Frogs, Iguanas and How I Got into a Fight on My Vacation

One of the things I love most about St. Thomas is all the iguanas and tree frogs. I don’t know if it’s because St. Thomas is a bigger island among all the Antilles or if it’s because of conservation efforts, but I see more iguanas there than any island. And the tree frogs – the night is filled with their song, a high-pitched unearthly cheeping that’s just extraordinary.

I never get to see the frogs themselves, but the iguanas hang out. There are signs everywhere saying that they’re protected, that they like red and thus might be attracted to your crimson pedicure. It’s such a kick to see them trotting by, grazing in the lawns, sunning themselves by the pool. It’s part of being in a totally different landscape.

The young ones are bright green.

Then they get more dramatically spiny – and huge – as they get older.

Sorry that’s not a better pic – they can hustle when they feel like it.

So, Thursday of the trip we declared hang by the pool/beach day. We went over to the fancy hotel side and managed to score a great spot, primarily because it was a little rainy when the day started out. (In this pic you can also see my fabulous new anklet I got in St. John, for those interested in such frivolous things.)

We hung out all day and the afternoon cleared beautifully. Which meant the pool area became more and more crowded. But, with our backs to it, the party crowd were just kind of background noise. One of the huge iguanas was prowling around, doing her thing.

At some point, a group of twenty-somethings arrived. They were from New York City and were in St. Thomas for a wedding. They’d tuned up considerably on the flight and were continuing the party at the pool. I knew this from their loud conversation. But it was all good – that’s what the Caribbean festivities are all about. I could have relocated to a quiet beach if I wanted to.

So, the iguana goes by their chairs – and I knew this because the girls starting squealing like it’s a cockroach. One of the guys starts talking about how, if you pull off their tails, they’ll grow back. I’m trying to ignore this. At this point, I’m sitting sideways on my lounge chair, on my cell phone, waiting for the concierge to find a phone number for me so I can make a dinner reservation. Now I can see this group from my right side. Tail-pulling guy is standing up, drink in hand, and starts running up to the iguana with big stamping steps, yelling at it.

I can’t take it.

I know. I know. I try.

But I said something.

“They’re protected, you know – don’t FUCK WITH IT!”

I escalated in volume towards the end because I could tell he wasn’t hearing me.

But, boy howdy, he heard me by the end.

He starts yelling at me. “I’m just trying to protect my stuff!”

“It’s not doing anything to you. Go sit down and relax,” I say.

“You relax!”

“I’m not the one acting twelve, stomping and shouting at the wildlife.”

That last is David’s favorite part. Bless him, he loves me, even when I’m publicly obnoxious. I kind of felt bad for making a public scene with Stepdad Dave there, but alas. It was done.

The guy said more, but fortuitously, the concierge comes on the line at this point and we have the reservation conversation. By the time I’m done, Drunk Boy has retreated to the other side of their chairs and is loudly talking about just how protected iguanas should be and how many were on the island – in the WHOLE WORLD – anyway. And how, if you pull their tails off, they’ll grow back. I can’t tell you how many times he repeated that gem.

But he stayed away from me.

We packed up shortly afterwards to go snorkel. On my way out, I stop to talk to the Pool Lady, who’s folding towels and keeping a keen eye on things. She’s a very tall, robust black island woman. I tell her about the group and that she might watch that they leave the iguana alone. She asks me to point them out. I tell her I yelled at them, but I think she could be meaner than I am. She gets this gleam in her eye and says oh, yes.

It turns out, after we left, more happened. My mom and Stepdad Dave stayed longer. They didn’t know I’d tattled to the Pool Lady. To their surprise, right after we leave, Pool Lady confronts the group with Big Security Guy next to her. Apparently the boys took off immediately, leaving the girls to take the brunt, with tears and protestations that they didn’t mean to do anything wrong.

I just love it when people are meaner than I am.

Hopefully, they enjoyed their mini-break and the wedding. And maybe took to the time to appreciate that they’d entered another world, full of tropical beauty and animals that should be left alone to do their thing, just for the joy of it.

Hurricane Kathy

So, have I ever mentioned how my mom is Hurricane Kathy?

(Right now, she’s reading this post and making a mean face. Stop that – it’ll freeze that way.)

I know I’ve mentioned the Jeffe Sunshine Magic (TM) at least once before. David is terribly amused by it. Wherever we go, people will comment that the the weather was bad before we arrived, then miraculously cleared. It’s quite reliable. The only person who seems to be able to neutralize the JSM is my mother.

