Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Sights and Experiences of a Caribbean Runner

For any of you that have been consistently reading my blog you know that I’m a runner, so you’ve probably read about my experiences running down here in the islands.  Mainly, I’ve been whining about it because running in the tropics is brutal.  However, I have to say that getting up early and jogging around the island is a very telling and at times entertaining thing to do down here.  Frankly, I love it as much as I hate it, and I always feel better afterwards, which is probably why I continue to do it. 

So, the following are some of my sights and experiences while out running around this crazy island:


I typically run down to a public beach not too far from my house, which is a common place for other people to exercise.  The people-watching is truly amazing.  Mainly, I notice what people are wearing for their morning workouts.  There is one woman in particular that I see on a regular basis.  She wears the following:  a white cap, a ginormous white tee-shirt, long black leggings, pantyhose that cover the space between where her leggings end and where her thick white socks begin and white sneakers. 

So, besides her arms, she is completely covered.  I can’t help but stare at her pantyhose the entire time that I’m running by her.  It’s freakin’ 85-90 degrees with 95% humidity.  What is the point of this?  I on the other hand, couldn’t be wearing less in my jog bra and running shorts.  So, I’ve concluded that she and I equally offend each other.  It’s a trade-off.

As a side with regards to this topic, I also see people walking/exercising (or whatever they may think they are doing) in sweatpants, sweatshirts, jeans and I cannot confirm this, but I think I’ve seen one lady in her underwear – trying to pull it off as a swimsuit. 


Once a week I switch up my route and run out to the end of the peninsula that we live on.  This is a tough run with lots of hills, so I can’t do it every day.  However, lately, I’ve been pushing myself to go all the way to the very end of the point of the peninsula, which provides for a stunning view of the ocean and the rocky northern coast of St. Thomas.  When I get there, I take a 2 minute rest to absorb the moment.  The early morning sun glistens off of the ocean, pelicans glide over the water, the light salty breeze blows and the ocean crashes against the shoreline below me. 

If and when we leave St. Thomas, I will always remember the peacefulness of those 2 minutes.


This is a simple one, but I actually enjoy seeing my neighbors first thing in the morning.  When we first moved to the island, I felt like we lived in the country because our house seemed so remote from everything.  Especially, compared to living in a high rise in Chicago where you’re on top of everyone.  Now, I feel like we live in a neighborhood where we have friends and acquaintances that we hang out with, chat with and look out for. 

This morning, when I was almost back from my run, I took a second to stop and talk with one of my neighbors that I see often, and while we were talking I waived hello to another neighbor who was in his car driving to work. 

Maybe this is the Midwesterner in me, but becoming familiar with people during my morning runs has provided a great feeling of community.  It’s a sharp contrast to the effort I made to avoid eye contact with my neighbors in the elevator of our last condo in Chicago. 


There is a strong cultural tradition down here of saying ‘good morning’ to people.  Saying ‘good afternoon’ is also common, but saying ‘good morning’ is a big, big deal here.  If you don’t say ‘good morning’, it’s offensive, and if you say ‘good morning’ and that person doesn’t say ‘good morning’ back, then it’s a total insult.  Sometimes, people even go to great lengths to say ‘good morning’ twice if Kevin and I are together….kind of like a song, ‘morning-morning’.    

One time when Kevin and I were at the grocery store several of the women working in the deli were having a very heated conversation about something and tempers were hot.  Regardless, we walked into the deli and greeted them with a polite ‘good morning’, to which they immediately responded by completely dropping their conversation and their hot tempers, and in unison responded with the most pleasant ‘good morning’ ever.  It was a remarkable transition, and it proves that nothing, nothing gets in the way of greeting someone with a ‘good morning’. 

So, as you can imagine on my morning runs, it doesn’t matter if I’m huffing it up a huge hill, sweating my butt off and/or in physical pain…if someone comes down the hill and greets me with a ‘good morning’, then I have no choice but to conjure the strength to reply back to them – whether I feel like it’s a good morning at that moment, or not. 

Several times throughout my runs, I’m struggling to say ‘good morning’ to complete strangers.  Part of me thinks this is crazy and part of me thinks it’s really nice.  You’re validating the other person by politely acknowledging them, but they are interrupting you at a very inopportune time with their cultural expectations.  I’m on the fence on this one. 


I see the same couple down at the beach exercising at least twice a week.  When I first saw them, I was confused by what they were doing.  He wears a sweat band, and she seems completely out of breath, so I concluded that they were indeed exercising, but it looked like there was a lot of stumbling involved.  They weren’t really running or jogging, and this definitely wasn’t a walk.  It’s what I now refer to as the stumble-run – kind of a shuffling of the feet, but with an upward and forward motion.  Of course, there is the constant threat that one of them may stumble and fall at any given moment.

With the country experiencing an obesity epidemic, I applaud their commitment to ‘exercising’.  But, I find myself concerned for them every time I see them.  Are they going to fall?  Are they not going to fall?  He seems pretty confident with what he’s doing, as I’ve noticed lately that he brings a bouncy ball with him to bounce and catch along the way.  He could probably step it up a bit to whatever the next level of stumble-running is.  She, on the other hand, doesn’t look too good, with all of her huffing and puffing.  Either way, I always get a good laugh out of the two of them, and I ALWAYS say ‘good morning’ to them.      


Last week, I woke up and set off on my morning route out to the point.  The weather is getting nicer here and it was a sunny day with a nice strong breeze.  At a certain place on this run if you look ahead and beside you, you can see out over the ocean and the islands are in the background. 

I’ve always struggled to keep my head up while I’m running.  It’s just a natural thing for me to keep my head down as I’m moving forward, but on this particular day I looked up over the ocean and saw an isolated cloud hovering above the water.  This struck me as odd because it was an otherwise clear morning.  As I continued to look out at it, I noticed that there was rain coming down from the cloud.  Since this was the only cloud in the middle of sunny morning, a rainbow formed between the cloud and the ocean.  I found it particularly special because I could see both ends of the rainbow, which is rare.  I continued on, reminding myself of what a special place this little island is, and to always keep my head up.


As you can imagine, there isn’t a whole lot of bike riding on the island.  The roads are hilly and have sharp turns and there aren’t long stretches of land to ride along.  However, the beach we run by provides for a paved, safe stretch of road for a short bike ride.  So, every now and then at the beach I see a small child riding their bike with their parents close behind.

