An audio and video podcast of my trip hitchhiking around the world by sea.
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Good and Better: Part II

Welcome back to this week’s episode of “Good and Better”. Whereas last episode began with bad, Part II focuses entirely on best. Now, we’ve definitely had some good fortune in our time, from timely gas donations, to a two-room apartment moments after discovering we were homeless. But never have we eaten like kings, or cruised with dignitaries… until now.

One of the first items on the to-do list upon reaching St. Thomas was locating a dinghy that kept air from leaving and water from entering (or at least one of the two). Judging solely by the name, Budget Marine sounded like the right place to start. That’s where this episode begins.

“Do you sell inflatable dinghies,” we asked. “No, we don’t have any.” Then from down the counter, “Are you looking to sell your dinghy?” asked a lovely young lady. Enter Sybille, one of the most generous ladies in all the Virgin Islands. Within a few dinghy jokes and a short conversation, we had made friends with the owner of Virgin Islands Ecotours (

Over lunch, Sybille explained her business of kayak, snorkeling tours through protected mangroves. It just so happens she was looking for a couple of hands to help out with kayak tours, and various other projects. It also just so happens, Dan and I were looking for a little side income and a new adventure. And with that our fate was sealed.

We arrived St. Thomas, Monday. By Thursday we had relocated from Charlotte Amalie, where massive cruise ships come and go like the tide, to a private dock in a protected mangrove where we were already leading kayak/snorkeling trips. You can’t help but smile as you lead 20 kayaks through cool mangrove waters… or as you are cheer your shelled soldier in a hermit crab race… or as you snorkel with a four-foot barracuda, and octopus. Good had gotten better. But better was on its way to best.

In Thailand, everyone knows the place to be for the full moon party is Koh Phanang. In the Virgin Islands, it’s the Bomba Shack on Tortolla. Well not only was Friday the full moon, but the stars had aligned. Sybille, you see was from Totolla, which means not only was she game for going, she also knew the ins and out. Friday afternoon we were on a ferry, full moon bound.

It’s hard to explain everything that made the next three days so amazing, but I’ll try to summarize. The house we were staying at was quite possibly the most beautiful house I’ve seen. A glassy pool sat among Romanesque pillars and flowed off the edge of the hill that overlooked 40 miles of Virgin Islands. Over three seating areas with cloud-like cushions donned with Moroccan fabrics. Large outdoor but covered dining table accommodating 10 comfortable guests. And the best part, the kitchen where swung an entire copper collection of pots and pans over a roomy island. No, actually I lied. The best part was not the kitchen, it was the person running it.

The owner and mastermind of this beautiful estate had spent her life pleasing buds of particular tastes and served with the likes of Wolfgang Puck (you may have heard of him…). So this is how we began our little adventure: French cheeses, seasoned tuna, fluffy halibut, sparkling champagne and charming conversations with fascinating business men and women about life and dreams.

We eventually made it to the full moon party. Yes, it was fun. Yes, we carried Sybille to the stage for a dance competition among determined Caribbean women. And yes, I was anxious to get back to our palace, where that night I slept like a king.

The next day was no less fantastic where I began with a personalized omelet lesson. We proceeded to a picturesque beach where we body surfed the day away. Then finished the evening having drinks with more friends, including the Tortollan Financial Marketing Head and former commissioner’s wife. Safe to say the evening went well because by the time we returned to the castle, the next day’s events were planned: Sail the Tortollan FMH and family aboard a catamaran to a nearby island for a day of snorkeling.

Now while there are hundreds of details to enhance this best-of edition of Good and Better, I’m afraid I haven’t the time nor you the patience. But there is one thing I do have… a recipe for the world’s finest omelet.


1 Ellen Antill { 04.01.08 at 9:31 am }

What a glorious surprise gift for you and Dan, these splendorous rooms with a view!

2 David { 04.01.08 at 1:01 pm }

uhm, send some o ‘dat this way, huh ?

3 John Kimble { 04.01.08 at 1:37 pm }

Gotta embrace the bad times, because they make the good times great!!! I’m raising a beer to a rash of red-headed Puerto Ricans being born:) Enjoy, my friend, you’ve discovered how life was meant to be lived…as one of our modern-day American explorers wrote, “happiness is only real when shared.”–Christopher McCandless…..thank you for sharing!

4 Steffani { 04.02.08 at 12:33 pm }

Unbelievable… luck just follows you! Well, maybe a little hiccup here and there… but overall what a fantastic experience for you. And I’m glad you got another IPOD. 🙂

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