Sunday, August 22, 2004

St. Croix

We had a wonderful weekend on St. Croix. The only ‘iffy’ part was the Cessna 402 we flew over and back. When we arrived at our gate at the airport for our noon flight on Friday, I noticed that our group comprised the entire passenger list for our flight. Our leader, S.S., who was the bandleader for the weekend’s gigs and the promoter of same (he’s often just the promoter), wandered over to the large windows looking out on the tarmac, strolled back toward the group and said, “I’m pleased to announce that our plane does have two engines.” To which his wife. H.S., responded, “Yes, but the ‘one pilot’ thing makes me nervous--what if he’s not feeling well that day?” I had never flown this airline, but the boyfriend had--a couple of times to St. Croix for gigs. I did remember him remarking that the planes were quite small. So I wandered over to the window to take a look (and maybe gear myself up mentally for the trip, since I’m not a lover of flying to begin with). The plane was parked down a bit from our gate and it looked…teensy. I turned around and asked incredulously, “That’s our plane?!” H. came running at that, had a look for himself, turned to me and said, “No, it’s not.” Yeah, buddy, I’m afraid it is. Looking at that little plane and back at our group of eight, which included three larger-size men…well, the math didn't compute. (I was suddenly very glad the guys hadn't brought their golf clubs.) It was a nine-seater (excluding the pilot); we managed to get H. seated in the co-pilot seat. I did okay, except for a few bumpy moments right after takeoff--even the tiniest bit of turbulence causes my heart to leap into my throat. Thankfully it’s only a 15-minute flight.

Once on St. Croix, we rented cars and drove straight to the motel, which was right on the beach just south of the town of Fredericksted. We had lunch at the motel’s restaurant, which is open-air and facing the beach. Their food is quite good. After lunch, H. and I hit the beach and the boyfriend retired to the room for a little relaxation before his two gigs.

Friday night they played Sunset Jazz which is at a beachfront park in Fredericksted. There was a large turnout and everyone seemed to really enjoy the music. (Our PBS affiliate always tapes the event, so we’ll be able to watch it at some point.) It’s an event the boyfriend has played two or three times before--held the third Friday of each month. That show was followed by dinner at a wonderful French restaurant. The owners (an older couple) are French; both had attended the concert. The man came by our table at one point to tell us how as a young man in the late 50’s he’d worked (as a chef) at a restaurant in Paris where many of the American expat musicians liked to hang out and jam in the afternoons, and what a joy it had been to listen to them during his break between the lunch and dinner shifts and how he’s had a great love of jazz ever since.

After dinner, we strolled two doors down the street for the next gig at another restaurant, an open-air place with a stage in a courtyard. Boyfriend and I had been on St. Croix with S.S. and H.S. in early February--that weekend had also included a gig at this venue. H. and I only lasted about half an hour before we headed back to the motel for some Olympics viewing.

Saturday morning we rose early and the guys drove about two-thirds of the way across the island to one of the golf courses. I spent my morning on the beach and relaxing in the room and managed to snag a late-afternoon appointment with the massage therapist at the motel’s little spa facility. After my massage, the three of us hit the beach for some frolicking before boyfriend had to get ready for his Saturday night gig. Fortunately, they were playing right there. in the gazebo at the motel’s restaurant. I hadn’t thought to make dinner reservations for H. and me, but they squeezed us in. We had a scrumptious dinner, H. wandered the beach finding rocks and shells to skip in the water and then we retired to the room for some gin rummy and more Olympics watching. Boyfriend joined us in the room for his break. We could hear the music from our room and the moment it was over, H. was back in the pool. (I had detained him from swimming while the music/dinner was happening since I figured most would want to enjoy their pricey meal and accompanying jazz without having to listen to a kid thrashing around in the pool a few yards away.)

We got an early start this morning because we wanted to get in some swimming before our 10:50 flight. We started out in the ocean until the boyfriend got stung by a tiny jellyfish--that prompted us to move to the pool. Continental breakfast was laid out next door at the café. I wandered over to the café first; they followed a few minutes later. I was on a chaise, stuffing a peanut butter-slathered English muffin in my face when a huge bee flew right under my nose. I’m terrified of any type of stinging insect, so I immediately flew into a panic (always a good move) and began trying to get away from it. It was (of course) following me, so I climbed into the pool only to find it was still buzzing near me. I did the only thing I could think of: fully submerge myself. It was while I was underwater that I realized that not only was I wearing my sunglasses and hat, I still had half my muffin in my hand. Smooth. The boys missed the entire episode, although I did later ask, “Didn’t you hear me squealing over there?” H. said, “We did, but we didn’t know what had happened.” Good to know I shouldn’t rely on them in an emergency when it’s a choice between me…and free food.


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