One morning as I was jogging along my beach route, I noticed a woman on a bicycle up ahead of me.  The bike had a banana seat, and it seemed a little too small and childish for her, but she moved along nonetheless in a shaky but forward motion.  After a short while, I noticed that I was catching up to her, and became a bit confused by this.  Regardless of the slight downhill that we were approaching, and the fact that she was on wheels, I seemed to be out-pacing her.  How could that be?  For a second I slowed down to ponder what I should do.  Would it offend her if I, a runner, past her?  Should I wait until she turns to carry on with my pace?  Should I go to the opposite side of the street and pass her, rather than passing by right next to her?  I’d never been in this position before.  It seemed so unnatural for a runner to pass a biker.

Finally, I decided not to put anymore thought into this situation.  ‘This is the Caribbean’, I thought, ‘things are so backwards here that you can’t even make this stuff up.’  I picked up my normal pace and blew right by her.


In my last posting I spent most of my time bitching and moaning about how hot it has been down here.  And, I’m sure none of you felt sorry for me – rightfully so.  However, there is one really great thing about getting up for an early run in August and September in St. Thomas…the Sun Rise. 

During these 2 months the sun rises right over Tortola, so we can see it from our deck while we wake up and have a cup of coffee before our run. I have seen more of the most beautiful, picturesque sun rises in the last 2 months, than in my entire life. What’s so interesting to me about seeing the sun rise every morning is that each one is completely different from the day before. Some of them are colorful, others are cloudy and sometimes they can be glaring. Either way, it’s always a great way to start the day, and I can’t even begin to put into words how beautiful this is. Instead, I’ll close this posting with a picture so you can see for yourself. Enjoy!



Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Caribbean Meltdown

I’ve been on the island now for over a year, and I’ve gotten all too familiar with The Caribbean Meltdown phenomenon, or simply “The Meltdown”. The Meltdown tends to be most prevalent during the months of August and September, since these are the hottest, most stagnant and unbelievably humid months of the year – imagine living in a steam room without any escape for 2 months.  Okay, it’s not that bad, but the air is so thick down here that you can actually see it at times, like steam, and it can get to you…big time.  So, much to my own dismay I’m in the heart of Meltdown season right now. 

A Caribbean Meltdown is best described as simply overheating….sweating profusely, inability to cool down and total discomfort.  No doubt, this is a physical and emotional meltdown because at times I have felt as though I am physically melting away, and it’s more than clear that I’m emotionally, uncontrollably, breaking down. 
The frequency of these meltdowns varies, but I’d say I’m averaging about 3 meltdowns a week.  In fact, I had a minor meltdown this morning, which is a great example.  I got up at 5:30 a.m. (because it’s too hot to run after 7:00 a.m. here), had my morning coffee and took off for a longer run than usual.  During my run I somehow stayed pretty mentally strong even though I was becoming increasingly aware of the thick/humid/hot air as the sun came up.  As I ran by my neighbor we said hello, and he commented on how hot of a morning it was.  I have to say that I was proud of myself for not being the first to complain about the heat.  Again, mentally stronger than normal.  Once I got home, I took my time stretching out and had another cup of coffee out on my deck – super mentally strong, as I’m typically rushing into the bedroom where we do have an AC unit and a fan (my only saving grace).  I then took a cold shower, got dressed, dried my hair and put on some make-up.  I felt refreshed and ready to take on the day.  But, upon opening the door of my bedroom to enter the kitchen, I was smacked in the face by the hot air once again.  This is when things took turn for the worst.

After eating breakfast I wanted to take care of some normal, everyday household tasks before starting my day.  I unloaded the dishwasher, washed some dishes and changed the sheets on my bed.  While I was changing the sheets, sweat started pouring down my face, back and neck, I wiped it off with a paper towel and realized that I was also wiping and sweating off all of my make-up and my hair was a mess.  At this point, normal, nice and stable Christine exits and some sort of monster completely takes over. 

I walked past Kevin to get some laundry out of the washing machine and he starts talking to me about plans for the weekend.  It went something like this....
Kevin (sweetly): "Hey, Babe, I have the name of the captain that we need to call to set up our boating trip on Sunday.  Do you want me to text it to you, or is email easier?"
Me: "Texting is fine, or...wait (monster creeping in quickly), email is better...or, I don't really care, Kevin.  I'm having a complete meltdown (sweating, sweating, sweating) right now, and I can't talk about our weekend plans with you (ROARRRRR)."
I then stop what I’m doing, go back to the bedroom with the AC, sit in front of the fan, and watch the Today show until the monster vanishes and my lovely self comes back.  This transition is indeed a phenomenon like I've never experienced before.       
However, this morning’s Meltdown was mild because in my case the overheating/breaking down is typically supplemented by whatever other Caribbean issue may be bothering me at that moment.  Most commonly, the bugs.  Especially during these months since it’s so humid, the bugs are thick and vicious.  I don’t go in our front yard without bug spray – ever. 
Other nagging annoyances include lack of air conditioning in our home (except the bedroom, which is common in the Caribbean b/c of the expense and construction of homes), the fact that I’m sweating off the makeup I just applied, sweating after taking a cold shower, sweating through the clothes that I just put on for the day, inability to get through a morning run without thinking about what I wouldn’t give for a nice, crisp, flat Chicago morning, or just basic and overall frustration with how uncomfortable I am (again).
I have to thank Kevin for being patient with me, since [curiously] none of this seems to bother him.  He can run 7 miles in 100% humidity, with 90 degree weather, take a cold shower, still be sweating his ass off, and when I bring up how hot it is, he’ll look at me with complete confusion and say, ‘what do you mean?’ as sweat pours down his forehead.  Okay, add that to the above list of nagging annoyances.
I’ve talked with other people on the island about the Caribbean Meltdown, and it’s reassuring to know that others experience this too.  When I was golfing on Sunday, one of my fellow golf partners, that has lived on the island for over 30 years, mentioned that she still has meltdowns.  Wait…is that reassuring?? 
Anyway, I guess it’s better to have a couple of uncomfortable months, then to have 6-7 months of freezing cold and grey skies like we did in Chicago.  And, I know that after this month, the next several months are going to provide beautiful weather almost every day.  I just wish there was a way to escape the heat in my own home during “Caribbean Meltdown” season.  Ugh.




