Tuesday, February 12, 2008

St. John Adventure - Day 10 (Coral Bay)

Man, it really poured last night! We are in a winter tent (well, it's called 4 season, but...) so it does not have a 'tub' bottom, and the water started seeping in through the seams and floor. Still we slept really well in our cozy little sleeping bags, especially since we were so tired from yesterday's walk. We had planned to go to Little Lemshure today, a bay on the south side of the island that is often mentioned as a favorite spot, but to get to it you have to go passed the end of the pavement and on a dirt road, which in this weather is impassible on a taxi. Thusly dampened we decided to have a "comfort" breakfast. Our new neighbors - five women from Connecticut - lend us a frying pan and a propane stove (they have three with them). In fact they told us we can keep the stove for the rest of our stay, as they will be leaving the same day as us and will not be needing it. So we made pancakes with honey and mango jam. Yum!!!

Surprisingly I was not at all sore from yesterday's adventure, and so we took a look at the Cinnamon Bay Loop trail, not to be confused with the one we did yesterday. Although the trail heads are within several feet of each other, the loop trail is just that, a loop that starts out at some sugar mill ruins (what else is new) and continues through the forest, up the hill, down and over a little stream, all along full of informative markers about the various plants and buildings around us. The ruins were really lovely, and overgrown with various ferns and plant matter, so I felt much like Lora Craft in the last Tomb Raider movie. And the trail went through a long patch of Bay Rum trees, which are so beautiful, odd and red, and stand out against the forest background. You should smell those leaves - heavenly! In fact they were used for making perfume back in the day.

Somewhere along the path there are two graves, of a husband and wife, though they may not actually be buried in there. You can see the red trunks of the bay rum trees all around.
We finished the little hike and Husband thought it might be fun to go to Coral Bay, the little town on the east side of the island mentioned earlier. We had just walked out of the ruins and stuck out the thumb as a car with an older couple slowed down - it turns out that they had seen us leave for the hike as they were waiting to go into town to rent a car. And here they were on the way back with their brand 'new' car, and decided to pick us up. How fortuitous for us! They took us all the way into Coral Bay, which was great, but the back seat of their car was soaking wet and so were our pants when we got out, which was not so great at all. They dropped us off by the "signs", which in essence tell you exactly what you can find in this town.
Our first destination was the Love City Mini Market where we bought a ton of food - two papayas, a pineapple, potatoes, garlic, onion, chocolate, and a salted fish for a dish called bacalhan that Husband's mom used to make. It looks really scary but what can you do? Then we went to Skinny Legs for lunch. This was actually our first time eating at Skinny Legs and we enjoyed the experience. There is a bar with TV screens, and the rest of it is on a kind of porch, with the bay just feet away. The menu is written on a surf board, the waitresses are middle aged and surly, and the condiments are kept in old beer cases, making them look a bit like some trash left over from a previous party. Here is a shoe mobile made up of shoes that have washed up on shore.
By far the best decoration in the place is the bathroom. I went to take a picture of it and had an odd sort of incident. There were two women outside the bathroom, which is also the area where the gift shop has some clothing racks, one of them trying on a little sarong on her head (why?) while the other had just walked up to one of the doors of the bathroom, opened it and screamed. Inside was a local man, taking a leak. He looked around surprised, while the girl who had opened the door ran away (leaving the door wide open) and the other tried to hide in the see-through sarong as if she was actually all naked, both of them laughing and screaming and the man trying to hold on to his dick with one hand and close the door with the other. And there I am with my camera pointing at the entire scene! Oh god... Finally the man closes the door and I prepare to take the picture. The girl with the random sarong is completely in my way and I say to her "I want to take a picture" to which she gives me a dirty look and says "Of me?" and I give her a look that I hope says "why would you possibly think you are the least bit interesting you stupid woman, and why don't you try acting your age" and respond "no... the bathroom."
Now that we were all fortified we made the impromptu decision to hike back to Cinnamon Bay. There was a sign for a trail called Johnny Horn right near the restaurant and according to our map it would take us to Waterlemon Bay. In fact the first third of the hike was on a dirt road and not a trail, but it was at least a 45 degree angle. I cannot imagine what kind of cars make it up this way but we saw at least two houses, and what appeared to be a surly resident of one of the houses, the very last one on the road. After that the road became a trail and we finally saw a sign that suggested that we were in fact going in the right direction.
Here is a shot looking back over Coral Bay from this road.
We did not see much on the trail except some cacti, termites and ants. At one point I stopped to take a picture and a bunch of ants climbed up my leg, into my pants and shoes, making me swear profusely as they attacked my leg, forcing me to take off my clothes and shoes and do the 'get those damned things off of me dance'. Here is a close up of a termite nest, which Husband took.
By the time we made it to Waterlemon the sun was setting. It was so beautiful but we had unfortunately no time to waste on sight seeing as we had to get out to the road before it got dark. There were some more random ruins on the way, and the bay was just gorgeous, bathed in that warm glow of the setting sun. As we reached the road it began to rain, or rather mist, leaving a most beautiful rainbow over the entire bay. It was, I think, one of the most memorable sights, but one that I cannot share with you because I could not take a picture.
As we were walking out of the beach area we saw that there was a car parked in the lot, and a man feeding some feral cats. We kept walking but eventually we saw him pull out and start in our direction, tried our luck, even though we were all wet and he had a fancy car. Sure enough he stopped and gave us a lift. It actually turned out that he was a builder, has been living on St. John for 40 years, and had built most houses here, including Mongoose Junction! I was so glad to have met him and have had a chance to complement him on his work.

Dinner tonight was couscous, falafel and a tomato and cucumber salad, after which we hung out with Priscilla and James and ate papayas. I also started reading a new book - Agatha Christie's "Passenger to Frankfurt", which so far seems interesting.


maeverin said...

what a strange place to come across graves--was there writing? in english?

the bathroom part is priceless! if you gave that girl the look i think you gave her, i'm sure the message was clear:)

Paulina said...

There was writing, but it was in Dutch. But there was also a sign explaining who was buried there.

Rick said...

What a beautiful place. Bring me back something. Something with lots of sugar perferably.


Paulina said...

You know Rick, I've basically stopped eating sugar since I've been here. Honey mostly, and some dried fruit. Everything is so bloody expensive.