As a start for ’08 I decided to piggyback on my parent’s vacation (that’s what you get for booking a hotel room with a fold-out sofa). With accumulated “miles” from my credit card—a year’s worth of charging everything from a loaf of bread to tuition—I managed to book a round trip ticket and off I went to sunny St. Thomas in the Caribbean.For those of you who don’t know, St. Thomas is one of four that make up the US Virgin Islands purchased by America from Denmark in order to protect the Panama cannel from Germany during WWI. A purpose made irrelevant by our entering the war shortly after. It is a lush and mountainous island, hazardous to navigate due to the one-time British ruler’s stamp of left side of the road driving. The shores are dotted with public beaches that cruise ships frequent the island for as well as for shops that once held incredible bargains but, unfortunately, today seem replete with the same liquors, jewelry, and tchotchke as every other store for exactly the same price. None of that mattered to me because I was there to sit in the warm sun on a coral strewn beach and read, taking constant breaks to go swimming with exotic fish until all sense of time and responsibility was lost. I stayed at Secret Harbor (don’t tell anyone), which has an awesome variety of aquatic life due to the protected coral reefs that abound the cove where the hotel is. I managed to catch up on the books (see other postings) I’ve wanted to read for the last half a year, and still found plenty of time to test my new underwater camera that my family bought me. The Olympus Stylus 770 is very cool—despite the silver color which is perfect for attracting barracudas—as it can take various shots (action, close-up, etc.) as well as films, and my excitement over that shows just how new I am to the world of digital cameras. The problem with this wonderful technology is that—little known to me—fish do not like to pose, no matter how politely you ask. This led to some aggravation until I finally left the camera on film mode with the hope that at some point I would catch an image I wanted. Sadly, I often accidentally activated the camera so I have quite few movies of myself swimming from the POV of my hand, but that’s not nearly as frustrating as my inadvertently shutting off the camera when, for example, I was filming a beautiful sea turtle swimming amongst an enormous school of multicolored tropical fish. It was an incredible scene… really… you would have loved to see it. Originally, I thought I would give a more through account on the activities I did, the places I went, and the restaurants I dined at, as well as rant against the whiteness of the trash the poured off the cruise ships, but, realistically, this post is long enough. I do want to note two events that stood out. Firstly, I have to give props to the hilarious and steadfast, Portuguese waiter Paulo of the Blue Moon Café. I’ve never encountered a more friendly, enthusiastic member of the service industry, who unfailingly turned ever meal into a celebration. Secondly, Capt. Kevin “Cactus” and Sean of Sail Instant Karma who were kind enough to call me onboard their gorgeous boat while I was kayaking and offered me a drink and some great conversation. If I didn’t have to leave the island the following day, I would have loved to take an adventure aboard the Instant Karma with them. I guess I’ll simply have to plan another trip to the Caribbean.
Update: I was waiting for a subway on 1/31 and this woman comes up to me and says "Were you just in St. Thomas?" Me: "Uh, yeah!" Woman: "I was at Secret Habor. Small world, huh?" and then she walked away before I could say anything else. I'm not sure what to make of that.