Saturday, July 28, 2012

Citizens on Patrole

I’ve now been living in St. Thomas for over a year, and while there is no doubt that I love what the island has to offer, most people would agree that a good portion of the population down here has some serious accountability issues.  Quite simply, things on the island aren’t run as efficiently as they are in the States.  As a resident, if you can’t accept this, then you will literally go crazy or have a massive breakdown at some point, so you have to laugh it off and trust that things will somehow work out in the end. 

I could give countless examples of how the smallest of tasks somehow turn into long, drawn out, complicated and confusing burdens.  Like when I went to OfficeMax to have 4 binders created for a presentation, only to wait there for 3 hours while the lady tried to figure out where to place each tab.  It took every ounce of strength for me not to have a complete melt-down after 2 hours, and by the 3rd hour I simply wanted to jump over the counter and do it myself.  However, when I asked if I could help in any way, the lady glared at me and with some serious attitude said, ‘If I needed your help, I would have asked you for it.’  I couldn’t help but think (over and over again) that Kinko’s in Chicago would have had my order knocked out in 20 minutes…20 MINUTES!!!!  Clearly, I still haven’t recovered from this episode, but writing about it has been cathartic.

Anyway, the most recent example of what should be a seamless duty going awry is that the local police department has run out of tickets to issue.

Yes.  Right now in the U.S. Virgin Islands a police officer can only pull you over and issue a warning because he or she doesn’t have the proper paperwork to issue a formal traffic violation.  Of course, a spoke’s woman for the police department is denying this, but the Deputy Police Chief has confirmed that officers cannot enforce the law right now. 

So, you’re probably wondering how something like this could happen.  Let’s dissect this convoluted mess…

According to an article in the Virgin Islands Daily News, it’s the responsibility of the Superior Court to order new ticket books.  The court is saying that there has been a great deal of back and forth with the printing company on the mainland since January.  The court’s story is that they wanted to redesign the format of the tickets to be a certain way, which has caused this unusual delay.  I’d love to hear the printing company’s story, but somehow the court can’t remember the name of the company for reference.  My take is that the USVI still hasn’t paid them for the last batch of tickets, and unlike the local companies down here that will kowtow to the government when they don’t pay their bills, the mainland expects to receive compensation for their services.  Pretty simple.      

A spokeswoman for the court, Glendia Caines, said that while she understands that this may have a direct impact on the revenue for the territory – revenue that is so desperately needed that the government can’t and often doesn’t pay their bills as mentioned above - they ‘wanted to get it right the first time.’  She went on to say, “We wanted to get it done and done correctly.”  Hmm…perhaps Glendia was a bit short-sighted in how she defined getting it done “right” or “correctly”.  I’m a critical person, but to me the priority in ordering tickets should be…getting the tickets. 

However, my favorite of Glendia’s responses was when she said, “I know the public might be happy when they read this story, but there are probably a couple of officers still out there with ticket books, so this is not to say that anybody’s off the hook.”  Oh, Glendia, you can’t fool me with all of your uncertainty and incompetence.  I’m going to head out in my car and try to break 40 mph somewhere on this island just as soon as I’m done with this posting.

Breakin’ the law, breakin’ the law….

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Oh no…you didn’t.

This weekend I had some time to myself before I had to pick up Kevin from the airport, so I decided to take my dogs to the beach for some fun.  It was a hot day, and I wanted them to be warn out and quiet when Kevin got home after a long week away. 

Going to the beach is always a treat for them since not only do they get to cool off in the ocean AND play catch, they also get a considerable car ride.  So, I got them hyped up with the thought of ‘going swimming!’, grabbed their water toy and let them eagerly jump into the car.  They stuck their heads out the window to blissfully catch the breeze as we wound around the island and headed down to the beach.  

Upon arriving at our destination I parked my car near the beach and opened the car door for them. They both eagerly jumped out of the car and made a dash for the water.  Before I could get their toy out of the backseat, they had already made a friend, pooped and gotten into the water.  Remarkable progress. 

Anyway, I checked my watch to make myself aware of the time because the salt water tends to upset Oakley’s stomach.  Also, too much swimming can make him moody with Thor when they are competing to get the toy.  Oakley’s still a hard charging dog, but he’s 8 years old now, so I try to keep beach time to the lesser of his first snarl at Thor, or 30-45 minutes.  And frankly, I can only take chasing down Thor in the sand for the toy so many times.

So, I proceeded to throw their toy for them countless times, as Oakley remained in the water and started to make his usual gagging noise.  Meanwhile, Thor performed his typical act of rolling around in the sand after every time he retrieved the toy.  Regardless, I truly enjoyed seeing them have so much innocent fun, and it’s one of my favorite things to do with them. 

After about 30 minutes, I started to think about getting them out of the water and back into the car.  I kept telling myself that I was going to throw their toy just a couple more times, but I’m such a sucker for them that it wasn’t until Oak snapped at Thor, several minutes later, that I put an end to things.  After toweling them off, we went back in the car to head home.

Once home, I rinsed the sand off of them with the hose and we went inside to relax.  I quickly noticed that Oakley was giving me that, ‘I don’t feel so well, Mom’ look, and he started to get really needy with me.  He leaned himself against my legs while I made my lunch, then he laid down next to me on the deck as I started to eat.  This is where things took an unfortunate turn…

Before I continue I should explain that there is a small apartment below our house that is rented out to a very nice young couple from Wisconsin.  However, this wasn’t the case when we moved in, and every time the real estate agent showed the apartment, we tried to warn off potential tenants by letting Oakley out on the deck above them to relentlessly bark.  Somehow, this particular couple wasn’t deterred by our strategy.  I think they may have thought that once the dogs got familiar with them, they would stop barking.  Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the case with Oakley.  He’s way too excitable.  So, our downstairs neighbors have gotten to know Oakley much better than they ever wanted, and the fact that they decided to get a cat hasn’t helped with Oak’s barking habit.     

Regardless, they are both in the service industry, so their schedules are much different from ours, and I rarely notice them.  Except, on this particular Saturday they, too, were out on their deck (directly below our deck), enjoying the day.  So, here we were, all out on our decks, feeling the salty breeze and soaking up the warm sun, when all of a sudden…Oakley pukes.

