This is Part 2 of my “Wanna Live in the Virgin Islands” blog series.
Living here is really a dream come true, and for the right kind of person, it is the only place to call home, you know, the “inspired pirate type”, and I love it here. I love every bit of it. Truth is, people either LOVE IT, or HATE it, and I have not ever seen someone nonchalant about being here.
From part 1:
1. The people
2. Precious Water
Fourth, It’s safe to say that before I moved here I had a “Bugphobia”, I could handle ants, but that is about it. It’s also safe to say that I am not really detail oriented so I didn’t do a lot of research (not any) on what was down here insect-wise. I had been here several times and never seen anything other than those flying cockroaches, which I was seriously sweating, but thought I could deal since I had been to Florida several times without being murdered by one. It’s also safe to say I had no idea what I was in for, and that I am now completely cured of my lifelong phobia.
About a week before we packed up my dad turned to me from his laptop (and looked up from his readers) and said “You do know that there are tarantulas there right?”. Dads should not be allowed out on the “world wide web”. I still believe that this was his ace in the hole to keep his granddaughter nearby. You know that point in the movie when the character learns all that he has ever known to be true has ended and the camera spins around him, and the next thing they show is him vomiting? That was me.
The first week was just that, a few of those weird “palmetto bugs” aka “giant flying cockroaches” and after the exterminator came they really minded their own business and stayed away. By week three we had a scorpion that I fucking hunted like Dexter, he met his maker, I enjoyed it too. Other than that, there really weren’t any scary ones. That doesn’t mean that I ever walked without flip flops, and I certainly didn’t take any chances with the dark.
Of course, mosquitos are a bitch, but I can report that they are nowhere nearly as bad as Illinois in July. In the beginning, the worst bug here was the NO-SEE-UMS. They are the smallest pain in the ass since an embryo. They ate us alive. Seriously, it was awful. Scarlett looked like we were abusing her, she had welts all over her. I thought we had bedbugs it was so bad. So apparently, when you first get here these little “wings with teeth” that you can barely see nosh on you like crazy, but then once you’ve been here a little while they aren’t interested at all, it is a very ugly marriage.
Over the last two years, there have been hand-sized spiders, beetles that actually bark, lizards of all shapes and sizes, prehistoric centipedes, and many other creepy creatures, but tourists are still the weirdest ones to watch.
Fifth, Food. Back in the burbs I basically had my choice of grocery stores. Trader Joe’s being my first choice, but if I really wanted to get classy Whole Foods was my playground. Now, I like to eat, and I like to cook, and probably more than most, I am obsessed with food. When we got to this island I had fully convinced myself that my food lifestyle would change dramatically.
No more organic. No more goat cheese. Red meat, it was a good run. I thought that we would be eating fish every night, and well, we’d take what we could get otherwise.
Turns out, you can really almost get anything that you want, for a price. I’ve paid $12.99 for a quart of strawberries. I’ve also paid $100 bucks for an organic turkey for Thanksgiving. I’m not really sure what it is for a gallon of milk since that shit isn’t good for you anyway, but I can tell you this, it ain’t cheap. BUT, because I have a little pirate in me I have been able to hack the system a little, and this takes time and creativity.
One, I grow all my own herbs, and even though I kill them quarterly, it is still much cheaper to rebuy the plants. Two, one-stop shops are over. Usually, it is at least two locations weekly, and whatever looks good we eat. Three, organic is great, but sometimes it is not available, and I say, fuck it, you gotta do what you gotta do. Four, vitacost is my best friend. I have all my organic dry goods shipped in for $10 bucks, no matter what size the order is. Five, I found an organic farmer that will give me two big grocery store bags of whatever she harvests that week for 25 bucks! Which gave me a crash course on the local plants. Sugar apples, collard greens, caribbean spinach, and many other things I had never cooked or even heard of. Six, I am resigned to the fact that food is more expensive here, that is one of the prices we pay to live here. The good news is, booze is much cheaper, and as far as I am concerned, it cancels each other out. A bottle of rum is $7, which does nicely over cereal, just saying.
And the restaurants? Oh my god. This has been one of the best surprises. I believe to be a really great chef you have to be a little “off”, in a good way. Do you know that you have to be a little “off” to have the balls to move into the middle of an ocean and live on a rock? This makes this place optimal for amazing food. There are so many amazing places, from the local cuisine to beautiful fusion delights. Between Saint Thomas, St John, and Virgin Gorda, you can find about any kind of food you would want, of course coming from the smorgasbord of Chicago I was scared that our food life was over (dramatic sigh), turns out, not. at. all. From the Kmart Cafe, which I still believe is one of the best casual (really casual) restaurants here, to hull bay hideaway, which is like your childhood camp, on a beach, with live music, a bar, and fucking unbelievable grub, to 13, ambience and dishes second to none. There are about fifty restaurants I could write about here, but finding kickass eats is not a problem here. Don’t get me started on Off the Grid and their smoked meat and ridiculous sweet potato fries with ginger ketchup, just don’t.
I could write for days just on the food here, and I will. I fucking love food.
The last thing I will say about food today. I never knew a mango before living here. Sure, I had eaten them from the grocery store, but until you eat one off the tree, still warm from the hot caribbean sun, you really haven’t ever had a mango. I am literally a more pleasant human during mango season.
More to come on this beautiful adventure called island life.
Check out the rest of this series :