Category Archives: Uncategorized

“President Barack Obama Day” proclaimed in the US Virgin Islands

The governor of the Virgin Islands, John deJongh,  has proclaimed that Tuesday, January 20, 2009, will be celebrated as “President Barack Obama Day.”

Barack Obama and Governor John deJongh
Barack Obama and Governor John deJongh

Governor deJongh expressed the monumental significance that the inauguration of the first African American to become president of the United States will hold for residents of the Virgin Islands and, of course, for the nation at large and probably for the world, saying, “We made the proclamation and gave our government employees the day off because a truly historic event will take place on Tuesday, January 20 and I believe it will undoubtedly be the type event that people years from now will ask the question: ‘Where were you when Barack Obama was sworn in as our 44th President?’ and each of us will remember where we were at that exact moment” and that it was his “hope that the citizens of our Territory will take this opportunity to watch and share this historic moment with their families, especially with our children, to ensure that they understand what it means for them and the opportunities that this signifies for the next generation.”

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The Thallus Of Marchantia

Today’s blog entry is not about, nor does it take place on, St. John, the Virgin Islands or the Caribbean. The only excuse I can make for putting it on a Caribbean Travel blog would be that I wrote it and I’m in the Caribbean, on St. John and writing this blog, or perhaps I could say it provides some insight into the life and times of Gerald Singer before St. John, or just perhaps, that it’s a damn good story, and a true one at that.

So we leave sunny St. John in the US Virgin Islands for the cold gray skies of Buffalo,  New York in the United States of America for the story called:

The Thallus Of Marchantia
by Gerald Singer

In 1963 I attended the State University of New York at Buffalo, formerly known as the University of Buffalo. The university had an extremely large freshman class that was disproportionate to the number of students in the upper classes. It was assumed that more than half of the freshmen would either drop out or be kicked out their first year.

Certain courses were required for all students and these classes would ordinarily be taken in the freshman and sophomore years. Because there were thousands of freshmen in the school, the required courses were generally held in large lecture halls attended by literally hundreds of students. One of these courses was Botany 101, which was the superficial study of all the plants in the world, how they are classified, what their properties are and what they are called. It can be an interesting study, but in the large lecture hall with a boring droning professor it was more of a challenge to one’s ability to stay awake under extreme circumstances.

At the end of the semester there would be a final exam. The preparation for this exam led to the inevitable crazy cram sessions and all nighters. The students would often study together drinking coffee (or ingesting stronger stimulants) to stay awake and try to make up in one night for all the missed classes and for all the times when full attention was not paid to the lecturer.

Late in night one of the students, cramming away for the Botany final exam, began studying the section of his textbook pertaining to plants known as liverworts. He came upon the section dealing with the Marchantia, which has a stem-like structure known as a thallus and reproduces asexually by forming gemmae on the upper surface of the thallus that starts new plants. “Extremely interesting” said the student sarcastically; “the Marchantia reproduces asexually by means of a thallus. Marchantia…Thallus…” He liked the sound of the words as they rolled smoothly off his Dexedrine stimulated tongue. “Thallus… Marchantia … The Thallus of Marchantia … The Thallus of Marchantia … Hey guys … The Thallus of Marchantia… sounds like royalty doesn’t it … The Thallus of Marchantia.

The fellow students agreed. They liked the sound of the phrase. They laughed and made jokes about his Majesty the Thallus of Marchantia. Then suddenly a student came up with an absolutely marvelous idea. “Let’s call the Buffalo Evening News and tell them that Thallus of Marchantia is coming to Buffalo” “Great idea!” agreed the others. “You call… No you…Where’s the phone? Hello, Buffalo Evening News… The Thallus of Marchantia is coming to Buffalo…”

The December 15, 1964 edition of the prestigious Buffalo Evening News contained a small article announcing the event. The headline for the story was something like Dignitary to Visit Here and the story went on that an Arab potentate, the Thallus of Marchantia would be visiting Buffalo as part of his tour of the United States.
“Marchantia”, they added sagely at the end of the article, “is an island in Arabia”.

