Feeling immensely better than I did moments ago, I encourage my friend to get back up and start heading towards the direction we assume is downtown. We continue wandering for about forty minutes when we see it off in the distance by a three-way intersection, a car! We run down waving our hands like madmen hoping to flag him down, but of course, that would have made life easy so he does not see us and drives away. We decide to wait at the intersection until he returns our way. Now, two ordinary people would not decide to wait there for a random car to drive back past them, but we are not two ordinary people, so we waited. And the divine powers at be must have felt bad for us because long behold, ten minutes later he drives up beside us.
After explaining our story to the man, he looks us up and down examining our cuts and tells us to strap our paddle to the roof and get inside. Our smiles stretched ear to ear as we strap the paddle to the roof and jump in his small SUV. He offered us some of the water in his red solo cup which at this point my thirsty friend agreed to drink, that is until upon brining the drink to his mouth he realized it was a half full cup of vodka. The driver hits the gas and off we go.
Remember those winding roads from our walk to the trailhead this morning after we waited an hour for the girl who ditched us like prom night? Well, they’re no easier to avoid falling off in a car than on foot. Especially when you are driving twice the speed limit, and especially, when you have been drinking vodka while driving, and especially when it’s the middle of the night. Well, after constantly assuring myself that this gentleman’s seatbelt in his twenty-year-old vehicle still worked and watching him turn around to tell us how all the locals are as friendly as him on the island, which, I must say is true. I have never met such a genuinely nice group of people as the locals on Saint John’s Island, we arrive downtown. More importantly, we make it there without having to test if that seat belts work.
We quickly thank the young man for his help and explain to him we have no money for a tip. He mentions not to worry about it and says, it’s his pleasure, he’s a “Saint Johner.” Upon stepping out of the beat up old SUV we see a late-night bar open across the street so we grab our paddle from the roof and head in to grab a drink of water. A sensation like what I would imagine an astronaut stationed on Mars for ten years would feel after returning to his home town is running through my body when I start getting a funny feeling about the situation. As we cross the street towards the bar, everyone standing outside starts crossing over away from us and everyone in the upstairs area peaks down at the two of us in disbelief. Whatever, we think nothing of it and head into the bar and upstairs to grab a glass of water. After waiting a few minutes with no service in a relatively uncrowded bar, I ask for a glass of water, which is quickly slid my way as the bartender hastily gets back to business.
We both realized the odd behavior of our peers and realize they are startled by us. I mean, it’s not every day you see two men in tank tops with lacerations bleeding down their arms carrying a six-foot-long bag strapped over their shoulders hobble down main street. We decide not to blame them and are happy and surprised they didn’t call the police.
Once we are ready to go we head outside and attempt to hail down a cab, only every cabby we see is either full or not picking people up. They tell us to go to the port where the ferry drops you off and find a cab there. So, we head that way only to find empty taxi pick-up trucks. After failing to find a ride home we continue to walk around the downtown area until we see the same nice local who originally gave us a ride. He informs us that the taxi driver sleeps in his cab. We thank our new friend once again and head back down to the pier. The truck is dark inside but I do see someone laying down across the front drivers bench so I knock on the window and explain that we need a ride. After taking a couple of minutes to wake up the driver tells us to get in the back of the truck and begins driving us home.
Along the way another group of young individuals waves down our taxi looking for a ride. It’s a group people in their early twenties who after talking with the driver for a moment decline taking a ride. As our driver continues, we pass the group and they yell to us “good luck.”
The truck creeps down the roads, weaving back and forth up and down the hills leaving only inches between your tires and the cliff’s edge. Saint John’s island is a U.S. Virgin Island with cars built the same way as the mainland U.S., the only difference is cars down here which are mostly Jeep Wranglers, drive on the opposite side of the road. So, you are driving a car with the steering wheel on the left and you also drive on the left side of the road, weird. This is because unlike most other places in the world, drivers on Saint John are not in the center of the road, but rather on the edge so they can more accurately judge the side of the road with their tires and not roll over the edge.
Thinking about this as the driver plays a game of Stop and Go for no apparent reason while driving to the bottom of the mountain our villa is located, I recall thinking, ‘ehh, so after all that this is how I go…”