perfect days at hull bay

on the north side of st thomas, there's a quiet little stretch of beach that all the locals go to. it's just about as beautiful as magens bay, but on a much smaller scale. my best girls and i spent our down days stretched out in the sand with cheap beer, watching surfers ride the winter swells, paddle-boarding out to the point, and enjoying each other's presence until well past sunset.

these are the days i'll look back on and melt into the memories of. love and beauty and absolute bliss.

from snow to island

after a week in ohio, callie and i went back to the virgin islands---she, to resume her new life there, and me, to visit with the rest of my very best friends and do some work for a culture website.

i was asked to conduct interviews and take pictures around the virgin islands for a culture website that contacted me at the beginning of the year. although it was a temporary gig, it was a surreal and momentous thing for me to essentially make money from travel for the first time---a small, but reassuring step toward a lifestyle i've been hoping to manifest for a long, long time.

at the very least, it was an excuse to fly back to my little rock of paradise and spend invaluable time with my favorite people in the world! ;)

amber took me surfing at hull bay to test out my new skill. i may have stood up on my first wave in costa rica, but i hardly made it past the arduous paddle out to the waves in st thomas (my sailing muscles are looong gone). but this beautiful best friend of mine has turned into a proper island girl since i moved away last spring---surfing and free-diving and spear-fishing like a champ on her every day off. i am so proud of her.

i also got to visit with two-thirds of my old castaway crew! my captain and first mate are like family to me, so spending time with them was so comforting and fulfilling. 

kim was the first friend amber and i made on the island, and we have been so grateful for her ever since. she is such a sweetie that she attracts animals everywhere she goes. like this pack of strange fluffy creatures that found her at hull bay.

so many precious people to me, all in such a beautiful place. i am one lucky girl.

i'm in the islands again, and i couldn't be any damn happier.

I've been slacking on posting about Costa Rica, because so many weird things have been happening in my world lately. After Costa, I spent a week with friends in Ohio, a week at Christine's beach house in Daytona, and another week around West Palm. I had a plethora of awkward, embarrassing, perplexing moments in each of those places, all of which will surely make great stories one day.

But for now, I'm letting it all go. Because I'm exactly where I want to be.

I flew to St Thomas yesterday, to do some work and spend time with my 5 best friends... 5 of my favorite people in the world all happen to live on this tiny island. I realized this for the first time in the air, and I wondered, whyyy did I move away again?

I was so tired of St Thomas this time last year. I was aching to break free and explore. But since then, I've done a lot of growing and traveling and experiencing. I probably wouldn't be as close to these 5 people if I hadn't left. In fact, one never would have met me or moved here, and another might have stayed in Paris... haha!

Long story short, after a few challenging, yet enlightening weeks on the move, I was SO excited for the comfort of the Caribbean that I wore my bathing suit under my clothes on the plane, met my friends at my favorite pool bar with my heavy bags in tow, and then walked straight into the ocean to cleanse myself. This sunset greeted me and reminded me that every little thing happens for a reason. People and perceptions change. The challenges lead to progress. Every interaction is significant. Embrace it all. Some situations might be impossible to understand in the moment, but it'll all make sense eventually. 

maybe the best thing about living on a boat for 10 days

waking up and leaping off the top deck!

i'd like to start every morning of forever like this, please!

scenes from st thomas

snapshots of scenes from st thomas

this is the landing strip for the only airport in the upper US virgin islands. on the day that callie and i went to that farmer's market, we stopped here and watched a couple planes land. it's scary how close they get to the water!

there are a couple spots around st thomas where the surf picks up during the winter months. a friend took callie and i to hull bay to check out the waves. callie went out and gave it a shot, but i opted to stay on the beach with a book because the break was a little to close to shallow reef for my liking. so i still have yet to learn how to surf... crossing my fingers it'll happen in costa rica or hawaii this spring! :)

this is a heavenly dirty chai latte from my favorite cafe on the island, called barefoot buddha. and that's my little travel wallet, which i lost near a bus stop in havensight. i went back and looked for it, but no dice. but over a week later, i was sailing around the british islands with friends, and amber called to tell me someone turned my wallet into the yacht haven security office! of course, it was missing the $30 i had in it (finder's fee?), but at least i got my peace back :)

one monday, kim and i took the ferry over to water island for movie night. a couple of silly boys met up with us and made us laugh through the entire thing. and to be honest, i was way to enamored by the beauty of our surroundings to pay attention to the film anyway. they played cartoons as the sun set---perhaps cause they knew the REAL show was behind the screen ;) but when the sun was gone and the movie came on, i could not take my eyes off the STARS. and then the cute faces on the rows of people watching that projection hanging from two palm trees. and then a cute sailor boy with blonde dreads sat next to me and we talked about sailing and traveling and thoooose STARS :) nature is my favorite form of entertainment.

