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sunchaser
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June 25, 2012 3:22 pm  

Hello! I'm so glad to have found this message board. I've read some of the other posts and you seem like such a helpful group.

We have booked our first step in a long process to determine if moving to the USVI is right for our family. Provided things aren't delayed due to weather, in August we will spend 6 nights quickly peeking at STT and STJ (possibly the briefest glimpse at Water Island) and 4 nights in STX. I do not think we will get an accurate sense of everyday life on this visit but I hope to note if there's a "Special" feeling for any one particular place. After this visit, if any island seems to be a clear stand out, we will plan a longer visit and become more acquainted with one spot.

I'm a little worried that I'll be a little dreamy-eyed and have trouble switching from vacation head to real life reality over the course of our trip. If there are any professional pinchers or those who enjoy throwing buckets of cold water on people, I am sure I could use a few reality checks daily. It's so easy to fall in love with the vacation experience when everything is done for you and real life stress is no longer a concern, etc. I have tried not to book resorts as part of my plan to explore more, but sometimes the resorts had the less expensive rate. (I was surprised too. I guess they have some really good behind-the-scenes deals with the travel sites.)

So to those who have come before me and eventually settled on an island, was it difficult to establish and grow genuine friendships in the culture of your island community? (with the full knowledge that these things take time... but if you had to be there for 10 yrs before you could consider someone a good friend, that's a bit daunting) Is there a strong community connection or is it more of a case of everyone does their own thing and is only there for a few months on holiday? I've never lived in an area heavily influenced by tourism.

Of key interest to me, is how open/accepting does the community feel? Is it where a few quirks amongst the people are known but fairly easily accepted? I realize it's somewhat difficult to answer that question. I mean, how do you rate that on a scale of 1 to 5? hahaha

I ask this because we have a disabled child and I will need some indication of tolerance of differences before I choose to make any place my home. His educational opportunities are a whole other matter. I assume I will need to return during the school session to get a better sense of those options. Generally I have found the pace of coastal life to be slower and a bit more easy going. People seem to be willing to count to 3 in their heads and actually wait for someone to answer their question before asking it 3 different ways or moving on entirely in the conversation. (This helps my son quite a bit actually as he needs a few extra seconds to think something through.)

We are interested in locating our nonprofit in the bit of the world we will call home. This endeavor centers around families who have disabled children. So the last thing we want to do is anchor ourselves and it to an area where these kinds of people do not feel welcome.

I hope I haven't overwhelmed you with questions. I know not any generalization is absolute truth. I'm just interested in Your experience. Sometimes just knowing someone has seen another case of a disabled child being included is enough to help another person be brave enough to try it. We are cautious "pioneers" when it comes to our kid's self esteem if that makes any sense.


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Marty on STT
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June 25, 2012 3:52 pm  

PUBLIC SCHOOL WOULD BE A NIGHTMARE FOR YOUR CHILD, IMO...DEFINITELY LOOK INTO PRIVATE SCHOOLS...

BEEN HERE GOING ON 15 YEARS NOW AND I HAVE LOTS OF FRIENDS...VERY EASY TO MEET PEOPLE HERE...I'M NOT VERY INVOLVED WITH THE COMMUNITY, OTHER THAN VOLUNTEERING AT THE HUMANE SOCIETY, DOING A FEW EVENTS, SUCH AS S.N.I.P. (SPAY/NEUTER ISLAND PETS), AND RAISING MONEY WITH MY MOTORCYCLE CLUB, SO I CAN'T SPEAK KNOWLEDGEABLY ABOUT THAT SUBJECT...

AS FAR AS HOW ACCEPTING PEOPLE ARE, WELL, I SUPPOSE IT'S LIKE EVERYWHERE ELSE, IN THAT YOU HAVE SOME THAT ARE AND SOME THAT ARE NOT...IF YOU ARE A CAUCASIAN, YOU MAY FIND A LITTLE BIT OF RACISM AT FIRST, BUT AFTER YOU HAVE BEEN A ROUND A WHILE AND OTHERS SEE THAT YOU ARE PART OF THE COMMUNITY, THEY'LL WARM UP TO YOU...REMEMBER THE GOLDEN RULE...


