Day 11- Community Service at VIERS and Kayaking

Drip…. drip….. drip…. We woke up to the sound of the rain. Some were unpleased to wake up to the sound of rain because all the clothes that where hung up to dry where bound to get wet, but most where pleased because they remembered the importance of rain to this dry habitat. Rain holds much more than a source of water, it serves a vital purpose in the daily lives of not only the islands, but the visitors of VIERS. After waking up in a panic to get our clothes out of the rain we ate nutritious breakfast burritos and native, organic fresh-cut fruit. This was the perfect start to our morning which was followed by daily yoga to provide balance to our busy island lives.

After the daily yoga session, we paid our tribute to the community of St. John USVI by helping out in the VIERS camp. We cleared a field from rocks, racked leaves, cleaned the café an roads. The bell rung for lunch. We rushed into the kitchen to get our delicious ham and cheese sandwiches. After lunch we had some free time.

Some decided to break down their wall of insecurity and go kayaking, while others relaxed on the beach. Both activities were disrupted by the love/hate rain of the Virgin Islands. As we gathered back to the campgrounds from our day excursions we found common ground in the smell of food which was waiting for us for dinner. We enjoyed delicious chicken, home-grown potatoes, and a few vegan delights. After filling our bellies with nutritious food gathered and grown for our mother—earth, we scurried to the classroom to hear an important message.

~ Nevia and Fei

Observing Marine Life- Snorkeling off the Boat

RIMG0213We went on the boat Low Key to snorkel. I wasn’t feeling I want to go into the water today but Mr. Dagostino convinced me that today is the last chance we are going to do the snorkel, maybe should take the gear with you, so you can decide when you get on the boat. So I got my snorkel gear with me and got on the boat. There was a distance covered by water between the shore and boat, so I was half wet when I got on the boat. Therefore, I decided to go into the water.

When we arrived in the middle of the sea, everyone were in the water already, but I was still struggling about going in the water or not. Then I decided to swim around the boat, and snorkel without the fins, and it was actually pretty fun.

We went to next spot; the water was so clear and the weather was so good. I did the same thing, but I got into the water at the right moment this time, I saw a sea turtle, and I follow it until it swam faraway. I felt it was worth to go into water.

— Chenhong Lu& John Liou

Ram’s Head and Salt Pond Bay, Traditional Dance and Drumming

On the 8th day of M-term, we started off with yoga at the green pavilion. Then we were sent out to pack our lunches for our day at Salt Pond Bay. Some people packed 2 sandwiches and some packed 1. Eisei and I were really hungry so we packed 2 sandwiches, 2 cookies, 3 bags of chips, and a bag of fruits. After that, we proceed to go on Hamilton’s taxi and we went to the Salt Pond Bay. On the way to Ram head, we saw two big rocky sides of the mountains and it turns out to be a fault line. A fault line is when two tectonic plates of the Earth meet. After we got there, we were in a shrubland environment. It was a really nice hike and we enjoyed it a lot.

20150303_10122820150303_104454Next, we went on another hike to Drunk Bay named after drowned sailors. At Drunk Bay, people leave coral figures and a big heart made of rope to make a mark about the memories they had in there. We tried to make a cool picture on the rocks where the waves hit them but we never had the right timing. It was a magnificent place there we have been to.

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At night, Ital came over to VIERS and taught us how to dance and sing native Virgin Islands songs with native instruments. He also showed us his arts and crafts made by plant seeds and calabash. We had so much fun today, singing and dancing all together. We danced to folk tunes and Ital’s own tunes. We danced to the beat of the drums and the traditional instruments that he had with him.

~ Michelle and Eisei

Day Seven- Waterlemon Cay, The Sugarmill Ruins and Marine Life

We started off our day with optional yoga after breakfast outside. Shortly after yoga we packed our own lunches, gathered our scuba gear, and walked past Little Lameshur Bay to check out the ruins. It seemed to be the hottest morning so far and all of us were ready to swim. Before we could snorkel we went to see the Annanberg Sugar Mill Plantation. We soaked in the sun as we walked around the historical and self-guided ruins. Most of us were so thrilled to snorkel Waterlemon Cay it was difficult to pay attention to complete the tour. After the ruins we began walking on paths along the beach to go to Waterlemon Cay. From the beach we could see Tortola, Jos Van Dyke, Mary Point, The British Virgin Islands, and even a few smaller islands; the view was absolutely phenomenal. After a half an hour or so we reached the point we intended to place our stuff and swim off of. We split up into our four groups and began snorkeling towards the island one group at a time. On the way towards the island the most memorable organisms included a trumpet fish, some really large rainbow parrotfish, massive sea urchins (in comparison to the other ones we have seen so far), and an unusually colored Nudibranch. Going towards the island was a little rough for some due to the current and minor mask malfunctions, but nobody had problems going around the island with the current working with us rather than against us. This was definitely one of the better snorkel excursions so far on this trip. Not to mention the walk along the beach was pleasant with fascinating birds that I have never seen before. When we arrived back at VIERS we quickly regrouped and most of us went back to Little Lameshur to swim, tan, and catch the sunset. We stayed for an hour and witnessed the lovely sunset until we had to return for dinner. We then got some free time to relax; it was the perfect way to end our day.

~ Evi Kaasik-Saunders