Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pounding Guinness on St. Croix

So I made my St. Croix debut over the weekend and if you don't know where that is then you need a Geography lesson. Let me help you. I live on the island of St. Thomas. It's about 40 miles north of the island of St. Croix. Together, along with the tiny island of St. John, they make up the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Now that we're all caught up, let me continue. St. Croix (STX) and St. Thomas (STT) have almsot the same population (50,000) yet STX takes up twice the land mass.

"Oh yeah, there's always been a pissing match between the two islands," a female news reporter shouted to me from across the newsroom during my first week.

The two islands compete over money, the better high school sports teams, government officials and the ever-climbing murder rate.

So I got the assignment of heading south to cover a women's tennis tournament (yawn) and the inter-island All-Star basketball doubleheader (passive yawn). I was more excited because I took a tiny little two-engine seaplane to and from and the paper put me up in a trendy hotel on the beach that I later learned appealed to same-sex couples.

First, the flights. Almost threw up on the way down because of the turbulence. Drinking three beers at a nearby bar while waiting for the flight probably didn't help. The turbulence on these suckers was crazy. Straight for a second, slide right, straighten out then dip. It was like a really bad carnival ride.

Awe, carnies. Homer Simpson once described them as Gods among men.

OK. So when I arrived, our STX photographer, a guy named Cris, who I've talked to countless times on the phone but never met in person, picked me up at the airport. We immediately drove to the Women's Coalition of St. Croix 18th annual tennis tournament. I nodded my head, acted interested but really couldn't wait to check into my celebrity hotel. I researched it online beforehand and couldn't believe they were putting me up on the beach. To tell you the truth, I couldn't believe they were putting me up, period.

The hotel, itself, was dead and when I put down my bags and washed up, I noticed my room did not have a single towel. Celebrity hotel my ass. Didn't they know Aaron Gray from the VI Daily News was staying there? Jeez.

Went to the basketball doubleheader and it was running late. Very late. We didn't get out of there until midnight but the night was young and I was ready to hit the STX social scene. Quick fact about STX: the island only entertains about three cruise boats a WEEK where STT can house up to seven cruise boats a DAY. That means no yuppie tourists were nerding up the bars.

I met up with a news reporter, Danny O'Shea (just like the Rick Moranis character in The Little Giants) and he brought out a "new girl he was seeing." This cat was hired maybe two weeks after I was -- he literally just got a car on STX the other day. How was he already "seeing" girls? The kid moves fast and drinks fast, too.

We decided to hit up this Irish Pub I've heard about on radio commercials. It was called 1884. I'm not sure why and I ignored some drunk fat dude when he tried to explain it to me while I ordered the first round.

Now I am no stranger to Irish Pubs and my old friend, Bernard, a renowned booze hound and an Irish Pub manager in Annapolis would have scoffed at the sight of this one. Aside from a Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey flag hanging on the ceiling, the rest of the bar looked like a T.G.I. Fridays. I mean I had a great time pounding Guinness there but a traditional Irish Pub it was not.

I awoke the next day, watched SportsCenter and laid outside my room near the beach before charging yet another meal to the room. This time it was a shrimp, spinach and bacon omelet. While sitting alone at breakfast, I realized I was the only person there under the age of 65. Same-sex friendly my ass. They never pulled that shit in grandpa's day.

My return flight -- click HERE to see some crazy video -- did not leave until 2 p.m. so I walked the hotel grounds and quizzed the desk clerk on the differences between our islands. For some reason, I found myself actually defending STT in our friendly spats. I guess I can officially call it home now. The VI census lady, who stopped by the house the other week, said I have to wait a year.

Until then, I guess I'm still just a poser.

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