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Original Issue

The Virgin Islands

Running, balking, jumping after a fashion, the donkeys shown here in the second of Artist John Groth's reports on Caribbean playgrounds are engaged in an annual extravaganza staged by the Jonkey Club of St. Croix, in the Virgin Islands. Here, 40 miles east of Puerto Rico in the Lesser Antilles, a mountainous paradise rises from the sea. Once a Danish possession and long ago the greatest slave market of the western world, the Virgin Islands today are a mixture of three cultures, with ancient ruins for the sightseer and crystal waters for the undersea explorer, and are rapidly becoming a favorite vacation spot in the beautiful Caribbean area.

Picturesque and crumbling, old sugar mills like the one at left dot the landscape of St. Croix. These ruins are relics of the once-thriving sugar industry developed by the Danes when they controlled the islands. When other, larger countries began to concentrate on sugar most of the Virgin Islands' markets were swallowed up.

Now, with the advent of the tourist trade, islanders are cashing in on other natural resources, such as the boundless opportunities for spear fishing. In the gin-clear waters around the islands there is a world of marine life, from exotic coral formations up through game fish like wahoo, tuna and barracuda. All along the miles of beaches skin divers like these below, fully equipped with snorkel breathing devices, spear guns and flippers, spend hours exploring and fishing through these underwater wonders. Islanders, capitalizing on the interest in this sport, have set up several skin diving schools.