St. Thomas - After a rough and bumpy drive in a sand-coated Jeep, we sat in the medina of St. Cruz where a combination of tourists shoving their faces full of pancakes and homeless white men with muddled tattoos snoozing off yesterday's booze convened in the morning sun. A West Indian child entered the scene holding a his flowery pet rooster by a leash and provoked it to wrestle one of the many hens strutting inside the courtyard. We bought our tickets for the ferry to St. Thomas and waited in line with a smattering of sun-burned individuals. One pasty white woman in particular looked as though she'd poured acid all over her backside. The sun here is strong - it only takes a few heated moments to become one giant blister.
I stared at people on the ferry (It seems it's what I do best - shamelessly stare at strangers around me.) taking note of the wonders vacationing does for the skin and facial muscles. Even the two young parents sitting behind me with a ferocious child bore Buddha faces. But who couldn't wear such a face in a paradise such as this, where the only decision needing to be made is whether or not to jump into the bathwater sea?
Upon landing at St. Thomas, a cab driver wearing several thousands of dollars worth of gold on his hands accosted us along with a small group of other couples. We piled into his van that reeked of "Black Leather" air freshener. The ceiling and dashboard were wallpapered with pictures of his family and holy phrases.
As the cab driver turned onto the main stretch, he began to yell in a thick Caribbean vocals. "To all the men in this here cab, I'm here to tell you to worship your women. The woman beside you, you should adore and worship like a god. They are your bosses, your queens. Don't ever refer to your woman as "she" or "her". No! You must always refer to your woman as my wife, my queen, my love, my sweetheart, my pumpkin, my darling!"
The driver poked the arm of the middle aged man sitting next to him. "Sir, how long have you been married to your beautiful wife in the back?"
The man next to him, responded in a lilting Texan accent. "21 years."
The cabby continued his sermon with vibrato. This time directing it at the Texan beside him. He was to obey his woman. She risked her life when bringing their children into the world. She cooked and cleaned and put up with him. She should always be obeyed like a god!
The woman, named Maria, sat behind me wiping sweat from her upper lip sighing "He just doesn't know me."
All other passengers in the van awaited their turn for scrutiny. Fortunately, we were the first to be dropped off and were able to avert his matriarchal blows by tipping him well.
Our day in St. Thomas continued to bring on the oddballs:
An endearing and comically unprofessional teenage Puerto Rican refugee, working as a receptionist at the Beachcomber Hotel where we stayed, when asked whether or not we could easily walk to town responded: "Only if you are crazy! I mean, I wouldn't do it, but you might find it refreshing." On the phone, she then told a customer to "ask what's her face... the manager... for a room key" because she was "too busy with the two people standing at the front desk". Shortly thereafter, she told us "all the men on St. Thomas suck".
And later, while sipping beers at the beachy bar, a young Russian man ordered a bucket of beer, lit up a cigarette, and splayed onto on a lounge chair while the blazing sun ate at his red flesh.
There was also an older German lady in a rainbow robe asking a too drunken man to go away, a group of New Jersey boys pounding beer chests, a Japanese man asking his friend to take photos of his extraordinarily alabaster self on the beach, a West Indian cab driver who, the night before, was visited by his deceased wife, a West Indian bartender who might have also been a ghost, a couple from Connecticut who, when informing me of their daughters 4 year heroine addiction, said "oh well", and a giant West Indian waiter who described the food so lovingly I hoped he'd cook it for us himself.
In short, to me, St. Thomas was a bit like Coney Island on a cruise ship. It's sort of appealing, but mostly it's not.