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Snorkeling, Animal Care and Women’s Coalition

May 17, 2013

Virgin Islands – Monday, May 6

Today we had decided to take the car barge over to St. Thomas where we would go swimming and snorkeling at one of the beaches in the National Park, which covers about 2/3 of the island. The people at the front desk recommended waiting til at least 9am ferry to go – earlier ferries are filled with trucks hauling a lot of supplies over, plus students would all be in school by then.

So we drove across the northeast side of St. Thomas to the little town of Red Hook where the ferry docks were. It didn’t cost us any more to take the car since there were 4 of us who would have been paying the round-trip passenger fee anyway. And this way we didn’t have to pay for a taxi on the other end.

I had to back onto the ferry up a steep ramp which scraped something on the underside of the car, but no lights came on or anything. It was only about a 20 minute crossing, then we rolled off and tried to figure out where Trunk Bay was. Our maps guided us along a short drive toward the interior of the island, and then we spotted a sign for the national park, so we turned down the dirt road. There was a good reason no one else came this way – the gravel road was very difficult to drive on, with lots of ruts, rocks, and sharp turns and I don’t know what I would have done if another vehicle had to pass us. I was relieved to finally get to the parking lot without getting a flat tire or something.

It was pretty cloudy out, which was probably just as well. We’d all gotten a pretty good dose of sun the last couple days. We rented our snorkeling equipment, and found a nice place in the beach for towels, and headed into the water. There were some big rocks on one side if the bay, and that’s where a lot of fish were hanging out. Plus there was a short underwater trail, which consisted of heavy cement blocks dropped down onto the ocean floor with information about some of the coral and fish that were in the area. There was a big variety of fish and coral and we all enjoyed floating around to see everything. Taryn and Jared even saw sea turtles. After quite a long time in the water, we were ready for a bite to eat, and there was a little building with a few things to choose from for lunch. The sea birds are very aggressive, and have been known to take food away – and the kitchen had to post a sign saying they weren’t responsible for replacing any food that the birds might swipe! And we had to watch our food carefully and scare off the birds now and then.

Chris and I also did some more walking on the beach. This beach was only about 3/10s of a mile long each way, so we knew we’d have to walk back and forth 10 times to get 3 miles done. So we did that and then also did another mile around some of the sidewalks on the grounds. By this time it was raining, but we decided to go snorkeling again since we were wet anyway. The water wasn’t quite as clear – I think the rain churned things up a bit. We didn’t stay in quite as long this time, and when we got out, our towels and clothes were all wet and covered in sand. After a little more walking, we decided it was time to head out, and we were quite a sandy mess when we left.

We headed back toward the ferry docks, but we had some time to kill, so even though we were kind of wet, we spent a little time in Cruz Bay, looking around the shops. And that led to a couple donations. Chris was buying a few things in one of the shops when she noticed a donation box for the Animal Care Center in St John, so she called me over. I asked the cashier about the place, and she told me it was a really nice animal shelter, which is able to adopt out quite a few animals, and American Airlines even offers to transport newly adopted pets to the mainland at no charge. Plus they let people take a dog out for the day to the beach or something, and it sounded like the staff is really caring, and were able to provide a lot of extras as they worked to get pets adopted out. So I ended up making a donation to them.

And then Chris wanted to go into a Caribbean Consignment shop, and the door had a sign on it saying they were open, but then the lady inside said they were closed since they were getting ready for a fashion show. But she invited us in anyway, and while Chris was looking around, I asked the lady if the fashion show was to benefit an organization, and we got to talking, and it turned out she had close connections to the Women’s Coalition of St Croix. She told me a bit about the organization, and they’re able to provide crisis intervention services and counseling to victims of violence and oppression. They also provide temporary housing, food and clothing to those who need it. Since we weren’t going to be able to make it to St. Croix, which is the 3rd of the US Virgin Islands, I was really happy to have an opportunity to make a donation to an organization on St. Croix. So I made a donation to them, which the lady at the shop was going to deliver the next day.

Then it was time to catch the latest ferry back to St. Thomas, and we didn’t make any further stops since we were all still kind of wet and sandy. Once we landed back in Red Hook, we drove back to the resort, and Taryn and Jared headed out for a dinner on their own, and Chris and I just stayed in for a late dinner. In the end, we figured it was probably best it had been kind of cloudy and rainy since we’d all already had so much sun.

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