May 12th 2015
1. The 12th was the day it started to sink in that this vacation adventure was coming to an end.
A deep melancholy really started to settle in my brain when I hitched a ride to the pier with Carrie and Matt who were on “last day” and heading back to fly home.
2. I, on the other hand, was not going home. I was headed for St. Thomas to get a few touristy items and see “Red Hook” where the cruise ships docked. They also dock on the Crown Bay side, but not at first as that side of Charlotte Amalie isn’t as nice or tourist friendly. During peak season 5-7 of them will be in at the same time, with up to 10-12. That is like nearly the entire native population of the island popping by for a day visit. Just ONE ship is a noticeable bulge in the traffic and people about (even out at Water Island). I cannot imagine 10 ships.
3. When the cruise ships are in, things get pretty busy on St. Thomas. 3-6 thousand gawking tourists all rushing about trying to cram in the sights in a short day before having to get right back on the water-hotels and boogie for the next stop is an interesting sight.
I will NEVER plan to step foot on one of those things (cruise ships). I felt like a native laughing up my sleeve as the “cruisers” scurried about. There is something about planting your flag somewhere and just “being” for a while. Time slows down, and the days are filled with a relaxing calm…you don’t HAVE to do things right now. You don’t HAVE to hurry the hell up to BE SOMEWHERE!
4. On my checklist was a note to try eating Conch, which is a local seafood. Just picture a conch shell…what lives inside it is the food. heh. I accomplished the eating of ze conch.
I’m not a big fan of conch now. Perhaps it was cooked wrong (like calamari when overcooked), but it was like eating bits of rubber. The flavor wasn’t that great either…but at least now I know. :-)
5. Taxis in St. Thomas are interesting. I asked about it from some locals (I always check out things that pertain to my livelihood), and unfortunately by and large I am of the wrong skin color to get a job doing that down there. There ARE some taxi drivers who are of lighter skin persuasion, but you can tell from their patois that they are natives or at least have been local for a VERY long time. I bet if I were determined, I could do it, but ahh well. I could definitely see a need there for computer techs/wifi support and such, but that is a career I ran away from to focus on writing. (But in a pinch I could definitely support myself down there.)
6. On the last full evening, after an afternoon of REALLY polishing off my masterful sunburn by snorkeling all over the place, swimming with yet more turtles (they are in honeymoon bay as well) and tropical fish schools, I met up with Kevin and Sara (now friends and next door neighbors for the week at the campground, and we proceeded to munch out and then drink…and drink…and shoot the breeze with some other folks and locals. It was late with a gloriously star filled clear sky and I was hammered by the time we finally caved in and headed back up to our cabins.
The final night’s rest in the Caribbean was as pleasant as my first night, and I dreamed of swimming in clear blue-green water with thousands of school fish swirling about me. It was almost as good as the real thing. :-)
Matt and Carrie. Campground neighbors and awesome people.
When I go back…this will get rented…I guarantee it. :-D
View toward St. Thomas from the top of Water Island
Dingy dock at the Water Island pier
Crown Bay from Water Island dock
Judith, a teacher here on the island helped me out with the taxi situation. The local lingo definitely takes some getting used to, but what a nice lady. :-)
Shops near Red Hook
The Bazaar at Red Hook. Surprisingly (thanks Judith!) this is actually a reasonably priced tourist trap. Judith laughed when I told her that I wanted touristy STUFF for some friends)…and then she pointed here. She was right. :-D
Look closely at the flag. Yarrrrrr!
Red Hook bay
Veteran’s Highway…and yep, that is one hell of a traffic jam. Now imagine more than three Cruise ships in port. yikes.
Cruise people carrier
Last “real” meal I had was here in Frenchtown. Very good. It’d better be, it sits right next to a fish monger place on a fishing harbor.
Fish Monger place and fishing dock
Conch fritters. (think crabcakes except with Conch). Not impressed. The beer was damned tasty though. :-)
Me, Kevin and Sara, plus locals. :-) We stayed here until it was late, drinking, laughing and not wanting to leave.