It has only taken me, oh, 3+ months to write this post. World’s worst blogger. I blame the weather. This horrid, horrid winter with its weekly polar vortex and forced hibernation has made me a terrible combination of lazy and bored. I’ve become too lazy to do anything so we’re not bored and too bored to actually enjoy being lazy. Most of the time Gus and I just sit inside and have a pout off, which he usually wins. I can hold my own in the pouting department but lately Gus has come up with this spinning, arms flailing, flinging himself against the wall fit-throwing move that is hard to compete with. Luckily, we are headed to the beach next week for a much needed dose of vitamin D that is sure to get us out of our funk. In the meantime, it’s helping to look at these pictures of a trip we took with my sister’s family last Thanksgiving and remember what it was like to feel warm.
About 10 years ago, my sister, brother-in-law, and I started a tradition of taking a trip over Thanksgiving week. If you don’t mind missing all of the football and turkey, it’s actually a great time to travel outside of the US. It’s just before peak travel season in most warm places, so prices are low and beaches aren’t crowded; you only have to take off work for part of the week; just as your skin is starting to turn a pasty shade of white you get a fresh glow; and lastly, it’s just really nice to spend a relaxing week in the warm sun before heading back into the frenzy of the Christmas season and freezing temps. We’ve had some really good trips, but the last few years, we haven’t been able to go – one of us was too pregnant to travel or had a newborn or someone was getting married. Needless to say, we missed it, so this year we decided to bring the tradition back.
When picking our destination we only have two criteria: it needs to be tropical and it needs to be relatively easy to get to. We ignored the latter with this trip. We went to the incredibly beautiful island of Jost Van Dyke, one of the British Virgin Islands, which requires flying into St. Thomas or Tortola and then taking a water taxi or ferry to Jost. It wasn’t so bad for us – we even had a direct flight from St. Thomas on our way back to NYC. But my poor sister’s family had three legs, which were delayed, connections missed, a night spent in Puerto Rico, and 36 hours later, they arrived! They were just traveling with a 3 and 5 year old. NBD. But an hour after arriving on the island and seeing our amazing house my sister declared all the hassle worth it.
Jost Van Dyke is a tiny island, only 3 square miles, with around 200 people living there. There are no hotels, just a few guesthouses and various villas for rent. Most people visiting the island come in off their sailboat for the day. We rented a house on the east side of the island and it was absolutely perfect for us. The house was made up of three separate structures spread out with space between. On one side was a duplex with two bedrooms that my sister’s family stayed in. On the complete other side was a one bedroom suite where we were. Between them was a kitchen, living room, huge deck, a covered outside dining area, and small pool. And from every direction you looked was the most beautiful turquoise sea. The views were killer.
It was our first big trip with Gus and I was a little concerned our days of relaxing vacations were over. While it wasn’t quite the same as traveling childless, it was really great. The cousins hadn’t been together since Christmas, so it was fun to see them play, especially now that Gus is older. They were all so good and happy. Every day after Gus’s nap we’d head to one of the beach bars/restaurants that Jost is known for. These bars are seriously the best. They’re so laid back and have a feeling of authenticity that I haven’t experienced before in the Caribbean. The best part about them is that they’re all right on the beach, so we could be sitting at a table eating lunch or having a drink and the kids would be at our feet building sand castles. Not having to worry about restaurant meltdowns was huge. We could really relax and enjoy our time. We’d spend the afternoon swimming and then head back for Gus’s afternoon nap. We’d cook dinner at the house every night and then hang out on the porch drinking and talking after the kids went to sleep. We were all a little surprised by how much we enjoyed our routine.
Below are pictures of the Soggy Dollar Bar, one of the bars we frequented, and where the local drink, the Painkiller, was created. It’s a mixture of rum, pineapple juice, orange juice, coconut cream and a little nutmeg sprinkled on top. It’s so good. The bar is located on White Bay, one of the prettiest beaches I’ve ever seen. There is no dock, so people swim in from their boats, money presumably wet in their pocket, which is where the bar gets its name.
Our favorite bar was Ivan’s Stress Free. It’s located on White Bay, down the way from the Soggy Dollar, with the most perfectly calm water. I mean, seriously, look below, it’s like a pool. Gus would crawl straight into the water with absolutely no fear. He loved it. Avoid the nachos, but otherwise, this place is perfect.
I recently read an article discussing the importance of siblings. Its point was that your parents eventually die and your spouse and children come in later in life. Your siblings are your true lifelong partner. This Thanksgiving (and every day) I’m so thankful that my sister is my lifelong partner, for many reasons, not the least of which is her preference of beaches and rum to turkey and pumpkin pie.