Okay, my bags were packed...well, that and my car..and I was ready to go. It was August...a pretty hot time to go to the Virgin Islands, but still, I needed time to get to know what I was going to do and where I was going to live. My mom, bless her heart, traveled to the island with me while my dad had the red VW shipped from Philadelphia to St.Thomas. We were told to take everything out of the car as it would be stolen, so we did.
My parents were also instrumental in finding a family in PA who owned a condo in St.Thomas and allowed Mom and I to stay there for a week free of charge while i looked for an apartment.
Once we got there, and found Pineapple Beach, we started the process of checking into the school ( a two story school in Charlotte Amalie) The headmistress and priest were very nice and I was given all my books and curriculum. The car arrived unscathed, so we were able to stop using taxis to look for a place to live. I decided I didn't want to live in the mountains...I mean this was St. Thomas...beach..beach...beach. On a trip over to St.John we ran into a group of people who lived at Sapphire Beach. I looked at the studio apartments and it was perfect...furnished and overlooking the beach and tennis courts with pool steps away. Unfortunately, it won't be available until the beginning of September. The people from PA contacted another person at Pineapple and the guy allowed me to house sit for him in a very nice condo until my apartment was available.
Sadly, I sent Mom back to New Jersey. I felt so bad that she didn't get to have a relaxing time with me as she was helping me so much, but hoped that she'd be able to visit later in the year. My parents owned their own business so for both of them to be away at the same time was hardly ever possible. For the rest of the month, I got ready for school, got a great tan and got a job waitressing at the Green House.
In the meantime I met, Sue, who would become my BFF of all times...and is to this day (through marriages, kids, it's that type of friendship where we have to be friends because we know too much about each other)...she was teaching at the public schools and we met lots of other teachers, insurance agents, and had a great time at the beach each afternoon with all of these people. We'd go sailing on the weekends, have dinners at each other's apartments, and just enjoyed life. Teaching was just as much fun. My kids were wonderful, I was put in charge of the tennis team and drama, and I somehow found my way through my first year of teaching with much support from other teachers, parents, and even my students. St.Thomas was a magical place... a place to learn about others, myself, to fall in and out of love, and to realize just how much friends and family means...and the way to the airport every week to pick up friends who just had to visit.
I stayed in St.Thomas for a school year and most of that summer, crewing on a boat, serving drinks and food to people who would charter it. When I came back to NJ, I was lucky enough to be hired by the Medford School district.
But, my traveling/teaching days weren't over yet. Hands Across the Water reached out their long arms and dangled Australia in front of my eyes.