The real voyage of discovery lies not in seeking new landscapes,
but in having new eyes.
– Marcel Proust
Just as daily life can be more fun thanks to little things that you encounter in an otherwise unremarkable day, travel far from home can become especially memorable because of chance encounters. No department of tourism would tout the things that made my visit to the pier in St. Thomas (U.S. Virgin Islands) more fun in early June, but there you go. Just as the toddler enjoys the gift box more than the expensive gift you so carefully selected to put in it, I was tickled by a few small things on the pier in Charlotte Amalie.
My husband had to call my name a couple times to get me to turn and see what other travelers were gawking at on the walkway. I have seen wild iguanas before but they never fail to amaze me. Perhaps someone from the tropics would be fascinated by chipmunks and squirrels in ways that we North Americans are not. (Aren’t we all fascinated by skunks and porcupines?) This was one of the first locals I met in the Caribbean. His expression was not particularly friendly – or was it? How can you tell with a lizard?
A little further down the pier in the welcoming souvenir shops were two small snack bars. I had to chuckle at the humorous offer proposed by one bartender. In a place where all the visitors are there for less than eight hours, he can always tease the guests with a better offer just outside their reach. I expect that “Free Beer Tomorrow” is one of the world’s great unchallenged advertising claims. Buying postcards and gazing at the largest ship on the seas is thirsty work. I am not a big fan of beer. When others drink beer I usually opt for shandy, a drink I picked up from British friends.
If you are not familiar with this, imagine a glass filled with half beer and half lemonade. It is less alcoholic and sweeter than beer, very tasty in the summer time. So what do I see offered at the bar but Orange Shandy? Thinking this must be half beer and half orangeade I ordered one, only to learn that this is not mixed on the spot (as mine are at home) but already combined in the bottle. Even more surprising, it is created by Leinenkugel’s of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin! Who knew? Clearly I did not. So my trip to the Virgin Islands found me a new domestic brew to seek out or try to duplicate. Such can be the small discoveries in a new place. Can I help you seek out some new encounters? Boundaries divide. Travel unites. 19 June 2014