…Continued from Part 1.

Sending my mood upward still, a rooster gallops across the yard Not so much galloping in the way of a horse…more in the way of a three-year-old little girl pretending to be a unicorn. I’ve never before seen a rooster with such a prance-y strut, and after a few moments of observation, my reaction is to point and laugh.

I learn that this rooster has recently been nursed back to health by one of the restaurant’s employees, an energetic wisp of a farm girl, recently arrived and also, I am told, responsible for the donkeys’ morning presence. The rooster’s name is Cassidy, and she’s seen him have, “rooster sex” three times in the past week, so she knows that he’s healthy and strong and good to go, despite his altered gait.

Some folks are already imbibing. I promise myself to stick to non-alcoholic beverages. Until noon, at the very least. It’s a work day, yes, but considering I’m in the heart of a community where the drunken sailor archetype is still alive and well…if I make it to noon, I will have prevailed.

My pot and coffee hour reverie is interrupted when the donkeys, suddenly and without warning, make for my bag of dog food under the tree, tearing it open in a matter of seconds, and scarfing up its overly expensive contents rapidly. I bolt out of my chair, and run toward them, clapping loudly and yelling in my most authoritative voice, “No, No, No, No, No, No, NO! That’s not yours- get out of here!” I have to physically push them away from the dog food, and out of the backyard.

oliveswenchblogedit

a regular, the wench is always propped at the bar.

It’s about time for the donkey’s daily exit anyway, as the tourist crowd is filtering into the backyard, and the locals are slowly dispersing in the direction of their respective employment.

It’s still in the nine o’clock hour when I get a ride offer from a person who shall remain nameless and without identifiable characteristics. When I mention I’m a writer (my response for being told, “You ask a lot of questions”), their entire demeanor toward me shifts, and they say, “You’re not hearing any more of my stories. I don’t need to be written about.” Fair enough. Moving on.

I turn down this ride offer anyway because of the loud protests of my Prom Date. Hershey picks up on his beseeching tone, and jumps and whines in harmony. They make quite the convincing team. My prom date remains insistent that I stay to start his website project. He’s without doubt that I’ll find a ride before the day is through.

Prom Date makes some fresh veggiefruit juice for a customer and I get some of the leftovers. It is beet-y and ginger-y and appl-y and weirdly out of this world good. My body thanks me for giving it some love.

A patron asks Prom Date if it’s okay for him to brew the next pot of coffee. Prom Date says, “yes, please do,” and I suggest to the stranger that he, “try and make it stronger than it was last time.” (The vibe at Olives tends toward the casual and familiar, if you’ve somehow not picked up on that.) I drink a second cup of coffee. And some water. Must remember to hydrate.

There are toddlers in the backyard with their moms, alternatively sitting at one of the picnic tables with books and things, and playing what appear to be wildly imaginative games under the tree. I’m told this is their weekday morning home school session. I get warm fuzzies.

We manage to slowly make progress on our project. Not without a fair amount of distraction. Prom Date is bartending after all, and all sorts of neighbors are passing through, making conversation. But, over the course of the morning, business models are discussed, as are rack cards and a website. Notes are taken. Research is conducted. A domain is purchased. I even turn down another ride offer because I’m not yet satisfied with my level of project completion for the day.

I abstain from alcohol. Until noon. At which point I can no longer resist the temptation to order a beer. I also eat lunch, sharing Prom Date’s shift meal. It’s a win-win, as he tends a bit toward the codependent and is way more likely to eat with a partner.

At some point, I decide this is the perfect opportunity for Hershey to wear his tie. We have it with us, in the doggie overnight bag, and we’re spending a rare several hours among people. The stars have aligned, and it is meant to be. He gets some positive attention from the accessory, but it somehow doesn’t make it home with us (spoiler alert: I get home eventually). As it turns out, I don’t really care what happened to it.

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teefs

The backyard chickens eventually discover the ripped bag of dog food and help themselves, in their poorly-executed-stealth manner, all feigned nonchalance. As the day wears on, other dogs arrive on the scene and help themselves to the fallen food. I consider it a charitable contribution to the dogs of the neighborhood.

