Last weekend I had one of the most fun weekends I’ve had since I moved down here. It was full of many new friends, plenty of cocktails and lots of time out on the water.
It started out on Friday night at a beach BBQ charity event that my employer was sponsoring. While I’m always happy to chat with people I don’t know, there’s something about networking for my own selfish/professional advantage that seems completely unnatural to me. I spent most of the first hour staring at other people, rather than socializing. In the meantime, I tried to take down a full cup – not a glass - of white wine that the bartender had given to me right when I walked in. As I've stated before in prior blogs, there’s a big difference between an Island Pour and a Stateside Pour. I keep forgetting that it’s important to specify, and I used up a good chunk of time waiting for nobody to look as I poured half of my wine out into an empty cup on one of the tables.
When my boyfriend and I finally got hungry, we made our way to the BBQ buffet. Upon filling up my plate with a variety of seasoned, sauced and smoked meats, I grabbed another full cup of wine and sat down at a quiet table in the back across from a welcoming couple. It didn’t take long for the four of us to strike up a conversation. After a couple of hours of chatting and listening to a very annoyed and annoying band complain about how bad the audio was, this nice couple invited us out on their new boat for the day on Saturday. As I’ve mentioned, people down here never feel like they have too many friends. They are so accepting and friendly. It’s fantastic. We eagerly took them up on their offer.
At around 10:00 the next morning, we met our new friends out on a dock as 6 of their closest friends trickled in one at a time behind us. I quickly realized that we were the random couple that they had invited out on their boat the night before after they had had too many cocktails, and I wondered if they would remember our names.
As the group grew to full capacity, the captain - meaning our new friend from the night before -assumed his duties and began taking down the necessary information for the day’s trip. Since we had to go through Customs to get to our destination, everyone had to hand over their passports and yell out their dates of birth. All I heard was….1980, 1985, 1983, 1984. So, the odd couple was also the oldest couple and this was only reinforced by the hard core pop music blasting in the boat as we shot out of the dock and into the open water. We heard just about every song that I had put on my most recent workout playlist, and a few more that I made note to add to my list.
Since this happened to be our friend’s inaugural boat trip on his new boat, things were especially celebratory. Our jammin crowd of 10, soon-to-be-liquored-up people, made its way over to Tortola to get through Customs and off to our destinations. Upon arriving in Tortola, Customs was quite busy checking in some of our other friends on different boats. St. Thomas is a small island, so it’s no surprise that we were all friendly with each other and some of us knew each other through other friends on the island. With this in mind, from there all 3 boats moved together to the first destination – cliff diving and doing some sort of cave diving under the water.
After several attempts to explain this very dangerous sounding activity, only about 3 people out of probably 25 total people, swam out to this ‘cave’ that you could swim into by diving under water, swimming several feet and coming up on the inside of a hole in the earth that the sun shines down into. Of course, you had to pray that the swells didn’t get too high and flush into this surrounded hole, drowning you in the process. I think only 1 person actually ended up swimming to this suspicious hole - our captain, who's idea this was in the first place.
Meanwhile, several people jumped out of the boat for a swim and a few others started climbing the cliffs to go jumping. To put this in perspective, rock climbing and jumping off a cliff into a sea with undetermined depth, seemed safer to me than swimming under water several feet to see some light shining down through a hole. Either way, I opted for a quick swim in the ocean to cool off, then got right back into the boat.
Once we had had enough of this stop, we took a long boat ride to our next destination. Of course, the music was pumping, several girls were dancing, a few guys in the other boat were hanging off the side of their boat as it was going full steam ahead and our new friend's girlfriend had already puked off the edge of our boat. It was shaping up to be an entertaining day. All this aside, I took a few minutes to tune out the chaos and enjoy my surroundings. It was a warm day and the relatively calm ocean seemed endless. Our boat was quickly making its way down to the other side of Tortola, which provided a mountainous and rugged coastline. With the wind in my hair and the sun on my face, I truly felt like I was in paradise.
Anyway, we eventually made it to a gorgeous slice of land that somebody claimed was the place where the Corona Beer commercials are filmed, but people say that about a lot of beaches down here, so I took that with a grain of salt. Either way, it was beautiful enough to be filmed as a landscape for TV. We anchored close to the beach and jumped out to swim towards solid land for a bit. After a while, someone decided to bust open a full bottle of Strawberry Cruzan Rum, which we all past around for a few swigs each, then headed back to the boat.
Finally, we were on our way to the Soggy Dollar Bar at Jost Van Dyke. This is where I can find one of my favorite island cocktails – the Banana Pain Killer. Once our boat cruised into the bay and anchored, we all swam up to the beach and went to the bar. At this point, I felt a need for some quiet time. I was exhausted from socializing with strangers for the last few hours, and I was feeling a strong buzz. I grabbed my drink and my People Magazine and found a beach chair by the water where I plopped down for a long time, enjoying the latest brainless gossip and taking in the intense sunshine.
After hanging out for a few hours we all got back on the boat and headed to St. John, which was the final destination for our crew. Upon hopping out of the boat, we all headed to the Beach Bar for some food. My personal favorite there is the Flying Shrimp, which is fried shrimp in buffalo sauce with a side of blue cheese dressing. It’s so good that I can’t believe other bars haven’t caught on to it, and there’s no doubt that I look forward to it every time I go to St. John.
Once we had finished our meal a few of us headed to the ferry to catch a lift back to St. Thomas. The day was coming to an end, and it was time to say goodbye to our new friends. I suddenly realized that I was sunburned, tired and ready to pass out in my bed…all signs of a most excellent day.