Several of us emerged from slumber in the dark for our last sunrise run and swim. The changing colors of the sky and the gentle sound of the waves on sand were bittersweet as we knew it would be a long time before we were back in “our” bay and “our” island again.
We walked back down the slippery muddy road to join the rest of our crew for our last breakfast prepared by the wonderful VIERS staff. They made the field station feel like home, they kept us well fed despite our crazy hours, and they were always interested in our adventures and ready to give good advice on trails and sites. They had become part of our family in our short 10 days on island.
We packed our bags and said our goodbyes and left VIERS with a lovely rendition of “Happy Trails to You” sung to us by the volunteers. Many of us were already plotting when “we would see VIERS and St John again.”
We stopped for one last picture at the VIERS sign – Renee stopped right by a huge puddle – making her passengers take a giant leap to avoid muddy legs and shoes – all were successful!
We drove back over the island to return our rental cars – definitely dirtier but certainly no worse for the wear. And if cars can be happy ours certainly had to be because they had spent the last 10 days in laughter and song and had avoided the Centerline buses and taxis which often took up both sides of the road.
While the touristy side of Cruz Bay was more chaotic than we wanted, we did have the chance to buy sovenirs and look at the wildlife which included a green iguana eating toast and chickens running around the town center with overprotective mothers guarding their 2-4 week old chicks while juveniles skulked in the corners looking for handouts.
Though most tourists were unaware (note none of us considered ourselves tourists) several of us watched as a wonderful scene unfolded. A native St. Johnian entered the square with a small bag and newspaper. He walked over to a coconut shell and poured a bit of water in it and then went over 10 feet or so to sit on a block seat. Immediately, the largest rooster in the square came over and drank the water. After his cooling beverage, the rooster then approached the bearded samaritan and stared at him and crowed several times. The man nodded and the rooster bowed his head and then went off to follow the hens. The man then pulled out his newspaper and read in the cool shade. It is wonderful to think that like the sun rising he comes to the square every morning to give water to the chickens and receive their thanks!
Our day ended with a beautiful sunset on the flight home. Weary, elated, and full of our experiences we arrived in Roanoke at 9 p.m. Indeed this has been an incredible trip. Stay tuned to learn more about our research projects and findings!