St.Thomas, US Virgin Islands. Rama had a business conference (Kumon Elite Retreat) and we tagged along for a nice two day break. The island smells tropic and looks tropic. The sense of order seems weakened upon arrival with the lack of vestibules; you trod down the stairs and walk along the tarmac vaguely guided by airport on-ground personnel as to where to go. The island welcomes you with a shot of local rum which I happily toasted. The taxi to the resort took about 30 minutes to wade itself through the rather heavy traffic on the narrow lanes. The roads are so narrow and winding, there is no bus on the island!
The Frenchman’s cove, situated on the slightly hillier part, is amidst a gorgeous setting of palm trees, lush gardens and of course, fantastic water. Our room had a nice ocean view looking out to the west i.e., we could catch the sunset. We were so tired upon arrival and wanted food badly. We walked down to the back of the resort to the water. On our way, we caught two Iguanas soaking in the sun – these were HUGE, about 2 feet in length. One of them, someone was telling, would chase people. This news was enough for Rama to cling onto me for dear life.
The restaurant overlooking the ocean managed to get us some vegetarian food. The breeze was welcome and soon we were energized. We headed back to the hotel in preparation for the welcome evening dinner. Food was plenty, but there were a large number of people and seating was almost a musical chair. I took some good picture in low light with my 50mm f/1.8, $100 lens. It was amazing how good these came out given I didn’t use any flash or tripod.
Saturday morning, I and Vikas went to the beach for an hour and a half, while Rama attended her conference session. After lunch, we thought we will go to a fabulous shopping place – as painted by the brochures in the room. The Grand Yatch Haven mall was set to look out onto the waters. Yatches galore, but the sun was too strong. There were hardly any people at that time of the day. We would get into a shop to catch some cool air! Shopping wise, there was nothing unique compared to a mall anywhere in America. We cut short our trip and headed back to the hotel after an hour.
Evening dinner was off-site at a huge place atop a hill. The setting was gorgeous – again lush tropical vegetation. Food was good i.e., for most of the people. Vegetarian choices were limited and seating was same story. Anyway, Rama managed to get in touch with other instructors and exchange ideas.
Sunday was trip to St. Johns. The Trunk bay beaches was probably the best beach I have been to. It was cloudy and drizzling preventing us from getting into the water. Lunch was arranged in the canopy with decent veggies. The waters and the small masses of land, along with the clouds gave the scene a mystic look. This beach will remain etched in memory for a long time.
After lunch, we visited the local shopping district. Nice, cute shops. Buildings were not the typical mall shops, each having their own facade. Lots of photo opps. Walking just a bit down the street you could end up in the heart of real St. Johns where the shopping wasn’t as jazzy as it is made out to be. The boat ride back was smoother than coming in.
These small islands have a small airport and very few jumbo jets coming in. This means a lot of people heading out same time. Translation: get to the airport at least three hours early. Getting the customs form – you need to stand in the long line. Boarding isn’t by zone number, but a mad rush. Whew, US territories have a different standard of life and way of life even while being part of the US.