The high is over
It's like the feeling you get when you return from a mountaintop religious experience, and that's what a week with friends in St. Lucia is like - a religious experience. I've converted to island life. If anything, I'm about 98.3 percent converted to the concept of a destination wedding. I loved that we all got the chance to celebrate Megan and Jon's love for each other over several days. They exchanged vows and rings in the company of the people who loved not only the two of them, but who had grown to love the company of each other. All 36 of us sat at the reception dinner table with conversation that could outlast the mountains of food. Now that is how you celebrate the joining of two lives; it's a joining of families, of friends, and of corners of your lives normally separated by time, distance and circumstances. But in this week, Megan's and Jon's families, childhoods, collegiate-hoods and adulthoods collided with each other just for the chance to be a part of such an important moment of their lives (well, and a chance to work on our tans). There wasn't really much of a reception line at the end of the wedding ceremony; that's reserved for your traditional big-bang wedding where guests typically get a 15-second handshake with the bride and groom. There was much more than handshaking going on throughout the week (plenty of rum shots shared comes to mind...). And the reception dinner tables weren't segregated between cliques of friends because by that time we were all friends and conversation could flow easily from Brit to Yank, family member to high school classmate, groom's mate to bride's friend. The week could have only been sweeter if we could have shared it with more of Megan's and Jon's friends and family.
I left the island not only with a sunburn on my shoulders and mosquitoes packed into my luggage, but with new friendships, inside jokes, theme songs buzzing in my head (The Final Countdown!), new bug-eye sunglasses, sand in my swimsuit and several more couches I could crash on the next time I'm in good ol' Londontown. In the spirit of David Letterman, I offer the following Top Ten lists:
Top Ten Lessons Learned on the Island of St. Lucia
10. Mosquito netting is not just there for ambiance.
9. Rum and biscuits (cookies to you Yanks) make for a quality lunch when you plan to spend the day at the beach.
8. No one really cares if you wear the same outfit twice (or thrice).
7. Four-thonged flip flops are very uncomfortable.
6. The English can't play volleyball worth crap. This means that I can actually look like a quality athlete in front of somebody!
5. Mango juice and red wine makes for a great makeshift sangria.
4. Warm showers are for wimps.
3. Thank God for the tank top with a shelf bra. Who wants to wear a bra when it's 86 degrees Farenheit and 84 percent humidity?
2. Cows like mangoes; just be careful of the mango-induced cowpies.
1. Avoid the Miami airport at all costs and especially the Miami Airport Hotel. For such a major hub, it's a shabby excuse of a port of entry to the States.
Top Ten Cross-Cultural Experiences
10. Teaching the Brits how to play 500 in the ocean (and walking away with quite a few bruises on the arm and back).
9. Dom thinking my pronounciation of "bottle" was "butthole," thus sparking many requests for a "butthole" of rum/beer/wine.
8. Quizing Charlie to name all 50 states over breakfast, before the coffee sets in.
7. Learning that the best man's toast is more of a "roast" of the groom in the U.K. rather than a ode to the couple's love, and I think Will toned his down for the sake of the Americans present.
6. Jenny breaking out into the Australian national anthem.
5. Introducing s'mores to the English.
4. Tripping out when seeing Charlie wearing a KCOU t-shirt, purchased at the Blackberry Exchange in Columbia during his, Will's, Josie's and Rich's Great American Road Trip the summer of 2003.
3. Listening to Dom put on a Deep South/hick accent.
2. Watching the mute local groundsman shimmy up a palm tree, fetch some coconuts and weild a machete to skin it and create a hole from which to sip the coconut milk.
1. Watching Will and Josie get into a sparring match over the correct pronounciation of the word "scone" - whether it's like "cone" or "gone." Apparently this debate is as big as the "pop" vs. "soda" debate in the States.
Top Ten Lines from the Week*
*As I remember them; not meant to be verbatim.
10. "...That was after Uta gave birth to the Pitons." --Megan
9. "I drink so much rum I shit myself." --A cab driver's response to the boys' request for where they could find the best rum on the island.
8. Any line revolving around Will's "strap-on carry-on."
7. "Jon measures your level of chill by how often you wear flip flops, and Jon wears flip flops in the middle of winter in London." --Will in his best man toast
6. "And we all remember when Jon faked a case of SARS just so Megan wouldn't forget about him." --Will, again during his toast
5. "Maybe this is weird, but I don't think I'll ever cheat on my wife. I mean, I haven't yet, so I probably won't." --Another cab driver, just after he asked Jenny to join him and his wife for karaoke with the condition that he probably wouldn't talk to Jenny at all during the night since his wife would be there.
4. "I think you get coconut milk by milking the coconut teats" --Josie. "No, I do not think that is correct." --Nico's response.
3. Steve-O's unprintable comment about what he'd like to do to a certain type of person where after he'd had one (maybe more...) too many drinks during the stag night.
2. "We wish Megan and Aaron the best in their wedding tomorrow." --Tom (father of the bride) at the groom's (Jon) dinner; Aaron is Megan's brother. Many insestual jokes ensued.
1. "There is no drug problem in St. Lucia." --The justice of the peace in her words of welcome at the start of the wedding ceremony.
One more thing: a musical PSA
Go right now to The New Kentuck Quarter's MySpace page. This is Ron (Lindsay, Megan's Matron of Honor's husband)'s band. He sang at the wedding a song he wrote. While that song isn't available on their MySpace profile, you can hear several songs he sang for us around the bonfires on the beach. If you're on MySpace, add them, and if you're ever in the Madison, Wisconsin area, go to one of their shows. Do it.
The requisite pictures
Retka-Tidd Wedding Ceremony
Around St. Lucia
Pictures at the Beach
Around Balenbouche Estate (The old sugarmill where all the "kids" stayed and where the ceremony and reception were held)
And for those of you who are feint of heart and don't want to wade through hundreds of pictures, here's a pared down album with all the essentials:
St. Lucia favorites*
*This will be updated Monday as there are a few of the best still missing
In short: Best. Holiday*. Ever.
*That's "vacation" to you Yanks.