I just recently returned from my 2nd “grown up” vacation–meaning the 2nd time I’ve gone on vacation with friends and not my parents/family. Yes, I’m in my late 20s and I have only had 2 grown up vacays. *shrug*
On a mission to get the hell away from the longest winter ever, 3 of my closest girl friends in Pgh–who I affectionately refer to as “Las Bellas” (the Diva, the Scientist, and the Dog Lover)–and I went to visit a good man friend of ours (DW) who lives in St. John (STJ), U.S. Virgin Islands. For 6 days, we bonded in sisterhood while experiencing heaven on earth (read: St. John’s gorgeous beaches). DW opened his home to us for our living quarters for the week and served as our some-time chef, food hunter, concierge, photographer, chauffeur, tour guide, and wild-life specialist. DW was potentially the best host in the history of hosts. To hold all of his duties while putting up with 4 strong-willed, tenacious women without complaining or telling us to GTFOH and having a smile on his face every morning, even after we used up all the hot water to shower? The man is a saint. Saint DW of Saint John–nice ring to it :)
Despite being a handful (as dictated by our having breasts and uteruses), we were good sports and went with the flow. As long as we were fed at semi-regular intervals, we were down for whatever. I’ve heard unfortunate stories of women going on vacation together where personalities collide, attitudes run rampant, no one can agree on what to do or where to go. Even the best of friends can turn into enemies when they try vacationing together. Thank the good Lord above that this was NOT our experience. We had a great time, to say the least. We even planned a wing night for the day after we got back to tell all of our other friends why they should be jealous of us and our trip (lol).
Here are a few trip highlights….
- When In Rome… We wanted to submerge ourselves into island life. We wanted to do as the islanders do and speak as the islanders speak. When inquiring about how to greet people on the island, DW told us to say “good morning,” “good afternoon,” and “good evening”–which, in practice, should actually be more like “maah’nin,” “aftuhnoon” and “eve’nin.” While this seems fairly straight forward, it took a little getting used to. Sometimes our initial reaction would be to say “hello”. On our first day, when we’d give the “[insert time of day]” response, DW would tell us we were doing a good job. But on one occasion, the Dog Lover (who enthusiastically practiced greeting people in her fake-island accent) said to some one, “Good day, good day.” DW immediately told her, “That was bad. Don’t say that again.” We all bust out laughing since we knew the Dog Lover was being so sincere. Bless her heart.
- “Drink Right, Keep Left.” In the V.I., they drive on the left side of the road, despite almost all cars being standard American style with the wheel on the left side. I never got used to this. And I always failed at trying to cross the streets. Also, the road (there’s only ONE main road in STJ) are ridiculously narrow–one lane each way. And despite STJ being mountainous, there were almost no guard rails on the side of the roads. So if you even slightly drive off the road, you could plummet to your death. Just like that *snap* #Scary. And almost everyone on the island drives a jeep or SVU, to get around some of the rugged terrain. This made for a very uncomfortable rides in the backseat.
- Water is Precious. After settling down in DW house the first day, he gave us the ground rules of living with him for the week. He instructed us to be mindful when taking showers, and to only use enough water to get ourselves clean. STJ depends on rain water for running water, so long showers or keeping the faucets running would be wasteful. And having to pay for water would be costly. Furthermore, we were instructed to listen to make sure the toilet wasn’t left running (again, being mindful of excessive water usage). If it was, we’d have to lift the back lid and jiggle a switch. We were constantly shouting out to each other, “Toilet’s running!” “Who was the last person to use the bathroom?” “Could some one jiggle the whatchamacallit?”
- New Friends Are All Around. Between the freely-roaming wild animals and the entire island [seemingly] knowing our friend DW, we were constantly making new friends. For the most part, the locals were very friendly and any friend of DW’s was trying to be friends of ours–making sure we were having a good time and DW was being good to us (see next highlight). In addition to mingling with humans, we had plenty of animal interactions with chickens and donkeys found on the side of the road, the neighbors’ dogs (more on that later), another neighbor’s sheep who came to our yard each morning/afternoon and our resident lizard, Fred. Though we were initially apprehensive about Fred’s presence, we grew to love him like a pet. Fred was our homie, always hanging out in the kitchen listening to us chatter and watching us in our shenanigans. (pic below)
- Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy. By Day 2 of our visit, I’m sure the entire island knew DW had 4 beautiful ladies visiting him. We were always either (a) being driven around by him or (b) walking behind him every where we went. Countless times DW was stopped by some one commenting on him having 4 beautiful ladies with him and how lucky he was. Lucky to be seen with us? Absolutely! Lucky to be living with us for a week? Eh. Lol. DW immediately became privy to our fear of bugs, our daily rituals of getting ready to go out/to bed (hair wrapping, rollers, and all), menstrual cycle talk, and discussing any/every silly thing that pops in our heads that would make most men uncomfortable to listen to. The price that poor man paid to be seen big pimpin’ around the island with us…. *smh*
- Food for Thought. When we weren’t gallivanting around the island with Big Daddy DW, we were at home relaxing and pontificating on life. We bonded while eating ramen noodles, drinking wine/rum, and smoking trees chocolate-flavored cigars. Thought seemingly uneventful to most, smoking of any kind is quite out of character for all of us. So it was fun to sit around with my girls/guy while puffing rings of smoke (yes, as I first time smoker, I was quite proficient at blowing O’s…. wait… pause?), talking sh*t, and getting wasted on red wine and hypertension.
- Unexpected Adventures. Imagine a story taking place at night containing the following elements: a tiny Suzuki with 2 people driving in it, a pocket knife, a rock, 2 big barking dogs (1 of which can escape its yard), and 3 scared women screaming and running down hill on a very rocky, very steep, unpaved, unlit road behind the Suzuki after receiving the instructions, “Be as quiet as possible, take my knife and whatever you do, don’t run!” WTF?! Yeah. Exactly.
- Hook Bracelets. These are worn as symbols of love and unity. Wearing the open end of the hook pointed up toward your heart indicates that your love is taken. Wearing the open end of the hook down, away from your heart, indicates that you are open to love, unattached or single. All 4 of us got hook bracelets (though 3 of us got the same exact heart-hook style). (pic below)
I could go on, but I think you get the gist. So much happened on the trip, but these stick out in my mind as the most memorable and the most encompassing of our trip.There was lots of beaching, chilling, and eating in between it all. And y’all know I got my tan on!!
All in all, I thank my friends for a wonderful trip filled with wonderful memories. From the parasailing to hiking, and shopping to beaching, and everything in between, I will cherish this trip forever. Not only did I get to visit a beautiful island, but I got to experience it with some of the most beautiful people I know. Forgive me for being corny and mushy, but I can’t help but get verklempt when I talk about my friends. Not all women are as blessed to have a good group of girlfriends who are fun to be around, trustworthy, and free of BS. So I love bragging about my friends every chance I get!!
So, let’s talk group vacations. Does any one else have fun vacation plans coming up with their friends? Has anyone been to the Virgin Islands? Ladies, do you go on trips with your girlfriends, or do you avoid it because of the drama your friends bring with them? Fellas, do you go on group trips?
Relaxed and ready to get back to gooning,