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STX Mini-PMV Report

 
Neil
 Neil
(@Neil)
Trusted Member

St Croix Mini-PMV Report

I'll spare the details. PM me if you want them. But we had a very intriguing vacation/lookaround/mini-pmv to St. Croix here in late July 2007.

As we wandered the island, we found ourselves gravitating toward the North/West side of St. Croix. More tropical. But we travelled the east end and southside quite a bit. Just a preference. But I think it's worth noting, as others have done that St Croix has several different environments, not all of which might appeal to some.

St. Croix grew on us. At first we were a bit disappointed at some things, but by the end of our trip, we were beginning to feel at home and there were several factors which contributed to that. We've travelled quite a bit, and sometimes a place just takes its time to work its magic on you.

St. Croix needs to be explored. Staying in a resort on the beach and just going out for dinner and shopping won't do. Even Christiansted grows on you after you walk around its many crumbling buildings. We laughed about some things we had been warned about. 15 minutes to get fries and a coke at McDonalds? Uptight people should not visit this island.

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Notable Highlights:

a. The Off the Wall Bar and Grill ...along route 80 by Cane Bay. Very good calzones and pizza. Spectacular cliff-side sunset scenery. Inexpensive and laid back. Met many locals there. Our kind of place.

b. Carambola Beach Resort ...at the end of route 80 on the northshore. Great place to drive up to and go swimming. Very tropical. Mountains reminded us of Maui. We liked it so much we booked a room at the end of our visit. Nice. I know some people think its "remote" ...but we like that!

c. The drive from Christiansted to Salt River and route 80 along the northern coast. Not to be missed and not to be driven fast!

d. The drive up and down "The Beast" ...the mountain hill on the northshore renown for its triathlon races. Each night a group of mostly local women walk the Beast as part of a fitness club. God Bless Them! Hwy 69 I believe. Goes down past the Carambola Golf Course, which is worth entering just for the scenery/greenery. (Just tell the gate guard you're going to the restaurant).

e. The drive from Pt Udall along the southern short to the Great Pond. Beautiful, wild and some great vantage points along the way.

f. The People. The native Crucians we met were mostly helpful and mostly pleasant, especially the under 50 crowd. The transplants we met were very talkative and generous with their time. Most of the transplants we spoke to were not rich. They just made choices to be there. Spoke at length to several young adults working there. They were good salesman for the island.

Advice to other travellers: take the time to strike up conversations. Most of the Crucians, of all colors, enjoy shooting the breeze and talking about their island life. We made it a point to talk with people everywhere, and learned a lot.

g. The Teroro II catamaran trip to Buck Island. I know others like the "Big Beard" tour, but they 'motor' to the island, whereas, the Teroro II actually SAILS to the island and back. Nothing like being under sail. Less crowded too. Buck Island is as everyone says, "not to be missed."

h. Meeting Alexandra Bentley -renown on the VI relocation board and in real estate. Thanks Alexandra!

i. We stayed for a few days at the Carrington Inn. This B & B is inexpensive, wonderfully decorated, big soft beds, centrally located (Hermon Hill behind Christiansted), nice view, pool, good food, great hosts.

j. The famous "Just in Case Deli" is now named "Lori's Deli."

k. Bug spray available at the outdoor restaurants was a welcome thing. The no-see-ums saw us.

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Things We Didn't Like:

a. The trash. STX should take a hint from St Thomas -which is much cleaner. Probably one of the more easy problems to solve!

b. The lack of helpful road signage. The island should want visitors to easily find things. The businesses on the island should demand it. Suggestion to visitors: Bring two maps on every road trip and bring a compass for travel on the western backroads. I used mine several times. Downtown just keep driving around, you'll figure it out. If you freak about getting a bit lost, don't come to this island.

c. Poor Fredriksted.... "The town that time and tourism forgot."

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Note about San Luis Hospital

Occasionally people ask about the hospital on STX, whether because they might work there, or because they might need care there. We've had the same questions as others. So we visited there UNANNOUNCED about the prospect of an RN job for my wife. We were prepared for "backwards" and "crumbling" like some of the other infrastructure on St. Croix. What we saw was a fine looking hospital in the process of remodeling. When my wife asked directions to Human Resources to pick up some paperwork, she was ushered in to meet the chief. We met with several senior staff and were given a tour of the unit where my wife might consider working. The staff was -very- welcoming, very helpful, and like many of the other Crucians we met, open and friendly. The equipment we saw in the unit was brand new, state of the art. They were very excited about the new collective contract that had been negotiated, and the wage structure/benefits were better than we had expected. They also give a substantial "moving" bonus to new recruits. Nursing is a great profession!

Regarding the experience mentioned on this board which some traveling nurses have had... it was suggested by a staff person that traveling nurses are not always well received because: a) they make more money; b) they are short-termers; and c) they are sometimes given undesirable positions that need filled.

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Note about Country Day and Good Hope private schools...

