Eco-Camping: Swiss Family Robinson Style
"People are beginning to realize that we need to live in accordance with the law of ecology, the law of finite resources, and if we don't, we're going to go extinct."
St. John seemed at war with us for some reason on our first few nights there, and we were clearly not well-prepared for the battle. So, following our nights in the Tent of Doom at Cinnamon Bay Campground, we opted for something hopeful-sounding: an eco-tent at Concordia on the southern tip of the island. I found Concordia in an online search and thought it sounded very intriguing. It was a complete ordeal to get the phone number to call from Cinnamon Bay to reserve our stay the following night.
As we ate, we noticed various oddities in the construction of the place. The restaurant appeared to have PVC piping running along the edges of the roof to catch rainwater. There were storage tanks beneath the deck. It intrigued us.
The deck for the pool hovered high in the air suspending hundreds (thousands?) of gallons of water above the ground. Beyond it, the jungle lay in wait guarding access to the beach and a jewel bay.
The pool itself was large and was graded according to the hill, rather than according to regular pool structure. It was deeper on the downhill side instead of on one of the two ends.
After the pool, we came to a flattened area on the walkway. The walkway extended flat to the left and right, and we were told to go right. So we followed the wooden walkway until we came to a sign marked "E21." And this is what we saw there.
The "tent" waited below on a deck of its own. At a first glance, we thought for sure this would be two tents, but it turns out the small room on the left is the bathroom and the right side is the tent itself. The entirety of space beyond this sign was ours. There's a deck in front of the "tent" and breezes that come wafting through constantly. We were like kids on Christmas surveying this view after our nights in the Tent of Doom. This structure could hardly be called a tent with any sense of accuracy to the word. Below is our view from the deck. You can just see the PVC pipe that goes along the roof to catch rainwater.
We were entirely taken with the scenery. This shows, just a little further down the walkway from our "tent," the view of the other side of the island. This is what's on the other side of the jewel bay.
This is just another angle from the many walkways. It was a treehouse resort. The entire thing built on massive deck structures about 30 feet in the air gave a sense of awe and whimsy to the entire experience. Signs along the walkways instructed visitors to toss food items (not trash, but actual food) into the jungle for recycling through the eco system. Hermit crabs scuttled in the underbrush curating their meals from the tossed remains of the resort's visitors.
We did our best to find a way to give you a grand tour of the tent, and the best picture we could get of the outside was not of our tent at all. This tent is similar to ours, with a few exceptions.
See the grates along the walls in the top-down photo above with the two beds and all the sarongs? These were extremely clever. They had screen material covering the outside to keep mosquitos out, and the grates themselves provided a way to have cross-breezes through the house without compromising privacy. We couldn't see anyone from any place in our house and no one could see us, yet we enjoyed breezes that felt as if there were no walls around us. It was glorious!
The bathroom was a surprise all its own. It had windows that (except for the glass ones above the water tank for the shower) no one could see into. The walls were canvas and wood. The floor was decking and cement where the shower was.
This shower is my favorite shower of any place I've ever paid money to stay in. I qualify that only because my favorite two showers in my entire life were taken as bucket showers in Africa while I was visiting various people. But I digress.
A garden hose and flower-watering attachment are the delivery modes to get the water from the black tank to your body to wash with.
There was also a rather awkward mirror for shaving in the shower area. It meant that throughout the shower, I never truly felt alone because I was there, reflected in a mirror beside myself.
The picture above shows the breezeway between the "tent" and the bathroom on the left.
I beat Jason soundly at several games of BananaGrams, and we made up for our lost sleep from our time at Cinnamon Bay Campground.
I'd highly recommend Concordia for anyone looking for a restful stay on St. John. This place brought our imaginations alive. We're still trying to dream up ways we could apply to the volunteer program and spend a month working on the grounds. No genius plans to make it happen soon have emerged, but as with all adventure, we're not giving up!
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