Sun and Fun on Jost Van Dyke
27.04.2013 - 04.05.2013
If I told you Jost Van Dyke is Dutch for “incredibly tiny island,” you might believe me, given that this little island in the British Virgins is small enough to walk around in a day and is home to just a few hundred residents.
Actually, no one really knows where this island’s name comes from, although it is rumored to be named for a Dutch pirate who pillaged and plundered his way through the BVI. This island is as obscure as its namesake, and it’s that obscurity that continues to draw me back.
This place isn’t off the beaten path.
There is no path.
Despite the fact that it was April, we were entering into what felt like the 19th month of what I will forever call “the winter that would never end” in East Tennessee. The heat was still on, I couldn’t unpack my open toed shoes, and I still had my winter fat.
What? Winter fat? Every woman knows what winter fat is. Winter fat is that extra weight you gain during winter because you are so bundled up in 27 layers of clothing that no one can tell you’ve packed on a little since fall and because there are far too many holiday eating opportunities. Like Thanksgiving. And Christmas. And New Year’s. And Benito Juarez’s birthday.
Hey, if it’s on my calendar, it deserves a cupcake.
As I sat in my office at work one day, my illegal portable heater buried under my desk so that the Public Building Authority wouldn’t find it and confiscate it, damning me to the level of teeth chattering cold that can only exist in a government office building, I received a call from a friend providing me an opportunity to spend a week on Jost Van Dyke.
At the Pink House.
I think I heard angels singing.
The Pink House.
You have to understand, while I dearly love the island of Jost Van Dyke, it's primarily regarded as a day trip destination. The few accommodations there are to choose from leave something to be desired. My previous options included a room with no view that was barely a step up from a Motel 6 for about $350 a night and an economy cabin that bore a striking resemblance to my dad’s plywood garden shed for $65 a night.
I thought back to my other 2 overnight trips to Jost.
On the first trip we slept in a cabin with a door that didn’t quite shut – allowing the mosquitoes ample access to my body while I slept covered in sweat due to the lack of air conditioning or a working ceiling fan. The walls were so thin that I could hear the goats eating the tree outside and I began to suspect that the walls were actually made out of discarded cereal boxes. We had to avoid drinking anything after 7:00 p.m. to prevent waking up in the middle of the night and having to make a mad dash with a flashlight in the dark, avoiding lizards, crabs, and all manner of nocturnal hazards, to the shared freestanding bathroom that was about 200 feet away and was out of toilet paper more often than not.
On the second trip, we splurged on a hotel room that cost us almost $400 a night for a very basic room, but one that had walls made out of actual construction materials. We found ourselves staying out as late as possible because, while air conditioned, the room had cement walls and no view from the small windows. It was a lot like being in my grandmother’s basement, except that she had video games and a big screen T.V. and a bar with a peanut machine.
A peanut machine would have gone a long way toward making up for the lack of view.
But….the Pink House.
I had seen it on every trip. A shining jewel of a thing at the end of White Bay. A beautiful private villa right on the beach on an island where private villas are practically unheard of.
Multiple bedrooms with en suite baths. Air conditioning. Ceiling fans that really work. An actual kitchen. Doors that shut all the way. An ice machine. Satellite T.V. Wi-fi. It’s own beach.
I wiped the drool off my chin and booked 2 flights.
We were going to the Pink House, y'all.
===Saturday: Planes, trains boats, and automobiles.===
I won’t lie.
Jost Van Dyke is not easy to get to from Tennessee.
But the best and most worthwhile things in life take a little work, don’t they? Like my graduate school roommate’s dad used to tell us when we were grumbling about our dissertations, “If it was easy, they’d just throw one in your car window as you drove by.”
First there is the whole indignity of the airport experience. Once you’ve been sufficiently violated by TSA, you get to jockey for position with 200 other people in hopes that you are one of the lucky few that get to attempt to cram your obviously overpacked carry on into the plane before some flight attendant grabs it from you and informs you that you have to check your bag because there is no space left, leaving you to wonder if your bag will make it there before it’s time for you to return home.
After 2 flights and about 8 hours of your life that you’ll never get back, you land on St. Thomas. You then have to make a choice: taxi to Charlotte Amalie and get a ferry to West End, Tortola and then attempt to make another ferry from West End to Jost Van Dyke, or taxi to Red Hook and take one ferry from Red Hook, with a brief stop on St. John, then straight on to Jost.
Unfortunately, our early flight got us there about 20 minutes too late to catch the early ferry and about 3 hours too early for the next one. After studying the ferry schedules of 4 different ferry companies that leave from 2 separate places, I had the mind bending logistics worked out to determine the quickest way for us to arrive on Jost Van Dyke. I also had a medium sized headache. We would take the 45 minute taxi ride from the airport to Red Hook and wait a couple of hours for the ferry from Red Hook to Jost Van Dyke.