I laugh really hard when, during a conversation on the irony of having Vitamin D deficiency on a tropical island, a fairly recent arrival tells us, “I actually had scurvy last fall after I first moved here. My teeth started to feel all loose in my gums and I would bruise from just barely getting touched. That’s what happens when all you can afford to eat are pretzel sticks dipped in peanut butter, and you decide to stop drinking orange juice because of its high sugar content.”  She has since started to drink orange juice occasionally as mixer, and to eat some of the limes at work. So… scurvy still exists. Who knew?!

The afternoon grows later, and Prom Date’s shift ends. I continue to try and keep him on task, an effort which grows more difficult by the minute. I decide that we’ve accomplished enough today, and put the computer away. Regulars start getting off work and re-gather again in the backyard living room.

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not quite a gentleman, despite the tie

Hershey and his doggie brudda are still tied up in the same spot where furniture is arranged around a coffee table. (FYI: They have been walked several times and have had plenty of food, water, shade, and company.) Hershey’s leash is attached to one leg of the coffee table. I happen to miss it, but apparently sometime during happy hour, he tries to leap himself free of restriction, taking the coffee table, and everyone’s drinks, with him. Bad dog! After this incident, somebody relocates him a few feet away to the horse shoe pole.

A couple of local musicians are prepping for open mic night, and the kitchen is about to start serving dinner. I’m hoping the evening will attract a decent dinner and music crowd. I put my sign back on my shirt. (I had taken it off while working.) Open mic night starts with King of the Road.

I text #7 and tell him to avoid Olives if he doesn’t want to see me. He’s surprised I’m still there and chides me for turning down the earlier rides. I assure him that it was for good reason—we had made real progress, after all. And if I don’t get a ride tonight, it won’t affect him in the least, I’ll sleep on my Prom Date’s boat.

I start mentally preparing to sleep on a sailboat for the first time.

While in front of the restaurant, ordering food, I see one of my favorite longtime women on a rock who I call my Blood Sister (long story). I tell her about my being stranded, and she offers to come back and grab me after a meet and greet with some villa guests. I assure her that I’m happy to pay $20, and accept her offer, filing it away in the back of my brain. I hope she does come back for me, but if not, I’ll figure something else out.

I order two pieces of lasagna, one for myself, and one for my Prom Date. I eat mine and around 30% of his. I resist the urge to buy another piece.

It’s now dark, and I’ve somehow temporarily forgot that my Blood Sister has promised to fetch me soon. I’m seriously considering the boat, dirty underwear tomorrow, more ride solicitation… I really need to go home.

And so I squeal with joy when my Blood Sister returns for me. This is a woman who once moved house from one island to another at a distance of some 40 miles… on a sail boat…with two kids and a dog. A woman who builds retaining walls, and lives off the grid on her own land in a house she built with re-purposed materials.She will not hear of taking my $20. We have a great chat on the way.

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they missed me. and I them.

Happy in my own bed, I review my wild and wondrous Wednesday. One that could only be possible on this beautiful and absurd rock I call my home.

 

 

 

 

Written By:

Ashley Ladlie

Current Rock of Residence:

St. John, USVI

Island Girl Since:

2009

Originally Hails From:

Minnesota

Ashley lives on St. John in the US Virgin Islands where she can be found drenched in sweat while communing with the hermit crabs who live in her yard. The irony of living in a shac-teau on the most remote part of a tiny secondary island in the Caribbean while spending the majority of her time with a creature named after people who prefer solitude is not lost on her.

Despite constant inquiry as to how long she’ll be on St. John, Ashley has learned in her three decades on this planet that setting one’s life plans in stone is the best way to ensure their futility. For now she remains enchanted with the beautiful absurdity on her rock of residence, which is colorful in far more ways than one.

You can hire her to write and design for you at Bad Ash Babe Creative.

Want to read more posts by this writer? Click here.

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