Living like a St. Johnian  

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wanderer
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February 11, 2015 12:04 am  

Day 8.

St John operates on "island time". Time slows down here. Everyone knows that. But have you ever thought about this: does time move continuously, or in discrete steps? Is there a smallest possible unit of time that can't be subdivided? The modern physics doesn't have the answer to this question. But I do. Before I give you the answer, I want to know what you think.


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wanderer
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February 11, 2015 1:28 pm  

Day 9.

It has not rained for 7 days. I love tropical rains. They are swift and short. They clean the dust of the patio, which comes all the way from the west coast of Africa. The air, already clean here, gets filled with ozone, and it smells foreign, as if you are on another planet.

In the southern states below the Bible Belt, like Mississippi and Alabama, people pray for rain. St Johnians don't pray. In this East part of the island, the vast majority of St Johnians have relocated here from the Northeastern states: Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Michigan. In these states, the belief in God has gone out of fashion.

St Johnians have what God doesn't have: money. Water is a commodity here. There is no public water system, and there are no wells. All water comes from above, in the form of rain, as opposed to from below. It gets collected in cisterns. When St Johnians run out of water in cisterns, they call in for a water delivery by truck, $500 per delivery. That's more than what I payed for heating oil, when I lived in the Northeast.

I thought, maybe I can run a small business here: run my little fresh water plant, out of my home, and sell water to my thirsty neighbors. Evaporate, condensate, collect. But it's not that simple. The process of producing fresh water leaves toxic substances as the by-product. When disposed back to the ocean, this substance would kill fish, coral reefs, and everything else alive in vicinity.


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wanderer
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February 11, 2015 5:14 pm  

Day 9 (continued)

In North Carolina, during the summer, you can tell the locals from the visitors by looking at their shirt colors. The locals wear light colors, to take advantage of laws of physics which allow the light colors to absorb less of Sun's energy. The visitors from the North wear dark colors.

In St Thomas, this entire delineation is reversed. If you take a ferry from Saint Thomas to St John in the late afternoon, you'd notice a highly curious phenomenon. The ferry would be filled with the uniformed schoolchildren. In the 85 degrees heat, the girls wear dark socks, up to the knee level. The boys wear dark-burgundy long pants, and dark closed shoes. Then there are visitors, who wear light-colored t-shirts, shorts, and sandals, quite appropriately to the climate.

I figured this is a intentionally designed form of child abuse, to punish the children for all the future sins that they would inevitably commit when they become adult St Thomians. It's a type of sadomasochistic flagellation, imposed with the idea of "enjoy your suffering, to repay to Jesus, who died for your sins".


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wanderer
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February 11, 2015 7:38 pm  

Day 9 (continued)

The inappropriately dressed school children of St Thomas prompted me to look up who the abusers were. It turned out to be Ivanna Eudora Kean Public High School in St Thomas.

The wikipedia article about this school ( http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivanna_Eudora_Kean_High_School) helpfully provides a link to the "School Uniforms" article ( http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/School_uniform).

Ironically enough, that school uniform article proclaims the following:

"The findings indicate that student uniforms have no direct effect on substance use, behavioral problems, or attendance. A negative effect of uniforms on student academic achievement was found."


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wanderer
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February 11, 2015 11:43 pm  

Day 9 (continued)

Indigo Bar & Grill in East St John is a fine establishment. The waitresses are tall, attractive, and wear evening gowns. There is a visible attention to detail in food preparation and service.

But it ain't no Rose's place on King Street in Fredriksted, STX, the home of USVI constitution, and the most Carribbean town in all USVI.

Indigo Bar & Grill is virtually indistinguishable from any other restaurant in my home town in North Carolina. The menu is totally non-Caribbean: pizzas, rib eye steak, salmon, mahi-mahi, cucumber soup.

I miss you, Frederiksted!


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wanderer
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February 13, 2015 10:29 pm  

Day 11.

By now, I recognize half the people that I meet every day: on the beach, in a breakfast joint, on the road, in the supermarket. It feels like I've lived here for 5 years. It's a small world here in East St John.

