A week in "America’s Paradise"

lucky, lucky me
Originally uploaded by linoleum jet.

St. Croix residents (known as Crucans, Crucians, or Cruzans, depending on who you ask; there is no local passion for orthography) are very serious about their cultural differentiators. Every civilized conversation must begin with “Good morning | afternoon | evening” and they drive American cars on the left side of the road. They also like to stop their cars in the middle of the street and talk to their friends. This happens quite a lot.

Food, housing, and all necessities are brutally expensive; booze and gasoline are not. A huge oil refinery and rum distillery serve as the only outposts of white collar employment, and ensure that the exciting combo of drinking/driving remains within reach of the average denizen.

I did my part to help the local economy by buying Virgin Islands butter pecan ice cream and eating it while floating in a giant foam chair in the pool.

I don’t think this was quite enough economic stimulus. The odd little city of Christiansted is losing the high end boutiques it once had, and though this is the height of their tourist season we were often the only visitors wandering the sidewalks and elaborate arcades. The stores seemed mightily overstaffed, with the shopkeepers all either eating takeout from Subway or talking about going to Subway. Not a lot of non-Subway commerce was taking place.

The dive shop was a much more happening place. We ventured to Cane Bay to learn scuba and dive through a famous coral reef. I had an odd sensation as I chased gorgeous little fish around the reef that I was in a big ol’ salt water tank in an office building. It was similar to seeing a well known painting for the first time and thinking “yes, that does really look like the poster.” You’re amazed at how much the real thing looks like the simulacrum to the expense of being amazed by the real thing.

Today I read that coral reefs are dying off quickly, so get in there and look around before they’re gone.

I’ll conclude this brief trip report by noting that although there are no hummingbirds outside my window in Somerville, I’m still glad to be home!

~ by linoleumjet on April 3, 2006.

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