Besides, with a couple of hours to kill on St. Thomas, we’d no doubt be several rum punches into our afternoon by the time the ferry came, so getting on one boat and staying on it sounded like a safe plan anyway. That way there was no chance we’d end up on Anegada by the end of the day wondering how we got there.
I remember as a kid, there was a ride at Six Flags that I loved called Mo Mo the Monster. It was one of those giant beasts of a thing that had “arms” with little buckets on the ends, the entire ride resembling a giant spider. The arms would go up and down and my brothers and I would spin around violently in our buckets until we were crying for mercy, staggering off and vomiting like the family cat that time it ate an entire stick of butter that it secreted off the kitchen table.
Well, if you get in the right taxi, the ride to Red Hook is a lot like that.
And if it happens to be the last day of carnival, which it was, and there is a giant parade, which there was, it’s even better because it lasts longer.
After 45 minutes (which translated into car sickness time is about twelve years) of steep hills, ridiculous curves, passing on the wrong side of the road, and swerving to miss errant chickens, we finally arrived at the Red Hook ferry.
We had a couple of hours to kill and it was lunch time, so we had the taxi driver drop us off across the street at Duffy’s Love Shack.
Duffy’s is an awesome place, despite the fact that it sits in the parking lot of a strip mall. It’s so “over the top” kitschy tropical that it’s cool. The seats are covered in leopard print vinyl and everything is made out of bamboo.
The drinks are served in ridiculous tiki glasses and every time you get one, the waitresses cover you in plastic leis, necklaces, and stickers.
Needless to say, by the time I left, I had so many stickers that I resembled the back bumper of a 53 year old Volkswagen Beetle.
When it was our time, we walked over to the ferry dock and located the Inter Island ferry to Jost. I watched as hundreds of people crammed onto the ferry to St. John and looked at the 4 people waiting for the Jost Van Dyke ferry and smiled.
It was 4:00 when we arrived on Jost. I had reserved a rental car, and despite having been through the rental car process numerous times on Jost Van Dyke, I was still certain no one was ever going to show up, even though they always did.
Why? Because when you rent a car on Jost, you call the office and say, “I’d like to rent a car please. I’ll arrive on such and such a date and I think I’ll be on the such and such ferry.”
They say, “Ok.”
Rental process over.
For the anal retentive type, this is difficult. I need a confirmation number. I need an email or computer generated piece of paper that PROVES I have a car. And I have nothing but….. “Ok.” How could I possibly expect someone to show up weeks or months after making that phone call at exactly the time my ferry arrives?
But someone always does.
Paradise Car Rental pulled in just as we arrived. Just like they always do. Like magic.
Jost Van Dyke magic.
Even though I had never been there, I knew exactly how to get to the Pink House. On an island that basically has one road and no town, it’s not really that hard to figure out where things are.
I have to admit, when I pulled onto that drive that said, “Private Drive – Pink House Villas,” I felt special. I felt like a V.I.P.
A Very Important Pink house guest.
The house was everything I hoped and more.
Perched on the hillside overlooking the entirety of White Bay, the view was something you can only dream of.
The decks, the grounds, the gorgeous landscaping….it was a feast for the eyes.
There are actually 2 Pink Houses - the original Pink House, Bougainvillea, and a newly constructed house, Oleander. We were in the original.
The house has a very cool set up – all the rooms have outdoor entrances. This is great for privacy if you have several couples. Each of the 3 bedrooms was large and airy, beautifully furnished, with cool a/c and views to White Bay.
I was like a kid in a candy store, running from room to room trying to decide which one I liked best. That’s when I walked into the Peach Room.
Suddenly, I was like one of those seagulls on Finding Nemo, jumping up and down, “Mine. MINE. MINE. Mine.”
I headed to the breezy living area, which housed the large den and the kitchen, to see if my grocery provisions had made it.
That’s another fun thing about coming to Jost. Groceries. While we eat out mostly, I do like to have breakfast, drinks, and snacks on hand, but the grocery options on Jost are severely limited so you have to plan ahead.
Imagine a cross between a gas station quick mart and a small-town 5 and dime from 1978 filled with an odd assortment of random food and beverage items with a few weird housewares thrown in for good measure. Give it a Dollar General ambiance but imagine that everything costs way more than a dollar. Now imagine that it is sandwiched into a space the size of your bathroom and imagine yourself walking into it an proceeding to shop in a manner that is a combination of that TV show, "Supermarket Sweep" from the 90's and a scavenger hunt. Finally, visualize yourself walking up to the register, hot and sweaty, with a toilet brush, some dusty beverage cozies, an 8 track tape, a dented can of peas, 4 boxes of Twinkies, a root beer, and a frozen Hungry Man dinner.
