Wednesday, March 31, 2010

VOAL Day #5

Good morning and welcome to St. Thomas! This is the sight that greeted us on this lovely morning! The colors are amazing! We hopped off the ship and went into the downtown area to shop. We had 2 objectives. Buy snorkeling gear and buy souvenirs for the folks at home. We split up and sent a bunch of people off to hunt for the gear and a few of us headed to Vendor's Plaza.Vendor's Plaza is this huge collection of tents by their Emancipation Park where locals set up shop and sell touristy stuff to us tourists. The gear hunters walked all over the place to find a place that had scuba gear. I hear that they weren't the happiest of people but they all found gear eventually and in the meantime I had a GREAT time at the Plaza. This was the place chosen by Tricia where I was to where my beautiful bonnet. Let me tell you a few things about this hat.
  • It was HEAVY and HOT. fruit, flowers, ribbon, pine cones, nest, bird, butterfly= 20 lbs ok more like 2 but it was heavy.
  • It was PAINFUL. Those strawberries and grapes bruised my eyes cuz they kept swinging into them.
  • It was a great CONVERSATION PIECE. I have never talked to so many strangers in my life. Everyone had a comment about my lovely hat. I kept telling them that my sister made it for me and yes isn't she so talented and that she is my special sister and I didn't want to hurt her feelings. It was a great ice breaker. If any of you are going to a party and need a little help call me. I saved the hat.
  • It could have been PROFITABLE. I can not tell you how many vendors offered to but this hat from me! One lady told me it would match her kitchen perfectly. I should have sold it but I didn't think that was part of the deal with the Christmas gift exchange!
We all met up and headed back to the dock to meet our tour. Today we are going to the Inner Mangrove Lagoon where we will kayak, hike and snorkel. Here is one of our guides, Frank, I think. He was our main guide. The girl with him is our tour photographer.
You could tell we were back in America for many reasons. First of all they sat us down and gave us lots of instructions.

There were also working restrooms and lockers for our stuff. Oh and the guides spoke English. Mom spoke French.One huge way we knew that we were back in America was that they had a sign a legal document saying we wouldn't come after them if we were eaten by a shark. Actually I had no idea what it said because 11 of us just signed our names but 1 of us actually sat down with the clipboard and read every word of the document. Guess who? I will give you a hint. He is in LAW school. Even Frank, our guide, stopped in the middle of his lecture and asked Mitch, oops I mean asked this person, if he was REALLY reading the release. He had never had anyone do that before.
Haley took this cute picture of us. Mitch was off texting one of his professors to ask him if he should actually sign this release or change some of the wording first. Then he was asking for a copy for his records. Next we put on our life jackets (another sign we were back in legal land!)
"I swam in a waterfall dude I can handle it!"
"Sorry Ma'am you have to wear it! You did sign the waiver!"
We were carefully loaded into our kayaks and started on our way.Here we come around the corner!
Brandon and Tricia!
Dave and I. I look like I am wearing a white t-shirt. I am not. I did have sunscreen on though. I had to put some on. It was in the waiver.

Apparently there was a race and Sara won. With no help from her hubby because he was busy using his paddle as an air guitar.
They put Mom and Alli in a green kayak. We aren't sure why. Maybe it was explained in the waiver.
Frank gathered us all together for a little talk. He gave us a little enviro friendly pep talk that made me feel sightly guilty for swimming in a waterfall the day before. But I got over it. Americans and the environment. Did you know that you shouldn't wear flippers when snorkeling? It moves the water around too much. Well at least now I know what makes waves! We learned all about the mangrove lagoon and why it is so important to the environment. I remember something about fish and birds. I also remember that this is the best place to hang out in a hurricane. Noted. But it will take a while for me to get all the way down there. Then I would probably have to sign the hurricane risk waiver! We kept going. Apparently Jenn and Andrew won this race.