Yup.  A nice combination of partially digested dog food, a heart worm pill and some stomach bile was all over my deck and quickly dripping and falling down to my neighbor’s deck below.  I immediately gasp, ‘Oh, Oakley!!!’ as my neighbors ask from below, ‘what was that????”.  Mortified, I tell them that Oakley just puked, and at that moment I was certain that if there was ever any doubt about how they felt about Oak, that doubt no longer existed. 

I ran inside for something to clean up this disgusting mess as my mind raced to figure out what the right thing to do was.  First, I tried to wipe it up, but that only made the remainder of nasty stuff fall down on top of them.  Oh, god!  My second attempt was better.  After providing a warning ahead of time, I rinsed off my deck with our garden hose, then I lowered it down to them and told them I’d be down to rinse it off.  However, like the good Mid-Westerners that they are, they told me not to worry about coming down, and simply thanked me for lowering the hose. 

Once they were done, I pulled up the hose and put it away.  I then grabbed the rest of my lunch and my 2 dogs and headed inside for the rest of the day.      

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Photo of the Week

I was at the beach one day a couple of weeks ago, looking for people to take pictures of, when I came upon a random fashion show and snapped this shot of a model on the catwalk. 

I love the contrast between how glamorous the model is verses the natural background.  You'd never know she is on a runway, so the picture truly takes things out of context.  I also like all of the space that's in front of the model in this picture.  Since she has lots of room to walk into, the feeling of the photo isn't hurried or pressed.  Her paused pose reinforces the same calming if she will be taking all the time she needs to get to her destination.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Disney World - Ugh

Last week I took a few days off to head back to the States with my boyfriend, Kevin, for his annual corporate trip. In the past, these trips have been to all sorts of romantic destinations like the Bahamas, the Caymans, Puerto Rico, etc. However, this year his company decided that Walt Disney World was going to be our destination. Disney? I’m all for a free trip, but being spoiled by Caribbean breezes and beaches every day AND not have children of my own didn’t help me get too pumped up for this vacation. Regardless, I tried to improve my attitude a bit as we made our way to every child’s ultimate mecca, and in the meantime I made the following observations:

Observation #1: The Magic Kingdom doesn’t make kids happy. On our first day at Disney we decided to join some friends and head off to the Magic Kingdom. It was a sunny, warm day, and I looked forward to Space Mountain, but that was about it. We spent most of the day standing in line for rides that were designed for little kids. By ‘little kids’, I don’t mean kids in general, but rather kids no older than 5 or 6.

These “rides” were basically just cars that carted you around in the dark to different scenes from movies like ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ or scenes from a haunted house. What I enjoyed most about these rides was the air conditioning and the fact that I could actually sit down for a while.

Anyway, I digress. Like I said earlier, we spent most of our time standing in line, and the rest of the time was spent aimlessly walking from one section of the park to another. After being there for what seemed like forever, but was probably only an hour, I noticed that most of the children weren’t happy at all. Rather than joyfully meeting Cinderella, Mickey Mouse or Pluto, the kids spent their time crying and being harshly reprimanded by their parents. At one point, a mother past me, literally dragging her screaming child and yelling that, ‘This is ridiculous and it needs to stop’. Another time, while going to the bathroom, the mother in the stall next to me yelled at her daughter for ‘tinkling on her panties’ and threatened her by stating that if she didn’t straighten up, they were going home – to Atlanta.

Yes. It was clear that these kids, and their parents for that matter, were tired, unhappy and surprisingly disappointed. After discussing this shocking reaction to “The Most Magical Place on Earth” with others, I got the same reaction from at least 2 other people that had brought their kids to Disney. They both said that their happiest (and cheapest) day in Walt Disney World was the day they spent at their hotel pool…where their kids could swim and play all day, and they could relax in a comfy chase lounge chair with a cold one.

Observation #2: Disney spares no expense when it comes to fireworks. On our 2nd night in Disney, we went to Epcot Center for dinner and to watch their firework display. After dinner we all congregated by the lagoon, looking over the different countries and presumably towards where the firework show would take place. The lagoon was surrounded by what appeared to be hundreds of people all over the place, heavily anticipating this nightly show. Finally, the music started and the fireworks began.

There were fireworks in an assortment of colors and shapes. Most notably, there were blue stars and red hearts, which I hadn’t seen before. I kept waiting for a firework to go off in the shape of Mickey’s head, but even Disney couldn’t quite pull that one off – yet. And, there were lower, graceful fireworks shooting across the water, which created a nice reflection.

As I was thoroughly enjoying this romantic display with Kevin, out of nowhere a huge fireball spewed bursts of fire out into the middle of the lagoon. Maybe ‘fireball’ isn’t the right word for it…I’d say it was closer to a fire cloud, either way it was completely over the top. We could actually feel the heat from this thing as it got bigger, and for a brief moment I thought that there had been a malfunction with the show. Of course, this just goes to show that anytime you introduce large amounts of fire into a show, it’s going to be a huge hit because nobody could take their eyes off that thing. It demanded our attention. We may have actually missed a large part of the show because we were so distracted by the heat and light that this burst was emitting towards us. They finally lowered the heat and ended the show with a nice finale.

However, this show was just the start for us. There were fireworks throughout the rest of the trip. Every night, people congregated to see them from our hotel, from the Magic Kingdom, from Epcot and from wherever else they were set off. I even saw some during the day, while I was eating lunch outside of Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom…during the day, folks.

So, when it comes to fireworks, nobody outdoes Disney.

Observation #3: Parents are exploited to the nth degree at Disney. I’m not a parent, but it was so obvious that Disney was completely taking advantage of moms and dads that even I was a bit put off.

Where do I begin? I guess once you get past the price to stay at a Disney Hotel (over $400/nt), and pay to get into the park ($74 – $80 per day, per person), then you better have arranged to have your kids meet their favorite character at breakfast or something, because I didn’t see any characters making themselves available for the kids to meet in the Magic Kingdom. I saw them in a parade, but you couldn’t go up to Mickey Mouse just anywhere in the park – no. They have him tucked away, so you have to pay a premium to get to him – after waiting in line of course. As far as I’m concerned, Mickey should be greeting every parent as they walk through the front entrance, high-fiving them for making it this far, and wishing them a lot of luck for what the rest of the day had in store for them.