Inspired by the actual appearance of the story in Buffalo Evening News, the pranksters broadened the scope of their hoax. Word spread throughout the student body and everyone wanted to get in on the joke. It was decided that since the Thallus of Marchantia was, after all, from Arabia, he was probably anti-Semitic or at least anti-Zionist and his visit should be protested. On the other hand it was possible that the Thallus was really a good guy and was being maligned by unfound rumors and, consequently, his visit to Buffalo should not be ruined by undeserved protests.

The next day the Botany lecture halls were packed to capacity, not only by those legitimately registered for the class, but also by other students and faculty members who were attracted by what was now a genuine “happening”. Many students displayed signs and banners either for (Thallus go back to your palace!”) or against (“No malice for the Thallus!”) the visit of his majesty the Thallus of Marchantia.

A good time was had by all…and the plot thickened. A follow-up story was given to the newspaper. The Thallus would arrive in Buffalo on a flight from New York City at 1:48 p.m. It was rumored that radical students from the university were planning to protest his arrival.

A collection was taken up and a student, Arthur Schein, was sent to New York City. When he arrived at the Laguardia airport in New York, Arthur changed into a suit and tie, placed a keffiyeh, the traditional Arabian headdress, purchased a first class ticket and boarded the next plane back to Buffalo.

Meanwhile the city fathers of Buffalo were making their own preparations for the arrival of the visiting dignitary. The Thallus was to be met on the tarmac by none other then the mayor

Before noon on the day of the Thallus of Marchantia’s arrival to Buffalo, the airport began to fill with students waving signs and banners greeting or protesting the Thallus. It was estimated that between 700 and 2000 people were at the airport when the Thallus’ plane landed.

Students demonstrated for and against the Thallus
Students demonstrated for and against the Thallus

The Cheektowaga police department had a large contingent of officers on hand to prevent any embarrassing student protest demonstrations. In the performance of that duty they blocked the students from entering the airport. The crowd swelled…a bugler arrived…the bugler played “charge” and the students swarmed the airport. A large pane of glass was broken and furniture was knocked over, several students were apprehended by the police and put into custody.

The plane landed and the Thallus of Marchantia also known as Arthur Schein walked proudly down the gangway where the mayor’s official chauffeur driven limousine awaited him. Two policemen led Arthur to the limo where he sat down next to the mayor who had prepared a welcoming speech for the Arab ruler.

The crowd of protesters was approaching the field and the limo escorted by two police cars sirens wailing began to leave the airfield by a back exit. One of the students (Ken Casey) who was arrested was questioned by the police at he scene. He told all. The police radioed the mayor’s limousine informing him of the hoax. The procession halted. The policemen who were conducting the escort got out of their vehicles proceeded to the mayor’s limo and arrested the ersatz Thallus.

From the University of Buffalo’s Online Alumni Magazine:

“The next day, the hoodwinked News accused “1,000 State University of Buffalo students of wrecking furniture, jostling innocent bystanders and generally turning the Greater Buffalo International Airport into a frightening mob scene.” For all of The News’ indignation, however, none of the bystanders was reported injured and the damage was revised down to $600.

The so-called Thallus, whisked away in a Cheektowaga police car, was charged with disorderly conduct and fined $50. Richard Siggelkow, who was then dean of students, indefinitely suspended Schein, but not before posting his bail and putting him up for the night. Schein’s conviction by lower courts was later reversed, and the student body coughed up the $600.”

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St. John USVI – Owner of Cap’s Place Murdered

The well known and well liked owner of Cap’s Place, Juan Ayala was shot to death at 8:00 this morning outside his home in the Pastory area of St. John. Mr. Ayala had been shot multiple times possibly with an automatic weapon. There has been speculation that robbery was the motive for the crime.

St. John police, National Park Rangers and DPNR enforcement officials are investigating the crime. A $10,000 reward has been posted for information leading to the arrest of the perpetrators.

