la Ketch

my life story

Tuesday, March 07, 2006


I'm back! I'm back! Jason Grote was right. It was awesome. I have been dreaming about going to St. John for over 3 years now and I began to fear that it wouldn't be all that I hoped but guess what?! It was just as I had hoped. There were mishaps. I will tell you about the mishaps. There were a few rain showers. There were less frozen/blended drinks available than I would have preferred but PEOPLE THE PLACE IS CRAZY!!! Those pictures you've seen are REAL. I know some of you have probably been there before, so I don't mean to condescend but maybe some of you haven't and to you I say - those pictures are real. The water really is that crazy turquoise and the sand is really fine and a white and soft and the water really is warm. It's expensive. God it's too expensive. We spent way more than we should have but it was really fun.

The place we stayed in is called an "Eco-Camp" and all of the cabins are built into the side of the mountain with recycled materials. It's all covered in screen and tarp and you really are basically sleeping outside. There were huge freaking iguanas crawling all over the trees above our cabin. You could hear them crawling around and at one point I saw six of them. Ther are like 3 feet long from nose to tail and they are harmless, gentle, leaf eating creatures but they look scary like dinosaurs. Also, little baby lizards all over the cabin, INSIDE. I got freaked out at first until I learned that A. they are considered good luck and B. they eat bugs. After that, I liked to see them.
The cabin has a little coleman propane stove and a cooler and some basic pots, pans and utensils. We cooked our breakfast of bacon and eggs every morning and we even made pancakes. The food is super expensive there because it's on an island and they have this thing at the camp called the "take it or leave it" shelf. When people are leaving they leave stuff they didn't eat there and you can take it! From that shelf we got a whole thing of peanut butter, a whole thing of jelly, some salt and pepper and a package of spaghetti. We didn't eat the spaghetti and so we put it back on the shelf when we left. Then we joked that the spaghetti had been in "take it or leave it" circulation since 1987. Then we started personifying the food and giving each product a voice. The spaghetti had a real up beat attitude but the soy sauce was depressed.

I didn't get a tan or a sunburn because I wore 45 all over. Dup got a splotchy sun burn which he always gets because he misses spots. He now has crazy red patches on his chest and leg that look like birthmarks. I didn't get bitten by mosquitoes or sand fleas because I was constantly covering myself in bug spray. I did however GET SPEARED BY A SEA URCHIN!!

There was one big meltdown on the trip (aka fight) which I will tell you about now because, of course it makes the best story and all of the wonderful stuff is totally boring and will only make you jealous and hate me.

It was our last full day there and I decided that we should go to a snorkeling spot that many people were going to that is supposed to have amazing fish. It's about a 45 min hike from our campground, then you snorkel out about 200 yards to a "Cay" which is like a baby island, and snorkel around that. It has a lot of coral and therefore a lot of fish and you are supposed to be able to see sea turtles and rays and crazy colored fish. Dup had never been snorkeling before. I hadn't been in a while but I grew up having a boat and my parents were scuba divers and I had even been certified to scuba dive when I was younger and I have snorkeled a fair share. Also, I grew up swimming in the ocean and I feel comfortable out there even when the water is a bit choppy. Dup - not so much. He can swim, just not super strong in the ocean and I can be less than patient with him when I am better at something than he is. I can actually be quite mean.

We got the snorkel gear the day before and practiced around our small beach. He did okay but kept getting water in his mask and swallowing salt water and having to stop to take breaks. I'd be like, "WHAT ARE YOU DOING? WE'VE GOT TO SWIM HERE!" I was acting like someone was timing us or we were on an army mission to see pretty fish or something. Poor Dup was trying really hard not to be a wimp but it was overwhelming to him and when he gets overwhelmed he internalizes and shuts down.

