Thursday August 14

We’d survived another night of red wine-infused fun and were ready for a whole lot of nothing on Thursday. I’d been tracking an ominous blob of weather that was making its way across the Atlantic for a few days with a wary eye and was half-interested to see some real tropical weather and half-wanting it to go away. It was nearing us and the night looked like it may be interesting.

The masseuses were set to arrive at 10:00, so MerlotMan and I set out on our adventure a little before 10. We’d also gotten a call from the gardener; he was coming to the house. Visions of really poorly-made porn flashed through my head. We wished the ladies luck and, for the first tie, made a left out of the driveway.

We drove out Great Cruz Bay Road (if it’s still called that) to look at the houses along the way. Eventually, the road more or less shot straight up in the air and I think we ended up in someone’s driveway. That done, we doubled back past the house and out to South Shore Road.

I’d only been a little farther out along the south shore, so this would be new ground for me to explore. On these exploration days, MerlotMan usually drives and I navigate and announce interesting tidbits of information. We kept out along the south shore for a while. Eventually, the road got REALLY steep…mostly in the down direction.

I don’t like going downhill. The rest of the group tells me they don’t like going up the hills, but the downs really scare me. It’s not that I don’t like going down a slope steeper than most roller coasters; it’s more that I don’t like doing it in a vehicle that I know has 4 bald tires and suspect brakes. Plus, MerlotMan tends to drive a little faster than I do and is more inclined to take up more of the road than I do. All in all, it terrifies me and I end up pumping the imaginary brake pedal a lot.

Down we went. I was surprised to see how far the road actually went. I knew it would take us through Rendezvous Bay, but I wasn’t sure how much farther it would go. We ended up damn near on the western side of Reef Bay (opposite where we’d hiked 3 days prior). We ended up at the base of a huge futuristic-looking white house that we’d seen on the boat ride back to town after the hike.

We turned around and headed back. After a while, I instructed MerlotMan to take a right. We were going to go up Gifft Hill Road. In 2006, JewelrySlut and I had taken this road once.

Once.

It was at this moment that I decided I’d never do any major driving in flip flops again. We ended up skidding…backwards…down a hill. I felt out of control of the car and was unhappy with life. Since then, I’ve only driven to the supermarket in flip flops. I don’t like not being to “feel” the brake pedal. Well, here I was again. MerlotMan took us up the road, driving down the center of the lane, and I white knuckled the whole trip. Damn near scared the bejesus out of me. Fortunately, the road flattens up at the top and you find yourself in a neat little residential neighborhood. But, there’s not much to see. It’s just a road that connects you to Centerline from the south. I’d like to say that it’s a working road, but I can’t imagine how the hell people drive it every day. It scares me to death.

We tuned left on Centerline and headed back to town. We actually had an errand to run. We needed water.

All week, we’d been drinking bottled water. The last house had a charcoal/mineral filter in the kitchen and the owners told us not to drink from the tap. This house had no filtration system and I was again advised not to drink from the tap. Cistern water, I’m told, can be quite nasty. It’s rain water that has run along the roof and collected in a huge concrete bunker under the house. And, on my adventures to find the source of the water problems, I’d seen the cistern. Apparently it’s where all the cockroaches on the island like to go on vacation. Not any water I wanted to drink.

We chose bottled water. Keeping up with the “Buy Local” mentality, we’d been buying the locally bottled water all week rather than pay too much money for big jugs of Desani or something. And no…it’s not cistern water. Down in town, they get water, I believe, from St Thomas. It’s desalinized water and is OK to drink. But, the city water hookup does not extend beyond town. I’d been educated about St John Ice before we left. Apparently, you can go there to refill your water jugs. We gave it a try.

Brilliant. Business. Model.

You go into the building and it’s dark, noisy, and filled with loud things. I think the loud things make ice but all I know is that it’s loud. Just inside the door are a faucet and a sign:

SELF SERVE
$.50/gallon

You bring your jug and fill for $.50/gallon. What’s it cost them? Half a cent? Maybe a penny? At the stores, the same bottles cost decidedly more than $.50 each, so there’s incentive to come refill. Of course, we had 7 empty gallon jugs at the house at this point because I’d never had time to run to the filling station. We filled a few up, left some money on a desk, and then went on our way again.

Me: Hey MerlotMan?
MerlotMan: (dread in his voice). Yea?
Me: Can I interest you in a .1 mile hike?

Off we went. Of course, as we set out from town, the heavens opened. It started pouring. And, yes, we were in the same jeep that I just mentioned had 4 bald tires and no brakes. But, this was the North Shore Road and we know it better. Plus, we weren’t going far. For 3 trips now, I’d seen the signs for the Peace Hill Trail and the remains of the sugar mill. I wanted to see it.