You now understand grocery shopping on a small island.
The best bet is to contact Bobby's Marketplace on Tortola. They have an extensive online selection allowing you to order and pay online. Typically, you tell them which West End ferry you'll be on and when you arrive for the ferry, your box is waiting for you. However, since we were on the Inter Island ferry and wouldn't be stopping in West End, Tortola, Bobby's actually put my groceries on the morning ferry and the caretakers of the Pink House picked them up, took them to the house, and put them away.
I had a kitchen full of food and all I had to do was unpack my suitcase and start enjoying my vacation.
It was that Jost Van Dyke magic again.
Within minutes, Matt and I had changed out of travel clothes and had a rum punch made with Callwood Spiced Rum in our hands and were walking down the beach watching the sun set.
Our Pink House adventure was ready to begin.
===Sunday: How To See Pirates, Jewels, and Dinosaurs in a Single Day.===
As we always do, we established a routine for the trip early on. It started off with coffee on the deck and breakfast with a view.
Because Matt tried to kill me on our last trip to Jost by forcing encouraging me to run up what I called "the hill of death" every day, I declared this a non-exercise vacation. That meant the next part of our daily routine was to choose which spot to call ours for the day.
White Bay is a magnificent beach, and it's so large you can pick a different section of it to spend your day on and feel like you are in an entirely different place every day. Each section has its own vibe.
There's the private end where the Pink House sits. No bars, no noise, just pristine quiet and a nice assortment of chairs that are shared by the Pink Houses and White Bay Villas, the houses that sit high up on the hillside above.
I will admit, every time I saw someone from White Bay Villas come walking down that excruciatingly long, steep path to the beach, sweating from the exertion by the time they arrived, I felt delighted to be right where I was. We barely had to step off our deck before our feet were buried in that soft sand.
Moving down the beach, you come to Ivan's next. Ivan's section of beach is scattered with mismatched chairs in various stages of decomposition, usually with an assortment of empty bottles, deflated rafts, and abandoned shoes tossed in. It's a little rough around the edges, but it has character. It also has Ivan's Stress Free Bar.
The middle section is natural and usually empty. Lined with shady seagrape trees and a few palms, this area has no bars, no chairs, but no people either. It's a great place to grab some privacy.
Likewise, after you climb the stairs and cross the goat path to the "other side," you find a long, pristine stretch of empty beach.
Walk far enough and you'll come to the center of all that is White Bay, the Soggy Dollar Bar.
Soggy's has plenty of chairs and hammocks that they let you use as long as you are patronizing their bar and grill. They also have one of the most famous bars in the Caribbean and one of the best bartenders in the known universe.
That would be Mic, of course.
If Soggy's is a little too lively for you, you can continue down the beach to Gertrude's. You can rent a chair from her for $5 or you can buy a rum punch for $6 and get the chair for free. Kind of a no-brainer if you ask me.
Past Gertrude's is an assortment of beach bars, each with their own unique personality: Jewel's snack shack, Coco Loco, and Seddy's One Love.
At the far end of White Bay it's feast or famine. By that, I mean it's either totally deserted or so covered with bodies that you do best to avoid it at all costs.
I believe the pavilion on that end is frequented by a giant party boat that shows up out of nowhere and dumps a plethora of life vested bodies, with their fanny packs and water shoes, onto the beach for about an hour or two. We only saw it in use once during our week on Jost. On a good day, it's a deserted slice of heaven.
For our first day, we chose to call Gertrude's section of beach home for the day. There are always fewer people in front of Gertrude's and we were looking for a little quiet before all the Sunday boats arrived.
Rather than spend $5 for a chair, we went inside to see Gertrude about some rum punch.
Gertrude's bar has a unique style. When you order your drink, she asks if you want the $6 or the $10 size. Well, duh. The $10 of course. Then she puts the bottles you need to make your drink on the counter and you proceed to make your own. The rum punch is my favorite: a bottle of dark spiced rum, a bottle of mango rum, and a jug of her secret rum punch mix. Mine is about 9 parts rum and 1 part punch. She even grates a little fresh nutmeg on the top when you're finished.
I love Gertrude.
We settled in to soak in the beauty of White Bay.
Gertrude's rum punch can only be appropriately followed by one thing: a bloody mary from the Soggy Dollar. It is, quite literally, the best bloody mary ever made.
When we started getting lounge chair butt, we headed to Jewel's Snack Shack for her amazing burger and special rum punch.
This is where we met Reginald who entertained us with his dinosaur while we waited.
