WanderingDan’s Weblog

August 23rd….Jeeps & Coconuts
August 26, 2011, 2:02 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I wake up early, as usual, and notice how bad I smell…then remember with all the post-hurricane shenanigans, I didn’t shower yesterday. Fortunately an easy remedy. I head to the same coffee shop I went to yesterday, Namaste, and start talking with a guy named Jay, who entertains me with stories for nearly an hour and a half…about raising his sons on a sailboat here at St. Croix, island culture, local crazies, etc.. He tells me this funny little joke: a guy dies and ascends up to the pearly gates, where he meets St. Peter. “Hmmmm”, St. Peter says, “you’ve done some good things with your life, and you’ve done some bad things…tell you what, I’m going to give you a choice.” “Sounds great” the man replies, after which he is shown what life in heaven is like: peaceful, beautiful, people talking in mellow tones, angels singing in the background. “That looks pretty dang good” the man says, “what is the other choice?” St. Peter then puts him on an elevator going down…it opens a few minutes later to a spectacular site: powder white beach, crystal blue water, women in bikinis handing him rum drinks, warm sunny skies. He takes the elevator back up and says to St. Peter “you know…option number two looks awesome, I’ll take it!” “As you wish” replies St. Peter, after which the man returns to the elevator. This time when the door opens, he is greeted with fiery chasms and woeful moans of pain and suffering…and the devil prodding him in the ass with a pitchfork. “What the hell is going on!?…ten minutes ago this place was a gorgeous beach…where’s the women? where’s the rum?” “Aaahhh” the devil replies, “ten minutes ago you were a tourist….now you are a local!”  Jay gives me his card and well wishes, then we part ways. The coffee I bought and have been imbibing on an empty stomach is starting to screw with my head…concentration and focus give way to foggy mind and nervous tics. Hannah and I hang out until Ryan (called ‘Zebro’, or just ‘Zebes’ on account of his last name) shows up to take us on a tour of the western part of the island. Traveling west in Zebe’s Wrangler, we eventually turn off onto an unpaved, but well-used road. “This is not the quickest way to Frederiksted” Ryan says, “but it’s alot more scenic and fun!” Ten minutes into the slow, winding dirt road Ryan says “this is alot more overgrown than it was a month ago!”, and “it’s usually not this muddy too…the storm really tore this trail up!” We continue. Ryan handles his jeep very well on these roads…driving over fallen branches, through deep muddy puddles and thick bushes…once I have to get out and hold a branch up while he drives through. A little later we come across a tree the hurricane left strewn across the road. It seriously looks like the road just ends…and we blaze our own path around. We stop at a few breathtaking viewpoints, and continue deeper into the jungle. On one stretch, countless vines are hanging down from the trees…this is surreal…I fully expect Tarzan to swing down right in front of us. This place is damn near magical. After about an hour of sloshing and bouncing our way through this ridiculously torn up jungle road, we reach the end. Ryan, although calm and smooth in his driving, is visibly relieved…until…oh shit…this isn’t good! The final creek to cross usually has a bridge over it…not today, the bridge is completely gone…there is a road, then…nothing. We stop, get out to have a closer look, and are awestruck. At this point I figure we’ll just go back the way we came…but I can tell Ryan does not want to navigate that road again. Then we conjure the impossible…engineering a way to get his jeep down a sandy embankment, across a small, rapidly running creek, and back up a rocky bank to the exit road. A lone house sits on the other side, with five Puerto Ricans looking at us in disbelief. A couple come over to lend a hand once they see what we crazy gringos are trying to attempt. Anyone who knows me knows I am not afraid to go out on a limb…but this…seriously…has me a little freaked. Zebes is too, but he is hiding it well. I guide him down the sandy bank to the creek’s edge…smooth sailing. He tries to power through the creek…and gets stuck…puts it in reverse, and pulls himself back out to the sandy bank. Too late to turn back now…after throwing a few random rocks in the water strategically, planning an exact path, and lots of pep-talk, Ryan makes another go…this time hauling balls as fast as he can….and makes it across the creek. Now…have to get up the steep rocky embankment…first try, no bueno, second try…success! Throwing Zebe’s a huge high-five, we all celebrate the small victory. The Puerto Ricans are visibly impressed, and so am I. That was the most amazing off-road feat I’ve ever seen…even more radical than the crazy “off-record” shit I did in the hummers back in my enlisted days in the USMC. Mentally and psychologically drained, Zebes takes us to Turtle’s deli in Frederiksted. Earlier, he told us “Turtle’s sandwiches are the best!”