Tuesday, November 22, 2016

St. Thomas, VI

This past month has been a whirlwind of unexpected and emotionally draining events. I feel like I lost a month of my life. Maybe a better way of looking at it would be to say that I just had a month-long deluge of real life. Sometimes that happens. I'm going to need some time to recover.

I'll start with St. Thomas. That's a pretty happy part of this journey.

Me at Magen's Bay.
I've had some pretty sweet babysitting gigs over the years. When I graduated from Ricks College in 1990, my favorite aunt and uncle were living in Puerto Rico with their two daughters. They needed to travel to New York and asked if I'd come stay with their girls in PR for a week. Um, yes, please! I spent an amazing week there and it's been a cherished memory for the past 26 years.

Magen's Bay at dusk.
So when my sister-in-law, Tanya, called me a few months ago and asked if Savannah and I could come out and babysit their youngest kids in St. Thomas, we jumped at the chance. We were excited to visit them in their new home and spend some time with my cute nieces and nephews. Bonus for the prime location! :) From October 18-24, Savannah and I enjoyed their tropical home.

The view from my brother's front porch,
The Pros:

  • Magen's Bay and Lindquist Beach were our favorites. The clear blue water and white sand is every bit as pretty as the travel images make it seem.
  • Sand castles. We had so much fun building them each morning at the beach.
A coconut upstaging our pretty cool, seashell-lined sandcastle at Magen's Bay.
  • Night Kayaking in (plexi)glass lit-bottomed kayaks was so cool! We saw stingrays, a sea turtle, and plenty of big fish. 
  • The locals are SO friendly. It's always "Good morning!" (or afternoon or evening). Their accent sounds Jamaican (at least to me) and it was fun to hear their unique phrasings.
  • Fresh Mangoes. Oh. Yum.
  • The church branch was so welcoming and friendly. They are a tight-knit group who feel like family.

  • My cute niece and nephews. We had a great time while their parents were away! These kids were SO good, too! 
  • We got a kick out of the wild chickens that roam freely throughout the island. And I saw my first mongoose. They are as common there as squirrels are in my little corner of the world. 
  • Seashells. Lindquist Beach had the most variety, but we enjoyed the pearly white ones at Magen's, too. 

I can see how staying in a hotel and spending a week on the beach would be paradise. But for us there was no hotel and we saw first hand that living there is HARD! 

So now for the Cons: 
  • Mosquitoes. These were by far the worst part of the trip for me. We even took super-strength-military-formula-mosquito-repellent and it didn't matter. The mosquitoes regularly mocked me by biting me right after I applied repellent. Savannah had it worse than I. A few days into our trip, she counted 65 bites on her legs. Ugh! It wouldn't have been so bad if my brother's family had not recently suffered through Zika virus so you can understand our paranoia!
  • Humidity. I get humidity, I do. Our summers here in the midwest are hot and steamy, but I always have the escape of my air conditioned home to relieve the misery. In St. Thomas, everything is so expensive that homes aren't generally air conditioned. We had A/C in our bedroom so nights were comfortable, but during the day we relied on ceiling fans and prayed for a breeze. As a result, food spoils quickly and gnats, ants, and the dreaded mosquitoes are prevalent. 
  • Driving! It is scary!! They drive on the opposite side of the road, but the steering wheel is on the same side as the US. Add to that the super narrow, windy, hilly roads and it's all pretty terrifying. 
Overwhelmingly, it was an amazing trip. Savannah and I feel so blessed and lucky that we got to babysit some of our favorite little people in such an amazing place! I'm grateful for the experience. :)

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