So many cruisers and seasoned Caribbean travelers pooh-pooh St. Thomas because they think it’s noisy and dirty and overrun by cruises ship tourists. I love it. We’re here late enough in the season that there aren’t many cruise ships; in fact there hasn’t been one here since Tuesday. I’m enjoying the island because Jack spent some time here in his 20s playing in a band and he’s constantly on the lookout for anything resembling the venues he worked 40 years ago. And I’m enjoying it because this was the meeting place of two families and a sea captain who became my ancestors. As I walk around the town I imagine life here in 1815 or so, and wonder how different life would be had my family stayed here.
Tuesday we took a long and choppy dinghy ride to the other side of the harbor to the AT&T store where we got a SIM card for Jack’s phone. Now we can make calls and send texts while we’re here. After that we dinghied back to town and in a light cooling rain walked up the hill to the “99 Steps.”
We’ve done our share of Step Treks all over Pittsburgh and particularly on the South Side Slopes where Drew and Ericka live so this felt like home. The steps lead up to Blackbeard’s Castle which is not a castle at all but rather a lookout tower built by the Danes in 1679.
The grounds are beautiful and we loved the pirate statues and the view of the harbor.
After I rescued Jack from the clutches of the pirate we visited the Camille Pissaro gallery in the Bank Hus where we saw amazing historical photos of life in St. Thomas that helped me imagine what the place was like when my ancestors lived here. A guide walked us through the various exhibits and when we were ready to move on another docent ran through more places she thought we’d be interested in and gave us some lunch suggestions, too.
We came back down the hill and found our way to Gladys’ Cafe where I had a vegetarian sampler of all the delicious Caribbean side dishes. It’s the best meal I’ve had in a restaurant since our Thai dinner with Drew and Ericka in Fort Lauderdale. Now I’m on a mission to learn how to cook some of these local foods.