Living like a Crucian  

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wanderer
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February 23, 2014 6:58 pm  

I am not a Crucian. In fact, this is my first visit to STX. I live in North Carolina. But I am here for a month to see how it feels to be an islander, or at least how it feels to pretend that I am an islander. So, I'll publish my chronicles here.

Day 1. I know that among the people living on STX, 85% are black, so when I boarded the plane from Miami to STX and saw that I was surrounded by white people, I thought I was on the wrong plane. Haha. In about 2.5 hours, we landed in STX airport. The airport is very small. After the people dissipated, there was no one! No TSA agents, no police, no airport workers, no travelers. Quite surreal. I got a rental car, and set my destination address in my beloved Garmin Nuvi that I took with me. I did load the VI maps in advance. It works just fine. The nuisance is that apparently every place on the island has two addresses: some sort of "old" Dutch-period address, and the new one. That's very confusing. I landed late, after the dark, so driving on the left for the first time in my life, in darkness, in unfamiliar place was certainly an adventure. The good thing was that the traffic was extremely light. I managed to get to my cottage without a scratch.

Day 2. My neighbors are apparently experimenting with returning the STX economy to its agricultural roots, so I didn't sleep well, because the rooster was crowing pretty much all night long. I thought these creatures only crow at dawn. This particular one was either crazy, hungry, or horny. I think I will assassinate that bird sometime tomorrow. On the other hand, in the place where I live in the states, I hear trains. Can't assassinate all train engineers -- in this economy, there will be 10 new candidates for every murdered job holder. I got up, took a shower, and drove to a random place for late breakfast. That happened to be some sort of "Bar and Chicken" establishment. I entered, preparing to say "Good morning" (which is apparently what you should say as a Crucian), and was preempted by "hola!" by the place owner. The patrons consisted of about 5 people who looked like the solders who fought a bloody battle and lost. However, they looked quite cheerful, so I assumed the chicken was pretty good in here. They talked to each other, but I could not understand a single word. It was not English, and not Spanish. The place itself looked like a bomb exploded there about 60 years ago, and since then, no one bothered to pick up the pieces of floor tiles, shrapnel, and fragments of brain spattered on the walls. I got chicken, fries, and a Heineken. I expected the chicken to be marinated in some exotic, secret Crucian sauce, but it it came plain, tasteless, and rough. I paid $10, and left with a thought that if I killed my neighbor's rooster, I would show respect to the species by using a good Caribbean jerk sauce.
Next, I headed to the supermarket. The place recommended to me was Plaza Extra. Unlike the previous place, this one exceeded my expectations. From this discussion board, I read many comments how you have to go to 4 different stores to find a food item, and grab it immediately while it was there. I thought the supermarket would be small, with leaking refrigerators, and the gangs of thugs waiting for me in every isle to rape me and kill me. For better or worse, that did not materialize. The place is big, clean, with huge selection of items, and the stuff was polite and helpful. They even transported my cart to my car, and unloaded the items to my trunk. I felt that my $250 were not spent in vain. Salivating with the idea of how delightful it would be to pair Crucian Rum with Rooster-Cordon-Bleu, and not willing to let the food items melted in my trunk, I touched the "Home" button on my Garmin, and headed to the corresponding destination. At that point, I was overwhelmed with my experiences, so I felt compelled to spill them before the writer's block would rear its ugly head. So there.


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sheiba
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February 23, 2014 9:04 pm  

(:


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JulieKay
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February 23, 2014 10:01 pm  

I thought the supermarket would be small, with leaking refrigerators, and the gangs of thugs waiting for me in every isle to rape me and kill me. For better or worse, that did not materialize.

This was your only comment that surprised me. I didn't think that perception was created on this board?

Yes the Supermarkets on St. Croix aren't nearly as modern as those in the states (in general) but I can't think of one of them that would be like you say above. Most are clean and friendly and have a good, albeit expensive, selection.

Thank you for writing this, it was fun to read. 🙂

"This is your world. Shape it or someone else will." ~Gary Lew


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wattersk
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February 23, 2014 10:42 pm  

29 more days to go? Please kep us posted!

Kimberly


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ms411
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February 23, 2014 11:07 pm  

I can't understand why the OP ate breakfast at what sounds like a filthy dive. Surely there were other options.

And, I'm not sure the thread title is appropriate. The OP is a new resident and it will take a while for OP to be living like a Crucian. Many Crucians have gardens and buy or catch local fish. Meals usually include provisions. I've lived on St Thomas for years and still din't buy green bananas, plantains, tania, etc. They aren't cheaper than the Stateside starched I grew up eating, so why bother?

I should perfect a fungi recipe, though, because I love it, and you can always get corn meal at a decent price. If anybody has recipes they're willing to share, I'd love to see them.

Thanks!


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JulieKay
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February 23, 2014 11:14 pm  

And, I'm not sure the thread title is appropriate. The OP is a new resident and it will take a while for OP to be living like a Crucian.

Um I think he/she explains that from the get-go:

I am not a Crucian. In fact, this is my first visit to STX. I live in North Carolina. But I am here for a month to see how it feels to be an islander, or at least how it feels to pretend that I am an islander. So, I'll publish my chronicles here.

