Message to the "Regulars"
Good day to you all! None of you know me. I found this forum about a week ago and have spent many long hours on here since then researching the islands, particularly St. Croix. I've asked a few questions, but mostly just read what is already available from past posts. The collective knowledge of the "regulars" on this site is phenomenal!! Thank you to each of you who makes the time to get on here and share your knowledge and experiences with those of us who are dreaming of &/or attempting to relocate down there!! You've given me so much "food for thought" as my family and I try to decide if this very major relocation to the island is the right thing for us to do. Because you all have shared so much with me and so many others, I wanted to share something with you in return. If it's something you hear often, please forgive.
My husband and I spent a week on St. Croix several weeks ago, beginning Memorial Day weekend. Neither of us had ever been anywhere in the Caribbean. In fact, neither of us have ever spent much time off of the US mainland. Most of our lives have been spent in the small college town of Ada, Oklahoma - about half-way between our capitol, Oklahoma City, and the Texas border. Some of you who are avid readers may have heard of Ada -- it is the setting for John Grisham's true crime novel, "The Innocent Man," as well as a few other true crime novels about life, crime, politics and corruption in a small town smack in the middle of the "Bible Belt." Many of the things I've read about in this forum are very reminiscent of life in Ada. What we refer to as the "Good Ol' Boy" system is very rampant here. It's not what you know, but rather who you know, that is often the key factor here. With the right connections, you can get away with just about anything - including murder. On the flip side, you know your neighbors and can usually rely on them for anything from a cup of sugar (because your half-way through making dinner and just realized you don't have any) to keeping an eye on your house and pets while you're out of town for a week. Your children go to school with the children of friends you've had since grade school, and they frequently have the same teachers you had in school twenty years earlier.
My husband and I had great expectations for our first trip to the Caribbean. It turned out that our trip was more than either of us could have ever dreamed of. We spent a week at Cottages By the Sea, just outside Fredricksted. All of the "running and seeing" we had planned fell by the wayside as we got caught up in just relaxing on the beach and visiting with the staff and other guests, many of whom are "regulars" at Cottages. I've never met such friendly people as I did on St. Croix. From the staff at Cottages, to the staff at Judi of Croix where we rented our car and SCUBA who took us snorkeling and diving; from the locals we met in restaurants and the grocery store to the people who wished us a "Good Day" on the streets and waved at us as we drove past on the streets. It was like having all of the best things from home, and plopping them down in the middle of Paradise!
Even the things that went wrong didn't sour our experience. I came down with a horrible ear ache the night before we left for the island. By the morning of our first full day on the island, I was in more pain than I've ever felt in my life and knew I was close to a ruptured ear drum! As luck would have it, it was Memorial Day; and as I'm sure you're aware, the island was on the beach!! A local helped me get antibiotics so that I wouldn't have to go to the hospital. I know those antibiotics kept me out of the hospital that week until I could get home and see my doctor. My ear made me unable to go on the dive we had scheduled, but I snorkeled until I felt like I should have gills! I'd never been in the ocean before, and it too surpassed anything I'd ever dreamed of! What astonishingly beautiful waters surround St. Croix!!! Although I took enough Motrin that week to kill a horse (strongest thing I had for my ear), my routine health problems vanished! No acid reflux, allergies, social anxiety, or insomnia - things I deal with every day at home! I was totally at peace and never wanted to leave. I literally cried as we were packing to return home, and made my husband promise we would move there if the opportunity ever presented itself! I am so tired of the "rat race" on the mainland, even in small-town OK, and the pervasive feeling of needing to "keep up with the Jones!"
I'm looking for work there and researching life on the island. This forum has made clear what I knew in my heart - living on the island and spending a week there on vacation are two vastly different worlds. While I believe my husband and I could adjust, we have a teen-aged daughter to consider, so the education system and the crime on the island is of particular importance to us. It's very clear that even "Paradise" has its problems, not to mention the logistics and financial burden of making such a move. This forum has given me much more "food for thought" on making such a life-altering move. The insight that I've gained here has been invaluable.
Not that I'm changing my mind - just considering with much more realism. I guess I just mostly wanted to say "Thanks!" Thank you St. Croix for an experience beyond my wildest dreams! Thank you for your kindness, your consideration, and your "WELCOME" that we experienced on island. And thank you regulars of this board who have been so generous with your knowledge and experience of life on the island! We cannot wait to return, whether it be to move or to vacation again! I also wanted to remind you, much like roadrunner's post of "This is one of those "Why I live here" days," that in spite of all of the problems on the island, you live in a place that is better than any drug to some of us "mainlanders." Sometimes, no matter where we live, we get caught up in what is wrong in our lives and forget to count the everyday blessings that we take for granted. I wish you all the best as you deal with your problems in government, education, crime, etc. The people of St. Croix will always have a special place in my heart! Thank you!!
Good luck whatever you decide, and welcome to the forum.
You have done a great job of organizing your thoughts. By reading the older posts on this forum you have had the benefit of much information (much of it conflicting). My advice is to keep planning, but don't rush your decision. While it would be nice a move right now it might be a mistake, but in a year or two it might be just right. Good luck and enjoy.....
We gripe because we love it so much and want it to get better.
Saundra, thanks for taking the time yourself to let us know how you feel. the places you interacted do have great reputations...Cottages, Judi and SCUBA. I enjoy them often and I'm a "regular".
Just wanted to mention about your daughter. I wouldn't worry in the slightest about bringing her up here, as long as you can afford to send her to one of the few private schools. If the $$$ is not an issue, work it out with her and if she's willing too I say it's very doable.
Regular readers of this forum know I love St. Croix.
After surviving 4 careers, 2 1/2 wars, and 2 terrorist bombings, I was ready for some peace. I found it here.
Diving has changed my life. I've done 30 dives with SCUBA, and every dive is a new experience.
I've had hundreds of contacts and not a single negative encounter.
Good luck in your quest,
Many, many thanks to all of you and your well wishes!! It only confirms our feelings about the people of St. Croix. We would love to meet some of you the next time we're on island (we're hoping to get lucky and make it over the Christmas break :@))! Edward, I can't express how happy we are that you found your peace on St. Croix! It would be an honor to experience a dive with you some day!!
Blessings to you all!