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Caribbean Travel Stories: Cuna Basketball

The Cuna people live on the San Blas Islands, just off the Caribbean coast of Panama and enjoy a limited self government within their traditional homeland. Most of them stay within their Cuna culture, but some have found temporary work on U.S. military bases. It is there that many Cuna young men learned the love of a typically North American sport, basketball.

Cuna, San Blas Islands, Panama
My Friend Craig at a Cuna Village

Upon returning to their native villages, the Cuna wanted to continue playing and to teach the sport to their friends, but they faced a serious obstacle: Every square inch of land was accounted for — either for crop cultivation or for housing. There was simply no space to put a basketball court.

The Cuna, who had solved greater problems than this, soon came up with the obvious solution — make the island bigger.

There was a shallow coastal area adjacent to the island that could be filled with rocks and then covered in concrete to make a basketball court.

Needless to say, this would not be an easy task. Rocks would have to be transported by canoe from the mainland some five miles away. These canoes, called cayucos, are carved out of a tree trunk and their rounded bottom makes them unstable.

The rocks would have to be hand-gathered on the mainland, loaded onto the cayucos in quantities small enough to allow a marginally safe crossing, and unloaded at the future basketball court site. As vast quantities of stones would be needed, this would be a monumental task. Where would this intense amount of labor come from?

The problem was approached in typical Cuna fashion.

Many cultures throughout the world have established laws, rules and regulations that are routinely disobeyed. The Cuna had such a law. Unmarried people of the opposite sex were forbidden to have any contact with each other, even speaking to one another was prohibited.

As you may imagine, this was a law that was just about 100% sure to be broken, human nature being what it is, and Cuna teenagers would secretly meet their sweethearts after dark in prearranged locations. Actually it was not so secret, for the parents and elders of the village had broken the same law, in the same places and in the same manner.

The proponents of the basketball court construction decided to harness the reliable power of teenage sexual energy and use it for a means to accomplish an end. A strict enforcement of the law was called for, and a new punishment was established, which was to gather, transport and deposit one cayuco-load of rocks for the first offense, two for the second offense, three for the third and so on.

The idea was successful! Just one year after the passage and enforcement of the new law, the citizens of this tiny crowded island in the San Blas archipelago were able to enjoy spirited games of basketball on their very own, brand-new basketball court.

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St. John and the Virgin Islands: Islands with Pirate Names


Like other Caribbean Islands, the Virgin Islands, has a considerable pirate history, which has left it’s legacy, at least in terms of the names of some of its islands and cays.

For example, think of the four islands containing the name Thatch, Thatch Cay, Great Thatch and Little Thatch. These islands are thought to be named after the notorious pirate, Edward Teach, or better known as Blackbeard and on St. Thomas we have Blackbeard’s Castle.

Bellamy Cay, he small island in Trellis Bay on the east end of Tortola in The British Virgin Islands is named after the pirate Black Sam Bellamy.

Although Sir Francis Drake was viewed  as a heroic privateer to the English ,he was considered a vicious loathsome pirate by the Spanish. On St. Thomas there is a concrete seat overlooking a beautiful panorama of islands and cays, which is a popular tourist stop called  Drake’s Seat. Here supposedly (but doubtfully) Sir Francis Drake would sit while looking for ships to plunder.

On the south side of the channel between Tortola and several smaller islands, named fter the aforementioned, Sir Francis Drake, lies a small rocky and scrubby  island named Dead Chest. This island was once used by Blackbeard to punish disobedient pirates, who he would leave marooned on this desolate cay with only a bottle of rum in the way of provisions and little chance of survival.

It was Dead Chest Island that Robert Louis Stevenson in his book  “Treasure Island, when he wrote the well known ditty :

“Fifteen Men on the dead man’s Chest,
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum!
Drink and the devil had done for the rest
Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum.”

Furthermore, the inspiration for “Treasure Island” itself was the Island just to the west of Dead Chest called Norman Island , which was named after the pirate, Norman, whose pirate lair was on the island of Anegada.

Today modern day pirates still inhabit the the Virgin Islands, but in the words of Bob Dylan, instead of a sword, they “rob you with a fountain pen.”

