Travelogue Parts 7&8

We’re almost there folks. Bear with me.

Friday August 25:

Our last full day on the island had arrived. I’ll be honest; I was ready to go home. I really hadn’t slept well all week and it was still too hot. The house had lost some of its charm and had become a humid death trap.

We didn’t have much planned other than one last snorkel trip and a trip to town to do some shopping. We’d picked up a few things during the week, but needed to do some more shopping. The morning was still hazy and evil and we didn’t do a whole lot of anything.

Then, a miracle happened. A breeze picked up. The haze blew away. St Thomas was visible again. We all had a spring in our step. As a result, we did absolutely nothing about it. We stayed at the house and did the old “Read, Flip and Dip”. I must have made something for lunch because I seem to recall eating. But, it was mostly quiet. Some time after lunch, I was standing up on the benches on the deck watching cars go up and down a distant hill. I grabbed my Mr. Gay-ass fanny pack and announced that I was going for a ride. JewelrySlut agreed to go along. We went back to town and drove up Contant Hill. It’s a more residential neighborhood on the eastern side of the town and afforded a different view of town and of our house. We puttered about a bit and looked at some new sights in town.

When we got back to the house, it was about 3:30, so I mustered the crew for one last drive over to the North Shore. ChurchBomber had voted that we go back to Trunk Bay. We weren’t really in the mood for any hiking, and Trunk, when empty, is a cool snorkel spot.

We hit the beach as all the day-trippers were leaving and there were maybe 30 people there. We geared up and headed to the right side of Trunk Cay. It’s the less-popular side, but I’d read about Charlie the barracuda who is often seen there. We had the side of the island to ourselves and I did manage to spot Charlie. The reef isn’t as colorful on the right side and the water was oddly cool, so we swam around to the more popular left side. The underwater trail that I had mentioned is on this side and the reef is very good. The 4 of us were all in one general area, but were off in our own worlds. Since JewelrySlut and I didn’t have flippers, I actually found maneuvering to be a lot easier. I was able to float in through some real shallow sections to get to more secluded pools and caves. It really was a lot of fun. Every now and then, one of us would pop to the surface and beckon the others over to see something of interest. As we were starting back to the beach, we hit pay dirt again. There was a lone sea turtle having dinner next to one of the reefs. We just hung there for a while watching it eat. At one point, it surfaced to breathe and was about 2 feet from me. I’ve got to say that the sea turtles were the snorkeling highlight of the trip. The fish are very cool and the coral growths are unbelievably bright, but the turtles were just awesome. And we’d seen 3!

As the clouds rolled in, we packed up and went back. By the time we were about half way back to town, it was pouring. We decided to pass on JJ’s and just head to the house. We arrived right in time for an all-out deluge. It poured for about an hour. So, we all got cleaned up and dressed and then went back to town. We had shopping to do and needed something for dinner. I’d finally run out of food. We hit Freebird Jewelers and picked up some loot. I got another pukka-type necklace and some pirate treasure for Shmuppie. The kid had managed to score 2 pirate shirts, a treasure map and now some “authentic treasure”. JewelrySlut had wanted a petroglyphs bracelet and I’d been arguing with myself all week whether or not to get a St John Hook bracelet. Part of me thought it was cool; the other thought it was gay. I decided it was cool and grabbed one.

The bracelets are famous on St John and most of the Caribbean. The story is that fisherman stopped wearing wedding rings out of fear of losing a finger if lines or hooks or fisherman things got snagged on a ring. They took to wearing the bracelets. They have a hook clasp, and in the beginning, while at sea, you pointed the U-hook’s open side off your wrist to send your love home. When in port, you switched it because your love went back towards you and your home. Now, they’re dating symbols. Hook towards you = you’re attached. Hook out = “Buy me a drink and I’ll blow you”. So, I have a hook bracelet. I like it.

We hit St John Spice yet again and loaded the car up and drove across town to Mongoose Junction again. JewelrySlut had seen some earrings in a store there and wanted to pick them up. I also figured the chances of finding a place to eat for under $35 per person was higher there. Well, the store was closed. Then, we decided to go to Morgan’s Mango. I’m still not sure why we did that. We’d gone there in 2004 and really liked the food. But, the service was just appalling.

They failed to disappoint this time out. Our waiter didn’t know the specials or how to pronounce tough words like “scallops”. MerlotMan ordered a glass of red wine and they brought white. When we sent it back, they never came back with another glass. I finally grabbed the waiter and asked for the wine. He brought the white again. MerlotMan was ready to burst into flames at this point. Finally, we got the wine and our food. As usual, the food was very good. JewelrySlut and I split half a chicken and a grilled shrimp salad. It was simple and very good.

Sated and still wondering why we’d eaten there, we went back to the house, did a little packing, drank some rum and all went to bed. Saturday would be a hectic day and my stomach was already churning in anticipation.

In fact, because that was short and sweet, let’s talk about Saturday now.

Saturday August 26.

I woke up nauseated. What a surprise. The heat and haze was back and I was all a twitter over the upcoming festivities.

Now, I had written a week ago that you have to want to get to St John. The effort is rewarded. Only thing is…you have to go through all the same effort just to leave. And leaving is not fun.

I’d decided that we needed at least an hour from the dock in Cruz Bay until we’d be at the airport. Our flight was at 2:45. I also knew that if you get to the airport the recommended 2 1/2 hours early, you’re in for a lot of pain. All the jets arrive at the same time, and leave an hour later. So the airport has everyone checking in at once. And, the airport is a little rustic and is definitely on Island Time.

