This would be the sixth consecutive year spending Thanksgiving in St. Thomas. What started off as a one-off trip has become a yearly tradition, and our chance to spend time with our dear friends Marty and Tiffany. Craig's brother Steve has joined us on every trip to the islands since 2002. Our St. Thomas trip is quite different from a lot of our other trips. It is a trip where we are primarily concerned with relaxation and hanging out with friends. The more the merrier. We sleep late, lounge on the beach, eat good meals, etc. This year our friends Roger and Gina were able to join us.We booked a two bedroom suite at the Secret Harbour Beach Resort. Craig and I would take one bedroom, Gina and Roger would get the second, and Steve, good sport that he is, would sleep on the couch. Secret Harbour has rooms that are right on the beach, and rooms on a hill top that overlook the ocean. We have always had a beachfront room, and we tried to book a beachfront two bedroom. They didn't have one available for our first night, so we would have to split up. This was a bit of a disappointment, as it would mean having to change rooms on day 2, but there wasn't really anything we could do about it. Gina and Roger were able to book a studio on the beach, whereas Craig, Steve, and I would be in a one bedroom on the hill, overlooking the ocean. But then, on our second day, we would all move into a beachfront two-bedroom. Marty reserved a boat rental for Monday, so that we could go on our annual Cap'n Marty's Island Hop. It is always one of the highlights of the trip, relaxing on the water for the day, going wherever we feel like going, hopping between the U.S. and British Virgin Islands.

Thursday 11/24/2005 - Arrival in St. Thomas

We woke up at 4:00 a.m. to find it snowing, very lightly, but covering the ground nonetheless. We were out of the house by 5:05. When we got to the airport, we parked in Central Parking and walked all the way to Terminal B. We stopped for a minute to admire a Christmas tree in one of the corridors. This was the beginning of the holiday season. We tried doing automatic check-in at a little computer kiosk, but it gave us some trouble and we ended up asking a human for help. He assigned us exit row seats. We went through security (it was a surprisingly short line) and then got some breakfast at Burger King: Croissanwiches, hash browns, and orange juice. Then we went to gate B10 to wait for our flight. Gina and Roger met us here, and we were all quite happy to be getting this vacation underway.We boarded our plane at 7:15. The plane had to be de-iced, as the weather was still messy. We sat in our exit row seats with Gina and Roger several rows behind. Craig read The Curious Incident of the Dog In the Night-Time, which we had first become acquainted with on our trip to Chile, and which we have both since read and thoroughly enjoyed. I read Gorrillas in the Mist in preparation for our upcoming Africa trip. Our connection was in Charlotte, North Carolina. We thought that this was funny because our ultimate destination was Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas. So, Boston to Charlotte to Charlotte Amalie. Even though we were continuing on the same flight, we needed to deplane anyway while they cleaned the plane. We did get to re-board prior to other passengers though, and we returned to our exit row seats. We were served a bag lunch which consisted of a turkey and cheese sandwich, Cape Cod potato chips, and Knotts Berry cookies.

We arrived in Charlotte Amalie at around 4:00 p.m. We were given a complimentary glass of rum punch as we walked through the airport. We went to the Hertz desk and got the keys for our blue Camry. After a little confusion about where it was parked, we eventually found it and loaded it up with our luggage. The car was surprisingly roomy, and it fit five adults and their respective luggage quite comfortably. Craig was our driver. The weather was rainy (something very rare in all of our visits) and the roads were slick. We drove to Kmart and bought our liquor and food supplies. There was no cashier on the lower level (where all of the food is) so we needed to head upstairs and get in line there. Here we experienced a little culture shock, as we do every year. We go from the hustle and bustle of airports, planes, and holiday travel to the laid-back pace of the islands, where even buying groceries takes ten times longer than it would at home.

When we got the groceries out to the car, we called Tiffany. She was cooking her famous traditional Thanksgiving meal for us today, and she said that the bird was already done and Marty was on his way to meet us at the hotel. So we drove to Secret Harbour, our home away from home at Thankgiving for the past five years. Craig, Gina, and Roger went into the office to check in. Steve and I stayed with the car. Just then a red Jeep pulled up next to us. There was a dog in the passenger seat. It was Marty and Freddy! We got out of the car to say hello. Freddy was as excited to see us as Marty was, and there were hugs all around. Craig, Gina, and Roger came back to the car and greeted Marty and Freddy. This would be our first time staying up on the hill, and we weren't even sure where to go. They gave us a special gate key to drive up the driveway. A nice employee ("My name is Joseph, but they call me Joe") showed us up to our room, #714. Gina and Roger dropped their things off in their beachfront room, and then Marty drove them up to our room. We got settled in the room and then followed Marty back to his and Tiff's place.

When we arrived we greeted Tiffany and met her mom, Camille. Marty and Tiffany's neighbor Richard was also there. Camille and Tiffany brought out appetizers of brie, prosciutto, pepperoni, crackers, and olives. We all sat around the table, protected from the light rain by the table umbrella. We all loaded up our plates with turkey, her family's secret recipe stuffing, mashed potatoes, homemade cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and rolls. The meal was delicious as usual, and we all had a lot of laughs and enjoyed each other's company. Richard's wife had made a dessert which was a sort of flan with cranberries in it. The party broke up at 9:45, with everyone fat and happy. Gina and Roger came up to our room on the hill for a nightcap. We hung out until 11:30, at which point they walked down a path to their beachfront room.
Freddy, Steve, and Richard awaiting Thanksgiving dinner

Clockwise: Marty, Craig, Gina, Roger, Steve

Delicious Thanksgiving dinner

The chefs: Camille and Tiffany

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