Sunday, April 11, 2010

Living in Paradise

Its Sunday. Normally this is my day to chill. I sleep in (yes!) and decide this is gonna be one of those days when I move my pillows and sheet from the bed to the couch, n then eventually back to the bed again.

I move my stuff. I barely have a chance to sit down when Mo announces she is going out for the day. This means that I will have the house all to myself (not that her presence was bothering me). It also means I will have no car for the rest of the day, and that if I decide at some point that Id like to go somewhere, I will either have to cab it (extremely expensive on this damn island) or walk the 7 minutes or so to the main road to catch a safari (the island version of Syria's "service" or Kenya's "matatu"... here, its basically a truck with several benches where the bed of the truck used to be, that transports up to 20 people at a time from Point A to Point B for a dollar or two around the island. Unless the driver thinks you're a tourist, at which point they will try to get you for $4 or $6, depending on how naive you are). Its a nice, cheap mode of transport, however; the walk, the wait and the frequent stops always make me think twice.

I look at the little fan of window panes at the top of the front door. Its sunny. Looks like itll be a beautiful day out. It looks like a day I should be outside doing something. It looks like Ill regret my decision if I decide to stay at home n lime all day... So I throw on a bikini n a sundress n figure Ill drop Mo where ever she needs to go, n keep the car and find something to do with myself. Tho theres really not a damn thing I can think of that I want to do on this Isand besides lay on the couch n do nothing all day.

As we are headed up Raphune Hill, the car starts to stall. Mo is driving, Im on the phone with a family member who is testing my patience at the moment. The car stops and Mo manages to get it to start again after waiting it out a couple minutes.

"I say we turn back and park it somewhere, or head up to the nearest lot. But to be honest, I dont think its gonna make it up any more hills..."

We drive on. We are trying to make our way up the hill. The car is making some very odd noises we have never heard it make before. I am still on the phone. My patience is nearing its breaking point, btw. The car starts to stall again. There is traffic behind us (of course there's traffic; you'd be surprised how much there is for such a small place).

"Pls dont stop on the hill, pls dont stop on the hill...", I intone while raising my eyes to the heavens.

It stops on the hill. This wouldnt be my life if it didnt.

At this point I am mad as hell. I have kind of just yelled at and abruptly hung up the phone on my family member, who I am now mad at. I am also mad at a man, I am mad at the car, I am mad at St Thomas, Im mad my day is gonna be ruined. I decide I hate everybody.

After waving several cars ahead of us, since we are just sitting in the middle of the lane on an uphill slope with our hazards on, we manage to get the car to a shoulder and park it there. I leave a note sloppily written on an empty envelope I find in my purse, basically informing whichever cop or tow truck decides to pass by that this lovely 1993 piece-of-crap Mazda is overheating and that we will pick it up later tonight. Basically, an unvoiced plea to please not tow our damn car bc that would make me even madder.

Is "madder" a real word? Probably not.

We catch a cab to Red Hook, which is the touristy area of St Thomas, and part ways. I go to a restaurant/bar with the word "Saloon" in it, order a rum punch, light on the rum, and a salad that I have a sneaking suspicion will not be as good as I want it to be.

I am right. I eat half of it, wait 15 minutes while I read a book that I cant concentrate on bc by now, I am just wishing that I had stayed my ass home, and order some mozzarella sticks. Devour those. Still wishing I was at home, and by God, the house is all the way on the other end of the Island, dammit. And I have no car. Home never seemed so far away. I settle my bill and tip the bartender extra bc I was being a pain in his ass, the type of customer I hate to serve.

I head out, and yes, its raining. Still, I figure getting a safari back shouldnt be too hard. I see one. The driver is waiting for passengers and it looks like its gonna take about 37 years for her to fill her truck up, so I keep walking. One, two, three safaris/private taxis pass. Most dont want to go in my direction, and the ones who do want to charge me an exorbitant amount of money I refuse to pay, no matter how tempted I am.

Finally I find a safari. I get on, I make my way to town, get off to run some errands. The driver decides to charge me $2. Uh-oh, getting pissed again. Im SO over this day. I know it should only be $1 and yes, its the principle of the matter; I live here dammit, I shouldnt be charged tourist prices. However, I cant argue over stupid things right now, so I allow him to give me $3 back in change, as opposed to the correct amount of $4, and keep it moving.

My quick errand that is to be followed by watching a scuba DVD at S & D's house in order to wake up at 8am and finish my last day of class so I can get PADI-certified, ends up being a very long errand followed by a pretty uncomfortable nap in my friend's truck while I wait for S & D to get back to the island. I will spare you the mundane details of the 3 or so hours that pass. By now I am so over everything, and to top it off Im getting sick. I want to crawl in bed and go to sleep forever. Since you're not supposed to dive when you're congested, and I have no desire to die at the bottom of the Atlantic tmrw, I decide to cancel my Monday morning scuba class. Im not too happy about this bc I know that once S & D leave the island, it will take me forever to go to that final class by myself. Nonetheless, I cancel.

