My 2 biggest fears of moving to VI
I only have 2 concerns about moving to the VI,
1. Driving on the left, when I visited last year the taxi drivers scared the heck out of us, does everyone drive like them or do they like to hear tourists scream?? I also hear its legal to drink and drive there, would I have to worry about drunk drivers on the road with me? Of course thats everywhere, but its not legal.
2. HURRICANES! You're on an island and can't evacuate inland like in FL or the east coast. What do you do? Are there shelters to go to or do you hunker down in your homes and hope for the best?
Other than this I have no fears, I've lived in very culturally different places before, Hawaii,Alaska,Navajo Indian Reservation in Arizona, so I know about respecting the locals, I find if you are respectful they're very helpful and welcoming and love to teach their culture if you're interested, which I love to learn about new things. And I work in health care so when I've worked in these places I've had to adjust since I work mostly with locals and not tourists.
You will adapt to driving on the left. Yes, the taxis do drive like jerks as well as some other's on the road as well! Hurricanes. make sure you find a place that has shutters and hopefully a generator. Should be no problem.
As for driving on the left, you get used to it very quickly. Just trust me, you do. After a short while, you will be like..no big deal. I haven't noticed an abundance of drunk drivers. I'm sure they are there, so always a good idea to drive defensively.
We try to prepare in advance for hurricanes to minimize the damage. We have shutters, use sandbags, take down anything loose outside, just do the best we can . We stock up on water and canned goods, batteries, that sort of thing. I don't know about shelters. I think some of the schools may offer a place, but most of the people stay and try to protect their homes. People who live in particularly vulnerable areas may go to friends with better protection. We are all very aware of the threat, and some take it more seriously than others, but we don't let it control us too much. Unless there is an actual threat, you just go about your business with an ear a little closer to the weather channel, particularly during August and September.
i lived in a country where i experienced both driving on the left and typhoons
driving on the left is strange at first but you will get the hang of it. don't let it be a concern. i found i had more of an adjustment when i came back to the states.
on the storms - you probably have those of a different nature where you live now and the same rules apply - you just prepare and be smart. common sense goes a long way.
Regarding 'canes...look at the map...FL, for example, which gets hit OFTEN, is HUGE compared to the little dot that is the VI...the odds on one hitting us down here are MUCH less than one hitting FL...I've been here for over ten years and we've really only had one (Georges in '98) that did us any harm (and slight harm at that). Wrong way Lenny was fun...so was Debbie...(they were both tiny little storms) but that's it for ten years! Heck how many 'canes hit FL just last YEAR??
And, for driving on the left...follow the car in front of you, it's easy...once you get used to it (takes about a week), then it seems to make more sense than driving on the right...
You're right about having storms everywhere, in the Midwest where I'm from we have lots of tornados which are very scary, but I've experienced them and know what to expect and we all have basements to run to if we can. Having not experienced a hurricane I was not sure what to expect or what to do but it sounds like the same as with a tornado except with hurricanes you have lots of warnings and tornados sometimes just a few minutes notice if that.. I asked about shelters because I'll be coming alone and if I rent a place that's in a more vulnerable location I'd want to know where to head to since I'm sure it will take a little while to make friends that would invite me to their homes.
You will be surprised how quickly you can make friends, particularly if there is a threat of a hurricane. Everyone kind of pitches in and helps each other out.
where i live we do sometimes have tornadoes with little warning and people who have never experienced that kind of weather freak out. just think of a hurricane as a tornado with water and more warning. it's better to be safe than sorry and i'm glad you asked the question about shelters - i'm sure there are others who were wondering the same thing.
It isn't legal to drink and drive here - just needed to clear that up. You will get used to driving on the left very quickly - the turns are the most difficult - just keep repeating keep left, keep left. Keep in mind that people for the most part drive slowly here as compared to 60-70 mph on the freeways.
Great questions. I lived in Africa for a few years when I was younger so I was already used to the idea of driving on the left. But my question has always been" how do you manage to go back and forth between mainland (drive on right) and USVI (drive on left). I suspect that many people go back and forth a few times a year. It seems like that would be maddening.
When I visit the USVI, and am driving around, I always start out saying to myself, in my best rastafarian accent " drive left, man" (actually, I usually end up using a Nigerian accent, since I know that better). The accent helps to get my head in the new environment more quickly.
And a great question about shelters. If I build my house the way I'm currently thinking, it's going to be completely up on stilts, off the ground. So, when the first big hurricane comes, I think I'd rather be somewhere else wondering if it's going to stay put, rather than inside the house. So, you're probably thinking the same thing I am: we'll move there, and just our luck, a huge hurricane will come the very next week.