But the most blatantly obvious exploitation to me was what happens after you get off every ride at Disney. Let’s back up. So, you wait in line for at least 45 minutes, get on a ride where, again [in my opinion] the best part is sitting down and cooling off, then when the ride is done you follow the path to the exit, but before they let you go, you have to walk through a shop with memorabilia related to whatever ride you just got off. For example, we went on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride – where the only good part, besides the AC and sitting down, was seeing very good replicas of Johnny Depp – so afterwards before they let you go and wait in line for the next sub-par ride, you had to walk through a store full of overpriced Pirates of the Caribbean crap. I mean, how many times can a parent possibly say no to their child before they breakdown and are forced to say yes? It’s so unfair.

If anything, my recent observations at Disney helped me understand what lengths a parent will go to for their kids. My parents took me to Disney World twice, and it could not have been fun for them. I realize that, for my parents, Disney was probably worth all the effort it took to get my sister and I there, just to see the expression on our faces when we saw Cinderella’s Castle for the first time. I’m sure most parents feel that way, and it's clear that Disney knows how priceless this is. So, Mom and Dad, thank you for enduring what had to have been an excruciating time for you – second only to my adolescence. I love you both.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Photo of the Week...

The biggest thing I've learned in the last week is that photography is about taking shots that make what the viewer should be looking at extremely obvious.  This is harder than you'd think because backgrounds can be cluttered and distracting.  They can also make your subject more, or less defined.  So, photography has a lot to do with keeping a shot simple - removing any unnecessary distractions.

There's a lot you can do to position the camera and take advantage of your camera's features in order to capture a good shot.  This is my best attempt to do so....

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Picture of the Week - My Dogs

My assignment from class last week was to capture a decisive moment in an action photo.  I quickly learned that capturing anything in motion is no easy task.  It takes a great deal of patience, and I had to take a lot of pictures in order to get a good one.  But, it was pretty rewarding once I got the picture I was looking for, and I was proud of myself when I would finally get a good one! 

This week, my photo of the week is actually going to be photos of the week because I couldn't decide between 2 of the pictures.  Both of them are action shots taken of my dogs playing with each other. 

Here they are....

Oakley (with toy) and Thor taking advantage of cooling down in
 the ocean, while taking a break from hiking on St. John

Thor (foreground) getting ready to catch the ball in our front
yard while Oakley realizes that Thor has him beat! 

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words

It's been a year since I started blogging about my experience moving from Chicago to St. Thomas.  As I reflect on the year, I can honestly say that I've learned a lot about myself...what I want out of life, what defines me, what makes me happy, etc.  Of course, I haven't figured it all out by any stretch, but I've gotten a lot closer to understanding who I am then if I had simply stayed on course with my life in Chicago. 

Of course, I've had a lot of fun sharing all of my experiences through this blog, and I look forward to continuing to use my blog to include all of you in my life.  However, one of the major things I've learned this past year is that change can be good.  So, instead of continuing to write lengthy blogs about exotic islands, hiking excursions or boating around the Caribbean with friends, I think it's time to switch it up. 

Since moving to the island, I've taken an interest in photography.  For any of you that read my blog regularly, you've probably noticed that I often include a new photo at the very bottom of my blog with every posting.  All of these photos are pictures I've taken with a simple point and shoot camera.  Recently, though, I've wanted to take my picture taking 'skills' to a new level.  I found a local photographer that teaches classes and bought a fancy new camera.  I now go to a 2 hour class once a week to learn the art of photography, and I work on different lessons that I've learned in class throughout each week.  Some of my pictures are better than I ever thought I could take and others are terrible. 

Since they say a picture is worth 1,000 words, I figured that rather than writing 1,000 words every few weeks, I'd start posting a picture of the week for everyone.  I still intend on writing about some of my experiences, but by posting a picture with you every week, my hope is that I can share a different side of myself with you in a more creative way. 

So, here is my first picture of the week.....

This is my boyfriend Kevin, and I love this picture for so many reasons.  I was outside on our deck practicing what I had learned in class the day before, when Kevin came out to see what I was doing. 

On a fluke, I took this picture of him, and since he didn't want me to take his picture at the time, it is the only one I snapped of him.  Typically, I need to take several photos before I get a good one, but this one simply worked out. 

For those of you that know Kevin, you'll know that he doesn't typically have a complete smile on his face when he's in a picture, but I was teasing him because he didn't want me to take his picture, so I caught him with a full smile.  At first when I saw the picture I was disappointed because I had wanted more of a 3/4 view of his face, but the more I looked at it, the more I liked it. 

I have always loved the character in Kevin's face, and the lighting that morning brought it out in this shot.  I also love the angle that his face took in the picture - his profile almost creates a diagonal line from one corner of the photo to the next, which, I have recently learned, creates great composition.

Anyway, maybe I'm over analyzing this photo, and I only love it because I love Kevin.  So, please forgive me if you aren't catching on to what I'm saying.  

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Rolex Regatta

Most people agree that island life on St. Thomas can be quite backwards.  In fact, there are bumper stickers out there that say, “Welcome to St. Thomas.  You can’t make this shit up.”  However, the one thing that is done extraordinarily well here is sailing.  It’s no secret why Columbus first discovered America in the Caribbean Islands - the Trade Winds are so strong that he didn't have much of a choice.  So naturally, the Virgin Islands provide for some of the best sailing in the world.  Kids that grow up here start learning to sail when they are 3 or 4 years old, some of the best professional sailors in the world live here, and I know of at least 1 person that will be racing in the Olympics this summer.  So, when my friend, whose husband and sister were racing a boat out of Puerto Rico, invited us to go out on her power boat to watch the Rolex Regatta, one of the biggest regatta’s of the year, I jumped at the chance to see what it was all about.

As we all gathered to get on the boat, the weather was questionable.  The sky was full of threatening, dark clouds and rain was in the forecast.  Regardless, we stocked the boat with plenty of food and drinks and headed out to a place where we could see a good deal of action.  The schedule for that day included 2 races with several different classes of boats.  However, the regatta lasted for 3 days with each race scoring accumulative points for the final winners after the 3rd day of racing.  While I know nothing about sailing, my friends explained that each class of boats was rated on a point system to level the playing field and allow for various boat sizes and types to compete.  So, even if a boat beat several other boats to the finish line, that didn’t mean that it was the winner of the race.  Points had to be added and subtracted in order to calculate the true winner of each race.  This makes it tough for someone that isn’t familiar with boats to follow the race, but I was looking forward to taking in what I could.

