The sun broke through the placid clouds as a small portion of the Hollins group, flashlights in hand, climbed one of many mountains in St. John. As a change in scenery, the group swam in Great Lameshur, pebbles and stones laying before their feet. But soon, the sweet smells of a VIERS breakfast called them back; warm maple syrup covered our fluffy pancakes.
Our backpacks were quickly loaded with homemade chocolate chip cookies, snorkeling gear, and a spirit of adventure. Our destination, the Reef Bay Trailhead. We loaded into our Jeeps, and began our journey down the muddy road out of VIERS. A fraction of the drivers proceeded to send mud flying all over exposed arms as well as the roofs of the Jeeps (Morgan won that contest :))
After a circuitous drive along the St. Johnian roads, we descended down into the jungle surrounding the Reef Bay Trail. The trees enclosed around us like the roof of a high cathedral, the leaves dripping recent rainfall onto our exposed heads. Caleb and Sarah (thats us) led the group on a tour of the Reef Bay area, including the history of the plantations and the various plants and trees. One of our personal favorites was the Kapok Tree, used by natives as building material for canoes. It was so special that our group wanted to be pictured with it (Kapok seems to be a St. Johnian celebrity)
Nearby an old horsemill was a tree with a very famous name on St. John. Known informally as the “monkey-no-climb tree”, short spikes line practically every surface of the trunk, preventing anyone (especially monkeys) from climbing to the top.
Our next stop touched on a more spiritual and historical level. The original inhabitants of the island known as the Tainos carved petroglyphs into the rocks surrounding the only yearly fresh water source on the island. Left for others to interpret, the students discovered the more popular ones seen below, but also discovered different ones by pouring the spring water onto the surface. This experience not only gave us a good understanding of the ancient St. Johnians, but left us wondering why; what specifically motivated them to carve very realistic drawings on simple stone.
Our day ended with a bang as a result of local St. Johnian Ital Anthony. He traveled on the rocky VIERS road loaded down with native plants and some rhythmic drums. He proceeded to teach us and the group from New York about the native plants on St. John. Going deeper however, he told us that we are the next generation, and we must learn and understand the world around us, not through a television screen. However, our discussion quickly went from a deep motivational speech to a night of dancing and enjoyment. Engaging the whole crowd, Ital brought out the best in everyone and made the already tight Hollins group further bonded to one another. Words cannot describe the atmosphere here tonight; everything is ringing with the sounds of Marley, friendship, and music. Although the day begins anew tomorrow, the bond we now share will only grow deeper as each day passes.
No worries mon,
Sarah and Caleb