We got to spend 30 minutes with the new headmaster at Country Day. Very impressive chap. Nice campus in an island kindof way. They provided us with a very thorough packet of information, and stressed the concept of family. We toured the Good Hope school, but it was closed that day. Bright facility right on the beach. Spoke to a young adult who had graduated from there and he was very positive. Like so many other buildings on St. Croix, the school buildings look built to withstand the sun and weather. Best to leave behind preconceived notions of what a school "should" look like.

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I'd like to thank all of you on this board for helping PREPARE us for our mini-PMV. It helped us know what questions to ask, what personal issues and needs to test, and what places to explore. No visit can tell the whole story, but I hope this report adds a helpful chapter.

We look forward to returning soon for another visit, and eventually making our move.

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Topic starter Posted : August 5, 2007 3:43 am
marlene
(@marlene)
Advanced Member

Great post. I love the pizza at Off the Wall. Will try to go to the beach at Carambola

Thanks

Marlene

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Posted : August 5, 2007 3:51 am
Linda J
(@Linda_J)
Expert

Very down to earh and informative report. And especially good because you said nice things about my neighborhhood, the North Shore.

I hope it works out for you.

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Posted : August 5, 2007 6:36 am
watruw8ing4
(@watruw8ing4)
Trusted Member

Great report. And it matches our conclusions for those items we experienced on our visits.

The signage problem is typical in most of the islands we've been to. We've made several wrong turns that took us way out of our way. Mostly, it's been good because we get to see places we hadn't planned on. Hard to get from Point A to Point B if you take the tourist maps literally., too. After our second PMV, though, we got the basics figured out. Hard to get too lost on an island. :<)

We did not visit the hospital. So your report on that was good news. Although I do hear rumblings that emergency ambulance service is rather slow. We did have a minor dental emergency (it could have waited a day or two) on one of our trips. The first dentist we called told us to come in immediately. When we got there, a sign said it was his day off. He told us he was in the office that day doing paperwork and we said we could come back. But he said it woud be a shame to waste a day of not being able to eat and fixed us up (for an unbelievably low charge, compared to what we would have paid at home). When we told him we were contemplating a move, he hung around to discuss the good and the bad of life in St Croix. It was the friendly and helpful attitude of the islanders we ran into in our ramblings - locals and transplants- that finally sold us, in spite of the relatively snooty service we experienced at the resort when we first vacationed here.

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Posted : August 5, 2007 1:47 pm
Neil
 Neil
(@Neil)
Trusted Member

One local told us, "If you end up in the ocean you've gone too far."
Another told us, "When you see a lady selling juice, turn right."
When we showed our map to one local she couldn't find her OWN neighborhood (nice map, huh?).
I like getting lost, ...unless I'm on my way to the airport, which I was. Apparently the map-maker had never actually visited STX 😉

We laughed every time we saw one of those blue highway signs pointing the way to the "Divi Resort & Casino." They are all over the island, even on the far side of the island. It's like Divi is the only business to have permission.

On "The Beast" hill someone had handpainted the words "slow" as you approach a dangerous curve going down hill. Thank God for that person and their can of paint.

Fun time.

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Topic starter Posted : August 5, 2007 2:32 pm
Linda J
(@Linda_J)
Expert

The ambulance service on STX is one area that does concern me. We only have 2 ambulances and often only on staffed and in service. So, through no fault of the ambulance, service can be slow and, if the ambulance is on a run, you may have to wait until.... whenever.

Ric and I have talked about this. If we were faced with a medical emergency, heart attack or stroke, we would NOT wait for the ambulance, but drive to the hospital. An accident - I don't know. I think even then I would try to get to the hospital. It is really something to think about.

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Posted : August 5, 2007 5:02 pm
vshoppell
(@vshoppell)
Advanced Member

I do feel the need to step up here and voice an opinion about the EMS service coming from an EMT. One huge problem is the 911 system itself. If you are on STX, you may have read in the paper last week that they are working on an enhanced 911 system by putting up better radio towers. One HUGE downfall to the current system is that if you call "911"(especially from a cell phone), you are routed to St. Thomas, then St. Thomas routes you to the St. Croix police dispatch, then the call may or may not make it to the actual ambulance. There was one call I was on where the delayed response was due to the police forgetting to call us. You can call the police dispatch (on St. Croix) directly by dialing 772-9111 or you can get an ambulance directly by calling Juan F. Luis Hospital at 778-6311 ext. 9. I know that doesn't necessarily help but at least you can have a better understanding of the delay.

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Posted : August 5, 2007 9:06 pm
East Ender
(@east-ender)
Expert

Neil: The question of maps comes up frequently. I was in Dockside Books (St Thomas) this afternoon and saw a new road atlas. While it isn't like a stateside Mapsco, it has Google Earth pictures of sections of all the VI (I didn't check to see if Water Island was included) and drawn maps on the facing page with houses, streets, driveways, etc. Pretty interesting for those looking for something more objective that "turn right at the tamarind tree where Mrs Smith used to live." Although I have to tell you that I really enjoy the narrative descriptions here!

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Posted : August 5, 2007 9:54 pm
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