I payed twice for this small cottage in East St John, compared to a similar cottage in West St Croix. As they say in the United States, you get what you pay for. I get to hear crickets and the sound of Caribbean ocean here, as opposed to gunshots and gangsta rap in West St Croix.

As you leave busy and touristy Cruz Bay on St John, you take Rt 10, which connects the West and the East part of the island. The farther East you go, the less crowded it becomes, and the more expensive. My cottage is a guest house for the much larger structure above, called a "villa". In my estimates, it's worth about $2M. In East St John, you can be a sociologist studying the lifestyles of the millionaires: how they behave, how they think, how they talk, how they dress, how they joke, and how they earn and spend their money.


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Exit Zero
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February 15, 2015 8:28 pm  

It is interesting that you have talked about fresh water as a commodity in STJ - I have observed over the decades that as more water became available for purchase and delivery by truck the real estate prices escalated rapidly and the size of the homes and particularly the rental 'villas' got much much larger. Back when water was almost impossible to purchase, before the desalination plants, people built sustainable homes that could survive on the available rain water and the dryer desert land on the East End of STJ had very few homes because it rained so infrequently.

There were few if any swimming pools, homes did not have 5,6 or more bedrooms and even more bathrooms, fancy showers with multiple shower heads were unthinkable, and fresh water was never used on landscaping.
The possibility of just buying water, damn the cost mentality dramatically changed the entire culture and demographics in STJ in less than a decade, and the expectations of the visitors now renting these 'villas' have exaggerated this trend, stressed the infrastructure beyond anyone's imagination and has turned STJ into a warm Marthas Vineyard imitation and a vacation destination for extremely well funded visitors who see the island as a rich mans Disneyworld driving the prices up even more for any residents and home prices beyond the reach of anyone but the highest earning individuals.

Just my observations over the years, other opinions may differ.


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wanderer
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February 16, 2015 6:17 pm  

The possibility of just buying water, damn the cost mentality dramatically changed the entire culture and demographics in STJ in less than a decade, and the expectations of the visitors now renting these 'villas' have exaggerated this trend, stressed the infrastructure beyond anyone's imagination and has turned STJ into a warm Marthas Vineyard imitation and a vacation destination for extremely well funded visitors who see the island as a rich mans Disneyworld driving the prices up even more for any residents and home prices beyond the reach of anyone but the highest earning individuals.

Just my observations over the years, other opinions may differ.

These are my observations, as well. I didn't expect to see such a great difference between STX and STJ. It feels like they are two different territories.


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wanderer
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February 16, 2015 6:26 pm  

Island signs:


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wanderer
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February 16, 2015 6:32 pm  

The beautiful hills of St John (but driving on St John is a chore):


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wanderer
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February 16, 2015 7:39 pm  

How do you tell when someone is rich in St John? Here is a good indicator: the local millionaires on the beach pointing to a mega-yacht anchored in the bay, and saying: "This is a rich guy".

There is a mega-yacht in Hansen Bay, right across from my cottage. Her name is Felix, and I looked her up. Here is how she looks like inside:

The price is not listed anywhere. $30M?


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wanderer
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February 18, 2015 10:57 pm  

Day 16.

The 3 views of my favorite spot on the Hansen Bay beach. I feel at home here.


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wanderer
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February 18, 2015 11:25 pm  

Day 16 (continued).

After 6 pm, the air temperature is 77, and humidity is 83%. It feels supremely comfortable.

I've reached the second phase of relaxation. The first phase is when my face muscles relaxed.

The second phase is when I focus on the light fixture on the patio, and the whole huge complex world collapses to just me, the light fixture, and the connection in between. The mind almost stops producing any thoughts. The noise in the head diminishes to very light static. The field of vision becomes like a tunnel. I feel spaced out. All I see and feel is the utter simplicity and comprehensibility of the light. The light acts like a magnet, absorbing my senses. It feels like this is how it was meant to be, and I want to hold on to this feeling as long as I can. The other part of me is still fighting, resisting, pulling in the other direction, back, towards the abyss of Babylon. That other part of me is cunning and powerful. It had the upper hand, dominating me. But here, on the island, I learned to let the natural forces of the Caribbean sea and air to drain the poison and the puss out of me.

Is there a third phase? I really look forward to it.


