• close family • small boat • big world •

St. John Petrogylphs

March 23, 2015

by Paula
At anchor, Little Lameshur Bay, St. John, USVI

(from our backlog of posts... we are currently in St. Barts)

I could swear the ancestors of the Taino people were there with me; I hadn’t felt such a peaceful calm in a long time. When anchored in Little Lameshur Bay on the south side of St. John, we were excited to hike the island. St. John is known for its hiking, as 60% of the island has been preserved within the Virgin Island National Park.

We parked our dinghy at the beach and headed north-west on the Lameshur Bay trail. The path is clear and well-marked, but the steep uphill portions keep it interesting.  We saw numerous termite mounds, high up in the trees, along with tiny lightning-fast lizards and creepy caterpillars.


We followed the trail high into the hills before taking a smaller path to "the big house" - the ruins of a former grand mansion from the days when the sugar plantation here was thriving.

After a picnic lunch we continued west to the intersection of the Reef Bay trail. The boys headed south to explore the ruins of a sugar mill. The girls hiked a bit further west before coming to a gorgeous and spiritual spot. Amidst the lush greenery sits a spring-fed pool, whose rock banks are adorned with ancient petroglyphs. These images, carved into the rock, are purported to have been made between 700 and 1500 AD by the pre-Columbian Taino people. The origin of these carvings is not certain, but the park service explanation indicates that the designs match those found on ceremonial Taino pottery, Later research revealed by a friend in St. Thomas, however, indicates they were made by seafaring Libyan travelers - an interesting perspective.

The pool is fed by natural springs and remains at the same level, regardless of rainfall. The petroglyphs are carved just above the water-line and are reflected in the pool’s glassy surface. This was, perhaps, intentional, to reflect the duality of the living and spiritual worlds that is often represented in Taino art.

We certainly felt that sacred presence. I spent quite some time in quiet meditation, feeling the difficulty of some current struggles fade away. An ethereal beauty enveloped me... all will be well. Now, months past, I can still recall that unwavering tranquility. Life, even here on a boat, can be hectic or challenging or stressful. When things start to feel difficult, I close my eyes and bring back that peaceful pool and those simple symbols. All will be well...