The time we weren't sailing around to different islands, we spent on St. John, as that is where Summer worked as a dive instructor, and Mikey as a park ranger. I lost track of how many days we went diving, but sometimes we tagged along with Summer's DSD classes and helped out with the students. and other times we just went on fun dives. The first day we got in the water we saw two different sea turtles, and if you know me, you know that I absolutely, positively adore sea turtles. I even have one tattooed on my foot (a little memento of the semester I sailed around the world). So as you can probably imagine, I was in scuba heaven.

What was really cool about these little guys was that the large group of us didn't scare them away. They seemed perfectly content to hang around and play with us, which they did, and we lingered and did little dances of joy (or I did anyway) for as long as they were willing to stay.

The other cool thing we found on that first day diving was a sea urchin of some sort that has those same little suction cup fingers on its underside as a starfish, so that it would glue itself to your hand and not let go. 

On our last day of diving, one of the people in charge of the dive shop approached Fletch and me and told us that she had both good news and bad news. The bad news was that they had to steal Summer away that night to lead the night dive, but the good news was that they were going to let us go on it for free! If you kept up with my stories of Roatan at all, you know that I am not the biggest fan of night dives. You can't see a thing, you have no concept of where you are, and the littlest bit of water in your mask and you suddenly feel like you're drowning. I had done a total of three night dives in my life at this point, and although I was hesitant to go on a forth, how could you possibly pass up a free dive? 

So at dusk we set out on our third dive of the day, equipped with an extra wetsuit for warmth and a flashlight, and just as the sun was disappearing beneath the horizon, we disappeared beneath the surface of the ocean. 

The highlight of the dive was the octopus. I've had divemasters point in crevices before and tell me that there was an octopus in there, and I've nodded and looked enthusiastic while staring at what looked like nothing but coral and wondering how in the world they picked that out, but I've never seen an octopus out in the open, let alone found it myself. Fletch and I were trailing along at the back of the group, one, to keep an extra set of eyes on everyone as instructors, and two, to avoid the kicking and confusion of a tangled up mass of inexperienced divers, when there it was, flat as a pancake, and white as the sand it was sprawled across, my octopus. My flashlight zoomed right over it at first and then I had to do a double-take, sure that there was no way I had actually seen an octopus right there that everyone else had just swam over. But there it was, sure enough. Once my light landed on it, exposing its camouflage, it flew quick as a dart into an opening in the coral, turned into a fiery red bulb, and disappeared down a hole that I probably wouldn't have been able to poke my finger into. 

My second discovery was the slipper lobster. Once again, I was merely shining my light this way and that when the stream of light fell across the armor of some crustacean. I wasn't sure quite what it was at first, as from the top there was no sign of legs or antennae or claws; it looked like an oversized roly poly. I showed Fletch and he picked the thing up, exposing its spider-like legs underneath. Meet the slipper lobster. We kept it and gave it to our boat captain as a tip. 

On our last day in St. John, we had to refrain from diving since we would be flying the next day, and so instead decided to go on an invigorating nature hike. Summer picked out a trail for the three of us, we paid the trolly to drive us up the curving mountain roads and spit us out at the trailhead, and off we went! 

A little ways down the trail there was a freshwater pool surrounded by smooth rocks that was fed by a waterfall that cascades down a 40 foot cliff. Previous inhabitants of St. John had carved pictures and symbols into the rocks, which are known as the petroglyphs. We stopped at this magical little pool to eat a sandwich, if you catch my drift. 

A couple hours farther down the trail were the old sugar mill ruins, now inhabited by a dwindling number of hermit crabs. Apparently it is tradition for everyone to grab a hermit crab, go to the beach, draw  giant circle in the sand, and have a race. Summer and I both chose very lazy crabs, who only decided to start moving once Fletch's crab had already crossed the finish line. 

After touring the sugar mills, we had a decision to make, head back in the direction we had come? which had taken us several hours, or continue on until the other end of the trail, which would also take us several hours? The option to move forward ended up being the shorter option (although not by much) and so nearing a point of exhaustion we began to trudge onwards. 

An hour or so later we ran out of the last sips of gatorade we had been rationing. 

An hour or so after that we were still hiking up and down the never-ending path. 

We reached a point where the breaks were frequent, and we all fell into an exhausted silence, for fear that anything that came out of our mouths would be a miserable complaint. 

Tired, parched, hungry, and barely able to move, we stumbled onto a beach were several groups of people were packing up from a day spent in the sun. We waited awkwardly by the few cars parked a little ways away, hoping to hitch a ride with the first person kind enough to take pity on us. A nice looking couple started loading up their belongings in a heavy-duty off-roading type vehicle (I know my cars) and we made our approach. They gladly let us pile into the back seat of the car, and we went bouncing along a tremendously long stretch of pot-holed dirt road. The drive before we hit the main road was a fair distance; we would have never made the walk before sundown. They were nice enough to drive us as far as the first convenience store, where we insisted on being dropped off so that we could go purchase the store's supply of water. 

Several bottles of water later, we stumbled out of the store, refreshed, and decided to hitchhike our way to the next town over, Coral Bay, for dinner. We ended up walking about half the distance before someone finally picked us up. 

We ate dinner at a place called Skinny Legs, relaxed, regained our strength, and then took a cab home, halfway around the island.