Tuesday, July 21, 2009

July 12 Sun Daze and Percys Bus Stop

Another rough day in paradise. The sky is baby boy blue with a few cotton tail clouds wafting by on a lazy Sunday morning. 84 degrees with nice cooling trade winds wandering past.

Internet is down again, so no idea when this will get out, but I shall write anyhow.

My crystal ball shows no hurricanes in our immediate future. Indeed we've been 42 days without a storm threat this hurricane season. I wish the powers to be had never named it a season. It causes unnecessary panic.

Tornados have no season and virtually no warning, so I am grateful we don't live in tornado alley. I feel for those that do, as tornado season must be deemed to be year round.

The birds are chirping up a conniption. Not sure what they are so happy about, but they are merrily singing along, trading gossip from tree to tree.

On my way back to Tortola, last week, I was laid over at the Charlotte Amalie, St Thomas ferry dock.

Usually I just go upstairs to the Pump House for food or drinks or both, but it being Sunday, they were closed. I went to check in at the ferry and they weren't leaving for 4 more hours, but she offered to exchange my ticket so I could catch a competitor in an hour and a half.

I smiled. This is the islands, where people are friendly and often go out of their way to help you. I took the exchanged ticket and then my belly made the most disturbing noise at such a loud volume, I wondered if it was distant thunder. It was downright embarrassing.

Red faced, I looked at the friendly clerk and apologized. I explained that apparently the planes don't serve food on most flights anymore and if they were selling any, I had slept through it. I wound up my tale of woe, that I was starving, having not eaten since a late lunch the day before. My friend got lost on the way to the airport, my hotel room was uninhabitable and I had to find a new hotel and room in the wee hours of the night. The requested wake up call came in an hour early, when I so desperately needed that extra hour of sleep. My pre-reserved taxi was late (he never even showed up!), indeed, I had to frantically call around for a new one. Security pulled me aside for a thorough search again. The flight left on time, and I was the very last to board, I think the ticket agent had alerted them I was the last passenger, as they slammed the door, the moment I stepped aboard. I dozed off and missed the explanation why we arrived very late in Philadelphia, but I had barely 5 minutes to catch my connecting flight, or wait two more days. The only foods on the plane for 3 hours were pricey junk foods and I try to avoid that stuff.

The clerk offered up her crackers, she was munching on. That was incredibly kind of her. Again, I smiled, and thanked her, happy to be back in the islands, but turned down her offer. I asked her where would be the closest place I could walk to that might serve me at this time of day. She suggested Percy's Bus Stop, an icon I have seen parked on the side of the road for 25+ years on St Thomas. It's an old London double decker Red bus.

The rain was starting to come down, and I asked her if I could store my luggage with her, rather than get it wet and she quickly agreed. I inquired if she would like me to bring her anything back from Percy's Bust Stop and she giggled and said no. I said I readily didn't mind, would be happy to bring her food and drink, but she declined again after thanking me.

It's quite common throughout the islands to apply for and get a mobile vendors license, then set up in a broken down truck in one place, and never gravitate to permanent location or to be mobile again.

As I recall 25+ years ago, food was served on the lower deck while the upper deck was used as a storeroom. Now it's expanded with a shady but open air casual building in back. I wandered inside and was warmly greeted as if I was a long lost friend by a group of elderly West Indians drinking and dining, one having soup solo. Somebody yelled for the chef, who came out all smiles and ready to serve.

She fixed me an icy cold drink and I inquired about the food. Rather than bring me a menu, she suggested the steak or the salt fish could be ready in minutes, so I chose the steak. I had no idea what it came with, but I suspected Sunday was their slow day, as typically they serve 730am to 10pm every day and Sunday isn't a big work day in Charlotte Amalie and schools are out and so on.

Why be picky? My mother didn't raise me to be picky about foods and it's a good thing. It's enabled me to travel anywhere and eat the local food, to accept any food invite without worry. Sure there are things that might turn my stomach, not sure I could eat snake in Asia, but if they lied to me about it, and it arrived looking like anything but snake, who knows, I might stomach it. But mom made sure we ate every fruit and veggie ever proffered up to us. You can't wrong with the garden foods.

True to the chef's word, she came back about ten minutes, all smiles with a platter of a huge steak smothered in grilled onions, 2 tiny baked potatoes and a large garden salad fluffed up so high, I wondered how this over laded platter had made it from the kitchen so neatly. She brought out steak sauce (A1, my favorite) and a few salad dressings. One was Vidalia Onion Dressing, and we all know how much I love Vadila onions!

It was a sumptuous meal that I savored every bit of. I paid my bill which was under $20, left her a generous tip for her fantastic service and food.

As I left I bade good bye to the other patrons who enthusiastically did likewise. What a cool spot. It had stopped raining and I made it back to the ferry dock in time for the ferry.

After a long trip of everything going wrong, it was so nice that things were going right again. It was good to be home!

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