I had spotted an 11:00 ferry to town. That would get us there by 11:50 or so. We’d have time to go into town, find a bar, get a drink and some lunch and wait the crowds out at the airport. I thought we could have pushed it and left at noon, but MerlotMan was a little antsy to not be late and we took the 11:00.

We packed up the house and started to town at about 10:00. I say started because this took 2 trips. I had to drop all the people and then go back for the bags. I drove to the rental agency and checked in and told them about the busted blinker. I filled out an accident report and told them I’d be back in an hour.

We walked back to Mongoose Junction to get JewelrySlut her earrings. They’re silver geckos that hang off of her ears. The tails are the post-things and they’re quite fun. ChurchBomber got some other crap and we went back towards the center of town. We did some other last minute shopping and then went to the dock. I got the Jeep, drove to the dock, got hollered at by the cabbies, dropped the bags and went back to the rental agency to get my beating. Bobby, the guy who had patched the tire, was there. The woman behind the counter gave me the speech that they could not close the Amex account until they’d found the extent of the damage. Bobby yelled at her and told her to charge $20. $20! I could have kissed him. It would have cost me more to do it myself. They could have ripped me off, but didn’t. I thanked them profusely and told them I’d be back.

Since I was hot and ready to puke, I treated myself to another smoothie. Mmmmm…smoothie. The crew was at the dock, sweating and waiting. Then the rain started again. Then the 11:00 “ferry” arrived. If you look at the flickr shots of me on the webcam, you’ll see the main ferry. That’s what we’d taken to get to St John. Well, to get to town, there was this tiny orange boat, no larger than a large speedboat. This was going to be fun. I ran through the rain to a store next to JJ’s, grabbed a bottle of rum and s fun shirt for myself and went back to the dock. We only were taking 2 bottles home with us. We were assured that they could box the liquor and it would be fine on the plane. Honestly, I didn’t need the hassle of worrying if it would break. I wrapped the bottle in a suitcase and we got on the SS Minnow. Well, we were expecting a 50-minutue ride. We were pleasantly surprised to realize that a NASCAR reject was driving. We got to town in just over 25 minutes. We hauled ass.

We got to St Thomas and again remembered why we don’t like it. Cabbies and merchandise hawkers descended upon us like flies no a steaming turd. We fought through the crowds and found a bar along one of the many crowded alleys. We pulled in with all of our crap and collapsed. Of course, ChurchBomber had picked a place that had just opened and seemed to be run by retards. I was still quite ill-feeling but knew I needed to eat. We all got some beers and had lunch. The owner/waitress just kept talking. All I wanted was to take a nap, but she would not shut up.

Finally, at 1:00, I decided it was time to head out. We got back to the taxi stand, hailed a cab, and were on our way. We arrived at the airport to find it mostly deserted. I’d planned well. Everyone was inside. We checked in, got our boarding passes and got on line to go through security and customs. I had nothing to declare (other than War on Canada), so we breezed through and got on the suitcase line. There, a large woman was yelling at everyone. I think you’re supposed to tell her what flight you’re on and then she decides just how far she throws your bag. ChurchBomber was not confident she’d ever see her bags again. I didn’t care. The food had done its thing and I finally felt well again. Plus, the airport was air conditioned. We got through security and entered the gate room. Holy shit. It was packed. The food counter had a line that was way too long. In 2004, I’d waited for 40 minutes on that line to watch 3 people get served food by a one-handed, one-eyed cook. There had to be 50 people on line. We were VERY happy we’d gone to the Retards’R'Us bar and eaten. It was almost 2:00 at this point, so we settled in and watched the chaos unfold. Finally, we boarded and got on the plane. Since this is a ghetto airport, you have to walk across the tarmac to board. Well, I guess JewelrySlut was not following the rules because as we walked over, a woman with a badge got in her face.

“Walk in the yellow lines! Is there a reason why you’re ignoring me?! I told you to walk in the lines!”

Mind you, there are 5 fully-loaded 757′s within abut 50 feet of us. To say t hat it’s loud is an understatement. JewelrySlut looked dumbfounded and muttered an apology.

“Why are you ignoring me?!?!” screamed the lovely woman.

I had to make a decision. So I yell back something like “Because you’re black.”? Maybe: “Because you seem to be a cunt.”? JewelrySlut continued to look on dumbfounded and said something about it being really loud and that she wasn’t ignoring her. We were scolded again and walked, within the lines I’ll add, to the plane.

On board, we settled in and got underway. They showed a dreadful movie and served the same horrid snacks. But, the flight was smooth and the plane was air conditioned. For the first time in a week, we were not sweating. It was nice.

We got to Atlanta and had to hustle. JewelrySlut and I had only 40 minutes to connect. And, of course, we were at the last gate on our concourse, and had to go clear across the whole airport to get to our new gate. We scurried to the monorail, got on, said quick goodbyes to ChurchBomber and MerlotMan and got to our gate. We had time enough to pee and change our seat assignment and then it was boarding time.

The flight to Raleigh was very easy and we were back in NC on time. We got our bags, got in the car, hit a supermarket on the way home and went home. We had a drink and a snack and went to bed. It had been a fun week, but it was time to be home.

Well, that’s it. I’ll send a list of links next week for all the places I mentioned. I’ll also get back to telling tales form the neighborhood. There’s been a lot going on.

Thanks for listening.

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