When first arriving in St. Croix and feeling overwhelmingly enveloped in green sea and blue sky, the first thing I was struck by was that there was no smog line — no brown belt girdling the horizon. Even in beautiful Cape Cod, when one looks out to sea, they are ever reminded that New York lies South and the winds blow North. Here, blue mingles with blue and the balmy breezes (Trade Winds) smell as freshly perfumed and feel as silky and pristine as mountain top air.
The land is primitive and exotic, overgrown and filled with flowering trees and vines that mingle with cactus and verdant hillsides. The island is 23 miles long. The East is a semi-arid dessert. That is where all the resorts are (same as Hawaii). The West is a tropical rainforest. Where I live in Christiansted it is a blend of both where vines climb their way up thorny stalks.
But beyond the physical beauty of the island is the beauty of the people and their culture. Everyone recognizes everyone everywhere they go. On the street, one bids good morning or afternoon, etc. to all who pass by. A person getting on a bus bids good day to everyone on the bus. And everyone does this. This is not a lost or forgotten cultural custom, this is the ultimate respect and accord in which people treat each other here. Skin color is not an issue and a full head of dreadlocks is accepted in all walks of life. Rules and regulations are minimal. As in New Orleans, you can walk with a drink without fear of being accosted, and almost every neighborhood has its own little bar — sometimes in the back yard of a house — sometimes a makeshift stand set up on the side of the street, trees strung with lights and Caribbean music playing within.
The local food and health drinks are a page unto themselves. Suffice it to say, they are as exotic as everything else here and the owners of the little Ma and Pop restaurants will be happy to cook a special request if you will come back in a few days when they have made it especially for you.
The way the island was arranged is brilliant as well. All the chain stores like KMart, Foodtown, etc. are located in the middle of the island. The Coastal towns are all historically preserved and very old. Hurricane Hugo, (back in the 80’s ?) destroyed many homes which people were unable to re-build, so these forgotten stone structures have become artworks of Nature. Vines and trees growing in and around the crumbling stone — decay and life comingled in a dance with time.
Roosters, hens with their chicks peeping after them, dogs and cats all live independently and make do on what’s available. I have adopted a Siamese mom with three nursing kittens and her son from another litter who’s about 10 months old. They are still afraid but getting used to me since I’m feeding them quite well and they are very appreciative. I love to watch the kittens playing in the yard.
I am truly happy. This place is what I have been looking for my whole life. I am finally home.