We sailed into St. Thomas early this morning to a beautiful sunrise. We were cleared to debark at 8:00 AM. But since our tour wasn’t until 9:30 we were still having breakfast.
Sunrise at St. Thomas
The Dutch West India Company established a post on Saint Thomas in 1657. The first congregation was the St. Thomas Reformed Church, which was established in 1660 and was associated with the Dutch Reformed Church. The Danish conquered the island in 1666, and by 1672 had established control over the entire island through the Danish West India and Guinea Company.
In 1917, St. Thomas was purchased (along with Saint John and Saint Croix) by the United States for $25 million in gold, as part of a defensive strategy to maintain control over the Caribbean and the Panama Canal during the First World War. U.S. citizenship was granted to the residents in 1927. The U.S. Department of the Interior took over administrative duties in 1931. American forces were based on the island during the Second World War. In 1954, passage of the U.S. Virgin Islands Organic Act officially granted territorial status to the three islands, and allowed for the formation of a local senate with politics dominated by the American Republican and Democratic parties. Full home rule was achieved in 1970.
The post-war era also saw the rise of tourism on the island. With relatively cheap air travel and the American embargo on Cuba, the numbers of visitors greatly increased. Despite natural disasters such as Hurricane Hugo (1989) and Hurricanes Luis and Marilyn (1995), the island’s infrastructure continues to improve as the flow of visitors continues. Hotels have been built from the West End to the East End.
We our guide, Coco Brown, was early and we got away about 9:15. For the next 2 ½ hours we got a great overview of the island and its history.
Coco Brown, our guide on St. Thomas
Coco first drove us to what he referred to as a “farm”. It was located about at about 1400 feet elevation and really consisted of only a few acres on the mountain side where the owners grew several local crops and many herbs which they sold at a roadside stand. Here Coco treated us to fresh sour sap and passion fruit juice. Although I have tasted both of these previously in Brazil, I believe these were much better. What we enjoyed as much as the juice was the view. We had an incredible view of Crown Harbor where our ship was birthed as well as several of the smaller island adjacent to St. Thomas.
The Ryndam is patiently waiting for our return.
In this photo the St. Thomas Airport may be seen in the upper right.
Following a couple of additional scenic stops, we made our way back down the mountain into town. Here we saw the old fort which has some interesting architectural features.
After leaving the fort and a brief tour of the downtown shopping district, we decided to stay in town to explore on our own and walk back to the ship. We found a restaurant (Myrtles) which Coco had recommended for some local type food. We shared a delicious meal of Kalaloo (a type of gumbo), Conch Fritters, jerked buffalo wings and Fungi (a mixture of corn meal with various local plant meals) with Creole sauce along with fried plantains.
One of Gladys’ quotes.
Pauline, our waitress along with Leiona and Kay
Following lunch walk back to the ship took about 30 minutes and was about 2 miles. It was HOT but good exercise.
Tomorrow, we will be in St. Johns, Antigua at 8:00 AM ..