At this point, everyone in the world has heard about COVID-19 aka coronavirus. As my mom and I were preparing for a flight to Tampa, coronavirus was just starting to build momentum. It was already spreading to the US, with the first few cases popping up.
There were no extra regulations on entering the USVIs when my mom and I traveled to St. John on SV Kuma Too.
Our plane was a couple days from leaving from St. Thomas, but that area is crowded and wouldn’t allow Mandy and Joe to clean the bottom of their boat for the upcoming charter they would have after we left. After offering to help multiple times, we were sent onto the island for exploring and to get out of their way so they could work.
On the island of St. John is a sugar mill that can be reached after about a half a mile walk from where we moored. The walk was thankfully both easy and bug-free as we trekked our way to the sugar mill.
It was interesting following the trail around the mill which was over a hundred years old. The signs near each of the deteriorated buildings explained how sugar cane was harvested, placed in the windmill and ground. It was then placed in the hands of workers and slaves to stir and boil until it was a fine sugar. But they had to make sure they didn’t take it out too soon! Otherwise the mixture would be molasses.
While the history of the building was interesting, my favorite place on the property was the garden. The park had a small garden overflowing with plants native to the islands. I’m not much of a garden person, but I am if I get to taste some of the food growing. Which I did.
Standing on the sidelines was the gardener who would offer anyone who passed some sugar cane, passionfruit, or papaya. My mom and I each had some passionfruit, but neither of us knew how to eat it and unknowingly wasted most of the sweet fruit. We got to take a papaya back to the boat as a prize for Mandy and Joe (who had it for the first time and claimed it tasted like mud), after we had a few sticks of sugar cane.
You’d think for something that creates sugar it’d be sweeter. It was sweet, but not in the “omg my head aches” kind of way you get when you have too much refined sugar. It just felt like something I could chew on for a good hour before all the flavor was drained, it wasn’t overbearing at all.
After demanding we get some when we come back from Florida, my mom and I returned to the boat.
We noticed more animals on the way back then there was on the way to the mill. We saw multiple birds (well we heard them), saw two iguanas, and spotted a couple of deer on the trail. We got within a dozen feet of the deer before they scampered into the forest again.
We reached the boat as Mandy and Joe were finishing their boat’s bottom project.
The majority of our morning was spent on the hike so after Mandy and Joe wrapped up, we headed to St. Thomas. Once we arrived we spent a few hours just hanging out on the boat. After a few hours we lowered the dinghy and headed into one of Mandy and Joe’s favorite places to get a drink. I don’t know the name of the bar/restaurant but I remember a few details. Man-sized teddy bear. Semi-dirty fish tank. And bingo. Our table was at the back corner of the bar, right next to a lightly green shaded tank and teddy bear that I made the mistake of laying on. I’m very lucky not to have lice. Or whatever else finds its home in that setting.
We ate a little. I mostly just feasted on things I hadn’t had in so long. Iced tea being at the top of my list and, of course, they didn’t have it. But they did have Caesar salad, so I happily munched on that and a shareable tater tots platter that was brought out. After the food was served and a few rounds of drinks were had, we joined bingo. Sadly, we didn’t win anything but I did have a few close calls! We returned to the boat and almost immediately returned to our bedrooms.
Now, because I’m weird and a teenager who thinks it’s strange to share a bed with her mom, I forced us into an original sleeping arrangement. The bed in their guest cabin is a queen, the same shape as any other, but because I wanted as much space as possible I had each of our feet hanging off the bed as I slept at the foot and she slept at the head. The next morning I narrowly avoided hitting my head on a low-hanging part of our bedroom (no one was meant to sleep there, only feet were supposed to be in that area). Of course, like any other time, I slept in and my mom was already in the salon conversing with Mandy and Joe when I came up.
I devoured the leftover charter food Mandy gave me and spent about an hour reading. I got to finish multiple books while I was on Kuma Too, we had awful Wi-Fi so my phone wasn’t an option and Mandy and Joe refused to let us do chores. They eventually kicked us off the boat so they could do final preparations for their charter. My mom and I spent the day roaming through St. Thomas. We wandered through an outdoor market where almost all the vendors called me “Princess” or “Sweetie”, and attempted to bully my mom into buying one of their dresses. You know, the kind you found in almost every tent in the market. After narrowly escaping the onslaught of vendors vying for our attention, we walked along the water to a restaurant called Gringo’s. Mandy and Joe suggested we eat at this Mexican restaurant because of its exceptional margaritas. Since we didn’t know where else to go, we arrived just as it was opening…at 11:00. They were gracious enough not to be irritated when we arrived while they were still setting up tables. We were the only ones in the restaurant as our waiter served us. The margarita was great…not that I drank any.
The rest of the day was spent walking from shop to shop. Nothing really stood out. St. Thomas is like almost any tourist trap destination. It was all shops, no charm. Eventually we were picked up by Mandy and Joe. We ate, drank, and mentally prepared ourselves for the next day when we’d be facing the St. Thomas airport, aka a hotspot for the now growing coronavirus.