That last day we hiked to where the Cay is and the hike was super nice. It was a beautiful day, 80 degrees, sunny with some white puffy clouds and a nice breeze. We were in a good mood. At one point dup pulled a cell phone out of his pocket and checked the time. I was like, "Why did you bring your cell phone?" and he was like, "I didn't bring my cell phone. I brought your cell phone." So he had my cell phone in the pocket of his swim trunks and all I could think to myself was, "What a fucking moron. He is for sure going to jump in that water with my cell phone still in his pocket." But I said nothing because I am just as much of a moron as he is.

We got there, put on our gear and we were off! It was an easy swim across. Dup was doing well but he didn't keep up with me. He kept going off in a different direction and it was pissing me off. I was like, "TRY TO FOLLOW ME." I was speaking to him like an army sergeant complete with condescending tone. We started to see some cool fish and I noticed that the reef was really laid out in front of us. I wanted to get around and see something really cool but I noticed Dup was way back behind me just sort of floating and looking at some fish - which is what one is supposed to do when one is snorkeling but I was racing against the invisible, non-existent clock. I had to go back and get him. That time I shouted, "YOU HAVE GOT TO START KICKING HERE OR WE'RE NEVER GOING TO GET AROUND THIS THING." Again, like we were doing a "Survivor" task or something. Dup really took this command to heart and started kicking up a storm, completely ruining my visibility with all of his thrashing. He took off ahead of me and I followed him grumbling about how I couldn't see anything because of his kicking. He couldn't win.

Then, gleaming a few feet ahead of me, I saw something shimmering on the ocean floor, reflecting the light of the sun like a piece of forgotten treasure. I knew immediately what it was, a cell phone and not just any cell phone, my fucking cell phone. "That moron bastard. I'm going to kill him." I held my breath, kicked down to the bottom and grabbed it with my right hand. I was so furious that I was thrashing with my eyes closed and as I swam up, I rammed my hand into the reef and felt something cut into it. When I got up with the cell phone in my hand I could see that my finger was bleeding and that I had these purple spikes sticking out of it. I immediately paniced and started hyperventilating. I was convinced that I had been stuck by something poisonous. I recognized the spikes as being from a sea urchin. All I could remember about sea urchins was that "Simpsons" episode where Homer goes to the sushi restaurant and eats the sea urchin that is prepared in the wrong way and because they are highly poisonous he has only 3 hours to live. My finger hurt really bad and it was really bleeding. Of course, all I could think then was, "BLOOD ATTRACTS SHARKS." And that was it, I was officially freaking out.

Dup was way ahead by this time, oblivious that I had fallen behind. I started swimming ferociously toward him. If I was going to die I would be taking him with me. I was screaming his name but he couldn't hear me over the sound of his own kicking and his breath in the snorkel. Finally he looked up. I raised my hand up in the air clutching my cell phone like Marion raises her hand up holding the amulet in "Indiana Jones". But instead of saying, "You got yourself a God Damned partner!" like she says to Indy, I said to Dup, "YOU DROPPED MY CELL PHONE YOU MOTHERFUCKER!!!"
He just bobbed there kicking in place. I swam up to him. "AND I'VE BEEN STUCK IN THE FINGER BY A SEA URCHIN WHICH I THINK IS POISONOUS." He told me to swim to the rocks but I refused. I wanted to swim to the sand. We did. I got out and threw a fit, swearing at him in every language I know. I only speak English. He felt horrible. My finger was beginning to swell up. It hurt. We swam back to where are stuff was. We got changed. We marched back along the shore in silence.

At one point we ran into our neighbors from the cabin next to us. We had told them we were going snorkeling out there that day and they said they were headed out too and maybe they'd see us. They were like, "Hey there! How was it?" Of course I immediately snaped out of my "seething monster, must get to an emergency room" mood and into my "I'm handling this with a sense of humor it's probably nothing but I should get it checked out" mood. Dup thought he was out of the forrest. I was laughing with them, showing them my finger (which they agreed looked gross and should be checked out because it was completely swelling and purple). As soon as we leave them though, I was right back in it. We walked for a while and then Dup was like, "Are you still pissed?" and I was like, "Yeah I'm fucking pissed! What do you fucking think!" and he was like, "I have to go to the bathroom." and I was like, "FINE I'LL SEE YOU BACK AT CAMP!" He stayed with me. Smart guy. +-But then he did something equally not so smart by saying this to me, "I don't know why you have to be so pissed off. There's a fifty-fifty chance you're fine so why don't you just look on the bright side and hope you're going to be ok."

