Questions about St. Thomas
Okay - my husband and I are moving to St. Thomas in 2 days. We've found an apartment to rent in Wintberg. I've been reading through all these posts to kind of learn what to expect. We're definitely expecting to be treated different since we're not "locals." We were down to visit about a month ago and I really didn't feel like people weren't being friendly to us. So how bad can I expect this discrimination to be? I've read a few posts about getting a PO Box there - do they deliver mail to your homes/apartments at all? There's no washer/dryer where we'll be - what are laundromats like there?
I'm looking for any information about St. Thomas. Like I said I've spent a lot of time reading through this board but I'm sure there's more to know so feel free to give me any tips for life on the island. We're moving down from Northern Michigan so this will be a huge change.
Thare are a few (very few) places that have mail delivered to a set of boxes out front...not many, though, so the odds of the apartment you choose being one of them are slim, so plan on a P.O. Box...
Laundromats aren't quite like Michiganders (I'm one! Well, USED to be! Haha! Although I'm a male...so shouldn't that be "MichiGOOSE"??? Haha!) will expect, but they operate the same way, for the most part. In my nine years here, I've never actually used them, as I always use the drop off service at the 'mats. A week's worth of Laundry is usually about $20, depending on the place...Drop it off in the morning and pick it up after work...usually the next day.
The 'discrimination' is subtle...you'll understand it more the longer you live here...but, just accept it, because, really, it's not going to change, there is nothing that can be done about it and it's not that big of a deal...at least not to me, anyway.
There are some mail box places around the island also if that would be more convenient for you. I don't know about in the Wintberg area but possibly near where you'll be working.
There's a big laundry in Tutu Park mall, among other locations & Marty is correct about dropping it off if you want. I have a washer/dryer but used laundries when I first came here.
Good luck with your move!
There is a post office in TUTU, but I'm SURE they don't have any boxes. I know Century 21 rents boxes, I'd try there as it is not too out of the way from Wintberg.
Good luck with your move. We just returned to Northern Michigan after spending two months on St. Thomas. (Health reasons with my college daughter!)
Regarding post boxes: good luck! We were told everywhere that there weren't any available, so we had our mail shipped to our work address. Hopefully you'll get luckier.
Regarding laundramats: We used the one in the TuTu mall the most because it was bigger. I worked in Red Hook, so went to the one in Red Hook occasionally (next to Molly Malone's). However, I found that the Red Hook laundramat charged people who weren't locals an arm and a leg for drop-off laundry. ALWAYS ask first what your charges will be. They may not give you a direct answer. It was much cheaper doing it myself.
I'm a little concerned that you're expecting even before arriving here that you'll be treated, "different" and also that on your visit a month ago you felt that people weren't being friendly to you. I'm not sure what to say about that but it does sound as though you're coming here with a bit of a negative attitude right from the start.
Whenever you move into a new neighborhood you're going to be regarded a little off-handedly until people get to know you. You can move into the sweetest suburban 'hood, a big city apartment building or a farmland environment or anywhere else and you'll be an outsider for a while until the people in whatever area figure out if they want to be friends with you or if, in their estimation, you just don't fit in.
Admittedly, the islands are a little different in some ways where accepting newcomers is concerned but the basics of human nature remain the same.
There may or may not be direct mail delivery to your Wintberg apartment, but your landlord should be able to tell you that. If that's not the case, you can go to either Tutu Park Post Office to see if they have available boxes (Island Ed says he's sure there are none available but people do come and go!) or check out the various private mailbox services. He mentioned Century 21 and I have no clue where they are but I know that Lock and Key located in the Tutu Park Mall has mailboxes.
In response to your next question, I totally recommend La Providence laundromat in Tutu Park Mall. They've done an awesome job for me for MANY years now.
I'm not sure what else to say in order to welcome you and assuage your fears except that you should reach here with an open mind, go about your business, keep your ears and eyes open for every new experience and never assume anything. Good luck, and people on this board are here for you.
If you do have trouble getting a P.O Box, try Daniel at Back Street Boxes on Back Street. He has boxes available and gives excellent personal service.
If you can not find a PO Box, which I find a little silly as I found two well actually we had three by the time we left. 🙂 We moved around the island at least three times in two years and kept getting a new PO box closer to where we lived. The best PO Box and friendliest customer services is by far in Red Hook. For $18 a month they will collect your mail and put you on a wait list if they don't have a box available. You just pick up your mail at the counter until you get your box. They have tons of other services there and are so helpful. Love and miss them. There is also Fortress Storage behind the hospital (all the way behind Daily News against the hill), they have mail boxes for $5/month (last time I checked which was last August), but not as wonderful as Red Hook. Just depends on where you live.
God, laundry. I dropped off a few times, but we had three kids and it got very expensive. I have heard that dropping off at Tutu mall is a good place. They won't ruin your clothes. I ended up doing the laundry myself in the Red Hook laundry (loved Burrito Bay Deli in Red Hook to eat), but bring lots of water as you will sweat off at least 15 pounds. After a dozen visits I realized they had an air conditioner running, but you couldn't tell. Speaking French helps as the girls that worked there spoke French to many customers, but I had to do the sign language thing as their accent was difficult for me to understand. We became sort of friends at the end of our stay, mostly we smiled and laughed at other customers. Don't ask, you had to be there. 🙂
As far as discrimination goes, it happens, but it isn't unmanageable if you have thick skin. Let it roll, pick your battles, etc. For me it was just exhausting to have so much negativity thru the day. You will meet nice people and we met and have great friends there, so it isn't all consuming. It is just so hard to explain. I think I have already said my part in other posts, so I don't want to harp on it. I don't have proof or experience, but I tend to think that STT is the tougher of the the four islands to deal with as far as discrimination and granted you are going to go thru some type of culture shock anyway. For me I was depressed for the first three months, but after that I started to get a routine, know my way around, met people, made a few friends, found a few good restaurants, and figured out what time of day to go to K-mart to get good service and friendly service (that was such a great accomplishment).
Best thing to do is when you find a place, restaurant, or store you like, then frequent that place until you get to know everyone. From there you meet other people and start to fit in.
Everything depends on your attitude. If you feel overwhelmed, just take a trip to a beach and forget about it. Tomorrow is a new day. Get out on the water as much as you can. It makes your world not feel so small and is such a great stress reliever.
Who knows? You may just be prepared enough that you fall into place on the islands. I am of course only speaking from my own experience and I wouldn't change a thing. The islands are a world of their own. You really either love it or hate it. You don't meet many people who will say the the islands were okay or just fine. They usually have a strong opinion one way or the other. Good luck with your move!
YOu have enough info about po boxes - you will find one. After being here for seven years I understand why people are stand offish at first - all races. I have seen SO many people come and go. People move thinking they are moving to Paradise and leave a year later saying they hate it. The island is not for everyone. Just do things you love to do, join in, make friends. Check out the Daily News for events that are happening - Afternoon on the Green, Carnival, St. Patrick's Day Parade, etc. etc and go to the things that sound fun to you and take your time looking and talking and meeting people. Don't wait for people to talk to you. Everyone is so accustomed to seeing new faces and then not seeing them ever they don't know if the new face is a tourist or........ Keep an open mind and enjoy.