Ominous dark clouds suffocated the sky, but I was determined to get on that plane. Things were already off to a rough start due to the 15 pound luggage weight restriction. Like most photographers, I opted to leave extra clothes behind in order to take my camera gear. They announced a short delay to clean the 🤮 from a previous passenger. Despite this, I was eager to get to the Osa Peninsula where monkeys, dolphins, exotic birds, and Cayman all awaited.
From my seat directly behind the pilots, it was quickly apparent they were flying solely by instrument. With no visibility and the engine whining loudly, each rise and fall of the plane turned my stomach like riding a roller coaster. As sheets of rain washed over the windshield I truly thought my life was over. For the next hour, I braced myself, prayed, and promised "I'll be good if only you let me live."
I escaped the bitter New York winter aboard a small cruise ship bound for a series of unspoiled locations in the Virgin Islands. Far from the beaten path and free of mega-cruise ships and sprawling resorts, they are among the most beautiful and appealing of all the islands in the Caribbean.
Highlights included Jost Van Dyke, just four miles by three miles in size, and home to only 300 islanders. Neighboring Tortola, where one of the last surviving rain forests in the Caribbean remains. Hiking 1,000 feet above sea level in Sage Mountain National Park while a double rainbow arched through the sky. From there I visited Peter Island, largely undeveloped the way most of the Caribbean was before the arrival of mass tourism.