"The Island Will Decide..."
It's official! We made it! All the years...all the planning...all the "if it's supposed to happen it will"...and here we are. Dreams really do come true. More on that later, but first I want to dive in to the first two weeks on this lovely island...the expected, and the not-so-expected, the great, the good, and the occasional ugly (which the good outweighs by a long shot).
Blogs (and all social media for that matter) tend to have a skewed reality. At least, that's how people tend to use them (some people). Log into Instagram any day of the week and generally what you'll find is the best part of someone's life from the last week or two, all the pretty moments. Since the moment I decided I'd start writing this blog, I decided to tell the REAL story. The truth about life on a rock, the great, the not so great, the struggles, the easy breezy side...all of it. That is what people want to read/see after all. What it was really like. If I can convince anyone to do what they feel a calling to do, or go where they feel God, the universe, or whatever you believe in is pulling them, and give them a little insight into how that process went for me, then I've done what I set out to do.
So here's the end game in all of this. People will discourage you, they will doubt you, they will think you are down right ridiculously NUTS. I have no idea why...but you undoubtedly will hear phrases like, "Well, good luck with that (insert sarcastic tone here)," "Let me know how that works out for ya," "Do you realize how much the cost of living is there?", "What do you think you're going to do for a living," "You realize that is unrealistic right? You need to come back to earth and realize what life really looks like."...and so on and so forth. But on occasion (and yes I say on occasion because the negative responses far outweighed the positive ones for us) you will get the supporters, the "Wow, I wish I could do that," the "You're so lucky," the "I can't believe this is happening we're so excited for you". Funny enough...those are the relationships you can now clearly see that you should be hanging on to. Just like that, everything seems to start to make total sense.
For me it started as a struggle, I thought, "Oh God, what if they're right..." in every way shape or form of the thought. I think I can speak for Jason there too. "Are we crazy?" But eventually those negative thoughts turned instead to confidence filled thoughts. Why on earth shouldn't I do what makes me happy? Why would it not work out? Why? Really, give me a reason why! Why are people being so negative about it, when it feels so right? I'm sure each one has their own jaded reason, and that's ok. I hope some day they find their happy place, or that maybe they're already in it and they just struggle with understanding mine. I'm perfectly good with that (Not that it matters)!
If you have a vision, feed that vision. We literally shopped for things to decorate our house that doesn't even exist yet. We were that invested. We held on tight to the vision, despite the doubts from others and ourselves, and we fed that vision until it grew into a belief and well...here we are. Was it easy...hell to the no. But 9 times out of 10 the best things in life aren't easy. So after working hard for it, we've arrived and we've realized it was indeed the RIGHT decision for us. We've redefined ourselves and our life almost completely. We're not any different inside than we were, we just feel able to be outwardly ourselves here. The goal you're chasing is hard work, yet it is attainable and for some people it is right for them, even if someone else doesn't think so. Life is too short not to run toward your dreams at full speed. End of story.
Ok so I lied and wrote my blog in the opposite order I said I would...onto Life on a Rock.
Tickets in hand, seats 18 B & C, please dear God don't let anyone sit in seat A...I want to be able to look out the window at the first glimpse of my new home and Guapo will probably bark at said person in seat A the entire 3.45 hour flight. As we start boarding this girl walks up to the counter, running late or just got a ticket or something, I am not sure what the story was. I let her jump in front of me after she talked to the gate agent (go ahead and insert some things are meant to be phrase here). We all file in very slowly to our seats, when I throw my bag up in the overhead bin and look down, there she is...seat A...oh well. She seemed nice enough. It could be worse. She was really tan, like really tan and looked very...free I guess you could say? Plus, she was traveling alone so my instant assumption was that she was actually from St. Croix and not a tourist. Literally the minute we sit down we start talking to her, fast forward, yes she's a Crucian and has been for 7 years, has a catamaran charter biz with her beau and is overall a very nice, helpful, lovely person. Fast forward 3.45 hours later, and I have a phone full of notes that she's given us, everything from where to eat dinner our first night to where to live on the island to helping us find a car and a home. Literally the type of person that would give you the shirt off of their back.
Once we land we meet her beau, nice guy too, super knowledgeable about houses and it seems the networking has already begun. One thing stuck with me though that she said on the plane. And funny as it may sound when you first hear it, it has proven itself to be true. Her main words of advice were..."The island will decide" I know I know, you almost get a chill and goosebumps just hearing it. Jason and I joked about it for a couple of days. Who is this island and what does she think she knows that I don't?! Who does she think she is? Lol. Well, turns out she does indeed decide...almost like a wife ruling the roost, she will let you known how things will go down...We found this to be true after meeting numerous people who were NOT meant to be on island who absolutely hated it here. How...I have no clue, but it wasn't for them.
