Stories From A Broad: Chronicling my Caribbean trip with a rum diary

Today our July Blogger of the Month, MeLinda Schnyder, shares a post in the spirit of this month’s KSWB theme, Stories From A Broad.

While Johnny Depp’s The Rum Diary movie was in theaters back in fall 2011, I was embarking on my first trip to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The majority of the world’s rum is produced in Latin America and the Caribbean, including both Puerto Rico and St. John, so I decided to chronicle my travels through my own version of a rum diary. I’d try a different rum drink every day while on the trip and post a photo on Facebook for friends following our trip.

Rum Diary
My husband, Lee, and I were in Puerto Rico that November to watch the Wichita State University men’s basketball team compete in an early-season tournament. As WSU season-ticket holders for 20 years, we’ve attended several of these tournaments – it’s a great chance to see your team in a beautiful setting, a smaller venue and against competition they don’t usually play during the season (this field included Alabama, Colorado, Maryland, Purdue, Temple and Western Michigan).

We’d been looking into a trip to St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands for January of that year but when we realized how long of a haul it was to get there from Kansas we instead we went to the Cayman Islands. Then when we found out the Shockers were playing in this island tournament, it made sense to take advantage of being so close to the U.S.V.I. to extend the trip and fly there from Puerto Rico.

Rum DiaryRum Diary Day 1:

Mango Tango on our first night in San Juan: Cointreau, coconut rum, 151 rum, mango, strawberry, splash of Chambord. Sorta strong but I was able to fight through it 😉 We got in fairly late so we had dinner and then settled in at the San Juan Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino.

Rum Diary Day 2:

Rum DiaryI am in love! Barrachina’s piña colada in Old San Juan was so good I had seconds! This restaurant claims to have invented the drink in 1963. The bartender was very friendly and educational. These piña coladas taste nothing like the ones back home – instead of the heavy whipped cream and overly coconutty flavor these have more of a refreshing pineapple flavor. We spent the day exploring Old San Juan and the historic forts here. Tonight is WSU’s first tourney game.

Rum Diary Rum Diary Day 3:

We spent the day exploring El Yunque rain forest outside of San Juan. It’s our last night in Puerto Rico, and I need to stay awake for the Shockers’ 10 p.m. tip-off! I’m taking in the San Juan city view from our balcony while drinking the Marriott’s complimentary check-in gift of Don Q Puerto Rican rum.

Rum Diary Day 4:

Rum Diary We arrived in St. John today, taking a flight from San Juan to St. Thomas, U.S.V.I., and then a ferry to St. John (no airplanes allowed on the island). After helping out at a local animal shelter this afternoon, we got the keys to our awesome condo at The Gallows Point Resort (we hit the jackpot on Vacation Rentals by Owner) and the keys to a Jeep we’ll be using to explore the bumpy roads of this island. We had dinner on-site at ZoZo’s Ristorante, where we sat upstairs at the bar for an amazing sunset view. I drank an Italian Princess; I didn’t get all the ingredients but it had a banana flavor and the view made the cocktail taste even better.

Rum Diary Rum Diary Day 5:

Today I had a Mango Margarita made with rum & tequila at Skinny Leg’s Bar & Grill in the Coral Bay area on the east end of St. John. This is the non-touristy side of the island. We spent the day hiking and snorkeling, so I earned my burger and drink for lunch 🙂

Rum Diary Day 6:

Rum DiaryWe spent our entire day driving from beach to beach to snorkel. I had a Painkiller at The Beach Bar, a well-known bar in Cruz Bay – the most touristy part of the island. This is where Kenny Chesney reportedly performs occasionally under the alias Billy Crouton. The Painkiller is considered a Virgin Islands specialty and is made with dark rum, orange juice, pineapple juice and Coco Lopez, then sprinkled with fresh nutmeg and topped with a cherry.

Rum Diary Day 7:

Another day of snorkeling – this time at the two beaches closest to our condo. This was some of the best snorkeling on the entire island, in my opinion. What do you drink on your last night on St. John while you’re watching the sun set? A Cruzan Sunset at ZoZo’s, which became my favorite St. John restaurant with a view second only to that from that patio of our condo.

Rum Diary Day 8:

Rum Diary We waited at High Tide Bar & Grill for our ferry to take us back to St. Thomas, where we would catch the first of two flights home to Kansas. I had one more rum drink (for the sake of the rum diary, right?) – a Bushwhacker made with local rum, five different liquors and a touch of coconut.

It was tough work picking a different rum drink every da,y and they were loaded with sugary calories. But that was a sacrifice I was willing to make for the greater good. The Facebook posts had quite a few comments daily. I’m pretty sure my rum diary had more viewers than Johnny’s Rum Diary – especially in Wichita after the actor/director made his comments about the intelligence of filmgoers here.

Do you have a favorite tropical drink? Share it in the comments!

Thanks to the Kansas Women Bloggers community for giving me this stage for the month of July. I hope to connect with many of you at www.NextDoorToNormal.com, facebook.com/melindaschnyder or on Twitter @melindaschnyder.

 

2 thoughts on “Stories From A Broad: Chronicling my Caribbean trip with a rum diary

  1. Erin O'Donnell says:

    Is anyone else thirsty now? 🙂 I love the rum tour but now I’m especially interested in VRBO for my next vacay, whenever that may be. Have you used them often? Any tips?

  2. MeLinda Schnyder says:

    Thanks for the note, Erin. We’ve used VRBO 5 times and had good luck overall.

    We got a great condo on Kauai, a cool apartment in Boston, an oceanfront condo on Grand Cayman that came with awesome snorkel guides to the area beaches and my favorite by far was this condo on St. John that truly had the beautiful views that it shows on its website – http://www.gallowspointusvi.com/. The only one that was a little strange was in San Francisco — it was a great location in the wharf and a beautiful apartment, but it was someone’s everyday home whereas the others were vacation homes. That was a little strange for me & I think the owner should have disclosed that in advance.

    Tips:
    * prices are negotiable
    * check prices on multiple sites — the same condos/houses/apartments can be listed on multiple sites and they sometimes have their own website. We’ve found that prices for a specific property are sometimes different on the various sites and that gives you an idea of how you can negotiate
    * watch for cleaning fees. Sometimes the per night price is good but a high cleaning fee tacked on at the end can ruin your budget.
    * rentals often come with a great local guide. The owners have been asked the same questions so often that they usually have a document they can send you with all sorts of great info on the destination.
    * ask the owner about car rentals if you’re going somewhere like St. John. It was very expensive to rent a jeep there & the minimum was more than the two days we needed a vehicle. We were able to rent the jeep of the property manager for 2 days at a very discounted price and it was perfect for our needs.
    * Most units will have a washer/dryer, which is great so that you don’t have to pack so much — but the dryers are usually not the best so give yourself plenty of time to let the clothes air dry before you actually need them

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