Living at Creque Dam Farm is being a part of a wonderful, supportive, and fun community. I was nervous before coming here that I would feel trapped and dependent on my friends and family on island to get me out and about. Sure, from time to time it is difficult to get out of the rainforest and into civilization, but I can stay on farm and have a great time or get rides into town. It is isolated but you are only as bored or lonely as you let yourself get.
That said, sometimes you need to get out and see some of the local culture. This past weekend was the Mardi Croix parade and celebration. Now, I've been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, this parade was no Mardi Gras, but it was a fun event. Some of the local papers commented on the lack of participation in the parade, the St. Croix Source was more positive than the Avis (that doesn't have an online version), and the Virgin Islands Daily News did only briefly comment on the size of the parade. The parade was a disappointment but hanging out at Cane Bay and enjoying some local foods makes for a great Saturday. No real complaints here.
ACCOMPLISHING LEARNING GOALS
One worry that Val had when I decided to head down to St. Croix for my three-month educational vacation was the presence of distractions. It's easy to imagine the multitude of things here that could keep me from focusing on the hard questions facing me; the beach, the sun, diving, the culture of alcohol, and the laid-back atmosphere come to mind in particular.
This past weekend some of the people from the Ridge to Reef program proved how positively motivated people can put all those distractions aside and dedicate a whole day--a whole WEEKEND day--to helping a friend. Ben, Mandy, Marshall, and Mere came with me to my sister's house and spent Sunday with me designing her backyard gardens and working in the hot sun. This was a wonderful way to apply the concepts we are learning here in an action-based real life situation, without the guidance of an instructor. At the end of digging a swale, spreading seeds of nitrogen-fixing plants, and building a compost bin from recycled pallets I thought everyone would be ready to let me take them out to dinner. Instead, the whole group threw themselves into digging and planting a keyhole herb garden in the rocky area by Wendy's front door. We spent about two more hours sifting out the many rocks, turning the soil, and Ben designed a nice mosaic from broken pieces of tile.
We made some pasta, ate some ice cream, and went dancing until late night.
Everyone was exhausted and filthy but the smiles said it all. I love being surrounded by people who value a day of hard work. I need more people in my life who get dirty, sweat, and work together to create something real.
I hope the plants we put in the ground live on like the memories of that experience will live on in my heart.
I have more photos to upload!