In the mean time...week 1, the fast and furious Texans are in a BIG hurry to find a car and a house to buy, despite all the locals telling us to wait and see what part of the island we liked more. What can I say, we had a plan, I've had the STX MLS literally memorized for 2.5 years (at the least), and we were limited on what we could afford. Well...day 3 came and went and I already had the whole damn island mapped out, including what parts I loved and what parts I was a bit nervous driving through. The high end areas and the projects. We'd seen it all. You can literally drive across the island within about 30-45 minutes no sweat. Side note we had a Prius I think...or some similar hatchback type car that was absolutely not meant for the Texas sized pot holes they have on this island. Driving on the left seemed like a sport I was born knowing how to play at this point. My directional sense was dead on as usual and I could get us from one destination to another one way or another without a map. Needless to say we were ready to find our home, our neighborhood, our car, our people.
The interesting thing is everyone loves where THEY live. Literally...everyone. They will all tell you that their little corner of paradise is the best one and try to convince you to move there. That says a lot about the people here. We soon realized that "The island decided" that nothing was going to happen on OUR time, but on hers. Our anxiety was through the roof after not finding a car on day 3...day 3 people...who really thinks a purchase like that is going to happen that fast? Does it happen that fast on the main land...no...here we are on island time and we think we should have bought a car yesterday. What were we thinking?? A few days came and went and the perfect car for the perfect price just plopped right into our lap. Complete with a hula girl on the dash. I'll be damned if the island didn't decide...We joked...ok well she clearly isn't kicking us off of her yet so...where's our house?! Onto the next challenge! We continue on Texas time and rampantly get the realtor to show us a list of 6 houses, which he shortened to 4, which made us nervous...NOW what is the island deciding?! Make up your mind already hun!
Day 4, house hunting:
Geez-O-Pete...we saw everything, from mongoose infested homes, to squatters with rusted bloody machetes to houses falling off of mountains...everything, everything that we DIDN'T want to live in. Should we sell the Jeep? Lol. Was the island changing her mind? Does she even do that?! This is a perfect example of one of those times where you need to just keep on keeping on and trusting that things will work out right when the time is right. So, that is what we did. It took everything in us not to get a bit testy and short with each other but we did pretty well. We were both hella nervous. Technically we still are. Needless to say, we have some promising leads, but overall the house hunt is still on...heading soon into week 2. We have more faith than we did before and we've met some key point people to keep us on track in believing in our dream. Again...if they don't support you, take them with a grain of salt and find someone who does to get the job done. We've been blessed with the right people so far. Apparently she likes us...the island that is.
Day 5, bingo!
So the lovely girl from the plane invited us to play bingo on Tuesday night. In Cane Bay there is a little dive bar that sits on the north shore right at the waters edge. So much so that on windy evenings the waves splash right up onto your feet! IT. IS. GORGEOUS. A view like that doesn't come along often in one's life. Just stunning. We met a few fun people that night and decided we'd have dinner with the "plane couple" some day in the coming weeks. Side note: none of us won bingo (a few pics below)...the blog continues...
Days 6, whatever..who is counting mon? We're on island time!
A few notes all rolled into one...I've learned that the mongoose(s)? mongoose? Feel free to throw in how to use that term in the plural sense of the word...they are hella fast! The Rikky Tikki Tavis of the island zip across the road in front of you like their asses are on fire and they're in a rampant rage towards the ocean to put them out! Occasionally they have babies with them. Holy cuteness...you can see them teaching their little mini's to run just as fast as they can across the potholed roads to avoid crazy island drivers : ) I have zero pictures of these adorable little vicious creatures because well...their asses are on fire skipping across potholes and back into the bush they go.
While we're on the Rikky Tikki Tavi subject...you can jump right into your Jeep and jam out to (insert radio voice here) "104.9...THE MONGOOSE". Yeah...the first time we were blessed with that little gem we almost lost it. Lol. Let's just say we knew we were home.
Dogs...they are EVERYWHERE. I don't even know what to do with that information yet. At home I'd stop and pick them up and put them on blast on social media trying to find their moms or dads...here...I'd get home from the grocery store and have 8.5 dogs in the back of the Jeep and Jason would inevitably kill me : ) They have a great rescue team here that tries to re-home them on the mainland. I think I just need to get to know the locals and who owns who and go from there before I start picking Spot up and taking him away from his island haven.
Yes this is a Rasta dog with dreads...yes...on purpose...
This place is (as I was advised by a good friend prior to coming) like the wild west. Quite literally. It's make it or break it around here. Thankfully we're tough around the edges. I've seen some sad sad things that I don't ever want to see again, but they've made me stronger too. I'll spare you the details as I don't need people crying onto their keyboards. That being said, most everything has been good : ) It's life or death out here kids. Survival of the fittest, and some sadly aren't fit.
Groceries...some are cheap, some are definitely not. It really depends on what you are buying. Gas, eggs, milk...no problemo...Neutrogena face soap or Gold Bond medicated powder...forget about it! Might as well write home now begging for a care package. But overall things are better/easier than I'd originally imagined. There are numerous grocery stores. I don't have to GROW everything I want to eat, although I still need to locate the farms/farmer's markets. The electricity...so far so good with an occasional outage late at night when the rains are heavy in the rain forest (yes we currently live in the rain forest)...which leads me to my next subject...
Toads of Doom. Ok I'm all about being adventurous but here in the STX rain forest, I have to take the pups out to potty before the sun goes down and the frogs start singing. There is a frog they call the Cane frog that apparently squirts poison out of its ears and can kill a dog within 20 minutes if not treated properly. I don't really want to risk that. About a week in I took them out late and Rufus literally sniffed a large frog's ass. The next 45 minutes were me literally freaking out and waiting for him to start foaming at the mouth. Needless to say I won't make that mistake again! Don't worry...Rufus is just fine. However, we're now looking to move to the more arid side of the island rather than the rain forest : )
The People, everyone has been amazing so far. Every person we've met has offered to help us out in any way possible. You go to lunch and the next thing you know you have a go to mechanic on hand AND a dog/house sitter for when you're off island...you play bingo at the local bar and you've got a breakfast burrito hot spot the next morning, you buy a car from a random guy and you've got a ride to the airport and back to return your rental and loads of helpful information that would have taken you years to learn on your own. You go get a P.O. Box and now you know where the best hidden locals' beaches are, you grab a burger on the boardwalk and meet 6 uprooted Texans that moved here the week before you did.
There seems to be a family mentality here on STX. If you're not a born Crucian, then you came here because you WANTED to be here, so most the ex-pats (with the exception of those in the process of leaving the island) are generally happy, welcoming, pleasant, caring people. They all seem to care about the environment, and their family and friends and just doing good on the earth in general. It is so contradictory to how it felt on the mainland (to me). Where everyone was just pissed off because they were stuck in traffic for 2.5 hours, or hating their life for one reason or another. Also google doesn't really exist here...it's all by word of mouth, or who you know, or following people on Instagram or the all mighty buy, sell, trade FB sites...those are bread and water here! You want a car...BST, you want some free wood, BST, you want a dog sitter, BST...etc. If you don't know how to network, you best get to learning! Also everyone knows EVERYONE...literally. I Instagrammed a few STX'ers months prior to arriving here, and my friend from the plane literally knew all of them. I friend a waitress on FB and next thing I know we have 6 friends in common. Crazy town. It really offers you a new chance to start over and meet completely new people from all walks of life. It enables you to be the REAL you, and learn to be the best version of yourself, and for people to either love it or hate it, but no matter what...everyone knows YOU.
The Pallet has Arrived! We got the call yesterday that our pallet was here, so Jason went in the Jeep and picked up half of it. The other half will be stored for a couple of months until we find our new home : ) So all day he's been going through our chotchkies and tools and organizing them into plastic bins to make the move a little easier. I almost forgot to mention...we pushed our rental back a couple months to give us more time to house hunt/close on a house. We were very fortunate in that our landlord who owns the cottage has an open cottage since it's off season come Sept 15th. She hadn't filled it yet so she offered it to us for 2 additional months for the same price as the 1bdrm. Thank goodness because we have a lot of stuff stuffed into this tiny cottage! We love it here though, she is so friendly and helpful and the place is lovely and perfect for a temporary home.
I think that about sums up the first (almost) 2 weeks of this life on a rock. I can't wait to continue to explore the island, there is so much we haven't seen yet! Stay tuned for next weeks adventures, and keep chasing your dreams, one day at a time, one small goal at a time.
Hula Haley went through a slight makeover to become Deep Blue Devil's new mascot.
The North Shore from above
Cane Bay Beach ♥️
Hay Penny, where Pito (Guapo) owning the ocean, while Beats (Rufus) body surfs with dad in the background.
Beats meet Hula Haley...his first beach adventure in progress.
Found seaglass at Fort Frederik Beach
Hay Penny (I'm not sure I'm spelling that right at all)
A lovely bar/restaurant on the east end. Safest ATM on the rock. : P
Pacey's island twin ♥️
Jason at Point Udall, the eastern most point of the US
Pacey's twin in our friend's art gallery downtown Christianstead. It looks like Jason will be doing some pieces to be featured in the gallery as well : )
Yours truely at Point Udall
Jason helping the tourists out as Hula Haley watches from afar
Random hood ornament. I so badly wish this were ours. If anyone finds a hood ornament as cool as this, feel free to send it to us! We need to trick the Jeep out a bit. Lol.
Buying the Jeep in downtown Frederiksted, VI
Pito taking a snoozer
Island bucho life
Just a lone cactus on the east end with the best view in town
Buck Island in the distance
Buck from a tiny roadside beach
The north shore
Sugar cane mill ruins dot the island. This one lives on the Christiansted boardwalk