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Saturday, August 21, 2010

One Man's Family


Today was our final stop, St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.  Technically American turf, St. Croix is a bit of an anomaly due to its rich history. At various times it was occupied by Spain, France, Britain, Denmark and even the Knights of Malta, each of which left their mark with place names, architecture and other reminders.

Driving on St. Croix is on the left, which confuses Americans who think they are "home", especially since most of the vehicles have the driver's seat on the left where we're used to it.  We were told that the government tried to change it after the U.S. took over, but the residents couldn't get used to it and it caused too many accidents.   

St. George Village Botanical Garden
Without a plan for the day, I signed onto one of the ship's excursions with two members of our group, which included three stops:

The first was the St. George Village Botanical Garden.  Located on a former sugar plantation, the garden is a rich oasis of plant and animal life, explained to us by a knowledgeable guide as we strolled around the grounds.  Among the more curious finds were giant caterpillars who only feed on a particular type of tree, and a 15th-century Danish worker's grave.

Lawaetz Family Museum
Next, following a drive through the forested interior of the island, we visited the Lawaetz Family Museum, the homestead of a Danish farmer who moved to St. Croix in the 1890s and raised a large family there.  The house is still much as they left it (the family still owns it and assembles there for Christmas Eve), with childhood pictures and household implements neatly in their places, including the giant wooden bed that was patriarch Carl's first big purchase when he secured a good job.  

Our guide for this tour was a transplanted New Yorker who moved to St. Croix several years ago with the intention of writing a novel, a work that is still in progress.

Rainbow Beach
The final stop was at Rainbow Beach, a picturesque spot with an open-air bar and grill as well as a stand where you could rent jet-skis and other equipment.  We could see our ship in the distance down the beach as we took in our last round of fruity drinks before heading back to reality in the morning.

More photos from St. Croix

1 comment:

  1. I drove on the left in St. Croix- was about 23 years ago! It was very difficult but I managed to drive around and not take out too many of the folks who live there! It was a beautiful place, at the time not "developed" (I'm not sure what word would be better to describe it)... It was definitely still largely unspoiled.