Our days will begin early here at VIERS….breakfast at 7:30 sharp, to be followed by a brief rundown of the days itinerary. We set off after breakfast for a hike to an old sugar mill perched on a mountaintop with views to St. Croix forty miles away. Along the way, we had a lesson in local fauna, local insects and a history lesson of St. John. The turquoise sea beckoned to us as we hiked along. Promises of an afternoon spent snorkeling were paramount in our minds.
The VIERS staff are just amazing and their hospitality has been wonderful. These are a group of volunteers from all over the country who all feel an obligation to give back in some way. They have acted as our trail guides both on land and in the water. They are amazing cooks and have comfort food waiting when we respond to the large dinner bell which gets rung in camp to signify that the meal is ready.
Today was our first day in the water….for some a first time snorkeling. Judging by the laughter and smiles it was a good afternoon. Everyone expanded their comfort zones today. We had a show, tell and touch with some amazing little sea critters that Dr. Stake brought up from the depths. We snorkeled up to a depth of 25 feet today and saw squid, rays, a turtle, a barracuda and lots of colorful fish in all sizes.
Everyone thought the turtle and ray were their high points.
I heard lots of laughter, I saw friendships being made and I saw people help each other out in small ways. Kindness to one another and a newfound respect for their natural world were todays highs for me. Day one on the island …..it was a good day!