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US VIRGIN ISLANDS    DIARY  2

St JOHN

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Diary Thomas  John  Croix

From St Thomas and the "big city", I now explore the low-key St John, made up by 70% national park.
15/3 2019.
You can see from St Thomas to St John, and the journey is only 20 minutes. The ferry holds around 200 passengers, but we are hardy 40. When it belong to Denmark, the island was named Sankt Jan. It covers 52 square kilometres, and seems to be made up by hills. We reach Cruz Bay; a little settlement with a weird selection of top-end jewellers.

I head straight to the National Parks' office, and get some ideas of, which tracks I should do. Two have their beginning right behind the building, and they should be some of the better ones. I start with Lind Point Trail, heading along the coast, but a bit inland in the dry area. Why exactly it isn't a dry forest, I can't tell. It is pretty much the same bushes and cacti, struggling to stay alive.

It is a rough trail, not really suited for flip-flops - but that is what I have brought. It is through bush-land, and here are not that many leaves on the bushed, this time of year. Even the cacti seem to suffer, except the climbing Sweet-Scented Cactus; Selenicereus grandiflorus. It is covering both the ground and some of the bushes. I also see a few Hookers Orchid Cactus; Epiphyllum hookeri, and avoid stepping in the nasty Opuntia repens. But many of the large Royen's Tree Cactus (or Dildo); Pilosocereus royenii are more dead than alive.

Among the other interesting plants are several species of Bromeliads. Some terrestrial ones are Agave-large, and have some nasty thorns. Other have smooth leaves, and grow to quite large too. Some on branches as epiphytes, other terrestrial. The big ones have rather dense white flowers, while the one with smooth edges have up to two meter inflorescense. 

Here are several species of Anolis. One is having a rather large crescent on the tail.; Anolis cristatellus, while the Anolis pulchellus look a bit more normal. A few Green Iguanas flee, but I see enough to determine; they are quite different in colouration. They are dark grey with hints of green and an almost white head.

A branch of the trail heads down to a bay, and the water have the most fantastic colour. Here are quite some Sansevieria sp., and the lower part of the hillside is significantly greener. I follow the beach for a while, then head up the hillside once again. I stop at a wasps nest, looking like a fragment of a hive. But why bother to protect it against the rain - what rain? Here are a few bigger trees, one being the characteristic Bursera simaruba, with its red and pealing bark. A few Jatrophas are flowering, but most plants have a summer break by now.

I return to Cruz Bay, and find a more local place, serving a veggie burger. Way better than the one I got yesterday, and to less than a quarter. Then I make a few loops around the harbour area on Kongens Gade and Strand Gade. Here are a few old colonial buildings, but not enough to make it interesting.

I cross over the island, mainly through an open town, and reach a beach on the other side. Here are a lot of corals, some shells and  - goats! A small herd it apparently living on the beach and in the gardens they can get into. A few peacocks are adding to the weirdness, but apparently, the island should be filled with former domesticated animals. Not good for a national park!

A bit inland, I find a large lagoon, which is a natural reserve. Exactly how the surf-boards fit in, I can't explain,  but the ducks might like them? I head over the island once again, and reach another beach. Or mangrove actually. It is not really the posh part of town to judge from the amount of dead cars and other debris.

I have managed to forget how hard the first trail was, and head up one that is three times longer and way steeper: Caneel Hill Trail. It is a way rougher trail, but the vegetation is pretty much the same. Here are a few tunnel spiders, and to judge from their holes; quite big. The holes are around three centimetres in diameter.
The trail leads around the hill, all the way to the top. The sun have not been steady, and when I enters the trail, it start to drizzle a tiny bit. Unfortunately, it just make it feel even hotter.

On a clear day, there must be a great view from the top, overseeing not only this island, but several others. The wind on the top is surprisingly cold - and nicely fresh. While I head down another way, I see the Anolis drink from the scattered drops on the leaves; a rare treat, this time of year.

I'm back in Cruz Bay, but head out another way to explore some more. I make a shortcut - or not - over a real steep part of the island. The road is sealed, but at an angle of 40 degrees. After a long walk, I end up at the goats beach again. I'm back in Cruz Bay just before the four o'clock ferry leaves, and as it start drizzling again, I'm game.
I have fare from seen it all, but accordantly the the officer at the National Park's office, I have seen the best.
St John and The rest of St John
I get the old diesel tram back the St Thomas. St John was interesting, but I don't feel I need yet another day here.

From here, the diary continues on St Thomas.

Photos   Map & Plan   Diary Thomas  John  Croix