Thursday, November 28, 2013

The Annaberg Sugar Plantation Re-Visited...

See note below...
   One of my favorite experiences when I visited St. John in March of 2012 was the visit to the Annaberg Sugar Plantation.  (You can read that post here and you probably should re-read it just to set the stage for this post. ) In March it was a startling encounter for me.  This time I wanted to see if I would see it and, more importantly, feel it the same way.

   On this visit it was a grey, overcast day.  In March it was a steamy day with a blazing sun.  My friend accompanied me this time and the experience was quite different but not initially.

   When we walked up the road approaching the mills, with the ruins of the slave quarters on our left, I started to get that same oppressive feeling I had the last time.  We went in and out of the ruins and I tried to describe my feelings to my friend.  She agreed that there is definitely a feeling about the place and it is not a happy one.  But then we met Miss Olivia...

Miss Olivia
    Miss Olivia met us at the door of the cook house where she was making johnny cakes as part of a National Park's cultural event.  It was like the sun came out with that smile.  She told us all about the process of bread making while we nibbled on samples of the warm johnny cakes with papaya jam and her sweet iced tea.

    She seemed to radiate goodness and kindness and in the process dispelled our initial gloom.  It is a good example of how putting faces with the places makes such a difference. Last time I walked around by myself and there was nothing to lift my spirits from the overall sadness of the place.

   Although I still had the feeling of this thin place that I had felt before, my encounter with Miss Olivia created the counter balance I needed this time.

   Lesson for sure to engage with local residents when you travel.  Seek them out and listen to their stories.  Embrace the place through their eyes and not only yours.  It will make all the difference in the world to your experience.

For an in-depth story about Annaberg's history visit this link.....

Note: You can see the type of construction that is used on the island. Stonewalls are filled with whatever the mason could find...old bricks, pieces of coral, and sea shells. It makes for a lovely textured surface and today you see this type of wall everywhere in new construction. This is a little detail from the house I am staying at...Treetops.  People become very creative with their wall construction!

   Each location I've visited around the world has its own unique eccentricities that add to the sense of place.  These are what you must seek out and embrace.

1 comment:

VirginIslandBeauty said...

Hi! Trying to get in touch with you as soon as possible! (within the next 2 days) I would like to use your photo of Miss Olivia for a facebook fan site for a real estate company in the virgin islands! Please! This would look so good for the virgin islands and was wondering if you would allow me to do so if I post the link to your blog spot along with it! Email me at Thanks!