Monday, May 18, 2015
Today we started our worksites bright and early. My worksite is the Nature Conservancy so we left the cottages around 7:30 and got to Estate Little Princess at 8. Estate Little Princess is the headquarters for the Nature Conservancy here. It is a really cool area. When you drive up you come to this huge house. The house is where all of the interns live. It really is a huge house. It’s super cool because the windows are just open. You open them and you get a big breeze. The kitchen is actually very similar to when it was built (which was in 1749). The Great Room is definitely great. It is a huge room that is just open with windows. It has a lot of the history on the walls that we got to talking about a little. The Shoemaker’s owned the house before donating it to the conservancy. Here’s a great article of the history! At the Little Princess there was a huge sugar plantation. That’s actually mostly what it was known for. Richard (the person in charge of us at the conservancy) was giving us a tour and showed us one of the sugar factories. In this particular one, he said that before electricity became a thing, there was a huge hamster wheel that 2 men went in to get everything going. They just walked around in the wheel. I thought that was crazy! Just thinking about it…you own so many slaves that you say “you two get to go in the wheel today.” I wonder if it was ever used as punishment. I’m sure it probably was. I just cannot imagine. The rest of the tour was great, but nothing stuck out to me as much as that wheel did.
In St. Croix they have these little devil bees called Jack Spaniards. They’re wasps and evil. Richard said “they go for the eyes and ears.” If that’s not the spawn of the devil, I don’t know what is. They are all over where we’re supposed to be working so keep updated to see if I get stung.
For the most part we just had a little orientation at our worksite today. Nothing extremely special or anything. It was really interesting to learn some of the history or the sugar plantations. I’m excited to start doing work for the conservancy so I can try and accomplish something good while I’m here.
After we finished at our worksites we headed over to the animal shelter. Some of us were thinking about adopting dogs so we went, but it was closed. Then we were trying to go get ice cream, but that was closed too! Oh well. Maybe we’ll try again tomorrow. Once we got back from our hour long adventure, I took a much needed nap. This island is wearing me out.
Thankfully I woke up just in time for class! We had some special guests at our class today. Paul, the owner of the cottages, came to talk to us about safety and his past on the island. It was interesting because I believe he said it was his grandfather that helped bring baseball to the island! I thought that was so interesting. You don’t really think of where stuff like that comes from. You kind of just assume it was there. But it wasn’t, and Paul’s family helped bring it in. How cool. We also had another special guest named Marsha! She is a woman that lives in the community. She came to talk to us about herself and about something that happened in a community meeting. The community meeting was the first day when I was still traveling due to the flight delay. What was happening was the meeting was about the sunken ships and divers and stuff like that. I didn’t really catch the full drift of it. Marsha was upset because she didn’t see anyone that really represented her on the panel of divers. One thing that she got to talking about was slaves. Slaves had it rough on this island. It was horrible. It was the stuff that was left out of our history books. In the United States, slaves could run and go to the Underground Railroad and stuff like that to at least try to get out. Here, in St. Croix, they had nowhere to run. This island is 28 miles long and 6 miles wide. They literally just had to stay where they were and deal with what they had. It was honestly just horrible. Another thing Marsha was talking about was an ocean burial site that one of her friends was buried at. The thing is, no one really knows where it is. They have all of these rules saying you can’t ride your boat over it and everything, but it’s not really roped off or anything. They just take these bodies in bags and put a heavy block between their legs. It just sounds really sketchy to me. It was a really eventful class and I was really glad that I got to be a part of the discussion.
After class we went out to a hotel that has firedancers at night! It was so much fun and it was really, really cool to see people spinning fire and what not. One of our students actually spins fire as well so she’s going to see if they can come and spin for us at cottages! The party was so much fun! We got to dance and just take in the culture. They were playing beach music and we got to play with kids and it was just an incredible time.
Day 5 was a lot of fun and I’m so excited for the rest of the days!