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You never know who or what you might run into on the beaches of St. Thomas. Ex-Brooklynites, chickens, and the nicest machete-wielding man I’ve ever come across.
After spending the first half of the day at Coral World swimming with sea lions, we went right next door – literally steps away – to Coki Beach. It was yet another gorgeous day, so we wanted to make the most of it.
There’s a shack right at the entrance closest to Coral World that rents snorkel gear and other water stuff, so I rented masks and snorkels for the kids. We set up our towels and things under a tree so my little niece could be out of the sun, and hit the water.
Jake took to snorkeling like a fish to water, and we ended up buying him his own set later in the trip.
Fiona liked looking at things in the water while wearing the goggles, but didn’t actually want to put her face in the water…hmm…
The water on Coki Beach was some of the clearest I’ve ever seen. You almost don’t need snorkel gear! You can just look right down to your feet and see the fishies swimming by. Since it’s in a bay, the waves are gentle. You can explore around the coral without smashing into it.
We played in the waves for a while, then Fiona decided to build a sand castle.
It was around this time that a machete dropped from the tree next to us, followed by a couple of coconuts, followed by a skinny man. Nobody else seemed alarmed by this, so I pretended to ignore it too. I acted like I was actually watching the chickens that were hanging around near us, but I was really keeping an eye on machete man, at least until he was out of the immediate area.
Actually, the chickens were fun to watch – they had babies with them!
After a while I walked down to the other end of the beach, to explore a bit. The side of the beach closest to Coral World is very quiet, but the other end is where the partying happens. There’s music, and a bunch of different places to get food and drinks, and more snorkel rentals.
I wanted to take in a little of the local flavor – so far on the trip most of the people I’d talked to on St. Thomas were from somewhere else. A woman at one of the drink shacks gave me a sample of the best smoothie I’d ever had: mango, strawberry, banana, and coconut. I bought one, and we started talking, and it turned out she wasn’t originally from the islands either: she used to own a place in Brooklyn less than a mile from where I live!
If you’re on Coki Beach, go get an all-natural smoothie from Jabrina at Virgin Island Perfection – you will not be disappointed! Tell her Amy from Brooklyn says hi.
On my way back to the other end of the beach, I stopped and took a picture. I wasn’t really thinking too much about it, I take pictures of everything. And I thought that everyone in the picture was far enough away that I wasn’t invading anyone’s privacy.
A second later, though, one of the people in the picture – the guy with the wheelbarrow – started yelling at me to come to him, so I did. It was machete man. He scolded me a little for taking a picture of him without asking permission first. So I apologized, and introduced myself. He said his name was Leon, but that everyone called him The Black Bull, and he offered me a coconut.
Now, pretty much everything I know about islands I learned from years of watching Gilligan survive on his, so I didn’t realize that coconuts were green and fairly smooth on the outside. Where were the brown things that girls wore as bikini tops? He explained to me that that was inside. But before we could get to that part, we had to drink off the coconut milk. He opened up a coconut with a few whacks of his machete.
I tasted the sweet juice, and then brought him over to my mom and kids, because they had to try this.
Even Jake, who never wants to try anything new, tried the coconut juice. Because when a man with a machete tells you to try something, you do it! I’ll have to remember this when I introduce a new vegetable…
After that Leon cut a couple of the coconuts up for us so that we could eat the flesh. If you’ve never had fresh coconut before, you have to try it.
After that we splashed around in the water some more, until we had to get going – it had been a long day, but a fantastic one. We were all exhausted.
I think the kids were asleep in the car before I even got out of the parking lot.
Next up: Screaming my head off at the top of Paradise Point
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