Instead of lamenting about how I got left behind by the Royal Caribbean cruise liner, I will do what I usually do with the rest of my life: concentrate on the lessons learnt. Here is what I have learnt from the experience of being left behind on the island of St. Martin:
1. Before disembarking a cruise ship, make sure you understand the exact time you are supposed to return by.
2. Whenever leaving the ship, make sure you have your passport, enough cash and at least a couple of credit cards.
3. Your cell phone may not operate in a foreign land, but at least it contains the important telephone numbers. Take your cell phone with you!
4. No matter how short you THINK your visit may be, take a change of clothing.
5. Always pray before going to bed and ask for guidance. You may need it the next day.
6. If you are left behind on a foreign island, and the entire $ 200 you had on you was spent on souvenirs, take the souvenirs back to the street vendors and ask for the cash back. Look desperate and determined and carefully remove the cash from their clenched fists. It's a big hassle, I know, but the cash will come in handy when you want a bite to eat and you have no other means to pay for the food.
7. In St. Martin public phones don't take coins, they work solely with special phone cards. Domestic phone cards are found everywhere. International phone cards are a specialty product sold by only a few outfits on the island. Make sure you understand that, and explain it when asking where to buy the INTERNATIONAL phone card.
8. Don't burn any bridges! Maintain a good enough relationship with your ex-husband, so that if you are ever stranded on an island without any money, or viable credit cards, and you can't remember anyone else's phone number because you are solely dependent on your smart phone, which you neglected to take with you on the island, you could still call him up and beg him for a few thousand dollars to get yourself back home.
9. When on the island of St. Martin and you are expecting money by Western Union from a benevolent ex-husband, make sure you understand which part of the island you are on: the Dutch side, or the other side. This will keep you from having to travel across the island with no money.
10. Don't take "No!" for an answer. Keep asking the same question many different ways. Just because an airline representative gives you one answer, don't take that as the final answer. Go stand in line again and go to another airline representative's window: you might get a different answer. Note: it may take more than two attempts, but if you are stranded on an island, it really doesn't matter how many times you wait in line, or how long that line is; you've got all the time in the World!
11. When arriving in Charlotte International Airport on a cold spring night, wearing nothing but your skimpy beach outfit that you've spent the last three days in, expect some looks from the other travelers.
12. Remember, car rental companies will not rent you a vehicle without a credit card. Being intrepid helps you avoid hitchhiking or the Greyhound bus, which are the only means of transportation for a girl with nothing but a little cash. Rounding up a few passengers for the limo ride back to Myrtle Beach, which you negotiated based on the assumption that you could talk several strangers into traveling with you, thus sharing in the cost, is not an easy task, especially when wearing above mentioned outfit. On the other hand, the outfit may help.
13. Chances are that if you call a locksmith at 3 o'clock in the morning, the only one you'll be able to reach or convince to break you into your own home is a drunken one. Chances are that he'll break at least one of your locks and overcharge you by about a hundred bucks. That's all right, once in your own home, you can write him a check!
14. Once safe and sound in your own home, you should peel off the skimpy beach outfit, take a hot shower, go to bed and dream of your next vacation... in Aspen!