I'm in Saba (pronounced Say-buh), an island in the Caribbean owned by the Netherlands. (I can't figure out that ownership business, so forgive me if I get the details wrong. I'm sure it's irrelevant.) If your sentiment about the Caribbean is "seen one island seen 'em all" I'm here to say you're wrong, sir. Saba is like Lost except without The Others and without the eerie stuff and also without the beach. But there are lots and lots of trees. It's like a jungle. And it's a volcano in the middle of nowhere.
To get to Saba first you land in St. Maarten (Dutch for Cabo San Lucas), then you take your life in your own hands and get on a plane the size of a walnut. Can I tell you about this walnut? Holy Jesus. I've felt safer crossing the street in Chennai. Drunk. Any airplane in which the seats fold forward just seems like a bad idea. Any airplane where your seat number is designated by a sticker made from a label-maker you can get at Office Depot seems like maybe it's not that sturdy. Any airplane where the pilots ask passengers (like my companion) to move to the front of the plane to distribute the weight seems a little dodgy. I mean, what if said companion had to puke and ran to the back of the plane? Would we have all been f*cked? Next time I'm taking the ferry. Anyway, assuming you survive the flight, you land on either a band-aid or a runway. It's hard to tell the difference. I needed a drink. My Puritanical roots reminded me it was only noon. The locals are not Puritans.
We are staying at Queen's Garden. Our room overlooks the sea, the pool, and some mountains. Saba is known for its hiking and diving. Planning this trip, I had visions of changing clothes and immediately getting on one of the many trails here. In reality, I took a four-hour nap. You see, last night I tried Xanax for our red-eye instead of Ambien. Xanax is no sleeping pill, friend. The four hours could have turned to eight if only Hav would've let me sleep. That industrious bastard *did* go on a hike upon arrival and when he returned he wanted to get food.
We ate at the restaurant at the hotel. Upon sitting down the manager reminded us it's Saba Day which means that in The Bottom, (the capital-ish of this island), there are games, live music, and government-provided free alcohol and food. FREE! We looked at the menu and kinda wondered if it'd be rude to get up and leave. After a light meal we walked down to town to see the fabled debauchery of Saba Day for ourselves. We'd heard stories of people getting wasted and doing crazy stuff. (Curiously, the "crazy stuff" was never explained in greater detail.) Meh. These people don't know how to make fools of themselves off of all-you-can-drink booze. Or if they do I haven't pierced the inner-Saban circle yet to find out. But wait -- can we talk for a second about the government *giving* you alcohol? In the States it'd be the equivalent of saying, "Hey Alabama, you're pretty poor and we're not going to fix unemployment, but here's some whiskey." And then the people would be all happy. For the record, as a tourist I'm all for it.
And now, here I am back in my room, blogging before sleeping again. It's really, really beautiful here. I'm trying to forget about work. Slowly. Tomorrow is a 9:00 a.m. snorkeling trip and then a hike.