Through the downpours we drove. People were scattering from all directions at Hawksnest. Up the hill from there, we pulled into the little lot for the trail. Who should be there? It was the people who we’d met on Monday who were staying at Peace O’Heaven. Only this time, Mom was not in a mood to talk. They’d been up on the hill when the rain hit. Mom was soaked and dripping. We jauntily waved to them as they drove off.

The hike (or walk) was short and easy. We got up the little hill and had a very nice view of Hawksnest on our left and Trunk on our right. We could also see out towards Tortola. We knew Tortola was there but couldn’t see it. The sky was getting angry up in the Sir Francis Drake Passage. We looked at each other and decided to head back to the jeep. As we arrived, the rain started again. We rode to town in another downpour. After a quick stop for more wine, we went to the house.

The massages were wrapping up and I was ordered to cook lunch. Our report from our trip indicated that snorkeling was likely out for the day. It was going to be either too rough or raining all afternoon on the north shore and we wanted no part of either. We lazed at the pool for the afternoon.

After a while, I mustered the group to go to town. We had one more trip to make to Mongoose and then to JJ’s for our triumphant return. Conch fritters would be eaten!

MerlotMan and I parked the jeep and found our way to the Tap Room to grab a beer. The ladies went off in pursuit of stuff. After we’d had our beery goodness (Try the Summer Ale), we met up with them. I bought Shmuppie some shirts and we headed to town. I dropped the group by JJ’s and went to park. The polite women at St John Car Rental saw me coming and told me through a series of polite hand gestures that I was NOT to park in their lot. To the Fish Trap I went.

I was walking back towards town when some started yelling at me. I was being yelled at for parking where I did. I just pointed at the St John Car Rental building and said “They said I could park there.” That, apparently, appeased the angry lady. Shitter…this was unacceptable!

I got to JJ’s to find the group sitting at an un-cleared and dirty table. Why? Because that was “our table” and they wanted to sit at it. No. I moved us to one that was more clean (read: less dirty). We ordered our beer and fritters and eagerly awaited deep-fried goodness.

They arrived.

Rut-Roh.

Something looked wrong. They were not only the wrong size but also the wrong color. They were not the golden brown goodies we remembered. They were darker and more ominous looking. I dove into one.

Yea…not how I’d remembered. I remarked to JewelrySlut that they tasted like my stuffed clams. Good, but not a conch fritter. With growing malaise, we ate our fritters. ChurchBomber was very unhappy and didn’t even finish her share of the order.

Since very little had gone right this week, we decided to go for it and help usher along the apocalypse.

Yes, good readers…we were going in. We were going to The Parrot Club (cue the disaster music).

Viewed by some as the 6th sign of the apocalypse, the Parrot Club is a new establishment on the island. To call it a casino would be a stretch. It’s a room filled with video gaming terminals. But, it’s also non-smoking and has working A/C! It’s been bashed by some as just the most horrible thing ever and viewed by many with a shrug and a “who cares?” We fell into the latter group but were curious and hoping to turn around our luck.

So, off we went. We walked into a mostly-empty room. The d‚cor was nice enough and it seemed clean. There was a bar in the middle and video gambling machines all over the place. We grabbed a few and went to work. MerlotMan dropped in a $20 and went at the machine with gusto. JewelrySlut and I put in a $20 and “oohed” and “ahhed” at all the pretty flashing lights and choices. We picked some game and got started. ChurchBomber also poured in a $20 and started playing something.

I have no idea what we played, but, at one point, we had $36 in the machine. We were KICKING ASS! MerlotMan was into his 2nd $20 and ChurchBomber had spent all of hers.

20 minutes later, we were bored and standing at $20. I cashed out, got my receipt, and got back a new $20 bill. Free Entertainment!

We had fun. We’re not gamblers and I seriously doubt that a few dozen machines is going to attract the Vegas crowd to sleepy little Cruz Bay. The audience will be sweaty husbands who have no desire to look in another jewelry store or boutique and just want to sit somewhere nice and cool. Some locals may play a little bit, but I just don’t see it happening. It’s in the middle of Wharfside Village; tourist central in Cruz Bay.

We went back to the house with unhappily full bellies. I cut up more leftovers…the chicken would not stop and checked in on the weather.

It was picking up outside and we could see dark skies approaching. The wind was also picking up considerably. Let me ask this? With a somewhat major storm coming, shouldn’t someone from the house’s management “team” have called to advise what to do in the event of major weather? I don’t know…like what to do with the deck furniture…umbrellas, the windows. The house had no proper windows. It has screens and louvers that more or less close. As expected, nobody called. My on-island spiritual guide told me not to worry. I took down the umbrella by the deck table and then proceeded to bury myself in a bottle of whine.

At about 10, I stumbled off to bed. I was too drunk to do anything else. Apparently, I missed one hell of a show. The 3 of them could not believe I slept through the storm. Apparently, water was flying in all the windows and the big dome ceiling in the living room started leaking. I don’t know. I was too drunk to care.

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