This story materializes during a much-awaited vacation from the New York City winter to the US Virgin Islands with two good friends. It involves an week-long AirBnB condo and lots of pink champagne.
The island of St. John is the quiet little brother to St. Thomas. It has no airport, and is only accessible by boat. St. John is also host to Virgin Islands National Park. We had decided we wanted a hiking day to explore the park, so I found a promising trail on the east end of the island that touted scenic hiking past two beaches boasting some of the best snorkeling the island offered. Little did I know of Tait’s addition to the day’s itinerary.
We took the ferry to St. John and stopped by a gear shop in Cruz Bay to pick up some snorkel gear rentals for our adventure. When we told the owner our plan for the day, he exclaimed that we had picked an awesome part of the island to check out – just not today. The weather forecast called for winds and strong currents, meaning cloudy water and no pretty fishes to see. Not exactly ideal for snorkeling. Rather dispirited, I suggested simply spending the day at a nearby beach where we had free day passes for lounge chairs, floats, and paddle boards. Tait, on the other hand, was strangely insistent on hiking. Our gear shop guru told us the weather would be better Monday for our ideal hike, and recommended another trail leading to the beach with some scenic views and old ruins we could explore today. We all jumped on the idea, and grabbed a taxi to the Cinnamon Bay Trail.
The trail was a beautiful hike through the forest with occasional views of Cinnamon Bay, our ultimate destination. About a half mile from the end of the Cinnamon Bay trail is a spur trail leading uphill to the America Hill ruins – an old manor house of sugar plantation owners. Naturally, we hiked the mountain to find the remnants of an old house looking out into the sea, surrounded by wildflowers (and bees. Lots of bees).
Tait climbed atop a precarious concrete perch, from which to gain the best view of the bay and surrounding islands. I joined him for a photo op. I then turned around to climb back down, except I couldn’t. Tait would not let go of my hand. I turned back around to find Tait down on one knee holding out a ring box.
“Sophia Alexandra Maria, will you do me the honor of marrying me and being my hiking partner for life?”
There was a moment of deliberation. (Not really, I just like to torture Tait from time to time). Then I responded, “Yes.” And he slipped the most beautiful ring I had ever seen on my swollen hiking hand.
We are engaged!