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Life on St. John: Typos and Worse


My lovely wife, Habiba, is not only beautiful, but is also a great editor, who, luckily, catches most of the errors I make while writing our books, websites and blog.

Some errors, like mistakes in spelling, grammar and punctuation, are just embarrassing. Others like errors in information can be worse.

An example that comes to mind, is an entry on website dealing with the Caneel Bay Resort, in which I gave an 800 number to call for visitor’s information. I transposed some digits and instead of Caneel Bay, the called found themselves calling a pornographic phone line. The error stood uncorrected until one day I received an angry call from someone at Caneel, who seemed to imply that I did this on purpose. I didn’t. I promise.

But with electronic media the fix is rather simple, just download the document, fix the error and upload the corrected version, that’s it – done.

St. John Off the Beaten Track
St. John Off the Beaten Track Edition Two

With books, however, once committed to print, that’s it. You are stuck with it.

Again, some mistakes are worse than others. In an older edition of St. John Off the Beaten Track, right on the cover were the words, “Forward by Guy Benjamin,” erroneously using the word “Forward” instead of the correct word “Foreword.”

Embarrassing as it was, I let it stand, 5,000 copies and never a mention from a reader.

St. John Off the Beaten Track
St. John Off the Beaten Track

Now with the latest edition there, was a more serious error. On page 97, I give the wrong phone number to call for information for the Reef Bay Hike, by far the most popular activity offered by the National Park on St. John. The phone number, it turns out, belongs to a private St. John resident, who, understandably begins to be harassed by callers asking about the Reef Bay Hike.

The resident then call the National Park to complain and they in turn call me. And that was how I learned of the typo –  printed in 10,000 books.

So today, like many other days, we have an additional task in our Ma and Pa publishing business, opening up cartons of books, taking them out, one by one, opening them to page 97, pasting on a little sticker with the corrected information, putting the books back in the carton, sealing up the box once again and marking a little star on the box, to show that its been corrected.

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St. John Life: Not in My Backyard

A friend visits St. John
A friend of mine, who used to live on St. John, but has since moved was on ialnd and invited me for dinner at Morgan’s Mango. He was in the Virgin Islands to build communications tower on St. Thomas.

“How are things,” I asked.

“It has been a horrible week,” he answered.

It seems he had completed all the permitting processes needed to construct the tower, historical, archeological and environmental studies, approval by the various agencies, DPNR, CZM, etc. and was finally ready to actually begin construction. A job that was supposed to be completed before the end of the year.

The first step was the clearing of the site. He hired an excavator, and because he has had problems in the past and because he didn’t hadn’t worked with the excavator previously, he wanted to make doubly sure that nothing would go wrong.

In that vain, he hired a surveyor to stake out the site and he instructed the excavator, to run lines around the entire site before beginning.

The best laid plans
For some reason, the excavator marked off only three of the four border lines of the site, maybe that last line seemed obvious, no one knows. But it wasn’t obvious as it turned out and the excavator cleared off 80 feet of someone else’s land.

The owner was irate, understandably, and my friend was mortified. He honestly felt terrible. The short term outcome was that there was a fine levied and my friend was instructed to hire a civil engineer to come up with a plan to restore the mistakenly cleared land. This he did, but his goal of finishing the project in a timely fashion was no longer possible.

Not in my backyard
We got into a discussion about the not in my back yard philosophy, which is that people want amenities such as in this case cell phone access, high speed G3 internet access and emergency services, but they don’t want the tower in their back yard.

I said that I could understand the homeowners position. The lowering of property values, the degrading of the view and the perceived health risks. My friend said that it was a case of the greater good, a relatively small sacrifice for the individual, for the greater good of the community at large.

A case in point
My friend told me of an e-mail he received, thanking his for the placement of a tower, in the vicinity of which there previously had been no reception. A man had an accident near the tower and there was no one around. Because the newly built tower was there, he had cell phone reception and was able to call for help. He surely would have perished otherwise. So in this case, a man’s (a father’s, a husband’s, a friend’s) life was saved because of a communication tower.

