s-hole-2.JPG Hiking was on the agenda for today, and we set out early for the Annaberg Sugar Mill ruins.  On the way there, we found a tour being led by the Golda, from the National Park Service. golda.JPG When we joined it, she was leading a group along the trail, explaining about different trees and medicinal plants found on St John.  This was a stroke of luck for me, as it is something I am very interested in.  Growing up, my mom was always using some home remedy on us, and we always had a aloe plant for burns.  I even have 3 aloe plants on the boat I use frequently for cuts, burns and scrapes.  I was very anxious to learn what else was out there.  Golda gave us a great tour, showing which plants to watch out for (Machineel tree poisonous), and which ones were good for you.  In the islands, she told us, everyone drinks some kind of herbal tea everyday, even the children.  She pulled a small, green plant from the side of the road.  This was called the Love Bush and was very good for your heart.  She also showed us the Buttonwood tree whose leaves were good for getting rid of toxins.  Islanders eat Barracuda, which is considered toxic, yet they don’t get sick.  She said the reason was tea from the Buttonwood tree.  Drinking the tea either before or after eating Barracuda will get rid of the toxins in the fish.  Golda had all kinds of medicinal plants to show us, and it was amazing there was so much of it around us.  After we left Golda, we took the trail up to the Annaberg Sugar Mill ruins.  The ruins sat atop a small hill with picturesque views of Jost Van Dyke and Sophers Hole. sophers-hole.JPG

An older gentleman, Mr. Clive Dale, was weaving baskets and we stopped to watch him.  He looked at me and said “You’ve been here many times” as a statement, not a question.  I said that I hadn’t been here, but I had been to the BVI’s manytimes.  He told me I came on a boat, and I said yes, a sailboat.  It was a little weird, as if it was like he knew me.  I told him I really liked the British Virgin Islands, and he smiled and told me that was where he was from.  He noticed I was holding the leaves from the Love Bush plant, and I told him that Golda had given them to me.  He asked me if I was going to make tea and I said yes. He said the tea was also good for the liver and kidneys. When I mentioned I needed to get a book on medicinal plants, he reached into his bag and pulled out a juicer book.  He has several juicers at home and juices most of his vegetables.  He showed me the dark tea he was drinking, saying it was Milk Thistle.  This I had heard of. He stopped his weaving and walked me down the trail to show me where it was growing in the wild and picked some for me. Later he brought us down another trail to show us the tree he cut the wood from to weave the baskets he was making.  He fascinated me.  It was like we knew each other from somewhere.  We toured the ruins some more then headed back to the beach. I made tea that evening from the Love Bush and it was really good!! 

After the mill, we went back and relaxed on Maho Beach.  The beach in front of the campground here, is pretty but small.  It was my turn to climb the 164 steps (yes 164!) to buy the drinks and bring them back.  As I was enoying my Carib, in a glass bottle, a male beachgoer comes up to me and informs me that the National Park Service doesn’t allow glass bottles on the beach.  “The Park Ranger was just by here so you’d better be discreet.”  I gave him the “Why exactly are you talking to me?” stare.  Undeterred he added, “And try not to break it.”   Well thank goodness he got to me in time.  I was just about to give a rebel yell and lob my bottle at a loggerhead turtle!!

Annaberg Sugar Mill sugar-mill.JPG sugar-mill-1.JPG sugar-mill-3.JPG sugar-mill-4.JPG