Once we got to our destination on the course, things got pretty exciting.  Since the boats were transitioning from coming downwind to going upwind as they turned around, the crews had to work hard and fast to change the sails and make a quick turn.  Sailors worked frantically to keep their positions, or gain on other’s positions during this critical point of the race.  To me, it seemed like some of the boats were way too close to one another.  So much so, that I can see how there are accidents during a regatta.  They were all very aggressive, and one boat even lost is mast.  Although we only saw the aftermath of that accident, seeing a sailboat without its mast was an unfortunate sight. 
This boat, full of professional sailors, lost it's mast.

Racing downwind, toward the turn around point, marked by the yellow triangle.

Close competition coming in to the finish line.

Once our friend’s boat, Lazy Dog, had past us we went over to the finish line, which was in the harbor of the main town – Charlotte Amalie.  We anxiously awaited the arrival of the leading boats and cheered them in as they past the finish line in front of us. 

When Lazy Dog finished the race, we caught up with them to see how they had done.  It seemed as though they were pretty good, as they had finished among the leaders for the 1st race!  Since they clearly wanted to strategize among themselves, we left them alone after quickly congratulating them.  As we hung out in the harbor, waiting for the 2nd race to begin, countless boats flooded the harbor and fought for a good position to start the next race. 
Lazy Dog, finishing the 1st race of the day.

In an effort to avoid the congestion of the race's end in the harbor, we found a quieter spot to stay in before the race began.  Apparently, we weren’t the only ones looking for a quiet spot because we came across a small group of dolphins swimming around our boat!  Excited, we all grabbed our cameras to take pictures and followed them around with the boat when they swam off a bit.  At one point, one of them jumped out of the water, spun all the way around and went back underwater.  True to their name, they were Spinner Dolphins.  I’ve wanted to see dolphins since I moved here, so it was one of the highlights of my day.

After the distraction of the dolphins subsided, we watched the 2nd race begin before we headed out to our final destination - the finish line of the 2nd race.  As the race started, each class of boats congregated together and frantically fought for the best position to start the race, then suddenly took off towards the course.  This race seemed to be faster than the first one because by the time we reached the finish line and dropped our anchor, it wasn’t long before the sailboats started coming in with their visibly exhausted crews. 
When they arrived, we congratulated our friends on Lazy Dog and joined up with them in a harbor nearby.   One of the boats had a barbecue on it that someone started to grill cheeseburgers on.  It wasn’t long before those had been devoured, and the guys from Puerto Rico lit up a paella pan and started throwing in tons of rice, fish, vegetables, etc.  While that cooked we all had some cocktails and hopped from boat to boat so that we could meet each other and chat for a while.  Of course, when the paella was done everyone quietly ate every bit of it.  As I ate my delicious rice dish, I couldn’t help but be surprised at the energy that these sailors had after a long day out on the water.  It was clear that this part of the weekend was just as important to them as the race. 

Finally, knowing that they had another long day of sailing ahead of them, we all agreed to let the crew get some sleep.  We stumbled into a dingy and headed back home.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Getting Off 'The Rock'

St. Thomas can feel confining at times, and most people that live here agree that it's important to get back to the States from time to time.  I guess I'm no different because I was feeling the need to get off 'The Rock'.  So when my best friend's mom decided to throw her a surprise baby shower at their home in New England my boyfriend, Kevin, suggested that we head up to New York City for a long weekend.  I’ve been to NYC several times, and have always liked New York, but I never really understood why people thought it was so special until this most recent trip.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been away from the city life for a few months now.  Either way, the entire weekend was just what I needed.

We didn’t arrive in New York until very late on a Thursday night, and on the trip down I came down with a bad cold.  So, I spent most of our first morning in bed, sleeping.  Finally, around 1:00 p.m. I conjured up enough energy to go get a badly needed, inexpensive manicure and pedicure from a good Asian woman.  It may come as a surprise to some of you, but there are no Asians on St. Thomas.  None.  With this in mind, I have found it impossible to get a good manicure.  Sure, there are nice, overly priced spas down here, but I don’t care how much money you spend, they don’t compare to an urban, Asian nail salon – not even close.   So, call me what you will, I fully enjoyed having my cuticles cut back considerably and my feet scrubbed until I felt minor pain.  When all was said and done, I undoubtedly left the salon with a perfect manicure and pedicure.
Once that was done, I headed off to meet my boyfriend for a late lunch at a Jewish deli.  I love good Jewish food and as you can imagine it’s nearly impossible to come by in St. Thomas.  I enjoyed a bowl of the most delicious Matzo Ball soup followed by a warm pastrami sandwich on freshly baked rye bread.  Even the iced tea was delicious.  The only thing that could have made this meal make me feel any better was if someone’s Jewish mother walked in after our meal to tuck me into bed all-the-while forcing me to take a spoonful of NyQuil.  Alas, I used what little energy I had built up to head back to the hotel to tuck myself in for another nap.
That night I pumped myself full of cold medicine and Tylenol and headed out in the cold air and pouring down rain, to see “Rock of Ages”, an off-Broadway musical that originally starred Tom Cruise.  Personally, there is nothing more entertaining than seeing someone perform on stage right in front of you…throw in some singing and dancing, and I’m mesmerized.  I don’t think that there’s a musical out there that’s too cheesy for me to thoroughly enjoy.  I love them all, and this one was no different.  It was a fun show full of ‘80s rock and roll, and it was exactly what I wanted to do while I was in town.   