my sweet kim works at a pool bar at a resort on the south side of the island. i love going down to visit her, and bringing along a few of my best friends. because, besides the excellent service, it's the perfect spot to relax and have real, genuine, uninterrupted conversation. it's quaint and quiet and only a stone's throw from the beach. i'll take that over a rowdy sport's bar almost any day ;)

words around st thomas

1. the sweetest road sign i have ever everrr seen. // 2. the only things that matter in life. // 3. the way of the islands, mon. // 4. rasta uprising, coming to a farmer's market near you. // 5. "there's no R in FOR," says the etched rasta man with a questionable in his mouth. // 6. you can't see it in this photo, but in the white space between "DO NOT" and "ENTER", it says, "unless you have weed."

island life

living in the caribbean takes some adjusting (or RE-adjusting, in my case) to the laid-back, slow-paced, dream-like, wild and simplistic way of life. here are a few quirks that are somewhat unique to island life, in case you're thinking of taking the plunge! ;)

SUN AND SAND // get used to being barefoot more often than not. get used to sand inhabiting every crevice of your belongings. and, unless you're as stubborn as i am, try and get used to sunscreen. the islands are at latitude 18, so the sun is hot and there's a LOT of it. i personally just turned 5 shades darker after two days of monohull training. 

RAIN(BOWS) // get used to the treat of daily rainbows and the mighty winter winds that accompany them---and not just any ordinary rainbow, but the kind that is so bright and vibrant that you see each distinct color clearly, and there is always a fainter "double rainbow" by its side---and not just any ordinary winds, either, but the kind that slam through like a moving wall, bring sideways rain and gruesome clouds, but are gone and done within a matter of minutes.

SAILING // a huge portion of the community either works or lives on a boat of some sort. boaties, get used to seeing sea turtles, pirate ships, and mega yachts in your peripherals on a daily basis. and get your sea legs, quick, to save your limbs from constant bruising (i recently re-learned how to walk around a sailboat speeding over gnarly swells, while carrying arm-loads of fins and rum punch drinks... in other words, i'm bruised from head to toe). once you get your footing, it is an unbelievably rewarding way to experience the islands.

CRITTERS // get used to vermin of all sorts, creepy-crawling around the island---and by vermin i mean spiders, mosquitos, tics, sand fleas, whatever these things are ^, mice, rats, and overzealous yachtie men at the bar. also, cross your fingers you can learn to embrace the sound of roosters screeching at all hours of the day and night ;)

DRINKING // it's legal to have an open container of alcohol absolutely ANYWHERE on the island, including a moving vehicle (it's only really punishable if an accident ensues). so people on the island tend to imbibe pretty often. because after a long day of working or playing in/on/near the water, there's nothing more refreshing than an ice cold beer!

ISLAND TIME // it's a real thing! it seems the closer you get to the equator, the more time just seems to slow down and blur together. so get used to "hurry up and wait". if you don't have a car, get used to waiting for safaris or taxis or rides to pick you up. if you do have a car, get used to traffic (and driving on the left!). so always have good company, music or a book on hand, to make the inevitable waiting game more enjoyable :)

COMMUNITY // st thomas is only about 30 square miles, so the community of people who populate the areas which you'll surely circulate is fairly small. after a month of living on island, you'll know someone almost everywhere you go, including waterways and neighboring islands! it's such a warm, comforting feeling---running into friends at every beach/bar/restaurant, greeting coworkers in the water (mid-snorkel tour), and waving hello to people on passing boats. 

BEAUTY // if you're lucky, you'll never EVER get used to how stunning these bright blue views are! because, well, they deserve the respect of open-mouthed astonishment at each and every turn. ;)