Monday, June 28, 2010

Aquaponics/St. Croix Trip

The aquaponics course was on St. Croix - the island Jeff and I almost (and thankfully didn't) moved to. This is the first time I had been "off-island" in 2 1/2 years and I was ready for a short change of routine. I stayed at the dorm and was fortunate to not have a roommate and to have a room that had screened windows on both ends for ventilation. Because of that I could turn the fan off at night and still have a little breeze! I didn't rent a car since I figured it would just sit there from 9-5. I planned to join other people in taxis which we were misguidedly told were around $20. They didn't tell us that was PER PERSON for a jaunt into town. There was a cheaper option - the public system - that worked great for $2.50 but didn't go everywhere and didn't operate after dark (you know, when you need it after dinner in town) I was super lucky to have joined up with a really great group of people for the week - they were fun, smart, like-minded and also didn't really need to spend all day listening to someone read to us all day. We decided to ditch out of a few of the lectures that were about things we already knew about or things we were not going to do (biofloc). CJ had a car and rounded up a nice little group of folks (me included) to go off on island excursions. The first thing on most peoples' minds was the beach! The beaches and diving are really nice on St. Croix. Puerto Rico has some nice beaches and others that are ok but St. Croix beaches are cleaner and whiter. Diving in St. Croix is wonderful also, but the weather was a little rough the whole week so diving was a no go.

The beach trips involved playing in the water, drinking drinks and going to Turtles Deli for lunch. When Jeff and I visited 6 years ago our favorite place was Turtles because of the great sandwiches and nice little beach. The beaches are all on the Fredriksted end of the island where it is mainly beach bars. We ate at a place that I thought would be crappy but turned out to be pretty good - I had pork wontons with a really good ginger tamarind sauce and we shared other stuff too. CJ wanted to drive around the island so we did that for a bit and it made me homesick - the roads are just like our jungle roads. We even went down a road that only one car would fit on and encountered a burned out car - just like home - time to back it up and out and end the little trip on the back roads! The water was clear and you could see turtle grass, reef and turquoise water.

On the other end of the island the water was quite rough and as it turns out, our trip to Buck Island as the class finale had to be cancelled (and they had no alternative). I arranged an alternative activity that I'll blog about later.

I don't know if you could get to this beach and I definitely don't think I'd swim in this area but it was really pretty.

Back in Fredriksted for a couple nights we were there a guy was bringing his horses out into the water for a bath. They would get out and roll in the sand just like dogs do...feet up in the air with a head toss!

We visited Pt Udall and the monument there.

Another day we went to the Arboretum. I always enjoy arboretums because it gives me ideas for the one I am making on our property. It was really fun to know what most of the stuff was and to be able to point out highly scented flowers or odd fruits. This sausage tree is one I don't have but it is high on cool factor with the odd, prehistoric fruits hanging off it. Then we came across a cannonball tree which we do have in the yard.

The cannonball tree flowers smell really nice and are almost orchid-like. The girls did a jewelry run into Christiansted - CJ got a bracelet and a nice ring and I got a hurricane ring (Sonjas). Erika picked up some things for her son. The girls only trip was fun and started off with a fresh fruit drink. I had cacao and banana and almond and spiralena looked tasty too. It was really nice to be somewhere else for a week (somewhere that was still warm and slow). It was really nice to have intelligent conversations in English with people interested in the same things. In Puerto Rico I know enough Spanish to follow along but can't formulate specifics about permaculture or general philosophies about food and living because I don't know the words nor do I have much human contact (except weekends when we are diving and/or caving with folks who speak both spanish and english). I had a sore throat the whole week. It reconfirmed how lucky we are to have ended up in Puerto Rico instead of St. Croix. St Croix had lots of smokers and drinkers and if you are there for more than a week it would be excruciatingly boring. In Puerto Rico most of the smokers are tourists (we know where to avoid going), there are tons of outdoor lakes, hikes, caves, mangroves, waterfalls, forests etc to explore. Work is hard to find but compared to St. Croix is a lot more likely. Puerto Rico also has good tasting water. Water was horrible and scarce in St. Croix so I actually bought a couple gallons. I have to say that St. Croix food options were much improved over our previous trip or I am used to eating such awful crap that marginal food seemed wonderful! The overall assessment though was that it was a nice trip full of very interesting people and conversations. If you are planning a Carribean vacation though skip St. Croix, only go to Puerto Rico if you know someone there (they don't understand tourism and even for locals doing basic things is difficult).

No comments: