Friday, August 20, 2004

After a week, the days in St. Croix are starting to blur together.

All the booze may have something to do with that. One day we went bar-hopping (rum-running?), from the hotel cantina to several in Christiansted. By the time we went on the Cruzan Rum factory tour, I was already pretty buzzed. There was something about fermentation and yeast and sugar -- flashbacks to high school chemistry. I could pay about as much attention as I did back in Mr. Rosenbaum’s class. Though this time I didn’t ask, “When do we get to see something explode -- ka-boom?!”, even after all the free samples of flavored drinks (vanilla rum -- yum).

Oh yeah, we wound up buying some gifts, a heavy care package that I’ll have to carry home: “Fifteen pounds on Mike’s shoulders rest / Yo ho ho, six bottles of rum!”

Was that the same day I had the delicious lobster at the Galleon restaurant? Or when I bought a friend a souvenir at the Purple Parrot Store? Did shots at the pool hall? Did shots at the pool bar?

How about when I saw an iguana? I was lying on the beach, looked up and saw on the grass, in the shade of the palm trees -- is that a dog? If so, that is one ugly mutt. I got closer and couldn’t believe it; snapped a couple of photos before it trudged away. I just hope they come out to confirm my vision. Otherwise, I may be having rum-soaked Animal Planet hallucinations. Most people see pink elephants; I see green iguanas.

One night we drove through the rainforest to the other side of the island, watched the sunset at a beach bar with a reggae band. There are 50,000 people on St. Croix, yet I swear they all know each other. Some guy saw my Yankees hat and started talking about the Bombers, but others were giving me the “cut-it-out” signal. As I broke away, they warned me that that dude was crazy -- everybody knows that. Throughout the evening, our friends heartily greeted the rasta men, the local ladies, kids building sandcastles and some grizzled old sailor regulars.

I was sure not to drink too much when I went to work -- at the island’s only casino. Which is why its name out in front was cleverly titled, “Casino”. The place was jam-packed. All the cheap blackjack seats were taken, even the 25¢ slot machines. But very few of the local gamblers knew how to play craps, so I got a nice spot at the table. How’d I do? Well, after a slow start and a few novices holding up the action (You can only touch the dice with one hand. Odds on the 5 are three-to-two; you have to put down an even number.), Mikey got his mojo woikin’. When my luck started coming, I knew it and woulda wagered big, but the casino only allowed 21⁄2X odds bets (most Vegas casinos allow 3X, 4X, 5X). If you’re confused, let me sum up: In a quick hour, I made a few hundred bux.

We left the casino and it was time for more rum. Drinks were on me.


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