After a late night stargazing at the dock and an early morning run, we were allowed to sleep in an extra half hour (7:30!) before our pancake breakfast this morning. Covered in sunscreen and bug spray, we soon headed out for an adventure to find the only known Baobab tree on the island of St. John- although there are rumors 0f a second. However, these trees are abundant on the island of St. Croix. This tree was located in the ruins of the Seiban Estate, as a result of seeds carried over by the enslaved Africans. This tree is thought to be magical and sacred by many African peoples. It has many names, such as the tree of life and the upside down tree.
On the way we found more sugar plantation ruins. These were the ruins of the Seiban Estate, which was created by Johan Von Seiban in 1721. It consisted of 150 acres of sugarcane, with a rum still, sugar mill, and cannons. The estate was last used as a cattle ranch when it was sold to the National Park in 1941.
After hiking back up L’Esperance trail, we hopped back into the Jeeps and drove down the road (stay to the left!) to the Cathrineberg Estate. This estate featured a well restored windmill and store warehouse. As we climbed the hill to the ruins, we were pleasantly surprised to hear the sound of tenor saxophone jazz music wafting through the air. Inside the windmill ruins was a young jazz musician named Broheim practicing his already incredible abilities. We were lucky enough to listen to him play a few songs for us as we ate our lunch before he sadly had to leave to catch the noon ferry to a nearby music festival in St. Thomas.
Inspired by this musician, the yoga-enthusiasts of our group used their “rock hard flexibility” to show us how a real headstand is done.
After learning the history of the Catherineberg Estate, we all joined together in a step dynamic photo in order to show off the architectural beauty of the storeroom arches.
During our third trip down by the Salt Pond, we crossed paths with a sociable bachelor donkey herd. Typically, young males donkeys will stay in these small bachelor groups until they are old enough to win their own herd. They were very friendly and even let a few lucky students get up close!
As the last few days on St. John near, the research teams continue to collect as much data as possible before returning to the states.
We returned to VIERS around 3 to allow for some time to shower, decompress, and catch up on some work before heading out to dinner at Shipwrecked! Despite some crazy light surges, everyone’s meals were amazing!
We have never been more excited for bed as we were tonight- another 4:30am morning awaits us: the sunrise hike made such an impression the first time that we have decided to go again for our last night before we head back to chilly Virginia!
Safe sails and don’t let the donkeys bite! With love, Lucy and Ashleigh