Sure, that looks like a blade of grass to me too, but I assure you, it was a dinosaur. Reginald said so. After Gertrude's rum punch, a Soggy Dollar bloody mary, and Ms. Jewel's rum punch, I would have believed it was a purple unicorn with sparkly wings if Reginald had said so.
For those that have read my other adventures, does anyone remember the Pink Painkiller that my friend Kala and I accidentally concocted on our BVI sailing adventure by mixing leftover painkiller with some fruit punch and extra rum?
Well, I don't know about you, but I think the Rum Punch With a Touch of Class looks suspiciously like our Pink Painkiller. I think royalties are due. Maybe a free chair for life?
There aren't many things better than a grilled burger on the beach. Jewel's hamburger is thick and unbelievably juicy.
I can tell she puts something in the meat, too. It reminds me of the burgers my mom would make when I was a kid that she'd put a packet of french onion soup mix into. Except that my mom usually put it on slices of white bread that would get so soggy by the time you were halfway through the burger, you'd just have to peel them off and leave them on the plate.
The late afternoon was spent trying to keep the random beach dog off my chair, doing my best pirate imitation, and trying to figure out why this guy had on a headdress.
Once the beach part of the daily routine was over, the nap part came in. The nap part is necessary so that you can sleep off the rum and sun and wake up fresh and ready to go eat some lobster.
And go eat lobster we did.
We headed to Little Harbor for our favorite lobster dinner at Sydney's Peace & Love.
What I love about Sydney's: the pour your own bar, the waterfront setting, the fresh lobster, and the delicious side dishes. What I don't love: how Strawberry always talks me into buying a bunch of t-shirts in her shop that I don't need and will never wear while I wait for my food. I resolved that this time I would not buy another shirt, particularly since I already have about 6 at home.
After pouring our own drinks at the do-it-yourself bar and writing our drinks down by our name in the little spiral notebook, I succumbed to Strawberry's foolproof sales pitch and ended up with a tank top, a long sleeve t-shirt, and a sarong.
I don't even wear sarongs.
She gets me every time!
The lobster was clean and fresh. The cole slaw was sweet and tangy, just like my Granny makes. The potato salad, corn on the cob, and peas n' rice all competed for favorite side dish as I washed it all down with my version of the perfect painkiller.
Wow, what a day.
===Monday: How To Get Stress Free.===
With such an amazing curve of private beach just below the house, we decided to take advantage of it and spend the morning on "our beach."
Yes, I know. It wasn't "my beach," just like the Pink House wasn't "my house," and Mic wasn't "my bartender." But that's what we do on vacation, isn't it? Isn't that the whole point - to be transported? To be some place and some thing you aren't in your every day life?
Of course it is.
That's why I found myself, despite all good intentions to the contrary, fighting the urge to scowl at the couples that would wander too far from Ivan's and dare to pause too long on "my beach," wondering if it would be going too far to chase them back to Ivan's while waving a pool noodle menacingly at them.
We mixed up Vicki's rum punch and hit the beach. My rum punch does not have touch of class like Jewel's, but what it lacks in class, it makes up for in "you can be buzzed by 10:00 a.m." goodness.
You know you've had too much rum punch when you find yourself trying to balance a coconut on your head before lunch.
Because it was practically next door, we wandered over to Ivan's Stress Free Bar to see how the Stress Free Punch compared.
Ivan's is one of the most unique places on White Bay. Like everything on Jost, Ivan's is a meandering structure that seems more tossed together than built, more carefree than established, and more eclectic than fancy. There's nothing formal about Ivan's open-air structure, with a sand floor and walls covered with seashells. While the Soggy Dollar gets the notoriety and most of the White Bay visitors, Ivan's is frequented by those in the know, making you feel like you are in on a wonderful secret.
There's something about this place that makes adults feel like big kids. Maybe it's the sandy floor. Maybe it's the assortment of colorful chairs where you can spend a lazy afternoon sipping rum punch on a beautiful beach. Maybe it's the offbeat vibe.
Or maybe it's the tire swing.
Tip of the day: don't get on a tire swing in a white bikini. (You'll thank me for that)
It was hungry o'clock, so we made our way to the far end of White Bay. I'd love to be able to say the east end, west end, north…whatever…but, really, I have no idea which direction it is. I still haven't mastered the art of figuring out left from right without making that little "L" with my thumb and finger. I'm not a human compass, people.
Of all White Bay establishments, Seddy's One Love still gets my vote for best lunch. The food is seriously good and the view is unmatched.
They make a pretty good painkiller too.
Matt had the special of the day, grilled wahoo with the most amazing mystery sauce I have ever tasted. I am sure it wasn't really "mystery sauce," but at this point I was several punches into my day so I can't be expected to remember details like that. I only remember where I had lunch because I have a picture of it.