It actually IS legal to have a drink in your car while driving here...however drunken driving, DUI, Imparied, etc. is not. That means it's ok to have a drink in your cup holder while driving, take a sip of it at a stop sign and then continue on your merry way...but if your blood alcohol content (BAC) reaches 0.1%, then you would be breaking the law by driving. But just having an open container of alcohol (beer, for ex.) is perfectly legal here. Call 340-778-9757 and ask for the Traffic Division if you would like to verify this.
And, yeah, like here on STT the max speed limit is posted at 35MPH, not alot of high speed collisions here!...if you read the newspaper, you will find that most of the drunken driving tickets are issued if someone has had an accident, though...
(and before anyone jumps on me for promoting drinking and driving , please take into consideration that I have been a proud member of Alcoholics Anonymous for over 3 years here in these islands and I NEVER have a drink...I merely wanted to point out that an open container IS legal here.)
Thanks for clearing that up. That's what I meant by drinking and driving, an open container in the car. I should have made myself more clear. Thanks everyone for all your help, I'm getting some great information from everyone, its good to know that everyone there is so helpful!
We locked ourselves out of our car once, a few years ago. As we were trying to figure out what to do, my husband sat his open beer on top of the car. Along came a nice police officer, who helped us break into the car. As my husband was getting settled in the driver's seat, the officer reached up, picked up the beer and handed it to him. And he never asked for any ID or registration. It wasn't much of a car, and we don't look like car thieves, (it happened in Red Hook, so he may have recognized us) but we had a chuckle over it.
I'll also say that it is very easy to drive on the left. I think I was fine with it about 45 minutes after I started to drive. At first, I freaked out in certain intersections but I got used to it. Before you know it you'll be zipping around too.
Funny thing is that a few times when I came back Stateside I did try to drive on the left for a quick second but then realized my mistake. As time went on I was able to switch back and forth easily.
When you first start driving all you'll focus on is staying on the left...staying on the left but after awhile it becomes second nature. 🙂
Great questions Echogirl,
when I arrived here last August, I was constantly on the look out for crazy drivers. Including the drunk kind. Those drivers that cut corners too close bother me more now. It only took a couple of days top get used to driving on the left. Now when I drive stateside I am constantly checking myself to make sure I don't make the wrong turn (into traffic). It is a lot easier than I expected. Drive cautiously, you should be fine.
I agree about the driving part, switching back and forth driving on left or right is not as weird as you think . . . which is weird. I will add drivers on STX are very polite, often just stopping traffic to allow someone waiting to turn right. That never happens in Baltimore when turning left. At first when you hear the friendly "beep" you wonder what he heck is going on.
I too wondered about shelters, I would have been sure everyone evacuated their homes when the island was under threat. It scares me most that it would be impossible to leave if you did not fly out on first warning. I guess you just do your best to secure your property and yourselves and wait it out. Still . . . I hope I'd refer to miss 🙂
So . . . if leaving you home vacated during cane season do you just install shutters as a precaution? I am thinking we should put our in place when we are there next week but was afraid ghat would just highlight the fact we were not there.
i think it is harder to get used to the driving on the left issue when you are a pedestrian, and the risk to serious injury is certainly more too. when you are walking, just think twice before entering the street, because your normal instincts are all backwards. i missed getting run over by a bus doing about 35mph in STT down by the waterfront, by just inches. something made me stop. i didn't see the bus coming.
Well, didn't Mom always say to look BOTH ways before crossing??? Here, you had just better be looking right, as that's where they come from...tourists are always getting pounded by cars cuz they only look left before stepping into oncoming traffic...look BOTH ways!
I learned to drive here many years ago, lived in the states for a long time, and now travel to the states about once a month
...and the worst is when:
a) both sides of the road seem quite right
b) both sides of the road seem vaguely wrong
c) arriving in the states after midnight, driving a rental car in an unfamiliar city, and there is a layered, tangled highway ramp exchange, with a jillion signs pointing all over, and for a brief moment, no other cars to give a clue. ayeeeee! One could be mistaken for a drunk...
Being dyslexic, the words "left" and "right" don't bring up the right visual quickly enough.
The"stay left" stickers, signs or little phrases are equally useless.
So, when in the states, I slap a sticky note on the dashboard with a big black arrow pointing right.
That does the trick, no thinking or words involved.
When I am here, I keep me and the steering wheel next to the bush or roadside.
The sticky method could work for whatever side you struggle with. But it scares the heck out of stateside passengers when you casually explain what it's for.... lol.
That is really funny......lol....I think I'll try the post it
I don't know why but I'm excited to drive on the left. I'm sure it won't be so exciting after a week or so but it should be fun while I'm getting used to it.
That is Bea-utiful! I can't think of a more elegant solution!