Perhaps the thread should be titled "Trying to Live Like a Crucian." But I don't think we should split hairs over a tongue-in-cheek thread name. Personally I find it really fun to read a new person's adventures as they explore and get to know people and the island.

"This is your world. Shape it or someone else will." ~Gary Lew


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PapaGru
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February 23, 2014 11:44 pm  

Enjoyed this post immensely. Please, do continue.


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speee1dy
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February 23, 2014 11:50 pm  

Juliekay. I did not like that comment either.

The rest of the post I liked.

Hope you enjoy the rest of your stay


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St X
 St X
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February 23, 2014 11:52 pm  

Don't sweat the rooster crowing. You'll never win that one. You'll be sleeping through it soon enough.


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wanderer
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February 23, 2014 11:52 pm  

I can't understand why the OP ate breakfast at what sounds like a filthy dive. Surely there were other options.
Thanks!

I could certainly pick a well-reviewed spot. But I figured I'd never be a native if I don't venture into "native" places. This was to gain full experience for my Crucian resume.


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Iris Tramm
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February 23, 2014 11:57 pm  

Don't sweat the rooster crowing. You'll never win that one. You'll be sleeping through it soon enough.

Nope. Never learned to sleep through it. A few well-aimed ice cubes at the little flucker learned him a new morning route through town, though.


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wanderer
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February 24, 2014 12:09 am  

This was your only comment that surprised me. I didn't think that perception was created on this board?

The perception that I got from this board was that it's difficult to find some food items, and that you'd have to go to multiple food stores whenever you shop. But Plaza Extra turned out to be as big and as diverse in produce as any other supermarket on the continent. The only remarkable difference was the choice of background music. Instead of Chopin, Tchaikovsky, and Schubert, the shoppers are treated with Caribbean tunes. There were also some hymns with Jesus prominently featured. That would not be tolerated even in my below the Bible Belt state.


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JulieKay
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February 24, 2014 12:11 am  

This was your only comment that surprised me. I didn't think that perception was created on this board?

The perception that I got from this board was that it's difficult to find some food items, and that you'd have to go to multiple food stores whenever you shop. But Plaza Extra turned out to be as big and as diverse in produce as any other supermarket on the continent. The only remarkable difference was the choice of background music. Instead of Chopin, Tchaikovsky, and Schubert, the shoppers are treated with Caribbean tunes. There were also some hymns with Jesus prominently featured. That would not be tolerated even in my below the Bible Belt state.

Okay, yep yep yep. It was the "thugs waiting to rape and kill you" in every aisle comment that popped out at me as like, "whoa!" That doesn't happen. 🙂 People tend to shop like anywhere else.

"This is your world. Shape it or someone else will." ~Gary Lew


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wanderer
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February 24, 2014 12:23 am  

Okay, yep yep yep. It was the "thugs waiting to rape and kill you" in every aisle comment that popped out at me as like, "whoa!" That doesn't happen. 🙂 People tend to shop like anywhere else.

Right. Sorry about that. That was a hyperbolic figure a speech designed to highlight the contrast. Sometimes I like to blow things out of proportions.


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wanderer
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February 24, 2014 1:39 am  

Day 2 (continued). My rooster experience prompted me to do some research. Apparently, the sound that they make is "Cock-a-doodle-doo". Back in my days when I lived in Siberia, it was "ku-ka-re-ku". That's very smart of them to preserve heat that way. If I were a rooster, and it was minus 50 Fahrenheit outside, I'd probably just crow the first syllable, either "Cock", or "Ku". The first one would be sufficient to keep my harem of chickens impressed, while the second one would make me look enlightened as if I were a Zen Buddhist.

The thing about roosters is that they are polygamous, and they don't feel a tiny bit of shame or regret about it. "Ignorance is bliss", they say ("they" meaning the people who talk about roosters, not the roosters themselves). If only someone could talk to roosters and explain to them the virtues of monogamous relationships, the roosters would become civilized birds, thereby making the world a better place.

Okay, enough about the roosters. I do hear owls here on STX at night as go to sleep, and it's certainly a novelty. The Wikipedia says that the modern West associates owls with wisdom. It also says that owls sometimes attack people. One chap lost his left eye after attempting to photograph a tawny owl, which inspired the title of his 1970 autobiography, "An Eye for a Bird". If I were a true Christian, I'd probably entitle my book "If the owl takes your left eye, give it your right eye".

I am rambling. That's because I am along in my cottage, have nothing else to do, and I don't know yet what I can do after dark on STX. Where do I go to see the underworld of STX?


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St X
 St X
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February 24, 2014 4:50 am  

Well now you've gone and taught me something.
I didn't know that there are owls here- I assumed you were mistaking hens cooing for owls hooing.
Daily News article


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JulieKay
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February 24, 2014 11:10 am  

Are you sure you're not hearing doves? They can sound like owls. There is only one small species of owl ever found on St Croix, and they are extremely, extremely rare - the Puerto Rican screech owl, and it trills, not the "whooo whooo" sound you're most likely hearing.