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sunchaser
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June 25, 2012 6:14 pm  

Thanks for the reply.
As far as "nightmare" do you mean because the students aren't exposed to people with special needs so they aren't tolerant or that the school system doesn't have much in place (legally or logistically) to provide a student with special needs? We have been so fortunate (thus far) with our schools thus far. Homeschooling (or private tutor) wouldn't be out of the question but each place has its own policies on that kind of thing. Where we are now, the government is fairly hands off that type of thing, but it's my understanding that is unusual. So far, I've only read about one school on STX that is private and works with kids who have learning disabilities. I'm hoping there's at least 1 option on each island. Too much to ask for?

Also I completely agree with you that there are nice people everywhere and not-so-nice people everywhere. Often, we do get what we expect. I'm going in with a positive attitude but it's always nice to have a little advance notice if certain areas really aren't child friendly.

Being from a large city full of diversity, I often forget that racism is still an issue. That sounds a little bit tricky. If it's one thing I've learned it's that disability and the social isolation associated with it, knows no color, creed or gender. I can't promote inclusion as a philosophy without myself being tolerant and encouraging of diversity. I appreciate the tip. I will *try* not to expect perfection. 🙂


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Alana33
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June 25, 2012 6:21 pm  

It makes sense to be cautious with your child's welfare and well being.
What kind of disability? Wheel chair bound may be difficult as sidewalks except in certain areas (Town/Red Hook area in STT) are limited.
This may also exempt certain school's that are not wheel chair accessible or have special needs programs.
Maybe you should find out which schools do have programs for special needs, first.
As a rule, people are friendly and easy to meet but if you live here any length of time, you'll find people can be more transient on an island/tourist location for many reasons.

As I mentioned to username1 on his "need info" inquiry on this board, while island life can be fun and rewarding, it is not for everyone.
Good luck on your whirlwind visit.


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STXBob
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June 25, 2012 8:09 pm  

sunchaser: Welcome to the board.

"So far, I've only read about one school on STX that is private and works with kids who have learning disabilities."
If you are referring to Kingshill School, they announced that they are closing: http://stcroixreformed.org/2012/04/26/kingshill-school-to-close/

It's easy to start conversations and meet people here. Don't worry much about racism. As mentioned before, the Golden Rules applies. Be nice, and others will return the favor.

I think it's OK to stay at a resort, or anywhere, during a PMV, as long as you go out and explore the things that will matter to you. Window shopping at a supermarket is almost as valuable as actual shopping, IMHO.

You'll be here during the hottest part of the year, but it's only that like for about 6 months 🙂 The good news is we never get heatwaves like in the states.


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sunchaser
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June 25, 2012 9:40 pm  

My child does not require the use of a wheelchair. He has autism. He's very outgoing and free-spirited which can lead to some interesting experiences in public. His disability shows up in terms of speech and socialization. His conversation starters come from beyond left field. For right now, academically, he's on track with most of his typical peers. There will probably come a point (soon) when he won't be able to answer questions that involve more thinking than memorizing what was on the page. Adults and kids that "get it" usually really like him. He lights up over things most of us overlook and that seems to make people smile. Of course, he's a prime target for people who enjoy taking advantage of other people.

I was thinking about the Kingshill School. That's so disappointing that they will not remain open. I've heard some oil company closed and things would change in STX in a major way. Of course, not having been there, I couldn't know what that might mean. Maybe there are other local educational options I've yet to encounter. Ever the optimist, I read the article and think "Oh a few out of work teachers, hmmm...perhaps they'd be willing to work with us!" We definitely come from a "find a need and fill it" mindset. Living with our circumstances, we have to get pretty creative about how to make a life work for us.

I'm looking forward to the trip. There's so much to consider. But if it doesn't feel right, we will mark it off the list and carry on with our search. Aside from hurricane season, I look forward to finding out how hot the hottest is there... The heat and humidity are oppressive where we live and there's not a beautiful beach or ocean in sight to seek refuge.

I think shopping the grocery stores is an absolute Must. What a thing to put on an itinerary, right?! Naturally, we can't have "just" autism to factor in; there's also a host of environmental and food allergies. I hope to get a good idea of how difficult it is to move furniture (etc) there or how it might be if we had to buy it all over again. Do you folks just pop over to the British Virgin Islands to look for a couch sometimes? Is it extra for online shopping (Amazon.com) to ship things to you? I suppose those questions are separate threads.