I had the lobster salad sandwich, which was jam packed with tender lobster, crunchy-crisp veggies, and creamy dressing with a touch of curry.
The only thing left to do was take a nap.
Sunset came and painted the sky in gold as we discussed dinner options.
Although we'd been to Little Harbor the night before for lobster, we settled on Harris' Place in Little Harbor because it was lobster night. I still have night sweats when I think of the great lobster famine that occurred while I was on Anguilla, so I decided to get more lobster while the getting was good.
But first, I insisted we visit the Beach Lounge.
I had seen this place as we passed through Great Harbor earlier in the trip. It might have been the most half-assed excuse for a bar that I have ever seen, if you don't count the time we tried to go to Dune Preserve to find that they only two bottles of liquor and cranberry juice that day and proceeded to make me what will forever go down in history as the worst drink known to man.
Matt had that look on his face that he gets when I ask him to do things that he really doesn't want to do on vacations and that are probably ill-advised by any guidebook and that usually result in us missing a boat, getting food poisoning, ending up stranded in an alley in the middle of Rome, or finding ourselves in the uncomfortable position of being the only patrons of the night in a really scary restaurant. It's the same look my dog gives me when I tell it to go to the laundry room. It doesn't really want to...but it's weighing it's desire not to go to the laundry room against having to deal with me if it doesn't.
But to his credit, he always goes along, because more often than not, these things end up in some of our greatest discoveries and most cherished vacation finds.
It was a bit of deja vu when we strolled up to the makeshift bar and asked what mixed drinks he could make and he responded, "I don't know. I only have a few bottles and I'm not sure what's in them."
While those Jagerbombs certainly were tempting...ahem.....I was really looking for something less, oh, "18-year-old-with-a-fake-ID-trying-to-get-smashed" drink. I immediately spotted a bottle of Cruzan Coconut Rum and said, "That. With Sprite."
And what the Beach Lounge lacked in fine furnishings (or an actual floor, walls, or indoor lighting of any kind), it more than made up for with the view.
Then it was on to Harris' Place for what I call the Lobster Death Match. It was me vs. the largest lobster in the known universe. When I told Cynthia I wanted the biggest lobster she had, I had no idea that she had a prehistoric beast lurking in the cage.
Halfway in, I called for a time out. I sat, trembling in my corner of the ring, hands shaking, forehead beaded with sweat, breath coming in rapid bursts.
Matt slapped me on the back and I went back in.
Forty-five minutes and one extremely bloated stomach later, I knew I had been bested.
I waved my white napkin, grimy with lobster parts, and surrendered. There was still lobster on my plate and I couldn't eat it.
I'm pretty sure that leaving uneaten lobster on your plate is nearly as bad as breaking a commandment or backing over a box of kittens with your car.
===Tuesday: How To Lose an Anchor in Four Hours or Less===
It was boat day. I had reserved a day trip with Jost Van Dyke scuba with the intention of going to Sandy Cay & Sandy Spit and then heading over to Norman Island for the afternoon.
We arrived early and had about 30 minutes to kill so we walked down "Main Street." Main Street on Jost is basically a sandy lane lined with every manner of structure. Some actual, some implied. The harbor is scattered with tables, hammocks, stools...any place a person can take a load off. And maybe grab one of those Jagerbombs.
Sandy Cay is pretty close to Jost, so it seemed like a great first stop. Despite the beautiful day, the sea was angry, my friends. The short boat ride over to Sandy Cay was 15 minutes of jaw rattling, tailbone busting, sea spray enduring hell.
Try to imagine you are on a mechanical bull in nothing but your underwear and instead of being padded, the seat is made out of fiberglass and while you ride, someone is dumping a bucket of salt water over your head. Now stay on for fifteen minutes.
It was worth the ride when I saw Sandy Cay like a jewel sitting in the azure water. Sandy Cay is just a dollop of sand dropped into the ocean, a scrumptious little cake floating in the sea frosted with a few waving palm trees.
We swam in and located the interior paths, taking our time to walk through the dense foliage and gawking with wonder at the sea views that surrounded the tiny speck of an island.
If Sandy Cay is a dollop, then Sandy Spit is a sprinkle. Sandy Spit was a repeat, except that it was a fraction of the size, allowing us to walk all the way around it in about 3 minutes flat.
When we managed to arrive at Sandy Cay without losing any teeth or requiring a spinal adjustment, we imagined what the long boat ride to Norman Island would be like and made the quick, and wise, decision to abort the mission and head to Tortola instead.
After Sandy Cay and Sandy Spit, we made a quick run over to Smuggler's Cove on Tortola. This kept us in moderately protected waters and didn't require a long boat ride.
Once I saw Smuggler's Cove, I couldn't have been happier we made a detour.
