Day 5: Day trip to St. Croix, USVI

Trip Start Apr 16, 2009
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5
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Trip End Apr 21, 2009


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Monday, April 20, 2009

Day 5: 20th April 2009, Monday
Time: 10 am EST
Location
: St. Croix, USVI

Here was a day I was eager about! The reason? there were going to be lots of first-time experiences throughout the day! Beginning with my first trip on a SEAPLANE! Ever since I watched "Tale Spin" on Disney, I was fascinated by this concept of a plane taking off and landing on water...and so when I got the opportunity to experience the thrill, I grabbed it! Although it was going to be a short trip (one way 20 mins.) to St. Croix, which is 35 miles away from St. Thomas and St. John, I knew it was going to be an exciting adventure! And it was ! We got the seats in the first row, and imagine our surprise when we saw that there was so "door" between the cockpit and us..just a small opening for the co-pilot to make the regulatory announcements to the passengers. We even got to see the works when taking off and landing..Initially the view of flying so low over the sea waters was a little scary for me, but I was okay later...I was having fun clicking away snaps and amazed at the water clarity too..we could see the coral reefs even form such a great height! After about 15 mins, the island of St. Croix started coming into picture...it was more beautiful than St. Thomas (seeing from above). Largest of the 3 islands, St. Croix measures 82 sq. miles in area, with two major towns, Fredericksted and Christiansted, where our plane was about to land. This photo shows an aerial view of the island with Columbus Landing in Salt River Bay in the front and Hess Oil Refineries in the back The Salt River Bay site is the only known place where members of Columbus's expedition set foot on what is now U.S. territory, and was the site of the first armed clash between Europeans and American natives.
       After landing, we decided to take a taxi tour of the island and started of with Andy, our taxi driver- an intelligent, humorous, genuine soul Our first halt was at the Bucaneer, today St. Croix's finest hotel with three beautiful beaches; but once a cattle ranch and a sugar plantation wth its Estate house, dating from the mid-17th century, which stands near a freshwater pool. We then proceeded towards Point Udall, "the easternmost point of the United States of America"! Reaching there, I made a small prayer to God to give me an opportunity to visit the other 3 extreme points too! :) Traveling back, towards the southern part of the Island, we came across tree lined roads, with crop plantations on both sides and people selling fresh fruits and vegetables right on the side of the road! Those bright yellow, plump fruits laid out on the tables, immediately caught my eye and I told Andy to park on the side. In a few minutes I came back with a bunch of sweet-smelling MANGOES in my hands, with a gleeful smile on my face! I was just happy at experiencing again what I used to do so frequently in my childhood...so many road trips to the villages on the western coast of the state of Maharashtra in the summer, when the tropical crops would be so full of ripe fruits like mangoes, jack fruit, grapes, even tamarind and sugarcane!
                 Our next stop was at the Whim Plantation museum: Beware!! The museum tour costs $10 per person but it covers a narrated tour of the Estate House only (which is just 3 open rooms), and not the whole plantation! What a ripoff! You would be better off  walking around the property yourself, than spending 10 dollars to just look at 3 rooms!
               We then concluded our tour at Fredericksted, where we were booked on one more first-time adventure- the ATV tours by Gecko's Island Adventures! (You can read our testimonial and other details on their webpage http://www.geckosislandadventures.com/testimonial.htm) A definite must-do for adventurous people! On the tour, we drove all the way to the highest point on St. Croix, from where you could get a glimpse of the beautiful Cane Bay as well as a 360 degree view of the entire island! We also drove through an old rum factory and the very scenic semi-tropical rainforest area which was a lot of fun...
               After getting back, we decided to take a taxi back to Christiansted and on the way the taxi driver/guide took us to some more tourist spots viz. to look at the "beer-drinking" pigs and the Columbus Landing (which I mentioned earlier in this post)! We decided to walk around the marina and the shops along it since we had about 45 minutes to kill... and that we did. One shop which needs mention here is called the "Purple Papaya" a well-stocked souvenir shop with good variety of stuff! I also wanted to get a "Cruzan bracelet" for myself as a souvenir, but the store was closed so I couldn't! :( 
             After getting back to St. Thomas, we drove back to our resort and spent the evening there at the pool and the beautiful beach. Later on we had reservtions for dinner at Lobster Grille where our adventurous streak led us to order the LARGE (2 lbs.!) Bolongo Stuffed Caribbean Spiny Lobster It was a meal made in heaven....!
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