After getting a good night’s sleep, I felt much better in the morning.  We had brunch at the Carnegie Deli and gorged ourselves full of bagels, fresh lox, pastrami and blintzes.  We then packed up our leftovers, and grabbed the subway to SOHO.  I’m not much of a shopper, but SOHO is a shopper’s dream come true.  I spent hours happily walking from store to store, splurging on a few things along the way.  I enjoyed every minute of it.
On our way back to the hotel from SOHO, Kevin suggested that we catch another show that night.  Of course, I agreed, so we ended up seeing “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” with Nick Jonas and Beau Bridges.  We had great seats and the show was even better than “Rock of Ages”.  As a side, Nick Jonas doesn’t have a powerful voice, but his acting was good and of course the girls LOVE him!
On my last morning in New York, I woke up and took a jog through Central Park with Kevin.  I had never been to Central Park, so I couldn’t help but be surprised by how beautiful and big it was.  As we ran through the park, the sun was coming up over the skyline and glistening on the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir.  People were out, playing with their dogs and taking in some exercise on bikes or simply jogging like we were.  Typically, when we go for jogs together, Kevin runs ahead of me, but this time we ran side-by-side so that we could enjoy the park together.  It was a really nice memory to have – the two of us, running through the park together on a cold, crisp, sunny New York morning, taking in the city together.      
After our jog, I took the train up to Connecticut to go to my friend’s surprise baby shower. Not only was the shower a surprise to her, but she had no idea I was in town, so I was excited to see the reaction on her face when she realized she was having a baby shower and I had made it!  Of course, she was shocked when she saw me.  She burst into tears and ended up hugging me for a few minutes while continuing to sob.  It made my whole trip worthwhile to see how happy she was that I was there for her.  The afternoon was a really nice occasion, and I truly enjoyed seeing some familiar faces while I was there.  It’s great to know that my best friend has so much support, and was more prepared for her new baby’s arrival.
 The last thing I wanted to do while we were in the big city was go out for a good steak dinner.  I’ve had a hard time finding a good steak in St. Thomas, so I rarely eat steak and had been craving a really juicy, properly cooked piece of red meat.  So, once I got back into the city from my afternoon in Connecticut, we went to Del Fresco’s based on a friend’s recommendation.  I have to say, Del Fresco’s did not disappoint.  I stuffed myself full of crab cakes, a 16 oz (bone in) fillet, lobster macaroni and cheese, sauteed mushrooms and some red wine.  I enjoyed every bit of it, but was happy to have a bit of a walk back to our hotel to shake off how full I felt.
So after a full weekend of fantastic food, good friends, some retail therapy and quality entertainment, I felt ready to come back to the island.  Being in New York was exactly what I needed to feel connected to the States once again.  On Monday morning, I hopped on a plane and headed back to The Rock and back to my own reality – for now.    

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Do You Want to Scuba?

I’ve always been kind of curious about scuba diving. I guess there is something about entering into the underwater world that seems magical in a way. It has fish of every color, creatures that react in surprising ways and a general peacefulness that cannot be experienced on land where humans take over. Snorkeling and scuba diving in the Virgin Islands seems to be a big attraction for people, since the water is clear and warm and there are several reefs that provide beautiful scenery and great wildlife. While I have snorkeled a good amount since my move to St. Thomas and seen some pretty amazing things, recently I have felt ready for the next step, so today I took my first scuba diving lesson at Coki Beach.

Upon arriving at the beach around 9:00 am, I was told to fill out some paperwork and sign a waiver form. The instructor mentioned that if I answered yes to any of the health questions on the waiver form, then I would need a doctor’s approval before diving. The form included a laundry list of everything from diabetes, high blood pressure, heart failure, mental illness, etc., etc. I hemmed and hawed over the one question about having sinus surgery. When I was 15, I had my adenoids removed, which was sinus related, but that was 18 years ago. I haven’t had one sinus issue since, so I lied and put ‘no’ under that question, hoping that there wouldn’t be some unforeseen issue with this. I then briefly contemplated signing a bogus name on the form, but in an effort to be a good sport, I signed the form appropriately.

I was then told by an extremely young, possibly prepubescent, man (?) to ‘strip down’ into whatever I was going to scuba in, at which point I immediately asked for a wetsuit. Granted, the water has gotten colder down here since the summer, but I also felt more comfortable covering up for this event, rather than prancing around in my green polka-dot bikini. After helping me step into the right size wetsuit, he then told me to zip it up and head on down to meet my instructor.

My instructor had already begun filling in the other student on some things by the time I arrived. However, he paused so we could all make introductions before moving on. The instructor's name was Rick, and he was probably in his early 40s. By the looks of his curly, sun-bleached hair and tanned skin, I could tell that this wasn’t his first rodeo and felt as though I was in good hands.

The other person in my class was an older, European man…can’t remember his name, but we’ll call him Hans. Hans was practically bald and spoke with a thick accent. He was wearing 2 wet suits, one down to his ankles and the other down to his knees. Hans mentioned that he knows a professional diver in Barbados that had motivated him to get certified as a scuba diver – after he learned how to swim. Apparently, as a fifty-something man Hans had just learned how to swim and was ready to jump right into scuba diving. After telling me all of this, he continued to repeatedly express nervousness about some sort of sinus pain that he had experienced during another scuba diving or snorkeling occasion, which of course made me think twice about my sinus surgery answer on the waiver form.

Thankfully, Rick ended all of this small talk with firm instructions on what we were about to do. He explained how to breathe, how to swim only with our feet, how to clear our masks, how to check our air valve, how to clear your ears, and on and on. He was careful to tell us not to touch any wildlife while in the water. “Remember”, he said, “99% of all animal related incidents in the water are provoked by humans.” He also showed us some underwater signals like how to signal if you were okay by making an “O” with your thumb and index finger, how to tell him something wasn’t right, how to explain that you needed to go up to the surface, how to let him know that you just saw and eel and several other hand signals that I swore I would never remember should something happen to go wrong. However, I took solace in the fact that if this guy couldn’t read the signal on my face of all out panic if something went wrong, then he probably wasn’t capable of helping me out anyway, so I’d be better off fending for myself.

After receiving these instructions we geared up and headed into the shallow water so that we could test out everything we were just told. I’ll admit that I was a little uncomfortable breathing in and out of the mouthpiece. It seemed really unnatural to me, and after only a short bit I was so uncomfortable that I had to go up to the surface to regain my composure. Once I got that nonsense out of the way, I was fine. Hans, however, wasn’t fine from the get-go. For whatever reason, the instructor couldn’t get enough weights on Hans to hold him down under water. He kept calling out for his assistant, the prepubescent, to bring more weights. Yup, Hans was one buoyant European. Once that was finally settled, we moved on to dive by a reef not far from the shore.

As instructed, Hans and I swam behind the instructor with me to Rick’s left the whole time, and Hans all over the damn place. At first things seemed to be going well. There were vibrant fish all around us, and after a while I wondered if they were following us. Then, Rick found an interesting jellyfish that he picked up and showed us. While this seemed interesting to me, and I went along with it, I couldn’t help but remember what Rick had said about 99% of animal incidents and wondered what I would do if something happened to Rick, since relying on Hans was out of the question. I remained hopeful that Rick would take his own advice and stop touching things.