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wanderer
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February 19, 2015 12:33 am  

Day 16 (continued).

A remarkable thing has happened.

I focus on the stars above. First, they appear as just light dots in the dark sky. After 10 minutes, I see that they are all different. Some are brighter, some are smaller, some are yellow, some are blue, some are white. Some are isolated, and some are clustered. I try to visualize the distance between me and the star by making the connection between its color and its distance.

After 20 minutes, I can make the stars appear and disappear by my own power of will, and the power of observation. In the the theory of quantum physics, stars don't exist in any particular place or time. There is a probability function of their existence, but not a physical reality of their existence. When I observe that probability function, I have the power to make the stars come to existence. But it gets even more mysterious: when the light of the star reaches my retina, I single-handedly created the entire long history of that star, going perhaps as far back as the Big Bang, and all the way to now, some 14 billion years later, when I saw the star. I've affected the past of that star, on a gigantic scale. I gave birth to it, and I gave it its long life. The now became the cause, and the then became the effect. I've reversed the uni-directional flow of time.

It's called a "quantum enigma", but I think this term is an understatement.


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Ca. Dreamers
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February 19, 2015 11:40 am  

You are either drinking to much Rum or smoking too much dope!

Get back to the Wanderer we know and love! LOL!

CD

Day 16 (continued).

A remarkable thing has happened.

I focus on the stars above. First, they appear as just light dots in the dark sky. After 10 minutes, I see that they are all different. Some are brighter, some are smaller, some are yellow, some are blue, some are white. Some are isolated, and some are clustered. I try to visualize the distance between me and the star by making the connection between its color and its distance.

After 20 minutes, I can make the stars appear and disappear by my own power of will, and the power of observation. In the the theory of quantum physics, stars don't exist in any particular place or time. There is a probability function of their existence, but not a physical reality of their existence. When I observe that probability function, I have the power to make the stars come to existence. But it gets even more mysterious: when the light of the star reaches my retina, I single-handedly created the entire long history of that star, going perhaps as far back as the Big Bang, and all the way to now, some 14 billion years later, when I saw the star. I've affected the past of that star, on a gigantic scale. I gave birth to it, and I gave it its long life. The now became the cause, and the then became the effect. I've reversed the uni-directional flow of time.

It's called a "quantum enigma", but I think this term is an understatement.


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crosscr
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February 21, 2015 2:29 am  

I am new to this forum and just recently found the writings of wanderer, both the STX visit and now STJ. I really enjoy his style. I also enjoy the posts of those who seem to have their feathers ruffled by him. (but for different reasons)


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crosscr
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February 21, 2015 2:35 am  

Day T-11 (11 days before arrival)

Music is a very powerful means of expression. The United States armed forces have an entire department, called Psychological Operations, to exploit people's sensitivity to different types of music, with the purpose of protecting the United States from its enemies. For example, if you happen to be an Islamic terrorist, you may be subjected to certain medieval experiments which involve simulated drowning and listening to offensive music. The top 5 songs used for this purpose are:

1. Bruce Springsteen, "Born in the USA"
2. Christina Aguilera, "Dirrty"
3. Nancy Sinatra, "These boots were made for walking"
4. Barry Manilow, "Anything"
5. Barney the dinosaur, "I love you"

Remember how the US military captured the Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega back in the late 80's?


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wanderer
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February 21, 2015 11:22 am  

Remember how the US military captured the Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega back in the late 80's?

"Welcome to the Jungle" by Gun N' Roses, right?


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dougtamjj
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February 21, 2015 2:52 pm  

Panama by Van Halen and I Fought the Law by The Clash


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wanderer
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February 21, 2015 7:57 pm  

Day 19.

I am getting a surprising amount of attention from the local women, ages 20 to 50. In the land where most men are in their 60s and married (which is East St John), being 47 makes you look attractive. As a Russian proverb says, "In fishlessness, a lobster is a fish". Or something like that.

At Aqua Bistro in Coral Bay, I am minding my own business, consuming food. Then I notice a woman at the bar. She makes an eye contact, and holds it for 3.5 seconds. Holding the eye contact for longer than 2 seconds is an invitation to a courtship dance. Then she makes a signature move: she tilts her head down and to the side, exposing her bare neck. Submissive behavior, you see. Then she flicks her head back to toss her hair. She raises her arm and touches her hair, opening the armpit, allowing the pheromones to radiate in my direction.

