I felt weightless as I floated there in the warm ocean water staring up into the vastly expansive electric-blue sky, which was interrupted every now and then by fluffy, white clouds. Inches beneath me, I was absentmindedly running my fingers over a fine covering of the most beautiful shells I had ever seen. This peaceful stupor, which I had been entranced into by the soothing sound of the rise and swell of waves and the pleasantly warm weather, was interrupted by a yell from my mom calling me to come inside before the blindingly bright sun caused me to turn as red as a tomato.
â–º SEMI FINALIST 2012 TEEN TRAVEL WRITING SCHOLARSHIP
As I made my way back to our cottage by the sea, which was rightfully named Cottages by the Sea, with its thatched roof and light blue walls, I was once again awed by the beautiful, yet clichéd, scene of elegantly curved palm trees encompassing a pristinely white beach and bordered by the most beautiful blue-green tinted water. Just the other night, we had been admiring these towering palm trees and voicing our wish of somehow acquiring one of the numerous coconuts nestled in the palm trees’ fronds when one of the groundskeepers, who had been strolling by, offered to fetch one of the fruits for us. To our surprise, he then proceeded to whip out a machete, clamber up the palm’s trunk as nimbly as a monkey, and chop free a coconut.
When we weren’t sprawled out on the soft sands of our beach or frolicking in the tropical waters of our ocean cove, my family and I liked to explore the many towns and sights that speckled this beautiful American island territory of St. Croix. In town, I enjoyed observing the local people of this island because they seemed to move at a different pace than what I had become accustomed to growing up in the suburbs of a large, bustling city. To the locals, there was always time to slow down and appreciate the beauty of their island home.
My family and I have never been traditional tourists. We like to stay at accommodations and frequent eateries favored by locals. This way of traveling makes it so that we immerse ourselves in the culture of each place we visit. While in St. Croix, we liked to visit the only grocery store on the island instead of eating at chain restaurants. Just outside this grocery store, there was an elderly female islander who ran a food cart selling all the favorite island delicacies. From conch fritters to Johnny cakes (unleavened, sweet, fried bread), we tried it all. My brother and I particularly enjoyed the sweet Johnny cakes and soon the food cart lady knew us by name.
This trip turned out to be one of the most memorable I have ever taken with my family. Family vacations are more than just breathers from everyday life. They are shared experiences that bring families together and intertwine their lives, and it is through the making of these memories that families can become close. I hope to never forget the joy caused, on this particular vacation, by the warm sun heating my body as I relaxed on the beach surrounded by the people I love and who love me.
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