A few months back my brother, Kevin, called me and told me he would be moving to the Island of Saint Croix. He informed me that he and his amazing girlfriend Meghan had accepted jobs there to help children with Autism! I was immediately interested and said I would like to go see the island with them.
They told me I could come down to Saint Croix and we would look for a place for them to live. While there, we also planned to take some time off and explore the area that they would now be calling home for the next 3 years. A few short weeks later, we took a flight to Saint Croix and I was blown away by many things.
Saint Croix is the eastern most point of the U.S. Virgin Islands and actually is where the sun first rises on the U.S. every day! It is one of the most beautiful places on earth. On one side of the island the mountains rise up out of the sea, covered with lush, tropical plant life and the other side, a desert with cacti.
The part that truly make this place beautiful is the ocean that surrounds it. The only way you can truly understand how blue it is would be to see it for yourself. It is pristine and full of sea life!
Shortly after our arrival, we found a rental place for Kevin and Meghan to live and then it was time to explore the island. Some nights I spent time with them and other nights I spent time with the locals. Man was it amazing!
In one week I rode in several people’s vehicles, went swimming at night, went snuba driving, visited a rum factory, played beach volleyball, learned what threes away is, took a mountain road with a stranger like a rally race, watched a local parade with a new-found friend, visited the eastern-most point of the U.S., and so much more! Each person I met on the island made sure to show me an amazing time and I miss them all but know my brother and his girlfriend are now in good hands.
So now it was time to leave and go back home and get back to life. But in Arnold’s words, “I’ll be back.” Once we were home I asked my brother if I could help him in any way and he said, “Sure, drive my car to Miami!” I jumped right on that idea since Miami is worth the trip all by itself, but to help my brother I would do anything. He asked if I would drop the car at a ferry, which would take it to Saint Croix. One month later I was on the road.
Thursday I went to work in the morning and knew that after work I would head out to get the car down to Miami in order to be shipped. I was not sure how long I would want to take to drive there so I left myself plenty of time. I am not sure whether it was due to my snow-plowing career or my excitement to get to Miami, but 22.5 hours later at 4:30pm the next day. I arrived at 5th and Ocean on South Beach and the mission was complete. I parked the car, booked a room at the Fritz, and headed out for South Beach!
The next day, I got out to Muscle Beach and met a few great people and got in a short workout. It was an amazing place to hit the gym and enjoy the outdoors at the same time. After working out, I spent some time on my roof deck at the pool looking over South Beach. While out there, I met a new friend, Trey, and we spent the entire night talking and chilling.
We really bonded well, but like all trip friends we will have to catch back up in the future. I think my and Trey’s paths crossed for a real reason so I am sure I will run back into him in the future. The next day in Miami, I decided that a four day cruise to Jamaica would be nice, so I booked it. So I took a shuttle and jumped on the boat.
The cruise ship I took was the Norwegian Pearl, which was a boat I rode on in January. To my surprise, the staff was the same as my last trip! I knew some amazing people on this boat and was so excited to see them. One friend named, Govind, I was especially happy to see as he is one of the most kind and hard working guys I have ever met. This immediately made the fact I was traveling alone null and void as I now was traveling with friends.
Once I put my things in the room I did my usual walk around the boat to see where everyone was wanted to hang out and have a good time. After some brief scouting, I set up a cigar and headed up to top deck smoker’s section and then it began. I met a group of people there that just seemed to snow ball bigger and bigger. We had a great time as a group and spent countless hours sharing stories and laughter!
Each day, a large group of us gathered in the smoking section. We were an eclectic group but we all really enjoyed each other and shared the common bond of liking to talk. As the nights pressed on, the group would dwindle but there were a few of us who happily assembled each night, wandering the ship, eating chicken wings, singing loudly, making echos in the front of the boat, and truly living! I am so happy to have met each and every one of them and hope they all stay in touch.
The trip stopped in Ocho Rios, Jamaica where I met tour guides, Romain and Kurt. I got in a small bus with these two and they took me on a tour. As we picked up more people, I moved up to the front seat. We drove around the island doing as Jamaicans do and chilling out together. We picked people up and dropped them off while we spent time talking. I think these guys will do well in life as they were both good people. After a day of fun and some beautiful beaches I had to jump back aboard the ship.
Sadly enough, the cruise ended and it was back to…oh wait I stayed in Miami! I got off the boat, walked out the door and sat against the wall until some friends from the boat came out and said “what are you up to?” and I said, “I don’t know.” and they said, “hey come have lunch at the airport!” I was so glad they invited me as it extended my time with them and we had fun all trip in the smoker’s lounge. Once I was done at lunch, we sat outside for a final smoke. Then it truly seemed like my vacation had come to an end. But then I called an Uber.
When the Uber showed up, my driver Zimon was cool from the get go. He took me to my next hotel and we decided to stay in touch. The next day I woke up, called Zimon, and we went down to South Beach and spent the day walking, talking, and eating. We had the kind of strange bond you have with someone, which you cannot explain but you are feel it and talk comes easy.
We enjoyed our day, but I had a flight to Boston at 5:30pm and this was the real end to my trip. Zimon then drove me from South Beach to the airport. The entire way there was not a moment of dead air, just two humans sharing info and loving every moment of it. Once we made it to the airport, I shut his door, walked through the automatic doors, and headed to Boston.
The entire flight home, my mind went a million miles an hour thinking of all the things that happened. My brother’s move has some how taken my life in a new direction. Why? What does it all mean? What is next? Should I follow the trails this trip has presented? I hope it all works out but for now, I know I am a better man for every moment of this trip. I let myself explore and that is what counts. I will forever love my brother and am just glad to have been a part of his amazing journey.
Let us all remember that this all happened in the name of helping autistic children. The next time you want to make a difference, then as my brother says, make a move. The more positive deeds you do in the world, the better your life will be. I truly believe all this good fortune is due to the amazing efforts of Kevin and Meghan and I am just glad to say that I did my part. I love them both!