A few days ago, I read a travel article mentioning the Cabritte Horn Trail. I hadn’t walked that trail in some time and I was under the impression that because it s not maintained by either the National Park or by Friends of the Park volunteers that it would be overgrown and not easily passable. Having a travel writer describe it intrigued me, so yesterday I ventured out to Coral Bay and headed up the Tektite Trail to the Cabritte Horn intersection.
As I suspected, the trail was overgrown, but just in small sections and mostly by Guinea Grass, so it was no big problem to stay on the trail and walk through the areas of tall Guinea grass.
Having said this, there are along the way, narrow goat trails and old trails leading to a number of beautiful overlooks, of for which, the Tektite Trail is probably unequaled on St. John. Because of this and because, as I mentioned before, that the trail is overgrown in sections, I would strongly recommend using a GPS loaded with the Trail Bandit Map or take advantage of the St. John Off the Beaten Track App on your iPhone or Android device.
The Cabritte Horn Spur leads south and is marked by a cairn.
Along the way to the point, you will pass several areas of spectacular views to both the east and west and will pass by a deep rocky gorge just before reaching the dramatic summit of the Cabritte Horn Point that extends out to the sea on St. John’s south coast.
Following is a short video that I took while enjoying the view from that windswept hilltop:
“I hate wild tamarind. They’re ugly, untidy and unruly. They spread rampantly and take over the place. They’re prejudiced and intolerant. They grow close together and won’t let any other plants live in their neighborhood.
They’re resilient and tenacious. Their sturdy taproot goes straight down into the earth and holds on tight. They can withstand drought, flood and even come back after a fire. There are no insects, predators or diseases that can cause them any significant harm.
They’re hard to get rid of. If you cut them down, they’ll grow right back. If you try and pull out the small one, you’d better have a lot of time and a lot of patience. If you try and dig out the big ones, you’d better have a good hoe-pick and a strong back.”
Nonetheless, their flower is kind of pretty!
The Ghost vs the Wild Tamarind
St. John and Virgin Islands News
Sahara Dust Impacts Territory By Source Staff — May 28, 2014
Dust from the Sahara Desert has caused an air pollution alert to be issued for the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to Alicia Barnes, commissioner of the Department of Planning and Natural Resources.
The dust causes the skies around the Virgin Islands to be hazy, reducing visibility and resulting in poor air quality, Barnes said in a statement issued Tuesday night.
The cloud is raised from dust storms in Africa and a rise in the warm air. These sandy dust particles are transported by prevailing winds from the North African desert westward over the Atlantic Ocean across the Caribbean.
Carlos Anselmi, a meteorology intern at the National Weather Service in San Juan, Puerto Rico, confirmed that there are traces of Sahara dust over the territory and that the satellite indicates it will show a stronger presence over the next week.
While the haze may not be an immediate threat, people with allergies or respiratory ailments should remain indoors when possible and consult their physicians or health care professional for further guidance, Barnes warned.
Sahara dust storms pass through the region several times a year, but mainly in the spring and summer months. While the dust can be a nuisance and even a health threat, it is also known to hamper the development of tropical storms…. read more
Iguana burrowing in rocky soil – Chocolate Hole, St. John, Virgin Islands
On April 15, I wrote a blog in which I presented a photo of an iguana burrow, which I found in the sand by the boat ramps in Great Cruz Bay. At the time, I didn’t actually see the iguana making the hole.
Yesterday, however, I did catch an iguana in the act of burrowing and captured some of the project on video. This time it was in back of my house in Chocolate Hole, a more difficult endeavor for the iguana due to the rocky nature of the land. At one point it actually looked like the iguana was thinking about moving the big rock that was in its way.
The t’rushie bird is a teef! (For those of you who don’t know the word, teef: it’s St. Johnian for the noun, thief, as in one who steals, like in the t’rushie’s a teef. It can also be used as a verb meaning to steal like in the t’rushie teefed my mangoes.)
