August 24, 2013
It was a year after our wedding, and I wanted to do something special. Without telling me, Jae booked two nights in a little cottage at a beautiful campground on St. John, one of the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the most untouched by development.
With no cellphone reception and no Internet, I thought, Dear God, I’m doomed.
Most of the island is protected national park, and it seemed every turn we took was more breathtaking than the last. Take a picture on St. John, and you wouldn’t need Photoshop.
The island’s beaches are right out of a postcard: smooth white sand, crashing blue surf, sun-bleached driftwood half-buried in the sand. The contrasting blues of the sky and greens of the hills had a subtle paralyzing effect. It took a while for the brain to take in the image, knowing this was the real world, not a travel brochure.
We visited picturesque sugar mill ruins and relived, somberly, some of the darker parts of Virgin Islands history. The remains of the Annaberg sugar factory, perched on a hill under the shade of blooming flamboyant trees, are a flaming vision at sunset.
The animal encounters were fantastic. Jae woke me up one morning so I could see two stags feeding quietly at our doorstep.
We stood and stared at bright orange crabs playing peek-a-boo in and out of holes in the ground, which were all over the place. Donkeys strolled idly on the road, so at home you’d feel ashamed to honk at them to get out of the way.
I did try to get up close so I could pet them, but apparently, I wasn’t worthy (or subtle) enough.
On our last afternoon, we went on a truly leap-of-faith (it was, to me, anyway) adventure, following a rocky, winding trail that descended to a deep and gloomy valley in search of ancient rock carvings.
We walked downhill for an hour, and the only way out was back up the trail again. It was not for the faint of heart. Luckily, my husband was naturally attuned for the both of us. Well, at least he didn’t freeze in his tracks at the sight of running deer in the middle of gloomy woods, thinking they were wolves.
I haven’t heard the end of it yet, actually.