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blu4u
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June 25, 2012 9:45 pm  

Sending you a pm


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speee1dy
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June 25, 2012 10:42 pm  

you mentioned environmental allergies, we get some very bad desert dust that affects a lot of people with asthma like symptoms.
my husband is affected bad enough that sometimes he has to use an inhaler to clear his airways.


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Alana33
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June 25, 2012 11:42 pm  

I know public schools have special ed classes for students at certain schools. Depending on son's age, it depends which school is attended.
Not so sure about what is available in private schools. The list of private schools is short here in STT tho so you should be able to whittle thru the list fairly quickly. You may be able to contact someone at the Dept. of Education to see what information they can give you.

Most people in St. John and BVI come to St. Thomas to shop. Both places being more expensive than STT, if you can believe that!
If you already have nice furnishings you may want to ship instead of purchasing here which can get expensive, Just fill a container with
your belongings and vehicle. They can be shipped thru Tropical or Crowley. You may need to find someplace furnished to rent short term while you wait for your belongings and look for a long term rental.

The Sahara dust has been pretty bad so far this yr. but it also helps prevent hurricanes so it's a toss up. Definitely pretty hot right now.
We all love our winter weather!


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speee1dy
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June 26, 2012 12:04 am  

winter weather is the best, i get to bring out the quilts i made and use them.


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Marty on STT
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June 26, 2012 12:54 pm  

"As far as "nightmare" do you mean because the students aren't exposed to people with special needs so they aren't tolerant or that the school system doesn't have much in place (legally or logistically) to provide a student with special needs? "

Well, the public school system is not quite up to par with the mainland...I think one of them just got their accreditation...the teachers are paid a pittance, and it seems to show in the quality of the teachers...and the kids...well, since 80% of the island are of African decent and have grown up here where the only industry is tourism...they can be somewhat 'jaded' as to how they deal with white kids...and white kids with a disability might be more of a 'target' for misbehavior...I don't think 'special needs' is a priority here...although, I think we have a higher instance of special needs kids being born here, but that might be incorrect...

Antilles School is rated as the best private school, but it's mighty expensive..not sure of the rates for Montessori School, but the classes are small, so the kids get a lot of attention...

When you come for a PMV, not only do you want to go to the grocery stores, but also to the banks to stand in line...to WAPA to stand in line, go to Innovative (telephone co.) and stand in line, go to K-Mart (either one) and stand in line, to the post office to stand in line, rent a car so you can sit in traffic and try to find the best times for traveling around the island, and where to avoid at certain times (Havensight area)...do you see a pattern here?? This is not like the States, where everything is done easily...it takes patience and perseverance to get things done here...like, going to the grocery store: Many people have to go to three or four different stores just to get what they desire...or they change their wants...

You will find your PMV quite a wake up to what island life is really like...not at all sitting on the beach with an umbrella in your drink...although, most of us DO find the time to do that, or one of the many water-related activities...

Good luck to you!


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STXBob
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June 26, 2012 1:52 pm  

...I look forward to finding out how hot the hottest is there... The heat and humidity are oppressive where we live and there's not a beautiful beach or ocean in sight to seek refuge.

In the USVI, the average daily high temps are low 80's in winter, high 80's (sometimes 90) in summer. Overnight is 10 to 14 degrees cooler on average. On STT, the record high is 99, and the record low is 52, but those are records, so quite unusual. On STX, the average humidity is 74% to 82%, but that's the average so it's sometimes better or worse. All of the islands have similar weather. STT and STX just happen to be where I found that specific data.

Sources:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Virgin_Islands#Climate
http://www.climatemps.com/us-virgin-islands/


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sunchaser
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June 26, 2012 2:15 pm  

you mentioned environmental allergies, we get some very bad desert dust that affects a lot of people with asthma like symptoms.
my husband is affected bad enough that sometimes he has to use an inhaler to clear his airways.

My son has asthma but tends to do better near saltwater. Around our mainland coastline, there's not so much vegetation from nearby places blowing along the sea. I didn't think about how different that would be when there are chains of other islands full of plant-life all around. If we find someplace that seems good, we will need to visit a bit each season to see how his allergies respond. Side note for any asthma sufferer: we found far less instance of asthma attacks when we cut back on eating wheat products. Might be something your husband could try. 🙂

Also I clicked on your name to see if it stated which island you live on, but I couldn't see, I'm sorry if I overlooked that info above. I may just need to scroll and see if you mentioned it earlier!