I have been to Norman Island. I have snorkeled the Indians. I have dug my toes in the sand at Pirate's Bight. I have sucked down a ski shot at the Willy T.
Smuggler's Cove was not only something new…it was perfection.
This gorgeous crescent of perfect beach was littered with leaning palm trees and had almost no one on it. We swam over and spent some delicious time on the beach.
On the way back to the boat, Matt pointed out a rare sight: a good sized octopus swimming in the open. We watched it for a long time until it finally found a hidey-hole and disappeared.
It was remarkable.
Coming to this beach was the best decision ever.
Until we lost the anchor.
So, um, yeah. The captain was trying to pull up the anchor and the rope broke.
It was not awesome.
Since he was the only boat operator, he would have typically left the anchor and come back for it later, but Matt knows how to operate a boat, and it would be nearly impossible to find that anchor after leaving and coming back. So Matt powered the boat while the captain dove repeatedly, looking for the anchor.
I sat with a bag of chips and watched the whole thing like I was watching a movie. Well, it wasn't like I could do anything to help.
After a half hour of diving, drifting, rotating the boat, and chip munching - the anchor was found!
We decided to make our last stop of the day Cane Garden Bay for a late lunch. The captain recommended Myett's for lunch, so we headed that way.
Myett's was great, like a giant, tropical treehouse on the beach. The food was good and was served with an incredible view.
When the boat brought us back to Great Harbor, we checked out Corsair's and decided to return later for dinner.
Before dinner, we strolled "our beach" (I was beginning to like the sound of that) with some pre-dinner cocktails and watched the sunset over White Bay.
I had heard good things about the pizza at Corsair's, but I am really picky about my pizza. Good pizza on an island usually means that it doesn't taste like one of those frozen pizzas that you can buy 3 for $10 at Kroger. It doesn't usually mean "good" good.
Corsair's was good good.
===Wednesday: How to Waste An(other) Entire Day Doing Absolutely Nothing===
You know how, after a few days of laying in the sun, eating too much, taking too many naps, and drinking an abundance of rum, you just get plain lazy?
You start to wonder how you ever lived a life where you got up at 6 a.m. and worked all day just to come home and clean house, make dinner, go to the gym, buy groceries, and do some laundry when just walking from the bed to the dresser to get a tank top seems like such a great effort you seriously wonder if you could just wear your nightshirt all day without anyone at the beach noticing.
It was Day Four and the lazy haze had started to settle onto us.
We decided to grab a couple of Mic's bloody marys (because early morning alcohol certainly helps with lethargy) and do nothing more ambitious than try to find a lounge chair before we collapsed in the sand.
It was a good day for people watching. White Bay is home to some of the best people watching ever. It's like people watching at the airport if everyone at the airport was half naked and drunk.
The morning hours on White Bay are quiet. You mostly have the beach to yourselves, shared only with the few other souls lucky enough to be staying on the island.
Around 9:00, a few people show up that came over from a neighboring island on the ferry for the day. You know them by their giant backpacks and Keens and by the way they look around nervously at the chairs before plopping down in the sand, unaware that the chairs are not off limits.
The next group in are usually the sailing people - the ones that spent the previous night in the harbor on a sailboat. They pull their dinghies up on short and provide tons of entertainment as they try to fight the waves and climb out of the inflatable without falling in the water, a feat which is easier said than done.
The last group to arrive are the most fun to watch: the party boats. The charters start showing up from Tortola, St. John, and St. Thomas loaded with people. They stagger off in their Kenny Chesney cowboy hats, clutching their ziploc bags that contain a camera, a chapstick, and some dollar bills and hoping that they will 1) see a celebrity, 2) get on the webcam at the Soggy Dollar bar, 3) not be the one that ends up face down in the sand before the boat has to leave, and 4) spend the next hour like they are in a country music video.
We saw everything from the great grandmother who waded off the boat fully dressed in a caftan and pants clutching her oversized leather handbag over her head to the bikini clad woman wearing a beauty pageant sash who was 70 if she was a day. There were several guys, so blindingly white that I feared I would go blind if I looked straight at them, and every one of them somehow managed to have a perfectly lobster red back, like sunscreen was only necessary on the parts they could see. There was the old dude in the too small swim trunks, holding his ample belly in so forcefully that I was pretty sure he was going to rip an abdominal muscle and groups of bikini clad girls with Coronas sitting in beach chairs at the water's edge until they were so pickled, their boyfriends/husbands/friends had to carry them back to the boat.
There was even one girl doing a perfect handstand on a paddle board out in the water.
I could do that if I wanted to.
Okay, no I can't. I can barely walk across the room without tripping over my own feet.
