ok so....i'm back. but not to reality. this is not reality. it is amazing to me that people ever return from vacation. the weather was great....except for monday, where it rained like a monsoon all day and all night. the hotel (ritz-carlton) was very nice...they worked through some difficulties as quickly as possible....a few of the group had no water in their rooms due to a water break...the activities were plentiful and the food was good. i am not one to look a gift vacation in the mouth, but i will say this: should you find yourself the recipient of a free week at the Ritz-Carlton in St. Thomas, BRING SNACKS. it is not all-inclusive, and the only way to get snacks is to access the honor bar (small bag o tiny twist pretzels:$6...small cashews: more...bottle of water: $8+)...the gift shoppes do not sell food, snacks, drinks in any form, and it is a $20 cab ride to the store to get snacks ($10/person each way), so that cheap bag o' snacks is now $30 if you go alone. why do i mention snacks so much? i was hungry a lot! so let me back up. the trip was planned by husband's Corporate Travel company....all we had to do was show up at the airport on time. they gave us $300 to spend on meals not covered (3 group dinner/events) and spa services, activities, etc. day 1: arrive - yes we made it to the airport on time, both of us. now here's some advice - when your husband says he is packed...his idea of "packed" may not be accurate. it may include the following items only: snorkel gear, bathing suit, dress shoes. period. which will neccesitate a quick-pack at midnight before you leave, which will allow you 2 1/2 hours sleep. just sayin. so we get there. and it's hot. and i'm oh so happy. having survived being trapped in a tubular metal germ factory for a lot of the day, it was a relief to breathe free-flowing air. they met us at the airport & shuttled - what could be easier? Mr. Arthur (my new favorite friend from afar) meets us at the portico with rum punch and cool washcloths and welcomes us. i love him fiercly at that moment. he is about 60 years old, his face is a map of the world...lines, creases, dignity. quiet assurance that all is good. the room...wonderful. and we have water! it's a little bit brown, but it's wet and coming from a showerhead. you know, i'm not going to go minute-by-minute here. here's my favorite event: monday night. pouring rain. 4 Lincoln Navigator limos pick up the group to take us to a mountaintop private villa for our farewell dinner. our driver looks just like Sean "p. diddy" "puffdaddy" Coombs). the road literally goes straight up...1 lane. slippery. don't care. the villa....i couldn't speak...so beautiful....crammed with the most wonderful artwork from around the world. the owners were in Austria buying more. i can't begin to describe this place. it was on the top of the world. (note - my camera broke about 20 minutes after arriving in St Thomas, so no pictures). the food - OH! never in my life will i ever eat food or taste wine so incredible. never. and this was in the middle of a lightning storm. perched on the highest point on the island. with metal cutlery. the trip was wonderful. made peace with a small sand shark that kept after my feet by the shore....i promised not to tell he was there if he promised not to eat me. never trust a shark. no shells on the beach, which surprised me. husband and i went Hobie-catting, and i got a face full of ocean as i tried to switch sides of the boat so we wouldn't tip in gale force winds while we tried to make it across the bay to a house snuggled in the mountain. (i was convinced it was Madonna's house). (you can see it in the picture.) just missed getting personal with a jellyfish. darn. and a barracuda. and husband saw an octopus, which i'm sure he would've poked, but someone thankfully stopped him. met some of the nicest people from his company, and it turns out i went to school with one of them (well, she was a few years behind me but knew my brother). so all in all, no complaints. will sort out the zen of it all later and report on the important stuff...right now i'm overwhelmed with my To Do list - laundry, groceries, diva coming home in 2 hours. good to be home, but it was great to be gone! L.