Our morning started out with a run, a swim, and a beautiful sunrise on Little Lameshur. The number of students joining us on the run has dropped significantly – only Sarah Knox and Caleb were up at 6:15 for our morning exercise. We will miss those runs and swims! After a grand breakfast served by the wonderful volunteers at VIERS we headed out in search of the Baobob tree. Introduced from Africa, this tree has special spiritual significance – if you drink its sap you are protected by crocodiles but if you eat its flowers you would be shredded by lions. Given this reputation we just had to find one and there is only one to find on the island of St. John. Down the L’Esperance Trail. Straight down on Fish Bay Gut we found the first set of ruins from the L’Esperance Estate. They were neat but we needed to find the ruins of the Seiban Estate where the baobob could be found and that was another mile down the trail. After dodging jack spaniard wasps we took what we thought was the first trail on the right – the one that should have taken us to the Seiban Estate and the Baobob Tree. But it went down and down the gut….no baobob tree no estate so back up the hill we went…. and had our first of three lunches while trying to figure out where to go. Jesse Sheperd decided she knew where to go and lo and behold she found the estate and the tree! It was worth the journey – magnificent!
With baobob accounted for we headed back up the trail and had our elevensies lunch at the trailhead – we are eating at least twice the calories we normally do and everyone seems to be loosing weight! We had a stop at Cathrineburg Estate with its most excellent restored windmill for grinding sugar cane. The thick walls provided a cool spot to chill before we headed out to snorkel Waterlemon – our favorite.
After finding the last 3 parking spots in the Annaberg lot, we headed down the trail happy to see it free of trash from our clean-up last Monday. We stopped halfway to Waterlemon to snorkel in the octopus garden pictured above.
Unfortunately our first fish was spotted by Kristi and it was a LARGE LIONFISH – 12 inches – of reproductive age. Not good news for the native fish of these waters! Everyone Loved this spot with its sea fans, small coral heads, diverse fish populations, and sea turtles. Incredibly beautiful. After 45 minutes everyone was chilled and headed to the rocky shore to find a spot of sunshine and our one o’clock lunch….
We decided to hike up to the first Moravian church (ruins) built in 1756 and the Great House of Annaberg which are perched above Waterlemon Key. The view was MAGNIFICENT! We snapped hundreds of pictures like the one above – to hold the place in our memories as no picture can do justice to this place. We decided that our next J-Term course here will involve an afternoon hike with dinner at the ruins to watch the sunset and then a night hike back along the bay! Everyone seemed pretty excited about the next J-term.
We snorkeled in WAterlemon, found some stingrays for Becca and Sarah’s research project, found century plants for Asya and Suzanne’s project and Kristen got a bit more reef data for hers. Tired and happy we made the mile long walk back to the cars and were ecstatic to find the water had returned to VIERS and we could have showers after a day of no water and no showers last night.
Great dinner, research meeting, a vigorous game of Apples to Apples and figuring out which fish we saw occupied our evening. Becca and Shiloh were so tired that Renee and Morgan finished this blog tonight. About half the class will wake up at 4:15 tomorrow a.m. to hike one more time out on Rams Head to watch the sunrise. The rest of the students will sleep in to 7:00 and enjoy the morning at VIERS. Tomorrow we leave after lunch for Cinnamon Bay and then an evening in Cruz Bay for dinner out and the sweet music of Inner Visions (local reggae band).