Anyone familiar with the thrushie or pearly-eyed trasher, or scientifically, Margarops fuscatus, and who has a fruit tree in their yard knows what a teef the thrushie is. The bird will hang around open air restaurants and steal the food off your plate if you’re not looking. On St. John, the outdoor Caneel Bay Beach Restaurant and the Trunk Bay snack bar have lines and wires placed to discourage the thrushies, but that doesn’t mean that it’s 100% successful in preventing the larcenies.
Not only does the thrushie steal from people, but it also steals from other birds, like taking their nests or eggs.
Thrushies live on the smaller islands of the Caribbean and the Bahamas and avoid the continent and the larger islands, with the exception of some remote areas of Puerto Rico. They are ugly. They build ugly sloppy, messy nests wherever they want, have an annoying sound and are general nuisances.
My mango tree is full of mangoes and the t’rushies are lying in wait hoping to get the ripe ones before I do. It will soon be war.
Starting from the western end of Trunk Bay, we snorkeled over the reef between Trunk and Jumbie Bay and on to the Point between Jumbie and Denis. Although much of the coral was in poor condition, the snorkel had enough interesting highlights and colorful patches to make for an enjoyable alternative to the Trunk Bay Snorkel Trail on the eastern end of the beach.
St. John Virgin Islands Events
Annual Beach-to-Beach Power Swim
You’ve done it before and now is the time to get ready for the 11th Annual Beach-to-Beach Power Swim. The Friends of VI National Park is pleased to announce that the swim will be held on Saturday, May 24, 2014 in the crystal clear waters along the spectacular north shore of St. John, US Virgin Islands…. more information
The Taino believe everything in the universe is interconnected and spiritually alive. They view the Earth as a flat disk suspended between the cosmos above and the watery underworld below. The realms are connected by a supernatural shaft rising from the bottom of the underworld, passing through a hole in the center of the Earth and extending upward to the heavens.
The souls of the dead live in the otherworld. They are ruled by the Zemi Maquetaurie Guayaba, Lord of the Land of the Dead. The Zemis of the underworld are often made in the form of night flying creatures, such as bats or owls. (The second Zemi, found at the Cinnamon Bay site, bears the image of a bat.) These creatures are regarded as the messengers of the Dead.
In the book, Memory of Fire: Genesis, Eduardo Galeano writes:
“He who made the sun and the moon warned the Tainos to watch out for the dead.
“In the daytime the dead hid themselves and ate guavas, but at night they went out for a stroll and challenged the living. Dead men offered duels and dead women, love. In the duels they vanished at will; and at the climax of love the lover found himself with nothing in his arms. Before accepting a duel with a man or lying down with a woman, one should feel the belly with one’s hand, because the dead have no navels.”
Another Taino myth speaks about bats:
“When time was yet in the cradle, there was no uglier creature in the world than the bat.
“The bat went up to heaven to look for God. He didn’t say, “I’m bored with being hideous. Give me colored feathers.
“No. He said, “Please give me feathers, I’m dying of cold.
“But God had not a single feather left over.
“’Each bird will give you a feather,’ he decided.
“Thus the bat got the white feather of the dove and the green one of the parrot, the iridescent one of the hummingbird, the pink one of the flamingo, the red of the cardinal’s tuft and the blue of the kingfisher’s back, the clayey one of the eagle’s wing, and the sun feather that burns in the breast of the toucan.
“The bat, luxuriant with colors and softness, moved between earth and clouds. Wherever he went, the air became pleasant and the birds dumb with admiration. According to the Zapotec peoples, the rainbow was born of the echo of his flight.
“Vanity puffed out his chest. He acquired a disdainful look and made insulting remarks.
“The birds called a meeting. Together they flew up to God. ‘The bat makes fun of us,’ they complained. ‘And what’s more, we feel cold for lack of the feathers he took.’
“Next day, when the bat shook his feathers in full flight, he suddenly became naked. A rain of feathers fell to earth.
“He is still searching for them. Blind and ugly, enemy of the light, he lives hidden in caves. He goes out in pursuit of the lost feathers after night has fallen and flies very fast, never stopping because it shames him to be seen.”