Miraculously, a friend of mine is going my way and very kindly offers me a ride home. Sweet. I am so glad this day is over...

Thursday, April 8, 2010

St Thomas, aka The Rock

Every once in a while I open up my blog and see that my last post was on January 27th. I am surprised, bc I cant believe its been so long that I havent posted anything new, and Im ashamed, bc I know its been mostly laziness that has kept me from posting anything new. Its always amazing to me how we allow days and months and sometimes years to pass, before we get around to doing something we said we would do...

I would like to mention tho, in my own defense, that I have started several posts... I just never got around to finishing any of them and actually publishing them. So.

Life on the Island has been interesting. Yes, we are still here. No, we will not be staying forever. It has not all been fun and games. I know everyone back home thinks we are out here living it up, going to the beach every day, and leading a generally stress-free lifestyle. Well, all those people are wrong. We live it up, but only on some weekends, just like the rest of you. I get to the beach sometimes once a week, usually once every few weeks, and rarely, several times a week (this is only when we have friends visiting, which is, by the way, the main time I like St Thomas, bc Im reminded of the good things it has to offer). As for the stress-free lifestyle... puh-lease. I have the same problems everyone else has, I have to do the same mundane daily tasks, I have bills to pay and a To-Do list that never seems to end.. the ONLY difference is, I have all that BS in a much prettier setting.

That said, I am trying to take advantage of my last couple months on The Rock. I have been to a couple of concerts at Reicchold Center -- Steel Pulse was OK, partially bc I only knew a few of their songs, and partially bc I wasnt in a happy state-of-mind when I went to see them, so I just straight up wasnt enjoying myself. Black Violin was absolutely AWESOME and I wish their set had lasted a lot longer than it actually did. Verse (of "All my single laaadies, let me by you a rouuund" fame) opened for Black Violin and all I wanna know is, why was he dressed like that, could he pls pull his pants up, and why did he stand funny on stage? Apparently he toured with Ne-Yo last year, but if you ask me, he needs to work on his stage presence...

I went parasailing the day before yesterday; after the first few minutes being nervous as anything, I finally got comfortable and realized I wasnt gonna die up there, and that allowed me to have fun. I tipped as far back as I could go in my harness and saw the beautiful ocean and lots of islands upside-down, and that was amazing. Even got dipped in the warm water on our way down, by the fun-loving, possibly drunk parasailing crew memebers who took us out. Good times! Wish I had some pictures, tho...

Tmrw I start scuba diving certification with S and D, two of the coolest people we've met on this Island, and possibly the sweetest couple Ive ever met in my life. That'll take up several hours over a 3-day period.. Im excited about that, and also excited that its only costing me just over $200 as opposed to the original $500 I thought it would be. More money in my pocket, holler!

Saturday I get to spend roughly 8 hours taking a CPR/First Aid course at the Red Cross. I have been putting this off for months since I got to the Island, and for years in NY. Saturday will finally be the day I cross this off my To-Do list, and will finally know what to do if a baby in the room is choking. Always good to know...

Next week I plan to start flying lessons. Yes, you read that right. We live more-or-less across the street from the airport, and everyday, several times a day, I drive past the Private Jet Center... Also, a couple months ago I saw a seaplane take off from the harbor, and well, I was immediately sold. A 60-hr package costs $6500 (oh so out of my budget!!) but you can also pay-as-you-go by the hour.... so for the next several weeks, thats where all my money will be going... I imagine flying will be the greatest, most natural high you could ever have. Just envisioning myself flying above it all makes me feel like everything in the world is OK. Mo, btw, swears she will never get in a plane with me since they only require 40 hours before they give you your license... but I have to pass 2 tests too!! Sheesh, no faith in me, lol. Anyways, its gonna be a long process; 40 hours is a lot of time spread over many months, and there are a lot of dials and buttons to learn about... Did I mention, I wasnt the greatest at Physics? No matter. There is no doubt in my mind that I can do this.

I know Ive been living here for almost 4 months now, but its very easy to get caught up in a routine and basically let your days pass w/o doing much of anything... Im not saying I havent done a single fun thing all this time -- Im just saying, life definitely has not been a party every day. But Im gonna make the most of the time I have left, even if it means I have to cram every single activity I want to partake in, into just a few weeks time. Bc Ill be damned if I leave a Caribbean island I lived on for almost 6 months and say I didnt make the most of the few things I feel it has to offer.

The End... rather, To Be Continued...