Columnist visits the land of the (sky diving) lizards

By Melanie Yingst

Upon her return from the land of Oz, Dorothy may have said it best that there’s no place like home.

And that’s really hard to say that once you’ve spent a week in 80 degree weather, surrounded by palm trees and listening to the ocean waves lap upon the beach.

Earlier this month, my mother and I spent a week in the U.S. Virgin Islands on the island of St. Thomas. I haven’t had a tropical vacation in quite sometime. It’s also the 100th anniversary of “Transfer Day” when the United States took possession of St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John on March 31, 1917.

My mother and my twin sister spent a week in the Caymens last fall, so it was my turn to pick a vacation spot. Ever the adventurous one, I picked the U.S. Virgin Islands on the account that Troy City Councilman Tom Kendall has shared stories of his family’s vacations in St. Thomas so it sounded like the perfect place for us to try out. Other options include resorts in places like Mexico, but in today’s political climate we didn’t figure we’d be very popular there this time of year.

Flying out of Columbus on an aircraft full of body builders heading home from the Arnold Classic was the perfect start to our vacation. That was people watching at its finest. Later that afternoon, we arrived at St. Thomas and was immediately greeted with a free shot of the island’s rum. Now that is a welcome my friends.

We were slightly disoriented to figure out how we were to get to our final destination at our resort. Thankfully, they also make logistics fairly easy for people like us. We simply walked out of the airport and told the guy where we were going and they’ll point to the large taxi vans that will whisk you away to your destination. That was a huge relief.

The taxi ride was an adventure in and of itself. It was better than any roller coaster ride at Kings Island. They drive on the left in St. Thomas, so you’ll feel as though you are playing chicken with traffic the entire time you are on the road. St. Thomas also is very mountainous. The driver whipped around curves and cliffs so quickly that many of our fellow travelers feared for their lives as the rain forest blurred by the windows. I loved it. Plus, there was no way I would have risked driving on that island. I can barely driver around the Troy Square, let alone British-style.

Somehow we lived to arrive at our destination on the complete opposite side of the island.

I found a condo on the beach on the East End of the island earlier this year on You never quite know if the pictures will be true to life, so when we arrived at the resort we were relieved to see it was as advertised. I also sprung for the grocery delivery service to have the fridge stocked and ready to go upon our arrival. I highly recommend it.

And the rest of the week was filled with soaking up the sun. The first few days we watched the wind surfers toy with their lives as they rose high above the ocean waves during the unseasonably high winds.

It was unique to see the shoreline covered in beds of corral. Huge tropical fish meandered around the corral beds. My mom is a sea shell seeking kind of gal, and here I picked an island that had absolutely no sea shells. So we looked for tropical fish and funky shaped coral instead, and it was just as satisfying.

I wish there was more to report, but I can honestly say we didn’t do anything except read books and enjoy the ocean views all week.

But nothing will jolt you awake from a beach nap like a giant iguana leaping out of a palm tree mere feet away. I’m sure they are like Ohio squirrels that scurry in and around our trees, but squirrels are cute and furry. Iguanas are not. And when they hit the sand, it’s with a thud. They were like little dragons falling from the sky. Big, green, bearded dragons.

Probably one of my favorite things we did was get up to watch the sunrise and walk the beach all by ourselves. Yes, I woke up early on vacation which is a complete contradiction the other 51 weeks out of the year. It was almost like home listening to the roosters crow at dawn. It was quiet. It was peaceful. It was well worth the sleep deprivation.

All in all, it was an amazing trip, and I’ll treasure the time spent with my mom for years to come. With that being said, I do not miss the sky diving iguanas.

By Melanie Yingst

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. Her favorite island sign was “Do Not Feed the Iguanas or Chickens Please.”

“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears weekly in the Troy Daily News. Her favorite island sign was “Do Not Feed the Iguanas or Chickens Please.”