Mitch was a little too competitive and was punishing his wife for losing by splashing her!
Next we stopped for our hike. We walked up into this little tree filled island where they told us to watch our feet because the ground is literally covered with hermit crabs. We were told to pick one up and get ready to race them. What they didn't mention is that they really don't like to be picked up. They would pinch your hand! All you had to do was tap continually on the shell and they wouldn't dare come out and pinch you. Tricia didn't get the word on that and she got pinched hard and chucked her hermit crab across the island! She threatened to sue but Mitch reminded her about the waiver. Darn. We gathered around for the big race. Here is Sara cheering her hermit crab on. I think Haley's won. Tricia's didn't move. I think she killed it when she threw it. Don't tell Frank. We continued on our hike along the shore. We saw some great sights. Including this cool piece of coral. I love how it looks like some really difficult 3-D maze perched precariously on another maze.
We also saw a couple of windsurfers! They were awesome. Brandon explained how it worked so I am sure I would get tangled in the lines and drown. Wow imagine the release I would have to sign if I did that!
They had us pose for a picture in this cool pool. The photographer, Liz, was really set on getting the perfect shot.
She kept fiddling with her camera and telling us just a second. Then she told us just one more.
Oh that is why we had to stay there for so long! We got drenched! It is a blowhole! So funny!Here is a closeup of our faces. Look at Mom, Haley and Alli! I love a good reaction. I live with 5 boys. Apparently nothing surprises me! We continued on our walk. Andrew waded out to a rock and did a great Ariel impression. But one of our guides saw him and made him come in before he hurt himself. And before we could get a picture. Safety. Apparently it is the American way. I know what we are doing here but it looks like we are either on a Blind Hike, or playing Train, or some water rendition of the bunny hop. Why are we all holding on to each other? Because we are scared of falling off the little rocks we are stepping on. Because our other less bald guide, Scott, had shown us these. Sea Urchins. He showed us how they hide in the cracks of rocks and if you step on them it is painful! What??!! I have walked many oceans (ok 1 ocean) and never knew about this
painful creature. This is a dangerous hike through the water! I really should have read that waiver! Where's Mitch?
Sea urchins are fun to hold if you keep your hand flat. This makes B. Rad very happy! He probably feels very brave.
Tricia looks like she is bringing it up to do a little cheek to cheek photo! After posing for pictures and carefully exploring we headed back to the kayaks and headed to our snorkel experience. I found out why Dave and I never won the races!

Here is the whole group getting ready to snorkel. This was my very first time snorkeling. I have to tell you that that first time I put my face in the water and inhaled I hyperventilated a bit. When I calmed down a bit I LOVED it!

After we snorkeled we headed back to the kayaks then came one of the best parts of the day! they gave us snickers and twix to snack on because they said chocolate is the best thing after inhaling a little salt water! A Twix has NEVER tasted so wonderful!
So we kayaked back, shuttled back to the ship and loaded our tired bodies onto the Pearl! We were so tired from our fun day that I thought we would all nap after we showered but when Dave and I headed up on deck we found a lot of our group already up there taking pictures and getting ready for the sunset. There are some cool old buildings that we saw as we headed back out to sea.Every sunset we saw was different and amazingly beautiful!
Here is my lovely sister Alli taking pictures of the sunset for us! We sat on the deck (after convincing the deckhands that we would put our own chairs away) and enjoyed watching the world go by. Until we got hungry. Then we went to dinner!
After dinner we headed to the Bliss Lounge for some Karaoke. Alli sang and did a great job. She didn't dance with her song.

I sang Dancing Queen! Haley put that song in with my name as the singer! Haley is not my friend. I did not dance either.
But I didn't have to. Sara and Tricia were my back up dancers! Jenn sang another rap song! Boy that girl can dance.
Then came Tricia. She sang, shouted, skipped and danced to Yellow Submarine. She had all the actions down and tried to get some audience participation by screaming at the old ladies "I can't hear you!" I think it did scare some of them into mouthing the words!
Next up was B. Rad trying to redeem himself from his previous train wreck. He opted for If I Had a Million Dollars. Which is a duet. He asked Mitch to help him out. Mitch does not know this song. It was almost a repeat train wreck but then...
Dave started crooning from the sidelines. He knows this song and he backed B. Rad up nicely. In fact when he go to the line "Haven't you always wanted a monkey?" He actually earned a smile from our audience. Here we are, cheering on the singers and singing along in most cases. So I have to tell you that Patrick, the DJ at the Bliss, saw B. Rad coming into the lounge and said to him "Where were you guys last night? It was so boring!"
Who knew we would be a hit at the bar? So funny.
We eventually started dancing along to the karaoke singers.
B. Rad and Sara sang along with the song!
Pretty soon there was a nice crowd out on the dance floor!
Some guy even asked Mom to dance. I love Mitch's face in the picture. A little overprotective maybe?
You go Mom!

Another delightful day!