. However, what I heard was “their turtle sandwiches are the best!” As we pull up and look at the menu, I fully expect to see turtle-meat sandwiches. This has been a minor point of concern for me…I don’t know if I can eat a filleted turtle in good conscience. Alas, I am relieved to see the menu and realize my misunderstanding! Their sandwiches are pretty damn good…Hannah and I devour ours with no time to lose. The trip back to town is fairly uneventful, and I joke with Ryan that he should open up a jeep touring business on the side. I meet up with the Captain, and find out he is not leaving tonight, on account of a busted transmission cable on his boat…”maybe Friday” he says, “come back and check in with me on Thursday”. With this knowledge, I head back and pack my bag, say goodbye to Hannah, thanking her immensely for her hospitality…and start hoofing it to Hibiscus beach in Princess, where Saerah, my next couch-surfing host, lives. It’s about a 5 miles walk, and my pack is almost exactly 40 pounds…not bad, I can do it. Noone can really give me good directions, so I figure I’ll just ask people on the way. A half hour goes by…and I finally reach “5-corners”, a well-noted landmark. For some reason I think I am supposed to turn right here. After walking down this road for 10 minutes, it turns to the east, and I can see the smoke stacks of WAPA (water and power authority) at its end…not a good sign. Finally I am able to flag down a vehicle to ask directions. A Crucian woman, with what looks like her mother and 2 kids are pulling out of a driveway in a late model dodge pickup. Knowing how completely off track I am, she tells me to jump in back and she’ll give me a ride…Awesome! I was definitely way off, because she turns right back on the main drag and just goes and goes. The people here, by and large, are so helpful and good-hearted. She takes me all the way to Hibiscus beach, which is a little ways off the main highway. Thanking her profusely, I text Saerah that I made it to the beach. These are the directions she gives me from there: ‘go to the water, turn left, and walk until you see a couple of guys coconut bowling. Hmmm…okay. Words cannot adequately describe the scene before me as I approach the property in which she lives. Sure enough, here are two guys, visibly intoxicated, rolling coconuts across the sand at a bunch of wine bottles that have been wrapped in padding and white duct tape. It seems to work brilliantly. They kindly point me to Saerah’s shack, and yell her name loudly. The doorway is covered with a piece of cloth, but the door itself is open. Not wanting to create anything awkward, I wait a minute. They call her name again, and then tell me she is outside on the other side. I approach, and find Saerah sitting in a bubble bath, bottle of champagne in one hand, book in the other…and bong resting on the deck. Imagine this scenario: there is about 40 feet of beach between the shack and the water…there is a perfectly good tub situated in front of the deck, directly on the sand…not hooked up to any water…just there. And she is sitting in it in a bathing suit, quite content and happy in the bubbly water. The setup is truly epic…not glamourous, but definitely epic. Where Tommy and Danny were bowling acts as the living room equivelent of this complex (triplex in the back and Saerah’s shack on the side). Lounge chairs are dug into the beach at a slight decline so you can see the sky in perfect comfort. And get this, there are two bars down the beach, one about 100 yards away, the other 150. You don’t need shoes to go to either. Tommy and Saerah take me to both, and introduce me to everyone they know there. After shots and beers, we head back to cook some dinner. By this point we are all pretty much buzzed and/or stoned. The awe of this entire situation lets me mostly overlook the fact that bugs are eating me again. This place is freaking awesome!


1 Comment so far
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ahhh to live like that!

Comment by Sarah Doolittle

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