Before we went to St. Thomas, she asked me about the forecast for rain everyday. I told her it’s always like that. The rain showers come and go, brief and warm, not a big deal at all.

Yes, I had forgotten about her powers.

Remember a few years back when they had the torrential rains in Kuaui? So bad that part of the highway washed out and some homes were swept into the ocean? My mother was on the island.

The first few days were lovely. We spent a lot of Monday doing things like filling Stepdad Dave’s prescriptions, buying groceries and booze, replacing the watch he dramatically smashed during his fall. (The face crystal was shattered into tiny pieces and the metal band torn apart – grim indicator of just how hard he hit.) We put in some beach time that afternoon and crashed fairly early – still recovering from our emotional hangover.

On Tuesday, we experimented with taking Stepdad Dave out and about. We went to a fun beach place, Iggie’s, for lunch, and did some touring about. Wednesday, he had a doc appointment. Afterwards, we took the ferry to St. John. And boy, did it pour. On both islands.

After this point, you may notice that most of the pics have dramatic clouds in the background. A shopkeeper in St. John told me it was the most rain they’d had all winter and they were grateful.

We should totally rent her out as a rainmaker.

But it was still beautiful.


First Day Disaster

Snapped this pic with my phone on the way to St. Thomas. Sunsets from above can be great, too.

We landed after dark and stayed at a semi-skeezy hotel near the airport, because we couldn’t check into the timeshare until the next afternoon. In the morning, we ate breakfast at a restaurant on the beach, which was lovely and warm. Then we loaded up the car and headed to the timeshare hotel. Stepdad Dave asked for early check-in, but that still wouldn’t be until about 1 or 2. But the hotel stored our bags and we got to walk around and see the premises.

After this pic, my mom took my phone and tried to take one with me in it. Somehow she hit the button to make it into a video. I think it’s so funny to watch – turn on your speakers, too. Sorry it’s so huge. If anyone knows how I can reduce the size (decrease resolution maybe?) with Windows Live Movie Maker, let me know!


So, then we traipse off to find a restaurant David and I ate at when we were on St. Thomas years ago. It was part of this hotel of individual condos, with these great walking trails that switch back and forth down the hillside to the beach. The steps are natural rock and my mom tells Stepdad Dave to watch his footing. He complains that my mother thinks he’s clumsy, but that was one trip to Mexico and it was because his glasses were bad.

We find the place. Have a fun lunch with beers. (I’ve been asked to add that Stepdad Dave wants it known that HE did not have anything to drink – only Diet Coke.)

All is well.

See the happy fun?


So, Stepdad Dave gets a call from the hotel that our rooms are ready. He’s all excited to go check in. We head up the first hill and we’re all kind of dragging rear. I jokingly say that the climb back up is the price we pay for all the beers. We cross the little asphalt road and Stepdad Dave is huffing a bit. He tells us to go ahead. My mom is perkily climbing away. David, behind me, asks Stepdad Dave if he needs to rest. Or, I say, over my shoulder, we can bring the car down to pick him up.

We hear a funny noise.

I look back and Stepdad Dave has fallen off the path, rolled down the hill and is clinging to a root at the edge of the drop-off. David is already running down the path to get to him from below. I’m wondering how the hell we’ll do this, that maybe David can push from below and I can get to him from above.

Then the root breaks and he drops over the side. Of this.

That’s looking up from below.

My mom didn’t see any of this, but she’s coming back down. I yell at her to go slow (very helpful of me, I know) and I’m running down, thinking he could be dead, with his skull cracked open. I’m wondering mainly how I’ll explain to stepsister Hope that I got her dad killed on St. Thomas.

Fortunately, he didn’t die. He came down that embankment, rolled over the retaining wall and landed on the road. The ambulance came to get him. We spent most of the rest of the day at the hospital. The doctor on duty was fortuitously a guy who’d trained in the Los Angeles Trauma Center. After multiple x-rays, it turns out that Stepdad Dave broke his shoulder blade. An amazingly minor injury, all things considered.

No surgery. No vacation cut short. Just an immobilization sling and pain meds.

Here he is a few days later, looking jaunty with the carved walking stick we found for him. We’re hoping he’ll get in the habit of using it, just to stabilize himself. He didn’t get to snorkel, alas, but we had a great time anyway.