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sunchaser
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June 26, 2012 2:22 pm  

Thank you for your honesty regarding the school system and some of the bias amongst some of the generationally island-born children. I'm sure it sounds ridiculous but that is one of my major concerns: that my son not be treated with kindness. That's not something I can always control, but I like to give him the best odds if possible.

Also I do need to experience the lines and "challenges" of being there for sure. I tend to take 3 days of a vacation just to slow down. It's hard to switch gears. I expect life to be of a slower pace and for my patience to be stretched. But that's a particular change I need to make. 😉


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sunchaser
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June 26, 2012 2:36 pm  

I really should figure out how to respond in one box vs the way I'm currently going about it. Told ya I'm new. Thanks for your patience.

Thanks to all of you for being so helpful!
Bob: those temps sound delightful. We were still well over 90F past midnight. If you guys are avoiding triple digits in the summer, that works for me! I appreciate the links and will keep an eye on the patterns over there.

Alana: thanks for the shopping info. It DOES surprise me that STT is cheaper than some of the other areas. You make the shipping sound easy. I *feel* like there's more involved but... well it's all a matter for later I guess. There are a few pieces I'd like to bring and a lot of stuff I'd like to leave. With allergies, I do have to be careful what I bring into the house (or what has been there before us). Can it get more complicated?! ahahaha I must be nuts.

I could be wrong, but I was thinking some of the houses may sell furnished? That's an assumption and we all know how inaccurate those can be. Also do you pay a lot extra to have things shipped from internet orders? I expect it takes longer to arrive but wasn't certain of the cost...

I think someone asked about his age. He's 10 and should be in 4th grade this fall. I do not expect to move until at least a year from now.
<- That may be pushing it because I don't know if I'll like it enough to relocate. It's a big decision.


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OldTart
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June 26, 2012 2:43 pm  

Many who come onto this website don't realize how much general information there is available on it aside from the forum. If you go to the top of this page you'll see pull-down menus from "Home" on the left to "Message Board" on the right. Literally TONS of information there to read which will answer many, many questions. Although very little changes here and the "older" information is just as valid as the newer, note that the COL prices and those of food in particular are several years old and rather outdated. However, the general rule of thumb of everything here being 30% higher than average stateside still holds true. Our electricity rate is outdated also and is now about $0.50/kWh which is the highest rate under the US flag.

Enjoy the researching!


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blu4u
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June 26, 2012 3:05 pm  

Thank you for your honesty regarding the school system and some of the bias amongst some of the generationally island-born children. I'm sure it sounds ridiculous but that is one of my major concerns: that my son not be treated with kindness. That's not something I can always control, but I like to give him the best odds if possible.

Also I do need to experience the lines and "challenges" of being there for sure. I tend to take 3 days of a vacation just to slow down. It's hard to switch gears. I expect life to be of a slower pace and for my patience to be stretched. But that's a particular change I need to make. 😉

Line and waiting: Yes life is allot slower, which can be both good and bad. I always carry a bag with with water, bug spray, sun block and a book. You never know when when you'll get stuck doing even the most routine of errand. Time follows a different clock in the VI, you either become accustomed or frustrated.

Personally, I don't think you'll find the "bias amongst some of the generationally island-born children" any different than bias held by Anglo transplanted children. Interracial friendships among children are common. If you son's disability includes changels with expressive/receptive language then attending school where most of peers will use the west indian dialect in social situations will add another layer of communication challenge/isolation.

COL: among the 4 islands, STX is the most economical. And it's getting cheeper by the day... I don't have crystal ball, but I suspect that more than a few former private school kids soon be attending public school or home school. Home schooling on STX will become more popular as Hovensa financial's support fades. I'd reach out to those moms and dads, too. They may be able to give advice about tutors, arts classes, science groups, field trips....


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Alana33
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June 26, 2012 3:48 pm  

"Alana: thanks for the shopping info. It DOES surprise me that STT is cheaper than some of the other areas. You make the shipping sound easy. I *feel* like there's more involved but... well it's all a matter for later I guess. There are a few pieces I'd like to bring and a lot of stuff I'd like to leave. With allergies, I do have to be careful what I bring into the house (or what has been there before us). Can it get more complicated?! ahahaha I must be nuts.

