Travel adventures, anecdotes, musings, and memories.

Posts tagged “Maho Bay

Life’s a Beach

After flying over 50,000 miles to visit 12 countries on 4 continents and never spending more than 3 days in any one location (with the exception of volunteering in Pisco), I sensed I would want something more… “stable” for the end of my journey.

The intuition I had over a year ago turned out to be quite prescient. I had become an expert on life on the move (I was going to say run, but I sense that word has a very different connotation, which may imperil my future [nonexistent] political career). I could expertly re-pack all my belongings in less time than it took to cook huevos revueltos in the morning. Yet, I longed not have to re-make an entirely new set of friends every 72 hours.

So what to do with a month of free time? After ruling out sitting at home enjoying great cooking, capitalizing on free rent, and watching YouTube videos of animal antics and dancing babies all day — which was not an easy decision — I figured it would be good to pursue an activity that would help me decide what I want to do when I grow-up. For years I have said that one day I would love to own an eco-resort. So, instead of embarking on the unknown in middle age (potentially making a huge life and career mistake), I thought it wise to test the hypothesis earlier rather than later.

After some research (Googling “best eco-resorts”), I decided on a place called Maho Bay in St. John, USVI. It was one of the first “eco-resorts” in the world, founded over 30 years ago; before every Westin and Holiday Inn in the world claimed to be eco-conscious: “Go green! Don’t have us wash your towels and sheets everyday!” (alternatively, “Save us lots of money! Help us avoid paying for extra labor, water, electricity and detergent costs”)

At Maho, I would work approximately 30 hours a week as a cook in exchange for free housing and discounted food. I was finally able to list my college job as a cook at a catering company on my resume and not have it immediately disqualify me from the job. My house was an unoccupied (it was low season) guest “tent cottage” about a 30 second walk from the nearest beach.

Little Maho Beach; the private beach some 90 steps from my cottage.

Little Maho Beach; the private beach some 90 steps from my cottage.

The kitchen of my tent cottage. Notice the "refrigerator" and "facuet".

The kitchen of my tent cottage. Notice the "refrigerator" and "faucet".

The bedroom with its "more like purgatory" bed.

The bedroom with its "not exactly Heavenly" beds.

As you can see, “eco-campground” is a more apt description, which is term Maho uses. The accommodations were basic, but I could hear the waves crashing and feel a cool breeze all day and night, so I was perfectly content.
A guest in my tent.

A guest in my tent.

The restaurant was located towards the top of the campground, which made for stunning views from my new “office”.
View of Maho Bay during the day.

View of Maho Bay during the day.

View at sunset.

View at sunset.

Work was either a breakfast or dinner shift, on a team of one other cook and a chef. We would prepare up to 150 meals in an open kitchen, all to be served in two hours. My favorite was Wednesday: Italian night. We’d listen to classical music while prepping all afternoon before serving dishes like chicken saltimbocca and lamb ossobuco.
Hard at work.

Hard at work.

Lest you are concerned that all I did was work during my month on the beach (I suspect you were instead cursing me out of jealousy, but, I am staying open to the 1% possibility), I did manage to squeeze in some R&R time.
Relaxing after a tough shift.

Relaxing after a tough shift.

Since 75% of St. John is a national park, there is plenty of outdoor activity to occupy one’s free time. The island is surrounded by reefs, making for excellent snorkeling.
Sergeant majors.

Sergeant majors.

Stingray! Which was actually spotted while standing in the sand.

Stingray! (spotted while standing in the sand, eek!)

Nemo?!

Nemo?!

To round out the tropical mix of crystal clear waters were of course white sand beaches.
Francis Bay, right next to Maho.

Francis Bay, immediately adjacent to Maho.

Trunk Bay, I believe. The red is the engine of the boat we rented for the day.

Trunk Bay, I believe. The red is the engine of the boat we rented for the day.

If one tired of the beach life, there were also amazing trails to hike.
Exploring the south side of the island.

Exploring the south side of the island.

View from Ram's Head.

View from Ram's Head.

The Ram's Head?

The Ram's Head?

The bottom line? My month did not at all dissuade me that eco-resort owner was a good future career move. Perhaps it will happen sooner than I planned.

With Maho, my round the world adventure comes to an end. I hope you’ve enjoyed following along. I’m now in the process of preparing for a transition back into the real world and moving out West (to San Francisco). Who knows what the future will hold? I sense there may yet be more adventures to come.

“One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” – Henry Miller

“Not all those who wander are lost.” – J. R. R. Tolkien

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