On Tour: St. John, U.S.V.I.

6 Mar

March 3, 2015  | Still Dreaming | St. John, U.S.V.I.

Yesterday I had the day to myself before dinner with Andrea Leland, the head of the St. John Film Society. It was my brief window to enjoy the miracle of this tiny island before catching a flight out today. I wanted to head to the beach, and if I was brave enough, go snorkeling. I am not a carefree ocean swimmer, but a hesitant and sometimes fearful one. Snorkeling was something I really wanted to do, but still felt wary, especially since I am here on my own. Everyone suggests snorkeling with a partner for safety.

At breakfast, guests at my hotel suggested Waterlemon, a tiny cay off of a beach that lay at the end of a 20 minute trail along the north shore of the island. It sounded like too much for me – being alone and a bit nervous. Instead, I went to a closer beach called Cinnamon Bay, rented my gear and cautiously went out into the turquoise water. After gasping too much air and sea water in my initial anxious haste, I was happy to see some vivid blue and yellow fish and a few purple sea fans along the bottom. But the water was choppy, the air quite windy at this cove. A couple who was snorkeling nearby were lamenting the lack of sights under water. They were talking about going back to Waterlemon. They told me they had seen sea turtles there that morning. Wow. I had to try that. Seeing a sea turtle has always been one of my dreams.

My excitement helped me push through my fear of heading out solo to the tiny cay. When I got to the parking area, I couldn’t find the path. When I eventually found it, there was no one else on it. The view was a gorgeous real-life postcard which helped me relax as I walked. Eventually, I did see a small beach up ahead. There were plenty of sunbathers and a few snorkelers.

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Heading out into the water, I felt elated. This water was calm and easier to swim in and I couldn’t wait to see a turtle. I saw many stunning fish, some coral heads and big sea birds along the shore. It was a thrill to come up against the oncoming traffic of a huge school of silver fish, who parted around me. But no sea turtles were to be found. I had to get back to Cruz Bay for the screening, so I surrendered to not seeing any turtles on this trip and headed into shore. Just as I did that, I looked to my right, and swimming along beside me was a small sea turtle. He had a beautiful brown and yellow shell, and glided through the water, every few minutes coming up for air. I swam with him for 10 minutes, wondering if it was possible to cry with a snorkel mask on! I was amazed and emotional at this serendipitous gift. As I finally turned into shore, a stingray swam under me. I caught my breath and headed to the beach, so very glad I had decided to dance with my fears instead of playing it safe. It once again confirmed one of the central ideas to our film, STILL DREAMING – that there are great rewards for facing your fears and pursuing your dreams. Thank you St. John for a wonderful day and a fantastic screening!

Post by OSIP touring filmmaker, Jilann Spitzmiller.
To listen to a podcast interview with the filmmaker, click here.

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