Someone asked me this question the other day -- what was the biggest surprise after you moved?
It's been a while now, but on reflection, I would have to say the biggest surprise was the degree of active alcoholism that goes on here and is accepted as normal. On St John, a not insignificant (for the size of our population) number of people die every year from alcohol-related complications, some of them quite young, many of them "well respected". There is one longtime local resident who introduces herself to me at every single party I see her at, because she's consistently too sloshed to ever remember that she's met me before -- this has gone on for years. Drinking and driving is a regular occurrence, not something to be rigorously avoided. And I have seen lots of people move down here, get sucked into the party lifestyle, and lose all ambition to ever do anything else with their lives. I don't judge anyone who cares to live that way, but the personality changes I have watched happen are rarely positive. The ugly side of alcoholism floats just below the surface of the happy island vacation lifestyle, and it's sad to see so many people get trapped in the current. I know this happens in the states, too, but here it's very, very prevalent.