Island Hopping

The most effective way to do it, is to do it.
— Amelia Earhart

Friday, March 13, 2015

Dear Lord...did I really book this ticket?  Am I really about to go to 7 islands by myself?  Am I going to be able to go to the bar and enjoy it?  Will there be any fine men around my age?

I'm sure that I had a lot of other crazy ramblings spinning around in my head as I boarded my flight from Houston to Miami, as soon as school was dismissed.  I had 10 days to myself and I intended on using every minute I could! Not to mention, Friday the 13th was one of my favorite days so that meant I was destined for greatness, right?  My carry-on bags were packed and ready to go (as I refuse to pay for checked bags).  I had a fair share of my pre-flight concoction of Crown and Coke to ease my nerves and before I knew it, I was taking off for Miami and the #MostEpicSpringBreakEver!

Houston --> Miami --> St. Thomas -> British Virgin Islands --> Puerto Rico --> St. Thomas --> Miami --> Houston

When I first landed in Miami, I had the unfortunate luck of arriving the weekend of a marathon downtown.  A 20 minute Uber ride turned into an hour-long nightmare and a 12:30am arrival to my AirBnB home.  Thankfully, my host Camille was extremely understanding and stayed award until I was safely settled in my room.  I would only have about twelve hours in my room, as my flight to St. Thomas (with a St. Croix layover) would be at 12:30pm and I did not want to risk missing a flight this time.

St. Croix Airport

While obtaining my boarding pass for the flight to St. Thomas, the lovely gentleman asked me my weight.  Immediately, an "aww ****" came into mind and I was going to be on a small flight.  I tried my hardest not to think about Aaliyah but my heart was beating extremely fast.  I asked several airport officials where I could find some food in their airport and went to the one restaurant that was due to close in an hour.

The workers at the restaurant were the most gracious and friendly people!  I got hooked up with two heaping cups of rum punch, conch soup, and a hot dog (my request).  We spent time talking about life in the islands versus Texas, and the woman told me as soon as she "dropped this baby" (she was in her third trimester) she was going to find me in Houston.  I met a gentleman that would be on my flight and was inhaling the rum punch as medicine for his bad nerves as well.

Thank goodness for punch!  We could hear the propellor plane making its way towards us and I found it to be hysterical that they were stowing our luggage in the wings.  The tallest folks, including myself, were instructed to get on the plane last and we would be by the wings.  Now, normally, I don't do emergency exit rows, but it looked as though I did not have a choice.  Thankfully, it was not as bad as I had imagined.  The winds were calm and the ride was steady so that my stomach did not do backflips repeatedly.

St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands

I landed on a late Saturday afternoon, and in my cab discovered that another lady that was on my flight would be staying at my AirBnB home, which was actually a resort!  We made plans to have dinner at one of the restaurants at the resort.  I was already making a travel pal.  She informed me that after 32 years of marriage she got a divorce, was ready to travel the world, and f*** who didn't like her plans.  She was my kind of woman!  She was so fun spirited, she decided that she wanted to join me and head to Red Hook for a night of fun (and boy, did we party).

I felt like I was back in college, bar hopping all over the street with her and some locals we met.  I danced up a nice sweat and had my first taste of the infamous, "Painkilla".  I heard a great mix of hip-hop, pop, techno, and 90's music, all of the things that make me happy.  The party stopped at 2am, and I severely disliked how the cabs' fare changed even though we were only a five minute ride away.  I chalked it up to it being a late hour and made plans to relax at the beach the following day.

Sunday morning was my first sunrise in St. Thomas and I was truly in awe.  Any fearful thoughts that I had quickly vanished, as the beauty of the island was magnificent.  I was staying on the East End of the island, and was about twenty minutes from the beach of the day, Magen's Bay.  Before venturing off to the beach, I got friendly with the bartender of the Pool Bar and was introduced to my new favorite drink, the Bailey's Banana Colada, otherwise known as "BBC".  I would seriously caution you from underestimating the power of the drink, as I learned the fun / hard way.

If I do say so myself, Magen's Bay was poppin!  It was well equipped for the cruise crowds making their presence known.  Of course, I made a stop at the beach bar to get a BBC, became friends with the bartender John, and got some delicious chicken leg quarters.  At the beach itself, a friendly man from Holland became my pal and shared with me his experience of being an expat there and working in the architect field.  He could have simply been storytelling, but he seemed to know some pretty important people of the island.

I had all sorts of plans to do touristy things like visit Coral World, the Skyride, and shop, but that's the joy of solo travel, I could do what the heck I wanted!  I was totally content and at peace with spending as much time at the St. Thomas beaches as I could.  I would read, swim with fish, lay out in the Sun, and drink so much, by the time it was time to go out, I would choose to remain in my bed.  I'm either truly getting old or I needed some rest.

The beauty of being in St. Thomas was its proximity to other islands.  In my original flight purchase, I did not buy a ticket to Puerto Rico, and for good reason.  Flying from St. Thomas to San Juan would only cost me $60 each way and I was sold.  I also had the fortune of running into a retired couple at my resort that recommended a catamaran boat tour, Bad Kitty, to see the best the British Virgin Islands (separate post) had to offer in a short amount of time.  If I had more time, I could have taken ferries to get acquainted with Water Island and more of St. John. That's pretty dope that within a 20 minute trip over water, you could be somehwere completely different.

I think my favorite part of being in St. Thomas was the fact that I was treated like a local.  Instead of always sticking out in Texas with my black and purple Marley twists, I found the good people wishing me a good morning and giving special hookups.  I felt like I was at home and always had family looking out for me.  The Jersey girl in me usually did not speak to strangers, but I too found myself waving to locals as I passed by and greeted them with the same "Good Morning / Good Night" they gave to me.  Smiling definitely helped my solo travel experience without welcoming any unwanted strangers.

Check out the pictures below for the first part of my trip!

 

 

Peace and Blessings,

Courtney