The conversation continued to go back and forth, but I had to concede that he had a point.

Yesterday’s Virgin Islands daily News reported that, partly in response to the land clearing fiasco, there will now be a six month moritorium on the building of communications towers. Read article.

(By the way, our dinner at Morgan’s Mango was really delicious)

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Interesting Visitors: St. John Virgin Islands (USVI)

Seiko da Grindelwald in Miami
"Seiko da Grindelwald"

Yellow Submarine comes to St. John
by Gerald Singer
Back in January of 1995, I was returning from an agricultural fair on Jost Van Dyke and pulling into the Cruz Bay Harbor, and came alongside what could best be described a little yellow submarine, totally enclosed and very low to the water, with the exception of a small covered cockpit that rising to about three feet above the waterline with plexiglass portholes and an overhead hatch. Several flags flew from two short masts and on the hull, in large red lettering was the name “Seiko da Grindelwald.”

Standing up in the cockpit was an Asian looking man, with a goatee, wearing a blue woolen watch cap and smoking a pipe.

The Seiko da Grindelwald in Cruz Bay, St. John
The Seiko da Grindelwald in Cruz Bay, St. John

Now St. John is a place where you meet a whole lot of interesting people, and this guy was bound to be one of them. My curiosity piqued, I pulled alongside, greeting him and asked where he came from.

“Switzerland,” he answered.

Now that certainly was interesting. I presented him with a stalk of sugar cane and some of the native fruits I had bought at the Jost Van Dyke and we arranged to meet later on at Chilly Billy’s so he could tell me his story.

The Story
Originally from Japan, he worked for the Canon Corporation, a job that enabled him to travel to many places in the world. On a trip to Switzerland, he fell in love and married a Swiss woman who own and managed a hotel in Grindelwald in the Swiss Alps. It was a famous hotel that had been around since 1885, but was starting to fall into a state of decline. Together they put the hotel back on track, fixing it up and implementing a marketing plan that brought many guests from Japan.

Seiko da Grindelwald
His name was Seiko Nakajima, but upon adopting and falling in love with the town of Grindelwald as his home he changed it to Seiko da Grindelwald. Seiko now knows more about the history, culture, back roads and trail of Grindelwald than most of its native inhabitants. This is something I could relate to having adopted St. John as my home and falling in love with it.

Anyway, sometime early in 1994, Seiko saw the movie Yentl with Barbara Streisand and was inspired by the line “nothing is impossible.” Sometime after pondering this thought, Seiko, 61 years old at the time, came upon the idea of a “voyage of personal challenge and fulfillment.”

Seiko designed an ocean going, one of a kind, one man motor boat. He made models and tested them in his bathtub. He obtained sponsorship from the Tohatsu Outboard Company and within five months had built the boat which he planned to sail from Basel, Switzerland to Miami Florida for the Miami Boat show and then on to New York City and then back to Switzerland.

The Boat
The boat Seiko constructed holds one person, is 21 feet in length, with a five foot beam and a two foot draft, weighing 440 pounds empty and 1100 pounds fully loaded. Powered by a 2.5 horsepower Tohatsu outboard engine, it has a fuel capacity of 159 gallons of gasoline. He calculated that it would burn 7.4 gallons of fuel per day enabling him to travel 140 nautical miles per day with a total range of from 2,100 to 3,000 miles. The boat is watertight with the hatches closed and self righting in the event that it would capsize in rough seas.

There were three 2.5 horsepower outboards, one that only operated in forward gear, mounted inside the cabin was for ocean going. The second, mounted externally was for navigating within harbors and a third was stowed away as a spare, just in case.

Navigation was accomplished with a hand held GPS, some charts, a compass and an auto piolot. Carried aboard were some tools and spare parts, personal effects, food and water. The food consisted of a trail mix of dried fruits, grains and nuts, onions, apples and canned milk, which would be supplemented from time to time with raw fish he hoped to catch while underway.

