It was great to awaken in the morning and look out the balcony window. Sometimes, because I travel so much I wake up and I don’t know where I am and it wasn’t anyScenery different on Friday. But once I became oriented and looked out the window at the beautiful multi-blue and green Caribbean water and all the lush foliage and flowers, I remembered. It’s a great way to wake up, with a reminder of how beautiful nature can be. I decided to check and return a few e-mails, and then I walked down and had breakfast at the outdoor café where I visited with a few friends from the Council including Steve Gordon, the former Chair of the Section. After breakfast I decided to go into St. Thomas just to take a look around with no particular agenda and no reason to rush.

I walked up to the main building and got in a cab, which looked more like a utility van and my cab driver was Randy. He had a wealth of information. I don’t know if you’ve noticed this, but it seems that I have really marvelous conversations with cab drivers wherever I go. Randy shared with me these random facts:

  • There are 62 islands that make up the Virgin Islands.Van
  • 22 of them are owned by the Americans.
  • They were purchased in 1917 from Denmark.
  • There is no high school on St. John. The kids on St. John take the ferry over to St. Thomas for high school every day and then back.
  • The British Islands – Virgin Islands, in Randy’s opinion, are more relaxed and friendly because they get less tourist travel and in his view, have fewer aspirations of being a big city.
  • He was from Tortula, which was about 30 miles away, and if I ever got a chance, I should go and see The Baths.

Folks on St. John are concerned because property has historically been passed down from family to family, and in fact before the United States took ownership the folks who had been living on the land were grandfathered in, so that they owned their land. They had land grants. But more recently on St. John a number of very expensive houses had been built and the property taxes were going up so much that the people who have lived there forever Scenerywere having a hard time holding onto their property. He thought that was a pretty big problem. I asked him about education and he said there is one university on St. Thomas and it’s called the University of the Virgin Islands. In ‘63, it took its first students. It’s a four-year liberal arts college, but I wasn’t able to see it because it was closed that day.

After that interesting ride into St. Thomas, I got dropped off in the middle of downtown, which is about 3 blocks long. There are little alleyways that you can wander in and out of, so I just walked along very casually, sightseeing and taking a few pictures. Then I headed back to the hotel because we had a dinner that evening at 6:00 p.m. It was about 3:30 p.m. when I decided to head back and I’m glad I decided to return early because I got put out of two cabs! Here’s what happened . . . I got into the first cab, we started driving and he said, “Where are you going?” I told him I was going to The Ritz-Carlton and he pulled up next to another cab, blew his horn and yelled across to the other guy, “Where are you going? Where are you going?” and then he says, “OK, he’ll take you to The Ritz” and he put me out!

So, in the middle of traffic with all these horns blaring, I had to get out of the cab and go get in the other cab. So the other cab driver says, “Where are you going?” and I say, “The Ritz” and he started laughing and said, “Why did he do that? I’m not going any where near The Ritz.” He was in fact going to a ritzy shopping center close to where the cruise ships land, which was a long way from our hotel. So, he said, “Well, I tell you what, I will drive you to a place where you can get a cab.” I guess technically I didn’t really get put out of the second cab, but I reaBoatlly did because he didn’t take me. Anyway, he drove me to a cab stand. It turned out that the gas there is expensive and the Ritz is so far out from downtown that a lot of cab drivers don’t want to take the fare because they don’t think they’ll make any money by the time they pay for their gas. So that was the problem. The driver who finally took me said, “If it’s just you by yourself, I’ll charge you extra,” and by that point I said, “fine” because I wanted to get back.

Dinner that evening was on St. John, which you could see from the windows of the hotel on St. Thomas. We boarded several mini buses in groups and they took us to the ferries for our trip to St. John. It only takes 5-10 minutes to get over there by ferry, but because this was to be a relaxing excursion or a little mini cruise, it took us about an hour to get there. We went all around, and Sunsetthe ship’s officer served champagne to us along with cheese and crackers. We saw the most amazing sunset from the ocean. It was fabulous.  Our restaurant on St. John was called Caneel Bay Restaurant. It was very lovely with a great view, looking back across at St. Thomas.

We were served a wonderful appetizer with seared tuna, shrimp and crab with avocado. It was very good. Then we had (and I’ve never had this before) an interesting sweet potato soup. In the center were little chunks of what tasted like meat, but it turned out that it was breaded (and I think maybe braised) tofu. It was good, too. The main course was surf and turf, a small filet and a lobster tail already removed fDeerrom the shell. Dessert was pastry with a shell made of pecans and what tasted like toffee. It held ice cream and berries. Afterwards we got back in our boats and we arrived in St. Thomas in about 10 minutes. It was really fun and an enjoyable start to the Council meeting.

As Erin, Steve and I were walking down to our rooms in the begonia building, we passed by some bushes and I said, “Hey, what’s that? I’m not moving another step until I know what that is.” There was something in the bushes and it turned out to be a little deer. It was just standing there right outside of our rooms eating the flowers. It was a Cay deer. It is a small deer that is very common there. It didn’t move and we didn’t move, so we got pictures of it. Anyway, that was kind of a cool ending to the night.