|Overlooking the harbor at St. Thomas|
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Columbus sighted the island of St. Thomas in 1493 during his second voyage to the New World, but he kept on going. The Dutch West India Company subsequently established a post in 1657. A few years later, the Dutch conquered the original inhabitants, the Arawaks, and turned the land into sugar cane plantations. Along came the U.S. in 1917 and bought the island for $25 million as part of their defensive strategy to control the Caribbean and the Panama Canal during World War I. Ten years later, U.S. citizenship was granted to the island's residents and they were given home rule in 1970.
I quickly found out that the U.S. Virgin Islands are the only place in the U.S. where vehicles drive on the left side of the road. This practice was inherited from the Dutch, however most vehicles on the island are of American make, thus the driver sits on the left side. It was explained to me by a local that this way the driver could better see how close his wheels were to falling off the edge of their steep and twisty mountain roads. Since I was seated behind our driver on the left side of the vehicle, I could see his concern. There were no safety rails on the road and it was a long ways down. We'll skip over the hazards of oncoming traffic at hairpin turns.
|Blackbeard's Castle, his statue is behind the camera.|
Next, we're off to Dominica and a story about 1970's mercenaries. That's two weeks for you, but a one-day cruise for us. See ya.