Location: St. Vincent

By 8:45 this morning, we were all piled into taxis and on our way to Soufriere, a massive volcanic crater on the island of St. Vincent. After an hour of ‘roller-coaster’ roads, we arrived at the trailhead to Soufriere (‘Sulfur’) and began what was predicted to be a two-hour hike in. We scaled hundreds of steps cut into the soft clay of the mountainside, winding our way through the lush rainforest and breathing deeply of the fresh mountain air. Living on a boat makes us appreciate the relief of stretching our legs and getting our blood pumping. Although tiring, the exhilaration of scaling such beautiful terrain made all pains worth it when after an hour and a half, we were blessed with the sight of the crater’s majestic breadth. As we gazed at a view out of a dream, we felt the wind at our backs pick up, trying to pull us into the abyss. Turning around, we saw a wall of water vapor rushing up the slope towards us. The clouds engulfed us, drenching us in rain, and poured over the lip of the crater to swirl and dance in the bowl below. Gazing down made one feel as if the volcano were a whirlpool, pulling everything nearby into its swirling vortex of wind, rain, and sulfurous vapors. Nobody should underestimate the sheer might of a volcanic crater – a place where earth, fire, air, and water converge, making the beholder feel both insignificant and infinite in a moment.

Although the sight was a wonder to behold, those of us chilled by the wind and rain were eager to start back down the slope. Although charging up a mountain is exhausting and some can’t wait to start the downhill, the return trip requires more finesse by far and is in ways more difficult. Once out of the rocky stretch and back onto soft loam, we enjoyed a couple of snack breaks, and some leisurely took pictures along the way or raced each other along the path. Upon returning to Ocean Star, we had time to bathe and take a quick nap and/or study before a delicious dinner of Chicken Cordon-Blue with bacon and sides of broccoli and pasta. Our ‘squeeze question’ of the day (a question the skipper of the day asks of the crew) was to describe a way in which someone on the boat inspired them thus far. After dinner cleanup, we piled into the Saloon to take our Oceanography midterm (Fingers crossed everyone did their best!), and now we’re all either asleep or relaxing on deck, taking a little respite before our long passage to St. Lucia tomorrow. Cheers!