of like a Chinese dish. I’m not sure what all the vegetables were, but we all enjoyed the food, and were entertained by a cute little toddler and young girl dancing to the jukebox music.

No donations today on a Sunday, but at least I have some good leads for the upcoming week, and who knows what else we might run into. On the beach we had got to talking with a local lady who’s lived here a long time, and she said my donation possibilities were good places, and she also suggested another possibility.

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