At this point, with accordance to the ritual, I am expected to pull my stomach in, protrude my chest, touch my hair, and tense my biceps. This would send a message that I've accepted the courtship dance, and ready to play. The thing is, I am bold, I don't have a belly, and I am skinny. So, I don't do anything. I just observe intently. My role here is that of an anthropologist and a biologist, studying sexual behavior. I treat this woman as an object of a scientific endeavor.

She proceeds by making circular-like motions with her fingers around the glass, as if fondling it. The glass signifies a phallus. Then she slides her shoe in and out around her foot, suggesting the coitus like movement. Her eyes are moist, mouth slightly open. The spine is straight, which makes her breasts appear firmer and higher. The wrists are tilted in a way to let me see the soft skin. From time to time, she touches herself and her handbag. She gives me several more glances. Everything happens subconsciously and automatically for her. Genetically and evolutionary, it goes perhaps as many as 5 million years back. That's a long time to figure out how to best attract men.

Her trickery starts to take effect. Unscientific thoughts pop up in my mind. There is no room for emotions, impulses, and desires in hard science. I must remain impartial, objective, logical, ethical, and scientific. What kind of anthropologist would I be if I fell in the very same trap that I was studying? That would be unacceptable! "Women are sexual objects", I keep telling myself over and over, "and I must objectify their sexual behavior". Finally, the unscientific thoughts subside, and I feel so pleased with myself.


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wanderer
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February 21, 2015 9:30 pm  

Day 19 (continued).

Salt Pond Bay beach. Not crowded, not rocky, good size. Access is by an easy hike of about 0.3 miles. Best beach so far.


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wanderer
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February 21, 2015 9:45 pm  

Day 19 (continued).

Drunk Bay beach. Lots of "beach art". I made my own piece, too.


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wanderer
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February 21, 2015 10:02 pm  

Day 19 (continued)

I saw 3 sea turtles and 4 lesbians, which made me realize that I need to get out of my cottage more often.

The turtles were big, magnificent, and multi-colored (brown, red, yellow, black). The underwater visibility is quite spectacular here, and I snorkeled with the turtles, as they were swimming within the arm reach.

The lesbians were young, shapely, and tattooed. Lesbians are people, too. They like warm weather, beaches, sea turtles, and other lesbians.


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wanderer
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February 22, 2015 4:52 pm  

Day 20.

Rock fever starts to set in. Everywhere I go, there are exactly the same people who hang around these places. There is a group of what appears to be British expats, who watch soccer all day long, and sometimes sing "God save the Queen". Singing "God save the queen" in my breakfast joint? Get the hell back to your own little rock, you goddamn brits! Then there is another guy who walks around as if he owns the place. He stinks of sweat badly, and it's unbearable. Then there is a fellow who tells me that he served in Vietnam, built an American embassy in Moscow, and trained Israeli special forces. He looks like he lived all his life in a trailer park in Alabama.

I decide to go to the local church to escape this dread. But there is no escape. The woman to whom I gave a ride to Cruz Bay earlier, turned out to be the pastor's wife, and she is here, distributing the booklets. Then I see a local with whom I discussed VI politics on the beach.

There is an expression that "all politics is local". In this church, all religion is local, too. The pastor invites us to pray about the local legislators, oh god bless them and give them the wisdom! Then he talks about St Thomas, and how it came to be the largest slave market in the world. Then he turns his attention to Czechoslovakia, and describes it as the center of religious gravity in the world. What? Oh, it's a Moravian Church!

O Lord almighty, please give me a brand new tropical island! I would call it the Garden of Eden. I'll call myself Adam. I'll run around naked, giggling, light as a feather, free of garbage in my head. I'd build myself a little hut, and there would be eleven thousand virgins in there. And there would be one fish, enough to feed us all. And the virgins would forever remain virgins, for in paradise, virginity is the property of the mind.


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swans
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February 23, 2015 2:37 pm  

Au revoir....


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