Working hard and playing hard in St. Croix

One student’s experience
Sat, 04/14/2018 - 7:00am

Members of the Block Island School’s sophomore class took their annual Further Afield trip to St. Croix in March. Class member Allison Pineda submitted the following report:

My trip to St. Croix was more than just cool; it was phenomenal. I got to do so many things I have never done before, and see and experience new things such as: snorkeling, hiking a “hill” that was almost Mt. Everest, and kayaking in clear kayaks to see bioluminescence in action! I have never been to the Caribbean and my trip to St. Croix was my third trip out of Rhode Island. The temperature was about 85 degrees Fahrenheit all day, and almost all week. The temperature dropped down a few degrees at night, but never below 80 degrees. We were staying on a really big property in the rainforest. The property was beautiful, not because of its size or what it contained, or looked like, but because of what there was around it. In the morning, geckos would be waiting for us on the porch and would scurry away when they saw us approach them. We would wake up to the sound of birds, singing to us, in such a way, it was almost as if they were telling us a story.

We didn’t have WiFi, TV, or a signal where we were staying, but that’s what made our trip so special and spectacular (at least in my opinion). I didn’t have to worry about Snapchat, or Facebook, or texting my friends, or liking all my friends’ latest posts on Instagram. It was just us, surrounded by nature and the island’s beauty. We did get a signal once we were in town and we had WiFi once in a while when we would stop at a restaurant or a gas station. When I had reception, I would call my dad and then my brother and that’s it. If we still had more time and I had called both of them, I would just scroll quickly through my feed (posts and pictures on social media). Being away from all of the technology felt sort of relaxing.

We went to the beach every day while we were there. The main purpose of the trip was to do “community service.” We helped out The Nature Conservancy with a few projects they needed to get done. Our first task was to put up posts to mark off the turtle nests on the beach. This was so that The Nature Conservancy could easily spot the turtle nests, especially after storms, to make sure that they were okay and so that people would not step on them and ruin them. We also cleared two trails at The Nature Conservancy, moved a huge pile of bricks and stacked them and organized them, and we also put in new posts guiding cars into The Nature Conservancy compound.

My favorite thing we did in St. Croix was going out to Buck Island on a boat. We went snorkeling off of Buck Island. We had to partner up with another person. I was in a group with my two really good friends, Moira and Ruby. Ruby and I separated away from the group and went pretty far away from where everyone else was. While we were swimming among all of the parrotfish and barracudas, we saw the most wonderful sea creature. We saw a spotted eagle ray with a small school of fish swimming carefully behind it. We floated on the water, watching the ray, flapping its wings, so majestically swimming into the deeper part of the ocean where the water turns from aqua and light crystal clear blue, to a darker but still clear blue. We wanted to follow it to see what other majestic sea creatures we could see but we didn’t want to get too far from the group. We dove under the water, swimming with the brightly-colored parrotfish, when behind a rock, with its mouth wide open, sharp teeth and eyes following our every move, a barracuda was swimming in the same place. As soon as I saw it, Ruby calmed me down and we swam away watching it turn as we swam. We swam back to the boat and the boat took us to Buck Island, where the girls in my class and I walked around half the island and jumped off a dock. The dock looked like Payne’s dock here, but it was longer, and the water we jumped into was a beautiful shade of blue and so clear we could see the sand below. We splashed each other, laughed. This is definitely something I won’t ever forget.

With all of these amazing experiences, also came a few bad events, which were actually pretty funny. While my friends and I were running out of the water, I tripped, still in the water, and fell into a hole, and while I was struggling to get back on my feet, my friends were dying of laughter when all they saw was me trip again, and fall straight into the water, face first. I laughed so hard I think I swallowed up half the water from the beach. Then, running to the boat, we did the limbo with the boat rope and I was the first one to go. I ran towards the rope to go under, but, instead of gracefully going under the rope, I got clotheslined. The rope caught my neck and I went flying back into the sand. No one saw, except my friends. Both accidents were painful, but they’re more like fun/funny events that happened on the trip.  

I really enjoyed my trip. So far, it’s the best school trip I’ve ever attended. It not only taught me how to work, and I didn’t only help others and help nature, but I helped myself. I gave myself a stress-free week that helped me get closer to my friends. I also realized that technology is not needed for happiness. I hope that the school continues to do this trip with following classes and that maybe our class can do another trip like this, or my friends and I can take a small vacation to another place or St. Croix together.