I apologize for my absence, but I have a really good reason this time.
…after months of planning…
…and turning down perfectly good job offers because flights were already booked…
….and a minor freakout after United cancelled our flights without telling us (seriously United, that is no way to run a business)…
…and far too little time spent in the sun working on our base tans….
…We embarked on the most amazing family vacation. For years, my dad had been wanting to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro as a family the year he turned 50. But then schedules and logistics and some of us not wanting to actually spend five days lugging ourselves up the thing got in the way and my dad came up with a new plan. 5 Scoggins, 2 Rysers, one sailboat, British Virgin Islands. (btw daddy, if ever you do end up climbing Mt. K, I am so there)
The way the scheduling worked out, the only flight that could get Ted and I to St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands before the ferry left for Tortola in the BVI’s arrived the day before my family. We woke up early Friday morning, accidentally put on the exact same outfit, flew to Newark, then San Juan, Puerto Rico. In the San Juan airport, I realized we were going to have to ride the rest of the way in a tiny 6 passenger vehicle that resembled a jeep more than an airplane. Ted was, of course, thrilled, as he usually is when faced with the prospect of something somewhat terrifying to
scaredycat normal people like me.
Well after a 5 minute prayer/meditation as our plane took off, I decided that we were going to make it. I was comforted by seemingly random things that flight like our lady pilot and her low, imperfect bun and the two or three small barking dogs in crates on the back of our plane. We landed in the tiny, mostly outdoor St. Thomas airport and laughed at how the airport employees unloaded our luggage from our plane onto a cart, wheeled it right next to us as we walked to the airport, loaded it onto a conveyor belt on one side of a partition and turned the conveyor belt on for the two seconds that our bags took to get to the other side.
We haggled a taxi driver into only charging us $5 a person to drive us to our hotel (thank you mexico study abroad for my peerless taxi negotiation skills) and finally arrived at the Galleon House Bed and Breakfast. So maybe I chose it because it’s name sounds like the money from Harry Potter and it was the cheapest option on hotels.com. It ended up being perfect, especially since we got bumped up to a room with a private bathroom.
When we first found out that we were arriving in St. Thomas before my family, we thought about finding some beach and just sleeping there. Oh mama am I glad we rethought that genius idea. St. Thomas, at least the area where we spent most of our time, is home to some unsavory characters. After getting settled at our hotel, we headed out to find some dinner. Outside one of the restaurants, a local came up to us and told us that the restaurant was overpriced and that he would take us to a better place that he knew of. Called “Chicken Fried.” In his van. When we said no, he told us that he also had some snacks in his van that he would give us. And then the following conversation happened.
Sketchy dude: Do you guys want ganja? I can get you some ganja if you need…
Ted: Guns?! You can get us some guns?!
Elise: [trying really really hard to not explode in laughter.] no, ted. ganja. marijuana.
Ted: Oh! No thank you sir.
And with that, we walked away and tried to ignore sketchy dude’s increasingly frantic offers behind us. And we went to a perfectly nice mexican restaurant/bar, then walked past the druggy park back to the hotel and thus ended our first day in the Virgin Islands.
Next morning we woke up, had a great breakfast at the hotel and then headed out to see what there was to see on St. Thomas by the light of day. What we found was a whole lot of shopping. Diamond store after diamond store, flea markets, athletic goods, rum, and overpriced sunglasses. We each bought something at the flea market (sunglasses for me, super awesome tank top that was fated to lead to a super awesome tank top burn for ted.) We explored the area around our hotel and found “the 99 steps” (I counted and there are indeed 99) and I have no idea what their significance was but it was pretty and tropical.
At the advice of a local, we decided to try to walk to frenchtown, but got lost and ended up walking way too far back towards the airport, and then stumbled onto the absolute best thing about St. Thomas as far as I’m concerned. Safari Taxis. You can ride in them as far as you want for $1. So we got on one and rode it until the driver kicked us off because she didn’t want to drive way out into the country with just two people. Fair enough taxi lady. We took another one back, and likely would’ve continued this cycle except that my family had finally arrived and we had to meet them at the ferry!
…To be continued in a similar thrilling, second by second style because that’s the only way I know how. Hold onto your hats…