St John, US Virgin Islands: Inspirations: Water, Agua, H20

I mean COME ON! Look at this water! The St John USVI water never, ever, ever disappoints. Just the color alone is enough to take you to your knees in awe of its aqua blue beauty.

I’ve spent many of the last ten winters on-island, much of it just floating in the water with my snorkel and camera, watching how the light bounces off the sand, reef and beach at different times of day.

What makes this water this color?

 

St John, US Virgin Islands: Inspirations: Reef and Sea Life

DCIM100GOPRO

From Maho to Trunk, Salt Pond to Lameshur, each bay on the island has a different personality. Some have more turtles and rays, some harbor larger fish like barracuda. I’ve been surprised in the water a few times by fish that are larger than I am. I’ve also spent an ridiculous amount of time in the water watching a tiny yellow fish swimming along with me – drafting off of my wake as I glide through the open water.

More inspirations:

DCIM100GOPRO
DCIM100GOPRO
DCIM100GOPRO
DCIM100GOPRO
DCIM100GOPRO
DCIM100GOPRO
DCIM100GOPRO
DCIM100GOPRO
DCIM100GOPRO
DCIM100GOPRO

St John, US Virgin Islands: Inspirations: Tropical Flora and Fauna

For the past ten years I’ve had a serious love affair with the island of St John, USVI. There is soooo much to love. As a photographer, the unending variety of tropical flora and fauna on land is matched only by the ever-changing world of coral, fish and light underwater. It never gets old. I’m still mesmerized and still in love. I’ll be sharing some of my highlights in my next few posts.

 

   

Self Portrait – In Maps

I have been saving my maps since my first international trip in 1975. When I see them now, they bring back memories of the routes I took and the adventures I had along the way. I sometimes made notes on my maps – of the roads I traveled, the towns I visited and the dates I was there. I didn’t think of maps as sacrosanct. They were user-friendly, there for adding details.

In these maps, I see my grape-harvesting job in France, a 3-week bicycle trip in the San Juan Islands with one of my sisters, road trips across Mexico, Panama  and Italy with my family, work trips to the Middle East, hiking in Hawaii, Alaska and around my home in the Rocky Mountains.

One of my favorite maps is a topo map of northern China. I went there in the early-90’s to do a “first descent” of a river in a remote area. It was so long ago, that without that map, I might not remember all of the towns we stopped in- and the lake in which I nearly swam (unknowingly) to North Korea. But with that map, the details are clear. I still use maps wherever I go – even if I have GPS – I take my map. This photo makes me realize that these maps are such a big part of me – and they make a very strong self-portrait.

Favorite Hotel: Santa Fe NM: Hotel St. Francis

I never want to leave the boutique Hotel St Francis in Santa Fe, NM. Its a feeling I have when I’m there – like I’m in the company of an old soul. I just want to sit back and listen.  A block from the Historic Plaza in Santa Fe, this hotel is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The hotel has an onsite restaurant and lounge along with so many special touches – a pitcher of iced lemon water in the lobby, a wine tasting room, a beautiful front porch extending the length of the hotel…and the most incredible hospitality. Its reasonable priced, too. Highly recommended. I want to live there! www.hotelstfrancis.com.

 

   

 

Favorite Signs – St John, USVI

You have to admit that this island has character. Good character. Locals express themselves on local street signs … and in the street. Seems there’s always a note of humor, irony and, in some cases, an appeal to the higher conscience. In the case of the “Watch for Falling Goats” Sign – its about safety. The goats often hang around this area by the local dump. The hill is steep and they sometimes fall into the street. If they could read the sign, they might be more careful?

 

Arepas – Colombia

Besides the people (and the coffee … and the chocolate), the Colombian arepas are the best part of a visit to this country. An everyday staple, the arepa is breakfast, lunch and dinner – and, though the outer shell is corn-based, like the Mexico taco or Italian bread, there are endless variations on the recipe. The arepas at this local street-side restaurant were served with limes, hot sauce, a mayonnaise-based dressing.

 

 

Mayan Chocolate

Chocolate-Mayan-Museum-Ticul-1050011-blog

Chocolate-Mayan-Museum-Ticul-1040996-blog

Chocolate-Mayan-Museum-Ticul-1050025-blog

The Mayan civilization is believed to have started the cultivation of cacao to make chocolate. The Ecomuseo del Cacao, in the Yucatan Peninsula tells the story of Mayan Cacao. The Museum, located on the Puuc Route near the town of Ticul in the Yucatan peninsula, is a true find for history and chocolate lovers. The best part: the hot chocolate-making demonstration by local Mayans who hand crush and hand froth the chocolate before adding spices such as Canela (Cinnamon) Pimienta gorda (Allspice) and Chile (Hot Pepper). It’s out of the way and very much off the beaten track, but its well worth a stop in the jungle.