Shortly after seeing the jellyfish, things went south for Hans. Since scuba diving is completely foreign to me, I couldn’t begin to tell you what his problem was. I will say that there was a lot of back and forth between him and the instructor, and I could only imagine the incoherent sign language that was going on at the time. Hans was constantly floating back up higher than we were, and at some point I believe he may have latched onto a rope that Rick was towing. 

I tried to ignore this ridiculous distraction and enjoy my surroundings. There was pink, orange and purple coral everywhere and big tropical fish I had never seen before. I looked around me to take it all in. It felt peaceful and the thought of what else we may see was really exciting. We continued on to find a lobster hiding in a shell and a spotted eel curled up under some coral. As we swam on, Rick intermittently looked back at me to ask if I was okay several times, and I gave him the signal that told him I was fine each time. 

Before I knew it we were back at the shore, taking off our gear. We had gone 41 feet under water and our dive took about 30 minutes, but it felt like we had only been down there for half as long. I realized that I wasn’t satisfied – I was ready for more. Without hesitating, I bought the materials needed to get certified as a diver and completed all the necessary paperwork to move forward.

I can’t wait to get back in the water!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Virgin Gorda!

Since last weekend was a three day weekend, my boyfriend and I decided to pull together a last minute trip to Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands (BVI).  Virgin Gorda had been at the top of my list of islands to visit in the BVI because I had heard a lot about how beautiful The Baths, or large volcanic boulders, are there.  So, last Friday we hopped on a couple of ferries and made our way over to the BVI to spend our time on one of the more beautiful islands I've been to since moving to the Caribbean. 

It was getting late by the time we got there and we were hungry.  So, we got our rental car, checked into our room at Mahoe Bay and went over to Spanish Town for dinner.  I should note that the island is so small and safe that when I asked the hotel rep for a key to our room, he said they don’t have room keys.  The rooms and villas were always unlocked, and they never had any problems.  I was completely impressed by this, and couldn’t help but feel a true sense of comfort knowing how safe the island is.
Spanish Town is one of the main towns on the island, and it has a handful of restaurants, bars and shops to explore.  Since it was only a 10 minute drive from our hotel, we had dinner in Spanish Town every night we were there.  Our favorite place was Chez Bamboo, which served some delicious curry lobster and had the best Caribbean atmosphere.  However, we also enjoyed watching the NFL play-off games at one of the local sports bars there called Bath & Turtle, which was busy with avid NFL fans, cheering on their teams and checking out the winners on the enormous game of Squares that was posted on the wall of the bar.  I couldn’t help but be surprised that American football was quite popular there since it is a British territory.
On our first day there, after making some breakfast and enjoying coffee on our patio, we went to The Baths, which is the biggest tourist site in the BVI.  Since it was early when we got there and there weren’t any cruise ships to flood the island with tourists that day, we had The Baths to ourselves.  After paying the attendant a small fee, we took a short, quiet walk down the hill towards the water.  Once we got to the ocean, the sight of countless, enormous volcanic boulders, was overwhelming.  The combination of the crystal clear, blue ocean with these huge boulders lining the shore was beautiful.  I had never seen anything like it, and it was obvious why this place was such an attraction. 

A view of The Baths

We started our trek through ‘The Caves’ of The Baths, which was a rugged, very tight walk.  We often had to duck down or get on our knees to get by.  At one point, I couldn’t help but think of the movie 127 Hours as I placed my foot in-between two massive, slippery rocks.  But the walk was worth it, and I enjoyed taking in the uniqueness of these lava left-overs, especially at that particular time of the morning when the boulders were casting some dramatic shadows inside The Caves.  Once we got to the end of our walk, we came to Devils Bay which offered a small but very beautiful beach for us to relax at before hiking through The Baths to get back. 

Kevin walking through
The Caves

Devil's Bay

By the time we had finished walking back to the entrance of The Caves, we were starting to get hungry so we took off and headed to get a bite to eat before driving back to our hotel.  Lunch was delicious and the view from the top of the hill where the restaurant was located was breathtaking.  I tried to capture the beauty of the island from our restaurant in the below picture, but I’m afraid it only scratches the surface of the panoramic view that we had. 
View from The Mind Shaft

Driving back to the hotel, we were able to take in the island a bit.  At one point during our drive the island got so skinny that we could see the Caribbean Sea on one side, with all of the British Virgin Islands in the distance, and the Atlantic Ocean on the other side, where the coast is reminiscent of what you would see in California.  With the sun glistening off the water on either side of us, it was hard not to fall in love with the beauty that this island had to offer. 

Waves hitting the beach on the Atlantic side of the island

We spent the rest of our day lounging around the hotel beach where we sea-kayaked and took in the sunset from our beach lounge chairs.  These were the prettiest sunsets I have seen since moving to the islands, and we made note to grab a bottle of wine to enjoy with the sunset for the next night.  It was the perfect way to spend our evenings together.

View of the sunset at Mahoe Bay Beach

The next day we decided to grab some snorkel gear and head to Savannah Beach.  Savannah Beach is a long, open and quiet beach.  There was a strong breeze that day and we enjoyed reading and sunbathing before heading into the water to snorkel around the small coral reef that ran along the beach.  We didn’t see many fish, but we practically had the beach to ourselves, so we had no problem hanging out there until grabbing some lunch and going back to our hotel. 

Savannah Beach

Typically, we don’t like sticking around our hotel too much when we are away because we like to explore our surroundings, but the place was so nice and the beach was unbelievably beautiful, so we ended up spending our 2nd afternoon there, too.  This time we decided to do more sea-kayaking and spend time snorkeling which came highly recommended by the hotel representative. 
I’m glad we stuck around because the snorkeling was very good.  I can’t begin to tell you what type of fish and sea animals I saw, but they were unique and at times a little terrifying to be around.  After seeing some sort of blue eel-like creature, I immediately swam back to my boyfriend as quickly as possible, convinced that this thing was following me.  Thankfully, it must have been just as afraid of me because I never saw it again.  Relieved, I continued to swim around the coral reef and enjoyed the rest of our time in the water. 
By the time our last day rolled around, I didn't want to leave Virgin Gorda.  It was one of those vacations where you want to stay for one more day.  However, staying wasn't an option, so we enjoyed our last morning on the island, getting in one last snorkeling excursion, before packing it up and heading back to St. Thomas on the ferries.