Yes, White Bay can be a party, but even on a crowded day, it's a laid back kind of party. The kind of party where someone's boat is always pumping out tunes just loud enough for everyone to hear but not so loud it's annoying, and where people sit in chairs at the water's edge laughing with their friends. It's the kind of party where you can smell ribs on the grill and a sea of Soggy Dollar cups waves in the air above pool floats where people splash about in the water.
Eventually, we had to pry ourselves up and go in search of sustenance. A liquid diet can only carry you so long.
Having never eaten at Coco Loco's, we decided we'd give it a shot.
Yes, apparently, at this point in the day, Matt was double cupping it. What is double cupping? When you get another drink before finishing the first one and you just dump them together and put the empty cup on the bottom.
Don't act like you don't know what I'm talking about.
Do you know what you get when one of you orders the BBQ baby back ribs and the other orders the catch of the day sandwich?
We then spent the afternoon doing nothing more strenuous than this:
For dinner, we thought we'd make the drive out to Diamond Cay and eat at Taboo. It takes about 15 minutes to drive out there from White Bay, which, on an island where you can get to everything in a minute or less, is the equivalent of traveling to a different country, so we stopped at Foxy's in Great Harbor for a drink to break up the exceptionally long, arduous trip out to Taboo.
Foxy's was cranking. The music was playing and people were dancing.
I wish I knew how to dance. Like an actual dance that is recognized by other people and is, in reality, awesome and not just awesome in my head. In my head, I look like this when I dance:
In reality, I look like this:
And it's a toss up if Matt dances as badly as me or worse.
It was getting dark and we still had that cross-country drive to make that would require a white knuckle trip of at least 10 minutes trying to avoid making roadkill of a mongoose or running into a goat, so we headed on, leaving the dancing to the people that didn't look like they were having a grand mal seizure.
Taboo is probably the nicest restaurant on Jost. Not only do they serve your food on actual plates made of something other than paper, styrofoam or plastic, they have some selections that don't include fried food, the staples of most fast food restaurants, or sides the include double carbohydrates.
They have an appetizer that I love: a savory cheesecake made with herbs and garlic and topped with marina sauce. My only problem with it is that they need to serve it with some warm bread so that I don't have to pick up the plate and lick it to get to the last of that marinara sauce.
For our entrees, Matt had the grilled fish and I opted for a coconut shrimp linguine. I'm not sure what possessed me to order shrimp on an island where shrimp are not a fresh food, but to Taboo's credit, the shrimp were plump and firm and didn't remind me of something that had been in the bottom of the freezer since 1994.
===Thursday: How to Get to the Bubbly Pool===
I read a couple of months ago that a man had died at the Bubbly Pool when he was hit by a rough wave and was carried out to sea.
This made me nervous.
You have to understand, I am the kind of person that rides my bike with the breaks on, even if I'm not going downhill. When I snorkel, I am constantly looking for sharks as the JAWS theme plays in my head. I will never bungee jump. Dangerous things make me nervous.
So when Matt suggested we go to the Bubbly Pool, I felt my stomach clench a little in nervous anticipation, but the Bubbly Pool is a Jost Van Dyke institution and the last time we had tried to go, there were so many people in it that I felt like I was in a frat house hot tub during pledge week. We had to give it another shot.
The Bubbly Pool is at the end of the road. Literally.
The only way to get there is to drive your small, slightly abused SUV up and down crazy steep hills next to vertical cliffs on badly paved roads that are narrower than Giselle Bundchen's hips while avoiding obstacles like goat herds, small children, and boulders that have fallen from the cliffs above the road. Go as far as the road will go (east? west? south?) and when it stops, park and walk to the Bubbly Pool.
We were early and we had the place to ourselves.
Under the right circumstances, the Bubbly Pool is pretty fantastic. Anything in nature can be dangerous. Just be smart. Use common sense. Don't go in drunk. Don't try to climb up on the slippery rocks where the waves come in. Don't get in when the swells are up. Don't swim too close to the opening.
The natural swimming pool is calm and clear until a wave washes in, and then it is instantly transformed into a fizzy delight.
Before heading back to White Bay, we stopped and oohed and aaahed at the colors of the water from every view point.
The weather had been perfect every day so far, but by the time we got back to the Pink House, the floodgates of heaven literally opened up onto White Bay. The rain was so heavy that you couldn't even see the boats in the harbor.
We made lunch at the house and enjoyed the rain for an hour or two, knowing it was filling the cisterns and providing some much needed water.
The rain left as abruptly as it had come, and by early afternoon, the sun was smiling on White Bay again. We were able to enjoy a few hours of beach time.
It was Thursday and Ivan's was hosting its beach BBQ. We've never been and I was eager to check it out.
We walked down to Ivan's early and grabbed a couple of Stress Free punches to sip while we watched the sunset.
