Gypsy Magic

"The traveler was active; he went strenuously in search of people, of adventure, of experience. The tourist is passive; he expects interesting things to happen to him. He goes 'sight-seeing.'"

Daniel J. Boorstin

As eager travelers, we have embraced the wide range of experiences St. John has presented us with. Last night was my first night in the hammock, and the rest of the day has been a day of junctions, decisions, and gypsy magic. Today we met a stunning woman named Princess and discovered the joys of bulk booze and free snorkeling pretty much simultaneously. It feels like today must have been pivotal in some way. We still don't have our lodging for our final two nights booked, but we figure we'll get that taken care of as it comes to us. Since we're not feeling confident enough to camp, we're debating between staying in a house-like structure here at the campground, finding cheap lodging in Cruz Bay, or checking out some eco-tents on the other side of the island at a place I researched before we came. We decided to think on it with some rum.

Up to the commissary we went to purchase a bottle of locally-produced Cruzan rum, a can of pineapple juice, and a can of sweetened coconut milk. We had no tools to open the cans, so Jason used the pointy corner of the grill at the campsite to ram a hole in each can, and then a rock to widen the holes enough to be pourable. We poured all of the rum into a plastic water bottle from yesterday to avoid bringing glass to the beach, and we brought a fairly wide-mouthed cranberry juice bottle for mixing and consuming our pina coladas. And we set off with sarongs and all our great intentions slathered in sunscreen.

We exited our jungle labyrinth to find Cinnamon Bay glittering in the sunshine. The exact location of our tent feels so far from any beach even though it's just a few hundred feet from the water.

nullThese are our cans of pineapple and coconut juice covered in a sarong to prevent bugs and sand from getting in. The arrangement worked quite well.

Rain came soon after we had shaken up our second round of pina coladas. We stuck to our code and bolted for the Tent of Doom with valuables in tow. Arriving at our campsite, we happened upon some folks asking questions about our hammock setup. I proudly beamed to this couple about our hammocks as if a night in a hammock had made me an expert on hammock living. And then they told us they live here for about 3-4 months every year and they have hammocking down to a complete art. I asked them some questions about their setup, and when it got to be too much for me to understand, I asked to see their campsite.

Past the towels, a 50-foot tarp fixed about 20 feet overhead shaded the entire campsite stretching to each of the borders where the forest encroached upon the sandy oasis. The woman, who called herself Princess, and her partner, Ray, had set up a campsite that was far beyond the imaginings of even the most ambitious "glampers."

Princess explained to me that the size of the tarp is critical since everyone rakes their campsites and the sites become bowls. A tarp functions much better than a rain fly because it still allows for ventilation and a large enough tarp prevents water from pooling around your tent.

As she told me the reasons for everything, I stood dumbfounded. It was clear that I had walked into a space filled with the magic that enchants the hearts of vagabonds. This place was something from the sweetest corner of dreams among the gypsy-hearted world.

I was amazed standing in this homey space how much it had been transformed by creativity and unconventional uses for things. They told us how they find most of the things they display in their campsite. They locate these treasures in the campsites of departed campers, or even the trash containers around the campground. From the wine bottle windchime, and the hat tree, to the Nemo and their beloved “Shark-ass” squeaky toys that hung perfectly displayed, everything had a function, a purpose, and was a found object.

We went back to our site and grabbed our camera, talking excitedly the entire way about how inspiring, encouraging, and remarkable it was to talk to them.

I always feel so much more alive when I can be immersed in water.

Along the far wall of the bay, we found immaculate reefs with vibrant fish populations. I bothered all of the sea life like an over-excited dad at a kid's soccer game (don’t worry, I never touched anything, but I did take tons of pictures) and choked on water a number of times. When we got back to our tent for the evening, I realized I’d overdone it. I had cramps all over my body, but I was deliriously happy. It took hours to relieve the knots and stop hurting. But it was totally worth it.

As we walked, the sky took our breath away. We could see more stars than we’ve seen in quite some time. While we stood staring at the vast array of light in the sky, we started to notice stars seemingly washing up on the shore. Bioluminescent microorganisms in the water from a nearby bay had been washed into Cinnamon Bay. When the water churned, they would light up, and as they washed ashore, they stuck in the sand. Walking along the beach felt magical. We left a trail of twinkling fairy dust in the sand as the microorganisms lit back up from the movement of our feet. It was breathtakingly beautiful.

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