I could be wrong, but I was thinking some of the houses may sell furnished? That's an assumption and we all know how inaccurate those can be. Also do you pay a lot extra to have things shipped from internet orders? I expect it takes longer to arrive but wasn't certain of the cost..."

Sunchaser:

Everything can be more complicated in the islands and that goes for shipping as well. Sometimes you luck out and everything is simple and easy. Sometimes you'll want to pull your hair out. Just depends.

Internet orders: Some companies will not ship to the VI so you'll have to have item(s) sent to Friend or family for them to resend to you doubling your mailing cost. Again, no rhyme or reason with mail delivery: sometimes things arrive faster than expected, sometimes not.

You can find rental homes that are furnished. If you are looking to purchase a home, be aware that it is more costly than many places stateside and even in the $400-500K range (STT)- (STJ, more), and up, you'll find that repairs and updating shall be necessary for a majority of properties unless your budget runs much higher. I work as a licensed VI Realtor in STT so I know our inventory.

Be sure to have realistic expectations of cost of living here in the VI. Most of us living here, reel from "sticker shock" on a regular basis especially when opening our WAPA bills and shopping for just about anything. Our electrical rates are more than double what is normally paid stateside and drives all of the costs up we must pay in addition to shipping costs.

You may find this link helpful for contacting someone to enlighten you re: special ed programs; http://wdcrobcolp01.ed.gov/programs/EROD/org_list_by_territory.cfm?territory_cd=vi#SSE


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sunchaser
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June 26, 2012 3:53 pm  

Thank you! It always help to find out what info is out of date!


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sunchaser
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June 26, 2012 4:05 pm  

Thank you for the link. (in other post) I have it bookmarked now.
Also I'm happy to hear there are friendships among all of the children. My son didn't actually know what "black" was until he went to public school and they made such a thing of Martin Luther King being a Black man..yadda yadda yadda. He didn't get it. He just thought he was a man who did some cool stuff. Recently he saw some boys at the pool and looked at them with such happiness. His face was full of awe and wonder and he asked them how they put their brown faces on. I could have died. But they were great. They laughed and asked how he put his pink face on. He had the most hilarious facial expression when they asked him. I think it baked his noodle. His school has a slight amount of ethnical diversity. I asked him who the prettiest girls in his class were and he named one girl who is melanin wealthy (aka African American) and one who was over weight. One has always been kind to him and the other taught him how to swing on the swingset (something I could never help translate to him). So I think, in a funny way, he "gets" what real beauty is - kindness - and doesn't pay much mind to the rest. I suppose I should work harder with him on asking people about their brown skin though... His innocent question can be interpreted negatively. I think, like me, he admires its appearance. *shrug*


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STXBob
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June 26, 2012 4:33 pm  

I'd say that most online stores do not ship to the USVI. You can use a freight forwarder like VI Cargo http://vicargo.com/ (which serves STX) but it adds to the time and cost. There are entire threads in this forum just on the subject of who ships here.


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OldTart
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June 26, 2012 6:09 pm  

I don't know whether or not you've already done so but if you use the search engine on this site, type in "special education" and change the default to "all dates" you'll find several threads on special needs children, special education and autism which will be of great help in investigating the available resources.

As far as shipping is concerned it was hard to get any store to ship here years ago when they didn't have a clue where the US Virgin islands were nor that we were a US territory. That's changed hugely over the years and I'd disagree with STXBob and say that most online stores DO ship here. 😀


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speee1dy
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June 26, 2012 6:52 pm  

i have only found a few major storeds do not ship here-target, pier 1, hallmark and kohls, smaller shops that i order fabric from, i email them if the shipping is outrageous and they usually find a way for it to be shipped cheaper, ststeside prices and not international prices.


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STXBob
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June 26, 2012 7:24 pm  

I do a lot of online shopping, often for obscure items (let's call it random items), and most of the time the first website that I would like to buy from (let's call it a random website) does not ship here. That's often the case with the second and third website too. Sometimes I inquire about an exception and they usually say no. That's why I think that most online stores do not ship here.


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Linda J
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June 26, 2012 9:25 pm  

I guess it depends then. I usually found the websites I used did ship. Or maybe I got into the habit of using those sites because they do ship.


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