The Zemis of the cosmos, such as the creator and lord of the cassava, Yúcahu, and his mother, Atabey, bring the Taino successful harvests, fertility and good health. Zemis could also reside in the natural world of trees, mountains, rivers, caves and communities. Destructive Zemis from the nether world could cause droughts, illness and natural disaster. The Zemi, Guabancex, lady of the winds, controls hurricanes aided by her two assistants, Guataubá, herald of hurricane force winds, and Coatrisquie, the god of floodwaters.
In addition to the fabrication of idols, Taino artisans carved symbolic pictures on rocks found in areas of obvious spiritual significance. Such petroglyphs exist at Reef Bay on St. John, along the side of a fresh water pool and on the platform cliffs of Congo Cay. It is believed that these carvings represent the natural spirits that resided in these places.
The Taino used sacred psychoactive herbs to communicate with Zemis and spirits of ancestors in an elaborate ritual called the Cohoba ceremony. Caciques (chiefs) and bohutí (shamans) with sufficient spiritual power used this ceremony to heal the sick, predict the future and to ensure the well being of the community. The participants fast before beginning the ceremony. They then cause themselves to regurgitate by inserting a ritual instrument in their throat. Once purged they inhale the cohoba from an intricately carved vessel equipped with snuffing tubes, which are placed in the nostrils. The cacique or bohutí could then leave the natural world through the hole in the center of the Earth and enter the supernatural shaft which connecting the realms of the universe.
The Spanish were repelled by the Taino religion and believed the Zemis to be Satanic in nature. They are said to have burned hundreds of cotton Zemis and to have destroyed countless works of Taino religious art. As a result of severe persecution by the Spanish, surviving Tainos went underground, meeting in secret to carry on their traditions.
St. John and Virgin Islands News
FIT Act presents huge opportunity for Virgin Islands May 21, 2014 | By Barbara Vergetis Lundin
U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) Governor John deJongh has signed the Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) Act into law, allowing residents to build renewable energy projects and sell all of the electricity to the local utility.
Currently, the USVI is almost entirely dependent on imported fossil fuels and retail electric rates average over $0.50 per kilowatt-hour. Through the feed-in tariff, the Water and Power Authority (WAPA) will purchase up to 15 MW of local renewables, paying less than WAPA’s avoided wholesale cost at around $0.26 per kilowatt-hour. Renewable energy generators will enter a power purchase agreement with WAPA lasting between 10 and 30 years.
While the feed-in tariff marks a significant step toward cleaner, more affordable and more reliable power on the USVI, Craig Barshinger, a USVI Senator and author of the Feed-In Tariff Act, believes this is just the beginning in a larger effort to modernize the USVI’s power grid…. read more
REI Adventures Announces New Volunteer Trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands
REI Adventures has just announced their new trips for 2015, including a Volunteer Vacation in the Virgin Islands.
On this new tour travelers will work with National Park Service rangers on maintenance projects in the U.S. Virgin Islands National Park on St. John.
For ten days volunteers will work from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM clearing debris, fixing trails, and removing vegetation in a tropical locale. Then, they will be rewarded with 2 well-earned days off to snorkel, swim, or just hang out and relax.
This twelve day tour starts at $1,950 per person (based on double occupancy) including all meals, accommodations in group lodging, guide leadership, all van and ferry transportation, gratuities, and park entrance fees.
The 12-day Volunteer Vacation in the Virgin Islands trip is set to depart on Nov. 2, 2014, April 5, 2015, and Nov. 1, 2015.
USVI wins Optimist Cup at BVI Dinghy Championships By Dean Greenaway (Special to the Daily News)
Published: May 21, 2014
TORTOLA – The annual BVI Dinghy Championships wrapped up two days of competitive racing Sunday that also included the final leg of the Virgin Islands Sailing Triple Crown – which began with races on St. Croix and St. Thomas.
Teddy Nocolosi of St. Thomas, who was the overall winner in the Optimist Red Fleet, led his team to the VI Optimist Cup.
The BVI Dinghy Championships also attracted participants from Antigua, St. Maarten, St. John and St. Croix.
