I've been thinking about St Thomas today, so I thought I would include a little painting of the St Thomas Yacht Club today.
I like St Thomas, though you need to have a reasonably high level of discipline and perseverance to live on a tropical island. Everyday things on the island are just a little bit more difficult.
You can't let things get away from you. Eternal vigilance pays off.
And, every once in a while getting away is just the medicine the doctor ordered.
God, is it great to get away.
I get "State Side," as opposed to "The Territory," and everything is different. For one, when you get a drink in a bar, the glass is probably not half full of alcohol before they start pouring the mixer. There's a term for that on St Thomas. It's called a Stateside Pour. Yup, It's a thing. I think the reason is, mixers are more expensive than the booze there. So you've got to keep an eye on your liver.
When I make it back to the mainland, I experience a bit of culture shock. Here are a few signs I've been on the island a bit too long.
1. Road Side Confusion
Do you ever get confused what about what side of the road to drive on; I hope not. You should have that down pat, but traveling back and forth from St Thomas can throw me for a bit of a loop. On the island, you drive on the left, and the steering wheel is on the left side. It's not so bad once you get used to it, but your first couple of excursions in the car can force you to engage a few dormant brain cells. It's not insurmountable, but sometimes it gives you a little bit of an uneasy feeling pulling out of a parking lot. At least, in England, the steering wheel position is commensurate with the side of the road you travel on.
2. Wild Eyed Wonderment
As I wander through the aisles of the supermarket, I look like I've just come from the third world. Everything is so bright and shiny and so new and fresh. The shelves aren't half empty because some container ship didn't come in this week. In the island some days the market will have the bread you want and some days it won't. The very next thing I notice is a gallon of milk costs a ton less than eight dollars, a half pound of butter doesn't need a second mortgage, and if I can spot a nice loaf of bread and it can be scooped up for less than $10.00, I'm liable to swoon.
3. Friendly Faces
Stateside I smile all the time at bank tellers, supermarket cashiers, and other service people. The US is a service oriented country, and we do it well. If you've ever complained about customer service here on the mainland, stop right now. Service is so much better here. I would forgive you for qualifying the Continental United States as a different planet.
The worst service in Arizona is oodles better than average service on St Thomas.
There are some places on St. Thomas where the service is exceptional, but exceptional is indeed the exception, not the rule. At most places, you can hardly get the cashier to pay attention to their job if you can pry them away from their cell phones.
4. Trips Are Easy Man
Going to the store in Arizona or Ohio is as easy as falling off a log. I'll gladly go at the drop of a hat. I'll even volunteer with a smile as big as a kid with a humungous bowl of ice cream.
We plan every shopping trip on St Thomas like a military operation. We have to prepare to go to the right store for bread. Then, the butter is less expensive at that store. The fruit is better at the Fruit Bowl but sometimes more expensive. Do we have to get gas, because the station at Coki is thirty cents cheaper per gallon than the one in town? Can I stand to go to Pueblo this week or will Plaza Extra fill me with less angst, gloom, despair, agony, or depression? Which Drug Store (Chemist) will have what I need for my prescriptions? Do we need to pick up the mail? Is the mail center open at this time?
Friends are important. The people you know and you're comfortable around are few and far between. We've met a lot of tourists, and we used to try to get to know people, but they're here one day and gone the next. Building lasting relationships on the island is difficult. I did start to get to know some folks at the golf course, but Irma and Maria were jealous and put an end to that, and the golf course is not only closed and unkempt but up for sale. Got $42 million to invest?
I like being where my friends are. I guess that's the way with most people. I know it's like that with me.
I think this year is our last on St Thomas. Though I have enjoyed the experience, I'm ready to call it quits. We committed to living on the island for five years, and this is our eighth. I'll make the best of our time remaining, and I know I'll have fun, I always do. I'll lap up as much sunshine and salty air as I can, while I can, but then I will think of the Caribbean in the context of holidays rather than day after day.
Until next week, I wish you peace.