I harvested the first pineapple from my pineapple garden today. It ripened on the pineapple plant, without harassment fro thrushies or rodents. It’s ready to eat right now, but tomorrow it will be even better.
The Virgin Islands pineapple is smaller, but much tastier than its Hawaiian cousin. It’s candy!
“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.
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
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.
Late Afternoon Snorkel on the Salomon/Honeymoon Reef
There is a large section of Reef between around the point between Salomon and Honeymoon Beaches, which provides good snorkeling and easy access from the beach. Although it’s always a pleasure to snorkel this reef, I’ve found that the time to see the most activity is in the late afternoon. On yesterday’s snorkel, every nook and cranny of the reef was really buzzing with activity.
Hawksnest Bay takes the prize for the best Elkhorn Coral, but the Salomon Honeymoon Reef might be a close second.
St. John News
May 15 Meeting Will Gather Input on St. John Schools By Source Staff — May 7, 2014
A meeting will be held May 15 at the Julius E. Sprauve School cafeteria to gather public recommendations for a new school under consideration for St. John, according to a news release from Government House.
The meeting will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. and will be sponsored the Office of the Governor and the Departments of Education and Public Works. Preliminary educational program requirements and key milestones in the process to date will be outlined…. read more
Hot Club of Coral Bay
St. John Weather
Isolated showers. Mostly sunny, with a high near 78. East wind 3 to 6 mph. Chance of precipitation is 20%.
HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK FOR THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS AND THE ADJACENT COASTAL WATERS
THURSDAY THROUGH TUESDAY:
AN UPPER LEVEL TROUGH WEST OF THE AREA WILL DEEPEN TODAY AND THURSDAY FORMING A CLOSED LOW NORTH OF PR BY FRIDAY AND THEN MEANDER NORTH OF SAINT THOMAS THROUGH SATURDAY. AS IT DOES SO… SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS WILL BECOME MORE NUMEROUS AND INTENSE ESPECIALLY ON THURSDAY. THE STRONGEST STORMS WILL BE CAPABLE OF PRODUCING INTENSE RAINFALL…HAIL…GUSTY WINDS AND FREQUENT LIGHTNING. UPPER LEVEL LOW WILL BEGIN TO WEAKEN AND MOVE AWAY FROM THE REGION SUNDAY WITH WEATHER CONDITIONS GRADUALLY IMPROVING THROUGH EARLY NEXT WEEK.
A History of Religious Tolerance in the former Danish West Indies (now the US Virgin Islands)
Christianity arrived on St. Thomas with the first European settlers in 1666. The Lutheran Pastor, Kjeld Jensen Slagelse, who had run afoul of church authorities in Denmark, ministered to a congregation of some 100 parishioners, only half of whom were Danish Lutherans. The pastor also served as governor of the settlement when the original governor died.
This first expedition ended in failure due to high mortality from disease, hunger and raids by buccaneers and Pastor Slagelse sailed back to Denmark along with the few survivors of that ill-fated mission.
Pastor, Slagelse joined the next expedition to St. Thomas in 1671, but died aboard ship before reaching the island. He was succeeded by another minister, who died shortly after taking over the position. The third minister had to be sent back to Denmark for drunkenness. (The matter was turned over to the Danish courts where the minister argued that his drunken states were the result of the poor quality of rum: a white, unrefined, high alcohol content concoction known a “kill devil,” produced on the island.)
Life expectancy of Lutheran ministers, as well as for many of the other colonists, was quite short. During the first 100 years that the Lutheran Church conducted services on St. Thomas, there were 31 different ministers.
Lutheran services were originally held in the courtyard of the fort and all colonists were required to attend services regardless of religious affiliation.
When settlers sent back accounts of hardship and disease, the Danes, who were generally comfortable at home, became extremely reluctant to settle the new territories. Even prisoners promised freedom after six years of labor on St. Thomas responded to the offer with riots and mutinies. In order to recruit settlers, the Danish government and its representative in the colonies, the Danish West India Company, resorted to inviting foreigners to settle the islands. One of the incentives employed to entice foreigners to settle on St. Thomas was the prospect of religious tolerance.
The majority of these foreign settlers on St. Thomas were Dutch. So influential were these foreigners that a Dutch Creole, called Creolsk soon became the common language of St. Thomas and St. John.
Cooperation and religious tolerance began with the Dutch being allowed to use the Lutheran Church inside the fort to conduct services until they were able to build a church of their own.
By 1675, the Dutch and French Reformed Churches had built churches just to the east of the fort.
Jews and Catholics were granted freedom of religion in 1685. In the early 1700s, an Anglican Church was set up to serve English settlers and in 1736, the Moravians established a slave mission on the island. (Excerpted from St. Thomas USVI by Gerald Singer)
Screen shot 2014-02-02 at 8.43.39 AMTen years in the making, ONE LUCKY ELEPHANT follows the poignant journey of circus producer David Balding as he tries to find a nurturing and permanent home for Flora, the 18-year-old African elephant that he rescued as an infant, raised as his “daughter” and made the star of his circus. David’s love for Flora is put to the ultimate test when he realizes he made a terrible mistake keeping her as a solo elephant, and decides to retire her from the circus after 17 years of performing.
Knowing Flora will outlive him, and with his health and finances becoming an issue, David sets off on a quest to find a home for Flora can live freely with other elephants. This complicated task begins with Flora’s final circus performance in St. Louis and takes us on an emotional trek across America, then to Africa and back.
We follow David’s journey as he discovers just how difficult it is to find a proper home for an elephant in a world that reveres these animals for their majesty yet slaughters them for their ivory, adores them as cuddly Dumbos yet brands them “rampaging creatures”.
ONE LUCKY ELEPHANT raises critical issues about the well-being and future of the hundreds of thousands of endangered and exotic animals kept in captivity, the over development and destruction of their natural habitats, our intense and often damaging relationship with wild animals, and how all these issues have impacted the life of one very lucky elephant.
Come early to help set up the chairs! Thanks in advance!
Description of the Charlotte Amalie Harbor in 1701, written by the Dominican missionary Père Labat, also known as “the pirate priest.”
“Denmark, being almost neutral in the wars of Europe, the port of St. Thomas is open to all nations. During peace it serves as an entrepôt for the commerce, which the French, English, Spaniards and Dutch do not dare to pursue openly on their own islands; and in time of war it is the refuge of merchant ships when pursued by privateers. On the other hand, the privateers send their prizes here to be sold when they are not disposed to send them to a greater distance. Many small vessels also proceed from St. Thomas to the coast of South America, whence they bring back much riches in specie, or in bars and valuable merchandise, In a word, St. Thomas is a market of consequence.”
St. John and Virgin Islands News
Island Profile: Gary Emmons Keeps ReSource Depot on Track By Lynda Lohr — May 4, 2014
With a job as manager and “chief cook and bottle washer” at Island Green Living Association’s ReSource Depot, St. John resident Gary “Buddha” Emmons found his niche.
The ReSource Depot is a place to drop off unwanted construction materials and household goods that include everything from toilets to brass bric-a-brac. For example, ReSource Depot has two containers filled with just windows.
“We get a little of any and everything,” Emmons said.
It’s also the spot where frugal folks go to buy what they need or want. The purpose is to keep items out of the V.I. Waste Management Authority’s Susannaberg Transfer Station.
He wants to get the word out to those who may not be in the know about this island treasure, which is located across Gifft Hill Road from the V.I. Waste Management Authority Transfer Station. Emmons said he’s bothered when he sees perfectly good items left at the island’s Dumpsters when they could find a new home with someone who’s looking to save a few dollars…. read more