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Island Life

Sunset at Fredericksted
The perception - everyone sits on the beach, with the wind softly blowing through the palm trees, while drinking rum and coke. The reality - probably a lot more like where you live. People have kids in Little League and AYSO Soccer. We eat out at great restaurants and go to the Caribbean Community Theater.

Crucians (those who live on St. Croix) have real jobs, deal with crime and complain about the government. The weather is usually pretty good, if you don’t mind an occasional hurricane. No snow to shovel and no extreme temperatures (hot or cold) that others around the world must deal with. We have a mix of people, languages, food and music which makes this small island a fascinating place to live. Where “good night” is used as a greeting. Where any animated gathering of people is a “melee”. We have a “Jump Up” (street party) for just about any reason and the beer drinking pig at the Domino Club is a celebrity.

This is a place where most people are lousy drivers (by the way, we drive on the left and share the road with goats, horses, cattle and plenty of other creatures, big and small), but at the same time some of the most courteous drivers I have ever shared the road with. Crucians will stop to let a pedestrian cross the street - of course, they also stop in the street when they want to chat with a friend or drop someone off. Store clerks will routinely say “pay me when you pass next time” when you are short of money for a purchase. I even had a
bagboy at a local grocery store loan me money for groceries!

Grassy Point on the East End
“Island life” is epitomized however by the phenomenon of “island time” - a unique time zone where few things start on time, they always last much longer than advertised, and if we don’t get it done today there is always tomorrow. Some of us adapt (I don’t own a wristwatch) others complain. The bottom line, that to enjoy “island life” you need to adopt the caribbean maitre - “don’t worry, be happy”.

So what’s not to like? Well . . . . . in my experience several sources of aggravation cause many to forgo “island life” for a more traditional lifestyle “back home”. Islands tend to be very small. This “smallness” usually equates to some degree of isolation. If you wish to take a little break from paradise - it can be difficult, expensive and aggravating. Picture a fence ten miles from your house - traveling beyond that fence entails dealing with TSA, Customs and Immigration and enjoying the fun (expensive) experience of airline travel in today’s world. To counter the isolation (read, avoid the cost and aggravation of air travel) you must be able to amuse yourself, some can, some cannot. You will also pay a financial “tax” for living in paradise - virtually everything must be imported and therefore costs more. You learn to do without (or buy it when you see it, not when you need it), because many products disappear from the shelves for long periods of time. Services (especially from the government) tend to be, well . . . . how do I put it. Not great. In the case of the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Governments motto appears to be - “make things as inefficient, frustrating and costly as possible” and then blame the resulting problem on somebody else. Here, “avoid the government, be happy” improves your chances of having a positive island experience.

Still, realizing that nowhere is perfect, St. Croix was a pretty good place to call home - especially when siting on the beach, with the wind softly blowing through the palm trees, drinking a rum and coke.

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