Well, I don’t get much vacation time anymore, so we decided to make it an extra-special 10-year anniversary celebration by going to the U.S. Virgin Islands. We’ve been here for several days already, but this is the first chance I’ve had to get online for more than two minutes.
On our way to the airport, we got stuck in a big traffic jam where they were doing some construction near the center of Atlanta. Our cab driver got off the highway as soon as he could and drove through some neighborhoods that I hadn’t seen in a while. It was shocking. Here and there were strips of green with benches – part of the beautification project, I suppose. But right next to those, there were little crunched up bits of old parking lots and such. These were filled with black men – young and old – clearly homeless, many of them sleeping on the concrete. No-one was on the grass. Do they get shooed off or arrested for being more comfortable? I don’t know. What struck me was that I had never seen so many homeless all together. No women. No whites. Times are hard, and getting harder. I was angry and very very sad when I saw this. I’ll look into what’s going on when I get back.
We landed in St. Thomas. Rent a car if you ever come here. Just do it. Taxis are per person, often with extra charges per bag. We had to argue for the price that was clearly posted on the wall. Later in the week, we were charged $16 for a one-mile, one-way trip into Red Hook from Sapphire Beach. After dinner, we walked back. People are really scrambling in some cases to earn enough money to live, but I hadn’t realized that daily haggling would be part of the scene.
One thing I like about the island cultures is the friendliness, despite these little money issues. People say “Good morning” and “Good evening.” I suppose it’s not unlike Paris in that you sort of have to prove you’re ok before people will open up more than that. It’s fun to watch people here. I like the cute school uniforms the kids wear, and there are lots of tourists, of course.
Everything is very expensive, almost double. I had actually thought that with the weak dollar, this would be less expensive than going to the south of France (our original plan), but I was wrong.
The Sapphire Resort has seen better days, and we had to fight to get the 2-day car rental that was supposed to have been provided with the room. It was a fantastic beach, though – and pretty much right outside the door. We got a few hours of complimentary snorkling gear – and we all loved it so much that we did little else. I had never been snorkling before, and I really enjoyed it a lot (even given the red mark that the mask imprinted upon my forehead, which took almost 24 hrs to fade – photos to come).
We had a wonderful meal at Off the Hook in Redhook, where we ran into a couple of gals that I had met at the airport when we arrived. And we went to Coral World, which wasn’t as fun as it looked like it would be, but we still got to pet a small shark and see some great sea creatures.
Now we’re on the island of St. John, at a much nicer resort, but much much further from the beach.
Gotta run, now – the boys are waiting for me at the pool.