If you're really hearing a screech owl we need to let a biologist know - they haven't been found in years. Olasee in the article St X posted would be the one to know - I've spent time with him, he knows just about everything to do with St Croix flora and fauna and is an awesome person.

I'm putting my money on you're hearing zenaida doves (or mourning doves) if you're hearing a "coo-oo coo coo coo" sound - which can sound like "whooo-oo oo oo oo" - zenaida doves are very common on St Croix, and mourning doves are spreading. But not owls. 🙂

"This is your world. Shape it or someone else will." ~Gary Lew


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rosesisland
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February 24, 2014 11:23 am  

To this day, my husband sleeps with a folded bath towel over his ear! This coming from years of living in downtown Christiansted where Roosters crow at 2am nightly! We haven't lived downtown in 15 years, but, he still uses to towel to block the noise. For me, three fans going all night at full blast...I never hear them! Saunder down to HH on the boardwalk in Christiansted, you'll meet lots of locals as well as transplants! Stay friendly!


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sunshinefun
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February 24, 2014 11:55 am  

I was at Plaza Extra East shopping on Saturday evening. It was a bit disturbing to see one of the floor managers with his 9mm clearly tucked into the back of his jeans. Usually they at least have their shirt over top so as to conceal the weapon. No wonder they never get robbed.


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JulieKay
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February 24, 2014 11:56 am  

You gotta respect the Plaza guys for showing they mean business. They do a great job enforcing order after hurricanes.

"This is your world. Shape it or someone else will." ~Gary Lew


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speee1dy
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February 24, 2014 12:20 pm  

wish i had seen that.

roosters woke me up a lot when i first moved to town, and the dogs. ugh. now i hear the movies on the last sturday, the jazz on friday, the dance studio, the ball game and the occasional gun shot


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Linda J
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February 24, 2014 12:41 pm  

I'm sure they were mourning doves. We had a flock of peacocks near us for a while. You've not lived until you hear them in the wee hours. One sounded exactly like a baby crying. I almost made Ric go our and look!!


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JulieKay
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February 24, 2014 12:49 pm  

Oh yes, and sometimes peacocks sound just like cats!! But try to convince someone they're hearing peacocks and not a big colony of cats, LOL. I gave that one up.

"This is your world. Shape it or someone else will." ~Gary Lew


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wanderer
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February 24, 2014 2:29 pm  

Day 3. I experimented with sleeping without the AC, and it was not bad. I imagine my host would be pleasantly surprised when she sees the electric bill.

However, the rooster was at it again. There were distinct overtones in his crowing last night. He sounded reluctant, as if he was torn between the two forces, one telling him, "I am a rooster. Therefore I must crow", and the other one, "Why bother?". I can sympathize with that. In a sense, I have the same dilemma. Because of this relationship between us, I decided that the rooster and I are now the soul mates, and I will call him Peter. Peter instinctively knows that if he stops acting like rooster, he will get axed, and the younger, more ambitious rooster would take his place. So, even though Peter has an erectile disorder, he forces himself to do what's expected of him, which is to top the chickens so that they lay eggs. Peter is a domesticated dinosaur. His ancient ancestors were magnificent creatures and predators who ruled the Earth. Now he is a cubicle worker.

Today is Monday. So, it's my work day. As a true Crucian, and not a tourist, I work during the day. I am a software engineer, and I am lucky that I am in a position to be able to do my job from anywhere. I brought my laptop, and that's all I need. Well, I do need an internet connection, which should be more or less continuous. So far, I had no outages, but the speed is rather low at just 0.5 mbps.

I looked up the "things to do on STX", and it came back with 68 items: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g147401-Activities-St_Croix_U_S_Virgin_Islands.html

The top rated item is the Sandy Point beach. According to the movie "Shawshank Redemption", this is the place to unwind if you had been brutalized for the previous 20 years of your life. People come to this beach to let the sand absorb their sorrow. Because of that, the sand on Sandy Beach is very soft. On Sandy Beach, you feel safe because you can see many miles ahead of you, which gives you an opportunity to spot predators well ahead, so the mind pacifies itself. For the same reasons, children like sleeping with stuffed toys. They are comforted by the notion that if the chupacabra attacks them in the middle of the night, its claws would sink into the stuffed toy, rendering the chupacabra harmless. Because so many people seek safety (which stems from the prehistoric age when their biggest fear was to be eaten alive by a dinosaur), the sand on the Sandy Point beach is at the risk of melting because it absorbs so much fear, anxiety, and grief. That creates a dangerous environment for the baby turtles hatching on the beach. For this reason, the Fish and Wildlife Administration keeps the beach open to humans only on Sundays. I don't understand this term, "Fish and Wildlife". Fish *is* part of the wild life, right? So, why separate categories?


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boyd46
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February 24, 2014 3:15 pm  

Wanderer--
"
"So, even though Peter has an erectile disorder, he forces himself to do what's expected of him, which is to top the chickens so that they lay eggs."

A rooster is not necessary for egg production, nature takes care of that. He is necessary only to fertilize eggs that, if given the chance, the hens will hatch.

I am enjoying your philosophical approach to things, it's very refreshing.

STX Resident


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