I screamed the following back at him so loudly that I'm sure everyone on the island could hear me, "THERE'S A FIFTY PERCENT CHANCE THAT I'M NOT GOING TO DIE SO I SHOULD JUST CHEER UP AND HOPE FOR THE BEST?!

The rest of the walk was silent.
When we got back to camp I walked up to the main desk with panic in my eyes. They could see me coming. I was pretty sure I wasn't going to die at this point but I was also fairly convinced that we would be spending the rest of our vacation in some crappy emergency room.

I told the woman what happened. She said it happens all the time to snorkelers in the area. There's nothing I can do. The spikes are made of calcium and they will eventually dissolve in my finger. They are completely harmless. Don't pick at them with tweezers. Just let them be. Some people have said that soaking it in vinegar helps. They sell vinegar in the store.

Then Dup and I kissed and we both said we were sorry.
I felt so bad for yelling at my sweet darling who was obviously so releived that I was ok. Then we had a great rest our time there.

The end.

Vacation OVER!


At 1:32 AM, Blogger P'tit Boo said...

Oh my god that was tragically hilarious !!!

And you know what Hil?
You know what does it for the urchin spikes ?
Pee !

Yes it's true. If you pee on them it helps.
I can only imagine if Dup had none that fact and told it to you right then....

At 11:58 AM, Blogger Pennyjuana said...

you are soooooooooooo mean. I hope you get control of your temper before you have kids because you will be ranting and raving at them like that too.
can you say ANGER MANAGMENT.

At 12:19 PM, Blogger la Ketch said...

my sister ladies and gentleman. she's entitled... although PJ, i do hope that i have more patience with my children (if i'm so blessed to have them) than i do with my husband because they are tiny people and they have an excuse for doing stupid shit. but you're right because i have a horrible, mean temper and i need to manage it, especially for my kids (if i am so blessed to have them). i wonder where i got this temper. mom? any ideas? (heh heh).

thanks dorthy! i'm going to go pee on my hands right now. just to be sure i got it all...

At 2:33 PM, Blogger HappyBabee said...

I think it is a sign of true love when the person you are with allows you to have those emotions and doesn't punish you for expressing them. GO DUP!

At 3:15 PM, Blogger ketchummccabe said...

Oh my god, that was so funny, and tragic in a Deronesque sort of way. They usually warn tourists of certain dangers in the water when they rent the snorkeling gear. Go ahead and blame me for your temper, but I never spoke to your dad that way! Although I do remember similar silent treks.
Send pictures

At 3:23 PM, Blogger A Large Slice of Cake said...

My girlfriend and I also encountered some testiness (mostly mine) while snorkeling. I was the wimp (I didn't want to swim 500 meters away from shore, okay? That's far), and I got mad. I guess paradise islands don't always bring out the best in us. I'm glad you had a great trip, though!

At 10:33 PM, Blogger tina said...

That story just increases my love for both of you. Please.

At 3:05 AM, Blogger pete. said...

Great, now you've given Blade even more reason to avoid the ocean... She was afraid of "creatures" as it was. No wild paradise for us. Alas.

At 1:13 AM, Blogger Jason Grote said...

How did I miss this when it was posted a whole month ago? I've been busy.

I was terrified of sea urchins when I swam last January but didn't encounter any. It sounds like you guys had a hipper vacation than us - we just went with a deal from Travelocity or Experida (I don't even remember at thiss point). Though St. Croix is sort of a less civilized stepchild among the US Virgin Islands, while Thomas and John are the handsome, athletic ones with the good grades.


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