He carried no books, no music and no VHS radio.

The Proposed Route
The Proposed Route

The Journey
Seiko launched the “Seiko da Grindelwald” in the Rhone River in Basel Switzerland on September 10, 1994 and before completing the first mile he had crashed into a bridge, scarring the bow of the boat. The damage was cosmetic and undaunted Seiko continued down the Rhone towards France and the Mediterranean Sea, then stopping at Corsica, Ibiza and Gibralta. Passing into the Atlantic, his next landfall was the Canary Islands and then on to Cape Verde where he met his wife and son.

Swiss Bureaucracy
Seiko’s journey was beginning to receive some publicity not only through the efforts of the Tohatsu Company, but also through the nature of the voyage itself.

It seems that someone at the Swiss Government, reading about the journey in a newspaper, realized that the nature of the registration and licensing of the “Seiko da Grindelwald” only permitted its use in inland waters. The small size of the vessel prevented it from having ocean going status. Switzerland is a place where everything is on time and everything goes by the book, so this departure from the norm needed to be rectified.

So it was that government officials got in touch with Seiko’s wife to inform her husband that due to these regulations Seiko would not be permittted to fly the Swiss flag and, furthermore, that if he attempted to sail the improperly registered vessel back to Switzerland, he would be refused entry.

Notwithstanding, Seiko was also informed that upon the successful completion of the voyage that government would be proud to display the “Seiko da Grindlewald” at the Swiss National Museum of Transportation in Lucerne, where it would join an exhibition of “firsts.”

Seiko complied. He took down the Swiss flag, changed his plans to sail back to Switzerland opting instead to ship the boat on a cargo vessel and continued on into the open Atlantic.

Spiritual Journey
According to Seiko, the trans-Atlantic crossing turned out to be a spiritual journey as well as a physical one, full of exciting and insightful discoveries. Never having a great fear of death, he had assumed that his life was his own, but during one particularly frightening storm at sea, he was driven to reflect on the very real possibility of his own death, he realized this not to be entirely true. His life also belonged to those who loved him, especially his wife and son, who would be sad if he were gone. His life belonged to them also. The enormity of the ocean, his solitude and the absence of distractions led him to reflect on the existence of God and the wonder of life.

“The journey is my life,” said Seiko.

Gerald and Seiko having lunch at Miss Lucys
Gerald and Seiko having lunch at Miss Lucy's

On to St. John
Seiko’s first stop after crossing the Atlantic was the island of Barbados. From there he headed up the island chain and on to St. John, which would be his last Caribbean port of call.

It was on St. John that Seiko provisioned the “Seiko da Grindelwald, topped off the gas tank, took care of customs formalities and prepared for the voyage across the Caribbean to Miami.

I offered to take him around St. John, before he continued on his way.

Seiko accepted the offer and we took a boat ride around the island on my boat at the time, which was quite a bit faster than Seiko’s vessel. We also drove around the island and had lunch at Miss Lucy’s restaurant in Coral Bay on the east end of St. John.

We hiked down to Reef Bay Trail to stopping at the Petroglyphs, the ruins of the sugar works and the Par Force estate house before walking back up again.

Seiko da Grindelwald arrive in NYC
Seiko da Grindelwald arrive in NYC

Miami, Annapolis and New York City
In letters and newspaper accounts, I was able to follow Seiko’s journey. He arrived in Miami and attended the boat show. From there he motored up the inland waterway to Annapolis Maryland, from where he went to the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC in order to see the airplane flown by Charles Lindbergh in the first solo flight across the Atlantic.

Seiko reached New York City in May of 1995, eight months after leaving Basel.

Letter from Seiko April, 1996
Letter from Seiko April, 1996

In a letter I received from Seiko in April of 1996 he wrote, “From New York my boat  was shipped back to Europe and presented at the Dussledorf and Zurich boat shows. According to my wish it has now gone to the Swiss National Museum of Transportation in Lucerne where it will remain for the next thousand years, I hope!!!”

