A lot has happened since I wrote that last post. Dan is gone, safely back in NYC after his flight putta here. Kevin and Tom, the two new crew for Leg 2 arrived last evening in time for us to all have dinner tonight, and Tom had a serendipitous encounter with a woman at the airport that is going to profoundly affect my day today (in a good way).
But first there was yesterday.
It’s been a very mellow stay here in St. Croix, as there isn’t really anything to do on the boat to get her ready for the passage north. In fact, there wasn’t much to do in St. Lucia either (which goes to show how nice it is to have a properly equipped and outfitted boat - all we really had to do, save for inspecting all the important bits, was mend the solent jib and hank it onto it’s stay. We never used it, so it remains in it’s bag on the foredeck, ready to deploy). Anyway, after a pretty long sleep-in to 8:30 yesterday morning, Dan and I explored around town a bit more.
Christiansted, despite it being officially in the USA now, is decidedly Danish. I overheard just as many Danish-speaking conversations along the sidewalk as English, and the Danish flag flies just as prominently from the government building as the American one. The streets and architecture are very well-preserved - all the sidewalks are covered in these little arch-shaped walkways to keep walkers out of the rain (remnants from the 17th and 18th century building designers). Houses are two and three stories and built of brick or masonry, and painted in bright, tropical colors. Light pink, faded yellow, baby blue. And various naturally-colored brick facades. Three large Protestant churches dominate the architecture in town, one ornately built of brick and masonry, another entirely of wood, with a wooden steeple and clock tower. The old fort, meticulously maintained over the years in its original state, guards the waterfront. It’s painted bright yellow, with white trim, and cannons still point seaward from the ramparts.
There are ruins too. Old brick buildings mostly, that have been neglected for whatever reason over the years. I ran past one yesterday that was just a hollow shell, with no roof. You could see through the cracks in the boarded up window openings into the central part of the house, where palm trees and high grasses grew out of what was once probably the living room. Most of these ruins have Sotheby’s real estate signs on them. Ostensibly they’re just waiting for the right person to see the historical promise and built them back up into their former glory. Apparently, so the guidebook says, ruins like this exist all over the island. One at a time, they hope to resurrect them.
I started my afternoon run yesterday along the triathlon course, but quickly got bored of the main road and started exploring off the side streets. After running eastward out of town this time for about 30 minutes, I turned off onto a dirt road that led up into the forest and towards an old sugar mill up in the hills. It looked like the road might lead there, so I followed it, always up for a little adventure. It didn’t ultimately, but instead came out in a small cluster of holiday bungalows up in the hills and overlooking the north shore of St. Croix and Buck Island, which lays a mile or so off to the northeast. The road came to a dead-end here, but not wanting to backtrack (I never backtrack), I continued on through someone’s backyard, where a couple iguanas were sunbathing, and down their steep driveway and onto a back road inland from the coast a ways. Every house on this street had little barking dogs in their fenced in yards, so there was quite a chorus as I passed.
Halfway back to town, now back on the main road I ran out on, I passed a turnoff that said ‘Rainbow Gardens’ or something similar, and decided to turn. This road led up a very steep hill towards some large houses built high on the ridge, and I thought I might be able to get up and over the other side, and descend back into town. The hill was very steep in places, and on a couple occasions I was within a step of stopping to walk, continuing at a slow jog only after reminding myself that my mom never gave up in her journey with brain cancer (especially not during her hours-long open-brain surgery, which was the scariest part of the whole process to me), so I pushed on. That thought works every time.
At the top of the hill I was afforded a fantastic view of the ocean, but no way to get down the other side as planned. So I backtracked, running gingerly down the hill on tired thighs and sore feet. I finished the run by entering town from the top this time, running down a back street I’d not yet explored, and around an old cemetery behind one of the churches, and finally back down towards the waterfront, passing by several low-income housing projects. I dove in the ocean straightaway, and showered with the hose on the dock.
I just paused writing this for a moment to go and meet the woman I mentioned above. Tom had seen her on the airplane coming over from Puerto Rico, and somehow managed to get her to offer him a ride to Christiansted. Her name is Julie, and her and her husband Dave moved here 6 years ago. They have 3 young kids. The whole family came down and met us for dinner last night at Rum Runner’s on the dock. Super friendly family. Anyway, I casually mentioned my search to find a proper road bike to get in some exercise and a little exploration, but the one bike shop in town is only open on Wednesdays and Fridays. Turns out Julie is a big triathlete, and has done the St. Croix Half Ironman 3 times! She won her age groups in the ‘8 Tough Miles’ race on St. John as well (Dave runs too). So Julie offered to hook me up with a friend of theirs road bike, and dropped it off this morning, complete with helmet and clip-in shoes! Dave is actually at-sea now with the owner of bike, sailing his boat somewhere and flying back tonight. So I’ve got the morning and early afternoon to hit the roads and get in a good loop on a proper road bike. Lucky me.