Thanks much too all of you who helped me out in my opening post about 2-3 weeks ago, where I mentioned that we found St Croix too quiet for us personally and wanted to check out St Thomas.
Random thoughts from our trip:
1. We continue to be surprised at how friendly people are here. We hung out with 'strangers' for hours every day, where people would just come up and engage us and we would end up hanging out on the beach together for hours. It's not just greetings, people are overtly friendly, welcoming, and engaging. Not only did we have a fantastic time as a result, we made some new friends (and got to meet and hang out with VISnorkler and her BF, which was really great) and learned alot about being a prospective islander. The people in the VI are just flat out generally better human beings than in the states, and by alot.
2. My wife fell hopelessly in love with St. Thomas within about 15 minutes of leaving the airport, as our taxi climbed to the skyline highway for our trip to secret harbor on the east end. She only half-joked that I couldn't make her come back to the states with me.
3. Rented a car and drove all over the island. I'm convinced the zero street signs and general lack of any helpful indicators on any street are just the result of a conspiracy among taxi drivers to ensure their bountiful employment. I delivered pizza for 5 years, I know mapping and have a good sense of direction, but that was something else. Trying to get from just west of Charlotte Amalie over the top to Mahogony Run I got lost, and ended up on a one lane road, up a 15%+ grade, facing 2 trailers with bulldozers coming down the mountain at me in the opposite direction. Tried to pull to the side, much yeling from them ensued (don't blame them), before I reversed back down the one-lane uber-steep hill. Drove back to Charlotte Amalie and took a taxi to Mahogany Run, and discovered an incredibly easier way to get there 😉
4. My car rental from from a guy named Andre on the east end - freaked my family out when he came to our hotel room to pick me up saying "give me your drivers licence and all your credit cards, and I want your family in here too, we'll be back in an hour". Suffice to say I went alone, and my wife wondered just a little bit if she'd ever see me again.......when she called after 15 minutes Andre said "yep, this is generally when they all call" You don't say....... In the end, Andre is a cool guy who has just seen so many banged up cars that he likes to spend about 30 minutes showing you all the dangerous intersections, curves, places to park and not to park, and other safely things to watch out for.
5. Went shopping at KMart - I was very impressed with their selection and prices. So much of what I read here made it seem like it was goign to be like the USSR in the 1980s with bread lines and ration cards. It seemed just like a nice big store that had everything. I kept accidentally banging into all kinds of other people's grocery carts and wondering if they were trying to somehow ram me on purpose, then it dawned on me........stay to the left......duh.
6. Drove my the housing projects just east of Charlotte Amalie -- didn't even realize they were "housing projects" - they were about the nicest I'd ever seen, the area was really well taken care of. One of our drivers, Stanley, said before the housing projects there were alot of shanties around, and once those were put up it put an end to "shantytown" and provided affordable housing for alot of people who were priced out of a place to call home.
7. All the houses we slected to look at (and there were alot) were in Nazareth, on the east end near Red Hook. We didn't "fall in love" with any of them, but liked the area. At the end, our Realtor told us that after really gettting to know what we liked he had one more house that was not on our list that we wanted us to see, but it was in a very different area, in Frenchman's Bay. Turns out my wife fell in love with the home, and I like it too. I always thought of Frenchman's Bay as being all alone out there, and not near anything (except Antilles school), but Nicole sees it the opposite way, that it is close to everything - from Charlotte Amalie to Red Hook to the golf course and the airport, all within a 20 minute drive.
8. My wife spent more time in the ensuing days going to Havensight, Frenchmans Reef, the marina, the Mariott, and other places around. She telIs me the area is "5 times better than Red Hook", but my wife generally defines 'better' in terms of shopping. In short, she has found her paradise, and I like it too, but am struggling with my inbred fear of change 😉 I was told by one fairly surly person to watch out for being downwind of the landfill - is that true? There's a good chance we'll be buying this one in Frenchman's Bay, so if anyone has any comments, positive or negative about the area I'd be quite appreciative.