We are on our way today to meet up with Erwin and his annual outing of boys cruising the BVIs. Can’t wait to see some familiar faces. Seeing the BVIs from the USVIs was like peering down a favorite ski trail last ridden long ago. Can’t wait to point the bow over.
The wrap up on the USVIs (sans St. Croix for now) goes like this: St. Thomas, while being the most populated, has the most problems. Large cruise ships and a great port of entry make for an economy on fast food. Ships come in and hoards disembark, get delivered to ”downtown” via the local transportation with its overpriced yet lousy restaurants, tee shirt shops, bars and a plethora of jewelry shops. Barkers descend on the throng like whales herding bait fish, cutting to the weak, vulnerable and potentially lucrative. All of the characters are there; greasy salespeople that would make a used car salesman turn and run, a well-disciplined security team to eliminate the all too easy grab and go. And, of course, the prey. Not sure but I think footwear is the single biggest tell. Very new white sneakers, they are as subtle as laser beacons. Outskirts of town are the usual Island mix of broken down, funky living conditions, children dressed in school uniforms, gated resorts and luxury properties. The Island reminds me of strip mine mentality, leaving the equipment to rust after the numbers go red.
Laura and I used the mass transportation, which are heavy duty pickups with a seating / hard top arrangement that’s welded or bolted to the truck frame. They sit about 20 and are called a “Safari”. For 1 $US per ride and 2 for across the Island they are a handy inexpensive mode. Generally the locals made us feel welcome if we worked through the sometimes thick cognitive dissidence. The expatriates were a trip. Fell into 2 groups: 1st those down for less than 3 months, young, looking for something other than the job they were doing. Ok, so they were all bartenders or wait staff, what did you expect, we’d hang out at a nunnery? And second, those that have no interest in the “states” and are planning on living their lives out in their hippy style with the help of food stamps and cheap rum.
On one of our excursions Laura commented on all the construction going on. It did seem like a lot until you cut the active from the inactive sites. About 90 percent were abandoned or stalled, they reached back in time to when the Incas got beaten off the Islands by the Spanish. Sites left for dead and overgrown, usable materials long ago pilfered. Construction techniques follow the common Island mentality. There is not 5 linear feet of quality workmanship to be found on the St Thomas public areas. Maybe that’s as far as you can put together in a day.
We anchored in Red Hook, St. Thomas, had to come back from St. John for some repair stuff, laundry, fuel, happy hour. Saw some great things, race horses being swam for exercise with loud snorts of exhalation. An on the beach baptism of 6 people, each pulled violently backwards by the minister into the clear sea, giving the devil a “I’ll show you who’s in control!” Amen! Those gathered on shore howling in delight. We also became aware of a people movement pattern we called “the migration” of those in the know. Going to the early bars with the current, best, offerings of drink and food happy hour specials and working the streets until they have had their fill. There were a few places that snare the newbie or casual drinker with something exotic. My favorite to watch being consumed, is produced at Duffy’s Love Shack and is called the “Shark Pool” it’s 62 oz. with 6 liquors, presented in a fish bowl that Gary Larson would be proud of. It is the color of florescent aqua blue and comes complete with two, three inch rubber Great Whites, jaws wide, menacing, and liquor filled. The imbiber can either add the contents back into “the Pool” but more commonly has a mouth to mouth with the savage beast. The bowl comes with 6 straws (perhaps a suggestion of how many patrons the drink should be divided by) which by the second round are usually adorning someone’s hat in a My Favorite Martin-esq manner. You can’t beat this for entertainment.
St. John has a few different personalities. The most dominate is the US Park System which keeps a tight ship on access and anchoring. The shores and coves are pristine and they have an abundance of trails and nature walks. Cruz Bay, the big town on St John has a decent night life and shopping for most of your needs. A bit too tight for more than a day. And on the East end, Crystal Bay, it was labeled an anti-tourist destination and we thought that might fit our increasingly bohemian life style. Unfortunately it was populated with the expats that could not afford St. Thomas.
I’ve taken to turning on the Internet and skipping over the MSN page. The last time I looked, the media bashing had started in full earnest ahead of the election with only 11 months to go. Very glad not to have a cable feed.
We were just getting into a pattern of waking up, diving off the back of the boat, rinsing off, drinking coffee, (we’ve managed to hold off “cocktail hour” until 4 or 5) and either sightseeing, reading or working on the boat. Formal cocktail hour and dinner. Rinse, repeat.
On to the BVIs