On Monday, after living on St Thomas for seven months, I caught a one-way flight back to the mainland.
I gave it an earnest shot. But in the final analysis, it's just not my scene. That's not to say there isn't a lot I'm going to miss about the island, though.
Over the last day or two I've been trawling my cameras and inbox for snapshots from the last seven months. I've compiled a small photo album to serve as an overview (not remotely comprehensive) of the stuff that caught my fancy during my life in the tropics. For a few years now I've fallen out of the habit of carrying my little hand-me-down Canon with me (and I lost access to it for a good three-and-a-half months during my stay), so most of the pictures were taken with my flip phone. Do please cut me a little slack for the poor image quality.
the farther you go, the steeper it gets. On good days I was able to hitch rides with Rasta dudes. On bad days I'd march half the distance cursing the blistering heat, and then make the rest of the trudge in the rain.
a better picture.) I was a little disappointed to learn that it eventually matures into a somewhat ordinary-looking (albeit very large) moth. At the time I was convinced this thing would emerge from its cocoon as some kind of world-devouring antichrist.
what they're doing.
context of the present is lost.
here. (Looks like the park staff slashed through the vines since Mr. Carr's photo was taken, but for all I know they've grown back in the last five months. Stuff grows fast down here.)
more to wonder at, I suppose.
...you see that object under the window, around the corner to the left of the chair (to the left of me)? For two months I was aware it was there, but never came around to inspecting it. I fell into the assumption that it was just a hollow log somebody left behind for some reason, a piece of wood with dirt at the bottom, and I didn't think anything one night of stubbing out a cigarette on the rim before going back inside and dropping the butt in the trash can. Well, it was actually a palm tree stump, full of dry and highly flammable palm tree guts. Look: when you stub out a few thousand cigarettes in your life and none of the stray embers start a blaze, the possibility of such a thing doesn't even occur to you. So when you go back inside and smell smoke, you go outside and examine the air conditioner because, well, what else could it be? So yeah, I eventually went around the corner and saw the flames spewing out of the tree stump, whereupon I ran inside, grabbed a pair of one-gallon Virgin H20 jugs from the kitchen counter, and prevented a dumb mistake from escalating to a catastrophe. Once the danger was over, I found myself less relieved by the averting of disaster than by how it had been accomplished without any of my neighbors noticing. And that was when Shanya—a coworker of mine who just happens to live on the other side of the building—woke up, smelled burning wood in the air, and came to have a look around. That was how she found me outside at 1:30 AM standing in a cloud of smoke wearing nothing but pajama pants, dumping water into a smouldering tree stump and uttering maledictions like a possessed Linda Blair.
"Fuckin' Pat," was all she said. Nothing about the scene surprised her. Sometimes I'm reminded that the red-headed author from 8EB is still me.
Now that I'm back on the mainland, I'm finding I rather miss Michelle and wishing I'd spent more time with her, gotten to know her a bit better. I feel the same way about the octopus.
So if there's no door-to-door trash pickup, what does one do with his household waste? He lugs it to one of twenty-two public dumpster sites on the island (where it will be transferred to the Bovoni Landfill—which straddles the protected Mangrove Lagoon—provided it doesn't blow away in the wind or get lost in the transfer from dumpster to dumptruck). It's much less of a hassle if you can afford to buy, fuel, and maintain a car or truck. If you can't? Well. Imagine: it's ninety-one degrees outside, you've got a twenty-gallon sack of rotting produce and beer cans, and there's a long walk between you and the nearest dumpster site. It must be awfully tempting to just toss it into the woods when nobody's looking, and by all appearances, this does not happen infrequently. The closest dumpster to me was maybe a little more than a quarter mile away, near the waterfront, at the other end of a neighborhood I absolutely would not pass through after dark. I usually just discreetly tossed my garbage into one of the private trash bins behind Betsy's Bar. (Sorry, Bess.)
There was one bin I occasionally saw on the east side, but never got a chance to photograph. On its side were spraypainted THIS NEVER HAPPENED in white letters.