I haven't flown the "other" airlines in years, but I was pleasantly surprised this morning after letting the gate agent know that my connecting flight was international, I was moved ahead in the boarding line to ensure I would not have to gate check my bag. Day one starts out good! It feels more like driving a lawnmower that a car, but I promise, that little four door super sub compact is a car. I have a map, thanks to the car rental agency, but I have no idea how to read historical documents, and with no GPS, I'm on my own, destine to get lost. The path from the airport to the resort should be easy, left out of the parking lot and right at the next three roundies, then go past the resort because a right turn is illegal there, do a u-turn and you're there. Somehow it worked. I'm all checked in and unpacked. A storm had blown up on the south side of the island and it's raining, but I don't really care, I'm surrounded by clear blue water, palm trees and sand. Time to venture out for groceries. Everything is apparently closed on Sunday as I try to pretend I have a sense of direction. I found a C-Store, get a few things and have no idea where I am. In the pouring rain, I somehow manage to navigate back but end up three miles past where I need to be. That doesn't seem bad, but on an island of 36 square miles, pathetic. I'll go look for a proper grocery store tomorrow. Time for a drink. Appropriately, I'm introduced to Old Man Punch, a slightly improved version of Rum Punch with the added flavor of guava, and a little bit stronger. Every bar needs a bar parrot. Gizmo is a scarlet macaw that perches on the back of barstools. She likes fruit and giving (bird) kisses and has stolen the heart of many men. She also likes Corona. I just might be in love, I mean, she's a pretty good conversationalist, but never talks back. We had a few too many and I spent the rest of the evening sleeping it off on the back porch, rocked gently by the sound of salty water slapping the sand. The sun is out today and I can't wait for the next adventure, after coffee, of course. Odd, but French Press on the Dutch side, oh well, it's tasty. I opted out of the $25 three hour bus tour of the island for the 5 hour get lost on your own tour, have rental car, will drive. Ten in the morning cruising Front Street in my lawnmower, um, compact car, and nothing is open yet. Time to explore. Keep the sea to the right and you'll be good. Words cannot do justice to the beauty of rolling mountains of green contrasting the bright blue waters as I wind up and down without a destination. I pass through Dutch Quarter and find myself at Dawn Beach where I park at the Westin and visit for a bit. A lovely bartender suggests a few destinations and a couple of safety tips as well as parking regulations in Phillipsburg (or, how not to get towed) as I swallow the last of my drink and bid farewell. I passed through Oyster Pond and stumbled upon a butterfly farm on my way to Orient Bay where I answered the question, "Why did I not bring swim trunks to the Caribbean?" My, those are some serious tan lines I have, I cannot stay too long, them parts will burn quick in the hot sun. Beach chair: $7 Sex on the Beach (the drink): $7 Sunbathing and swimming clothing optional: priceless (I love the French)! Enough of that for now, time to find swim trunks for the rest of the afternoon. Back to Front Street, I managed to find a decent parking spot, trunks and some Guavaberry Rum. In the process of determining which rum to purchase, I tasted about six, my favorites being the eight year old and the guava flavored. Passion fruit was pretty tasty as well. Which way was it to the car? I ended the shopping trip with a conversation with a shop tender about what I was buying for my girlfriend. Hmm, I replied, nothing as she is a bird at a bar. He laughed and we talked for another 30 minutes before I left. One quick stop for some punch and back to Little Bay I go. Dip me in these crystal blue waters, clothed this time. I spent the afternoon bobbing in the bay. I met up with Gizmo afterwards and we had dinner and a few drinks. Man, you really are popular when you are dating a bird. She finally admitted her age, 22, a little young, but age is unimportant, right? She got a little frisky tonight, biting my neck was a little too forward, so I asked her to slow down. How could I have missed it last night? I've retained the perfect westerly view of a Caribbean sunset. Propped on a rock just outside my back porch, I anxiously waited as the ball of fire dipped further and further into the horizon. Reflections. Number of times I've said no : 1 (beggars are everywhere, looking for a dollar to buy food or beer) Number of times I had to stop due to an iguana in the road: 2 (one was easily 4 feet long) Number of beach bars I have visited this far: 3 (Le Malibu my favorite) Number of times I thought twice about nude sunbathing: 4 (Side note for all you guys out there... It is a total non-sexual experience, quite the opposite of your dreams) Number of Rum Punchs I can consume before feeling tipsy: 5 Number of times I have been lost: 6 Number of people I have said good morning to that don't speak english: 7 Number of hillsides I have seen with goats grazing: 8 Number of times I have checked Facebook even though I said I was not going to: 9 Number of times I did not need a reminder to relax: 10 Be gentle, I have no spell check on this device I'm writing on. Part deuce arriving soon, cheers my friends from paradise.