“This was great because we had light air conditions and this is most likely what we’ll have in the North American Championships in Mexico in July, so it was a great training toward that regatta,” St. Thomas coach Agustin Resano said. “I’m glad it was like that. I also liked that the fleet was competitive, unlike last year when we had three top sailors way ahead of the rest, this year was more compact, so it showed a lot of improvement from the bottom all the way up.”… read more
St. John Live Music Schedule
Steel Pan by Lemuel Samuels
7:00 – 9:00
The America Hill Estate House is an excellent example of late nineteenth century Virgin Island architecture. Much attention was obviously given to an aesthetically pleasing design as well as to functionality, the limitations of the building site, and the availability of materials and labor.
In the early 1900s, America Hill served as a guesthouse where travelers could rent rooms. One of the last tenants was rumored to be Rafael Leónides Trujillo, former dictator of the Dominican Republic.
Some older St. Johnians say that the estate house was also used as a headquarters for rum-runners during the prohibition days.
St. John’s Hindes buries field at Virgin Gorda Half Marathon
By Dean Greenaway (Special to the Daily News)
Published: May 19, 2014
VIRGIN GORDA – St. John’s Timothy “TJ” Hindes did his research, relied on his 8 Tuff Miles racing and course training, then executed his strategy to perfection en route to burying the field and winning Saturday’s third Virgin Gorda Half Marathon…. read more
Scattered showers, mainly before noon. Mostly sunny, with a high near 79. Southeast wind 11 to 16 mph. Chance of precipitation is 30%. New precipitation amounts between a tenth and quarter of an inch possible.
What is now the modern Cyril E. King Airport was originally a simple runway and airplane hanger built for the use of the US Air Force. In 1950, this facility was upgraded and became the Harry S. Truman Airport. When jet aircraft began flights to the Virgin Islands, the short runway (4,658 feet) could barely accommodate them. Jets could land at the airport, although with some difficulty, but the runway was not long enough to allow them to take off with a full fuel tank. For this reason, jets would have to take off from St. Thomas with only small amounts of fuel and then make a stop at St. Croix to refuel.
In 1976, American Airlines Flight 625, ran off the runway killing 37 of the 88 passengers and crew on board. Although it was pilot error and not the short runway that was ultimately found to be the cause of the crash, American Airlines suspended jet service to St. Thomas after the incident.
Subsequently, the runway was lengthened by cutting away the mountain on one end and filling in the bay on the other. The terminal was renovated and on October 3, 1984, the present airport was dedicated and renamed the Cyril E. King Airport, after a former governor of the Virgin Islands.
The 7,000-foot runway, the same length as the runway at New York’s LaGuardia Airport, can now accommodate wide-body jets.
Showers likely and possibly a thunderstorm. Cloudy, with a high near 78. East northeast wind around 18 mph. Chance of precipitation is 70%. New rainfall amounts between a half and three quarters of an inch possible.
HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK FOR THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS AND THE ADJACENT COASTAL WATERS.
DAY ONE…TODAY AND TONIGHT
SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS WILL ONCE AGAIN DEVELOP AFTER MID-MORNING AND WILL BE CAPABLE OF PRODUCING MODERATE TO LOCALLY HEAVY RAINFALL AND OCCASIONAL LIGHTNING ACROSS THE ISLANDS AND ADJACENT WATERS.
DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN…FRIDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY
AN UPPER LEVEL TROUGH OVER THE AREA WILL CONTINUE TO DEEPEN TODAY FORMING A CLOSED LOW NORTH OF OUR AREA BEGINNING TONIGHT. AS IT DOES SO…THE ATMOSPHERE WILL BECOME MORE HUMID AND UNSTABLE WITH SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS BECOMING MORE NUMEROUS AND INTENSE ESPECIALLY ON FRIDAY. MODERATE TO LOCALLY HEAVY RAINFALL…GUSTY WINDS AND LIGHTNING CAN BE EXPECTED WITH THE STRONGEST STORMS. THIS WET AND ACTIVE WEATHER PATTERN IS FORECAST TO CONTINUE THROUGH AT LEAST THE WEEKEND.
All about St John in the beautiful US Virgin Islands (USVI) American Paradise