A book about the voyage
A book about the voyage

Back in Switzerland, Seiko wrote a book about his journey, which unfortunately I couldn’t read because it was written in Japanese.

Letter from Seiko, December 1997, Grindelwald Switzerland
Letter from Seiko, December 1997

Last Communication
In a letter I received from Seiko in December of 1997, Seiko oulined his plans for a new adventure: “…in two years time (age 65) I would like to go somewhere where there are no roads. Perhaps to Canada. I hope that I can find a good place which is far from any village…to be alone and to be by myself without any information…”

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St. John Beach Guide: Still Banned?

I’m new to the blog writing game, so I just discovered one of its benefits. It focuses you on a subject. Specifically in this case it focused me on the St. John Beach Guide and the relationship with the National Park, which has been stormy, starting with that ridiculous banning of the first edition.

The thing is that I wrote in the blog that subsequent editions of the St. John Beach Guide have been approved by the Park Officials and that the book was for sale at the St. John National Park Visitors Center. Well, I have to take that back.

Edition Three
St. John Beach Guide -Third and Latest Edition

The St. John Beach Guide was updated and reprinted in early 2006. At that time I submitted the book for approval to be sold by the National Park. In January it will be three years since I made that first request and the book has still not been approved.

Unlike the first edition, there was no official reason given for the lack of approval. All I’ve been told is that the approval process has not been completed and that it takes time.

But come on – three years! In my experience with other books sold at the park, including St. John Off the Beaten Track and Tales of St. John and the Caribbean, the approval process was completed in about one month.

The newest St. John Beach Guide is a combination coffee table book and guide book, which will certainly by helpful for visitors to the island as well as providing a great keepsake of their visit and one of the only ways of conveying to friends and family the beauty of the St. John experience. I promise that there’s nothing controversial printed anywhere in the book, not even any half naked ladies or good-natured donkeys.

We now have six titles, St. John Beach Guide, St. John Off the Beaten Track, Tales of St. John and the Caribbean, St. Thomas, Vieques and the translation of the Pedro Juan Soto Novel USMAIL. Sales are brisk and we have many outlets so a whole lot of attention has not been given to the approval of the  St. John Beach Guide‘s by the park.

I can’t say I know what’s happening, only that writing about the first St. John Beach Guide jogged my memory about the situation of the newest edition and I intend to follow it up to see if I get some kind of definitive answer, which I’ll share with the blog readers.

So come on National Park. Please approve the St. John Beach Guide.

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Modeling at Sandy Cay, British Virgin Islands

me with model
me with model

Sandy Cay has always been one of my  favorite destinations in the BVI. It’s this picture-perfect icon of the deserted Caribbean Island. The white sand beach, the palm trees, the view – it’s no wonder that Sandy Cay has been featured in so many commercials and photo shoots.

The above photo is me in one of those photo shoots. A team of photographers were shooting in the Virgin Islands and had hired me to take them to Sandy Cay for a shoot. At the time, I needed some photos for my brochure for my boat charter business, so we traded services.

Sandy Cay Palm Trees
Sandy Cay Palm Trees

The male model didn’t show up. The shoot was for a  “mature” couple on the beach. Now “mature” means “old” and old in that world means over 35. The qualification for the male model was simple – over 35 and “no paunch.” Luckily I fit the bill and I was asked to fill in for the absent model.

It wasn’t as easy as I thought. I looked nervous, I was nervous, I was walking funny. The “mature” female model helped me out and eventually, I kind of got the hang of it. Let me tell you though, I had a lot of fun!

About Sandy Cay
Sandy Cay is a six-acre island located just east of Jost Van Dyke. At one time the island was owned by  Laurance S. Rockefeller, who kept it as a sort of private botanical garden. For many years, Nippy from Jost Van Dyke had the enviable job as caretaker of the island. Shortly before his death, Rockefeller donated Sandy Cay to the BVI and the island is now a nature preserve.

There is a nature trail that encircles the island from which you can enjoy dramatic views. The trail is relatively easy and the walk arount the entire island can be completed in about 20 minutes.

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