Okay, some people might consider it a stretch to call this last month a vacation, since I’ve been away from teaching for eight months while on sabbatical. Still, it was a break from normal life and it provided an excellent dividing line between my sabbatical and returning to teaching.
So what did I do? I spent the week between December 27 and January 2 sailing the Virgin Islands aboard the Arabella shown here. It wasn’t cheap, but it was well worth the money. I have never taken a cruise before, but from what I understand this was not typical. The Arabella is 160 feet in length and has a crew of 7. We were part of a group of 31 passengers, who we got to know quite well over the course of the week. Indeed, we have even formed a Facebook group. Usually, we sailed for half the day and then spent the other half snorkeling, swimming, hanging out on the boat or a beach, hiking or doing some other activity that was appropriate to the venue. We had breakfast and lunch on the boat, and dinner in a restaurant on whatever island we were visiting. The Arabella’s chef, John, was fantastic–indeed, his food was superior to some that we ate in the restaurants. He achieved this working in a kitchen only slightly larger than a telephone booth. The crew was really excellent, adding to our enjoyment, and I don’t just mean by staffing the onboard bar. They really worked hard to make the trip a success.
Within a few dozen hours, I had forgotten what day it was. I didn’t give any thought to work and I didn’t miss being off-line.
Never having visited the Virgin Islands before I wasn’t expecting all the hiking opportunities. Indeed,
almost the entire island of St. John is part of the Virgin Islands National Park. The only hiking we did do was on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands. Here’s a view from the ridge overlooking the Bitter End Yacht Club, where we were anchored.
One other oddity was a hermit crab we discovered near the top. I wasn’t aware that they did much hiking, especially given the size of the pack on their backs.
New Year’s Eve we were privileged to see Michael Beans‘ Pirate Show. Aside from the music and other high energy performance art which was great (How often can you win a shot of rum with your knowledge of Blackbeard?), Beans advertised for a charity he founded to fund a school for Haitian children. I’m sure he’d appreciate your support for this worthy cause.
Something I didn’t appreciate was how easy it is to get around the various Virgin Islands, (US or British). Each of the islands has regular, inexpensive ferries to the others. The last day, instead of returning to St. Thomas on the boat, we got off at St. John where we cleared US Customs. We spent the morning bumming around Cruz Bay, had a very nice lunch at the Banana Deck, and then hopped the ferry across to St. Thomas. The flight home was another story…