Picturing Virgin Islands

Peter Murphy

Hello from Peter Murphy. I’m the sometimes videography/sometimes still photography volunteer helping to document the work performed by volunteers with ConservationVIP. Working with the leadership, I’ve joined teams from Scotland to Machu Picchu and places in between. It’s been wonderful watching folks come together from all over to get dirty and create a metamorphosis of the important historical and natural resources that benefit by our collective efforts. One of my favorite trips with ConservationVIP was the Volunteer Trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands, with Gene Zimmerman, Mark Hardgrove and about a dozen or so volunteers.

My first impression was that it was a foreign land…not country, but certainly different. The Virgin Islands that I saw with ConservationVIP has exotic foreign ties and heritage…its vitality rivaled by the enthusiasm of the workers I was about to meet.

Here in not so many words as pictures, is a tale of what volunteers can do to turn back the clock for culturally significant landmarks that are/were in danger of being lost to nature.

Ruins covered in Overgrowth

On this trip, the Francis Bay estate ruins seemed to leap right out of the brush. But that’s not what happened. The volunteers found the building surrounded by dense vegetation and over the course of the day freed it from a morass of green. It was an amazing display of the difference people can make to bring the past back to life.

Paula cleaning next to coral chimney

To me, the most colorful location was the Lameshur Bay rum plantation ruins. The combination of historic locale plus the aquamarine waters of Lameshur Bay made for the perfect setting. And just one example of how the scenes worked together is the scene where a volunteer, Paula Maybee, worked against the backdrop of an old chimney, built out of coral.

And our volunteers huffed and puffed as they cleared the area of encroaching grasses, weeds and the like.

It was not all work and no play though. During the work week, we went swimming one night nearby, at Little Lameshur Bay. There was a lightning storm pulsing on the horizon, and the view from water level was unparalleled. Just great.

Midweek, we took a day off to hike the trail from Cruz Bay to Honeymoon Beach. After that it was into the water, or lay on the sand, or, or, or.

Just a day to enjoy the natural experience of St. John Virgin Islands National Park. And on the final night, we went for a boat ride out to the waters just offshore and swam, dove, and generally played water sports for the evening, treated to a beautiful Caribbean sunset.

The week or so spent with the ConservationVIP crew, the leaders, the volunteers, the locals…just a great experience and the photos tell the story.

Window on Lameshur Bay
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