It sure looks idyllic, and I have to say our recent visit there was amazing, but there is a little trouble in St Croix!
Today, I began a post on Cruise Critic about our recent visit to St Croix aboard Adventure of the Seas. One of the pictures I posted was a standard photo of a sign, not that different from signs Jeff photographs all over the world to help us navigate the slew of photos when we return and to help you, dear reader, navigate to the same places yourself if you decide to go. One of the things I often do when I see someone's name tagged to a place is "google it"! I can't just post a photo without knowing the back story about the person who it is named for, and often it's an interesting story. In the past I've discovered parks named for the generous woman environmentalist who donated it, or a squares named for the man who died defending it. All over the world, places proudly proclaim their best citizens. The I googled this one:
What I found, in the St Croix Source (coincidentally with a dateline of today!) was an article about a court case. I'll let you read the details yourself, but I'll just quote the opening statement from the US Assistant District Attorney.
Reading this did not make me proud! This isn't her first trial, the first jury was deadlocked, and maybe she will be vindicated in this one, but I'm fairly certain that there must be a Veteran from the Virgin Islands who has died in the line of duty who is more deserving of being memorialized.
It was not the only thing I saw in St Croix that made me sad. We visited the Salt River National Park during our stay, taking a kayak tour with Virgin Kayak located in Cane Bay. Our guide Brian, was an excellent guide and ambassador (evangelist, really) for the National Park.
While our tour was scenic, we also noticed that there was little investment in the National Park or enforcement of National Park rules within the park. There was trash all around the put in point for kayaks and there were campers who were unpermitted and appeared to be permanent squatters. We learned that there is no "Friends" group for this National Park, as there are for other National Parks, to provide much needed advocacy and fundraising.
We paddled through the mangroves to one of our country's few bio luminescent bays. Our daytime trip didn't allow us to see the dinoflagellates that live in the bay and "glow" when they are disturbed. This defense mechanism allows them to be seen in the bay on dark nights and causes the water to glow when paddled or moved. It's a beautiful phenomena we have seen in Farjardo Bay in Puerto Rico. We learned in St Croix that development is planned in a very ecologically sensitive area within the park that could destroy this natural phenomena.
In general, I try to respect the local ways and respect that fact that I don't know everything about a place, and I may miss some complexities of the situation. But I plan to keep an eye on what is happening in St Croix, because while there was a lot of natural beauty and sustainable development we saw in St Croix, I am left with the feeling that there is a little trouble too. I hope we are not letting this lovely place languish just because it's not near us, and I worry things are happening that most Americans would object to. It seems that just because it's so far doesn't mean that we shouldn't forget that national funds and National Parks belong to all of us and we are all responsible for them too!