Saturday, April 30, 2011

We’re In The Islands, But Where Are The Virgins?


 St. Thomas was our first stop in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  We spent several days moored at Christmas Cove at the unpopulated Great St. James Island, snorkeling our little hearts out.  We then moved to the harbor at Charlotte Amalie.  Our friends, Carl and Carrie on Sanctuary, have been living and working here, so we met with them and Steve and Lynn on Celebration for a great dinner of make-your-own pizzas.  It was interesting – and a bit un-nerving, to watch the huge cruise ships come into and off of the docks, they seem to come so close to the anchored boats.  We now know where NOT to anchor in this harbor.  Although the waterfront is all duty-free shops, we’re not really shoppers, and it was more interesting to wander the back roads of downtown Charlotte Amalie and see all the old stone buildings, some colorfully painted, others left natural.  Of course, from the hills we had beautiful views over the town and the harbor.



Vieques is an island, one of the Spanish Virgin Islands, that belongs to Puerto Rico and lies less than ten miles off of the Puerto Rican east coast.  The water was relatively clear, and we got to snorkel again.  Yeah!  We haven’t had good snorkeling since the Bahamas.  One of the highlights of our stay on Vieques was kayaking one night into Puerto Mosquito, also known as Bio Bay for the intense bioluminescence there.  Every dip of the paddle produced a green glow, and we left a glowing green wake.  Our presence disturbed fish, and they looked like underwater fireworks as they shot off away from us.  It was pretty fantastic.

El Yunque Rainforest

 We hiked one morning in the El Yunque Rainforest – beautiful!  The road up to the rainforest was narrow and winding, lined with great clumps of tall bamboo that occasionally broke onto beautiful vistas over to the coast.  We arrived early and had to wait for them to open the gate, then hiked the Rio Sabana trail.  This southern end of the park has been cut off from the main area to the north because the bridge spanning the river collapsed – twice – and isn’t going to be rebuilt.  Consequently, this area of the park is less crowded, and for most of the time were the only ones on the trail.  The trail was shaded by various hardwood and palm trees, and tall tree ferns.  Bromiliads were everywhere, hanging from the trees and nestled in the undergrowth, as were many species of fern, and vines draped the trees.  We heard lots of birds and tree frogs.   A few small streams flowed down rocky beds, but we saw many dry beds; it must be pretty impressive during the rainy season when the streams are full, and much more difficult to hike in the mud.  At the end of the hike, we cooled our feet in the pools of the Rio Sabana.