After surveying the bees in Puerto Rico, I flew to St-Croix to find agricultural fields to survey. Although the trip was just a couple of days long, it was quite an experience!
First, flying from SJU to STX was probably the most exhilarating experience of my life. We flew on this super tiny 8-passenger plane, and I was seated right behind the pilot. Being in such a small plane meant that we only got up to an altitude of about 3500 feet. Even though I was a little nervous at first, the 40 minute plane ride was absolutely fantastic. We flew right by the beautiful islands of Vieques, Culebra and St-Thomas. The landing was a little bit trickier, and I did feel my heart drop a couple of times, but the pilot was very professional and got us down in one piece.
Apparently St-Croix only has about 100,000 people, and compared to Puerto Rico, the island was empty! The airport was located in the center of the island, so we rented a Jeep and went to Christiansted, which is all the way at the East of the island. Was pretty empty there too, except for a few tourists who really stuck out like sore thumbs. We did drove around the island a little, had lunch in Frederiksted and then went back to the hotel. Then the next day, Monday, we had our appointment with an NRCS representative and an Entomology Extension worker from the USVI university. They took us around to visit farms.
All the growers were really interested in participating in my study, and were actually very happy that we were including the USVI in the study. It’s sad because the people I spoke to felt like the island was very under-represented, and that the Puerto Ricans get all the attention. But then, the Puerto Ricans feel the same about mainland US. So, I’m glad I’m able to represent both islands in a way that makes them happy.
Although I would love to keep island hopping every trip, it’s just too expensive and my grant money would disappear in a flash. So, I’m going to see if the Entomology extension worker is willing to take on the sampling in St-Croix, and send me the specimens as it goes. I will have one more island hopping trip in March, though, where I’ll train him, if he accepts the position. So no more 8-passenger planes for me!