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March 22, 2010 / ebretzel

Sun and Sand

On our first morning we awoke to find ourselves surrounded by tropical hillsides with little, colorful buildings speckled among the trees. It’s an amazing experience to fall asleep in one place and then like magic you are whisked away to a completely new place.

Since we didn’t have anything planned for the day we took our time at the breakfast buffet and then decided to walk into town. The first thing we had to do was ignore a mob of taxi drivers right along the pier who made it seem like we couldn’t possibly get into town on our own 2 feet. As we walked along the busy street, we noticed that all the cars were driving on the left side of the road, but the steering wheels were also on the left side. They must really be skilled to be driving so fast with such a backwards setup! We passed some sketchy shops and sad-looking houses, many of them with rusty junk in the yards, and were surprised when a giant iguana stuck his head out of the eaves of someone’s shed right along the sidewalk.

I made the mistake of leaving my sunglasses at home, and it became obvious pretty quickly that I would have to buy some. I could barely keep my eyes open in the blinding sunlight, especially when we walked along the harbor and the water acted like a gigantic mirror or watchface focused directly on my face.

It took about 45 minutes to get to the “town,” and by town I mean a row of shops created especially for tourists. There were 3 types of shops to choose from. 1: Jewelry, (One shop owner’s sales pitch was that we should “get the important stuff out of the way first!”) 2: Liquor or 3: Cheap Souvenirs. We stopped in at one with the latter and I found a cheap pair of sunglasses. Since we weren’t in the market for jewelry, liquor or souvenirs we were pretty much finished with the main tourist attraction in about 10 minutes. What else is there to do in St. Thomas?

We wandered the streets for a while, watching the stray chickens and checking out an old Lutheran church, an old fort (which was closed) and a small plaza area with booths of souvenirs, and then we realized town was boring and decided to hitch our way to Magen’s Bay, a big beach on the other side of the island. By hitch, I mean pay $9 for a taxi.

We surveyed the beach, which was definitely beautiful, and definitely filled with hundreds of people. Luckily, the beach is about a mile long so there was plenty of space and we had no trouble finding a nice little spot next to a couple from Missouri who were also from our cruise ship. We walked the length of the beach, past a cute, little wedding with steel drums. At the end we found a little rocky cove and a sheltered area by some plants where there were piles of hermit crabs and lizards.

After making friends with all of the creatures Ryan stuffed his cash and camera into a waterproof pouch we bought for the trip and we jumped into the waves to test it out. Ryan, the “expert” at bodysurfing the waves into shore coached me on when to exactly start swimming in and which ones were going to be big enough to ride. After a few hours of playing in the water and laying in the sun we decided to check out the cabana bar. Ryan bought a local beer, and I treated myself to a margarita.

We sat for quite a while in the shade of the tree just watching people walk by and remarking on various bad sunburns and terrible swimsuit choices, all the while being serenaded by a little bird in the branches above us. When we had finished our drinks and the bird flew away we made our way back to the parking lot and hopped onto a cab (which was actually a pick-up truck with benches in the back) and it took us back over the hill to the ship.

It was a beautiful, relaxing day and a great way to start off the week. Oh and our stuff didn’t get wet in the waterproof bag.

Next up, Dominica…

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