We love the Virgin Islands and have chartered boats there several times. Each time we did, we talked about how nice it would be to have our own boat in those beautiful islands. From the day we left Kemah, that was our dream, our hoped-for destination. On March 12, 2002, we dropped the hook in sight of St. Thomas. What a marvelous, beautiful sight that was. It had been another tiring twelve-hour day, but it didn't stop us from breaking out the champagne. We sat on deck sipping champagne, listening to Jimmy Buffet, and watching the lights of St. Thomas come on. Again I cried, but this time for joy. A quote from my journal: "...what a beautiful gift to my weary soul". As I'm writing this several years later, I'd like to be able to say that reaching this ultimate destination made all the pounding of waves worthwhile, but it didn't. I don't think I even thought so at that time. Anyway, it was one of the greatest joys. We stayed in the Virgin Islands (except for a short side trip to St Martin) until May 23, 2002 .
The first few days after arriving were spent in Charlotte Amalie, rushing around getting ready for our company. We then moved the boat over to Francis Bay in St. John because it is a beautiful, protected anchorage and closer to the places we wanted to see with our special guests. My daughter and grandson arrived on an American Airlines flight that made history in our book - it arrived on time.
Syneace & Spencer only had four days to spend with us so we tried packing everything we could into that time. We snorkeled at the Baths and the Caves in the B.V.I. We hiked the trail at Marina Cay (also in the B.V.I.) for a great view followed by a seaside dinner at Pussers.
On the last full day of their visit, we headed into Cruz Bay, St. John, in the U.S.V.I, for a little shopping and lunch. Syneace complained about the ground still moving and for her I guess it must have been. She turned around to take a picture and lost her balance falling face first against a dividing wall. She was cut across one eye. All we could figure out that happened was that she caught the sharp edge of one of the shells that was embedded in the wall. We were in front of a fire station so a paramedic came out to have a look. I didn't look too closely but took his word that she needed to get to a hospital, even though there wasn't a lot of bleeding. Syneace had managed to reduce the amount of blood loss by squeezing her eyes tightly shut.
Because it wasn't a life-or-death situation, the paramedic suggested we take a taxi, instead of an ambulance, to the St. John Hospital. What a great, caring medical staff they have. After careful examination, the doctors determined that it was going to require a specialist and that we would have to go to St. Thomas. I went to the business office to check out, dreading the whole process because Syneace had forgotten to bring her insurance card from the States. They asked if I wanted to pay cash or take the time to get the insurance information. It doesn't hurt to ask "how much are the charges?", so I did. I almost fell out of the chair when she said "$10.00" - and that included a tetanus shot.
The only way to get to St. Thomas from St. John is by boat. Syneace & I took a taxi to the ferry while Bob & Spencer (somewhat reluctant to leave his mother) took the jitney back to Francis Bay where we'd left Escapades. The ferry took us into Red Hook where we had to get another taxi to the hospital. Again, every member of the medical staff was so very caring. Syneace was taken into the examining room immediately and the specialist was called in. It seems the cut was so close to the eye that stitching it was a risky procedure - thus requiring the specialist. For some reason the doctor thought I should see the damage. When I did, I gasped. There was a slash across the eyelid and out the corner of the eye, separating the skin around the eye right at the corner. It took seventeen stitches after several scary shots to deaden the eye. The whole thing was a very lengthy procedure. It was nighttime when we were finally able to leave but our taxi driver was still waiting for us.
We Americans are a very spoiled society. One of the things you never think of is what would you do without a phone and transportation. It ain't a fun experience. We took the taxi back to Red Hook and the ferry to Cruz Bay - but then what were we supposed to do? We could get a taxi to the Maho Bay Campground, walk down those 100+ steps, and sit on the beach hoping Bob would come with the dinghy to take us out to the boat. We still had a cell phone but the service was on hold. I'd ask Bob to turn it on in hopes it would at least ring to let him know we were there. At the ferry terminal, we found a pay phone, but after several failed attempts realized that we were not going to get through on the phone. We then called back to the States to get someone there to try calling him - still no go. The last jitney back to Maho Campgrounds was getting ready to leave, so not knowing what else to do, we took it. How things worked out so well, we will never know - divine intervention perhaps. Anyway, when we got to the Maho Bay stop, Bob & Spencer were waiting for us - they had just arrived. Good lesson for us, always take a hand-held VHF when going ashore, even if we can't imagine ever needing it.
It still makes me sick at heart over what happened, but Syneace did recover nicely, with no permanent damage and minimal scaring. She was checked by doctors in the States and it was agreed that the doctor in St. Thomas did a good job. Oh, and the hospital bill was filed on the insurance - all $239.00 of it. On the down side - taxis, jitneys, and ferries totaled $150.00.
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