Thursday, December 24, 2009

A Cruise of Discovery

We visited many different islands on our cruise. St. Maarten, St. Lucia, Barbados, Antigua, and St. Thomas. (I think there were a few others, but I can’t remember.) Most people who cruise get off the ship and take excursions or taxis to visit the sites or beaches. But since the excursions are very pricey and the taxis are just as bad, we opted to do a lot of walking. In the end, though it was a huge hassle, it turned out to be a great blessing.

Instead of zipping from one aesthetically-prepared tourist spot—set up to make American/European visitors feel at home—to another, the kids experienced third world countries. They discovered that third world countries rarely have sidewalks. They saw people filling their water jugs from spigots because they don’t have running water at home. They saw pets riddled with mange and worms. They saw people standing around idly because the unemployment was so high there was no work to be had. They saw waste water from homes running into open sewer systems. (Really scary when you consider it runs untreated into the sea and around the beaches. Also from the color and texture of the waste water it seems to have high levels of phosphates.) They saw historic landmarks covered in trash and treated with contempt.

At one point, Jacob took my hand and said, “We’re really, really blessed to live in the United States.” Gratitude instead of entitlement. That discovery was music to my ears.

The next day we went to St. Thomas, which is one of the US Virgin Islands. Five minutes after we were on the island, the kids said, “Mom, this is like being back in the US.” The streets had sidewalks, people had jobs, and the streets were clean. And, yes, the island had poor people, but their situation was nothing like the extreme poverty on the other islands.

Here are a few photos.
Luke is peering into a cathedral on Antigua. It was shut down (the doors had padlocks on it) because a tourist had fallen through the rotting floor boards.

Here we are on St. Thomas.


  1. I wouldn't worry about the waste water flowing into the ocean because any germs in the water will have been disintegrated by the salt when they reach the beaches

  2. I had those same thoughts of "US Gratitude" when I went on vacation to other countries and nations... Even when I went to Britain, which is a really nice place and socialized area, I still felt like I missed good ole' America.

  3. oooh Luke! breaking into a cathedral? shame, dude!

    Guke Drace