I was tempted to lick the outlet, but since they have a policy against it, I chose not to.
As the sun set in glorious form, the smells of grilled meat drifted out of the kitchen. Tables were set up all higgled piggledy on the beach and everyone just found a seat and made it theirs. Thankfully, we didn't choose the seat that was apparently covered in fire ants. Another couple wasn't so lucky and within seconds, they were running to the water, twitching and flailing, their hands swatting at every part of their body they could reach.
Actually, they looked a lot like I do when I am dancing.
The food was laid out on a long table and was served buffet style. Unlike Foxy's buffet, it's literally all-you-can-eat, not all-you-can-eat-in-one-trip.
There were grilled ribs and all manner of islandy side dishes. The food was plentiful and delicious, the atmosphere relaxed, and the conversation friendly.
We dined under the stars on the beach, everyone enjoying themselves late into the night.
===Friday: How To Go Out With a Bang (or a Whimper, Depending on How You Look At It)===
It was our last day, so we decided to spend it with sun, sand, and the Soggy Dollar in true Jost Van Dyke style.
And we did just that.
It was a day of beach burgers and painkillers, music and fun, chairs by the water and hammocks in the shade. It was a perfect day.
By the end of the day, I was a bit pickled, opting to do nothing more than lay in a chair I had dragged to the water's edge.
I don't think Matt realized how much rum I'd had, nor did I, when he mixed us up some rum punches at the house before dinner and I proceeded to drink mine.
I really felt okay.
We headed toward Abe's by the Sea, the 3rd lobster restaurant on Little Harbor and the only one we had never eaten at.
When we arrived, we were the only customers, but that was okay. That's not uncommon. We asked if they were cooking and they said, "yes," so we ordered 2 lobster dinners and had a seat at the table on the dock, overlooking the water.
That's when I went from 60 to zero in 2 seconds flat.
One minute, I was fine. The next, I was this:
(I still can't believe Matt took my picture....)
"What's wrong with you?" Matt asked.
"I….I….I don't feel so good all of a sudden," I said. I had hit the rum wall. I peered between my fingers and gave Matt a look that said, "If you don't put that camera down and get me out of here in less than a minute, you'll spend the rest of your life sleeping on a futon."
He read me loud and clear.
That's how we paid $100 for a lobster dinner that was still in the kitchen being prepared. He handed the money to the waitress, said, "I'm sorry," and we bolted.
Remember when I described the ride across Jost Van Dyke? The twists, the turns, the narrow roads, the hills, the cliffs, the bumps? Now imagine doing that after spinning for about 45 minutes on Mo Mo the Monster. My insides were upside down and I am pretty sure my face was grey by the time we got back to the Pink House.
Even in paradise, too much of a good thing is…..well……too much of a good thing.
===Saturday: All's Well That Ends Well===
I was elated when I woke up.
Elated because I wasn't dead.
The night before, I am pretty sure I prayed to be dead. Or at least to slip peacefully into a coma.
I actually felt reasonably okay. My mouth tasted like I had been sucking on a toilet brush and I was moving a little slow, but I was okay.
Matt made me some eggs and toast and by the time I'd eaten breakfast, I was reasonably recovered.
We were taking a water taxi back to St. Thomas at the gracious invitation of the family staying in Pink House Oleander, whose flight home was at the same time as ours. The boat was leaving at 1:00, which left us plenty of time to do some final sightseeing and grab some lunch before heading out.
We followed the road from White Bay as far as we felt comfortable, even after it turned to a dirt road, littered with loose rock and so steep that I was worried I would get a nosebleed. Eventually, it became too rough for even our comfort and we turned to take the side road back into Great Harbor. But, WOW, did we get to see some incredible views before we had to turn back.
We strolled through Great Harbor, and it took all of my will power to resist that final chance at one of those Jagerbombs. I bet King Cockroach has had a Jagerbomb.
We stopped at Foxy's for our final meal and the man himself was holding court.
Foxy asked me where I was from and when I told him Tennessee, he proceeded to tell me a politically incorrect joke about picking cotton in Memphis and left me unsure whether I was supposed to laugh or act offended, but that's Foxy for you. The first time I met Foxy, he asked me if I knew how to tell that his dog, Taboo, was an Island dog.
If you ever meet Foxy, ask him to tell you that joke. Then you, too, can share in my discomfort.
You gotta' love Foxy.
I had waited all week for a roti and it was time. Foxy's is my favorite, stuffed with tender chicken a potatoes and served with a sweet chutney on the side.
Before we knew it, it was time for one last beer (or a Diet Coke if you had a headache the size of Texas…) and then all that was left was a wave good-bye.
Our week in paradise had come to an end.
I hope yours is just beginning.