Sunday, August 30, 2015

Tropical storms continued... Tropical Storm Erika

It's been an active storm season in the Atlantic Ocean. Right after Danny dissipated, tropical storm Erika became an issue and caused very serious damage and death on the island of Dominica. St. Croix went into prevention mode and the government urged employers to call off work last Thursday. As we waited and put up our storm doors and obtained canned foods, I could sense a nervousness which was not evident during Danny. People were concerned about the damage that would be caused by both the wind and the rain if we would get 8-12 inches all at once as was being reported.  When the storm finally came onto the island around 7 pm, the wind that I could hear definitely sounded very serious and loud. The storm doors shook and, I really hoped that they stayed where they were. The air got very cold which was nice and I fell asleep about an hour after it started as the wind died down.

In the morning, St. Croix went under curfew to make sure that all roads were cleared before residents put themselves into unsafe situations. It turned out that we had some trees and breaches down and some power lines, but it didn't really rain a lot and we didn't have much permanent damage. Thankfully, this storm went South and only grazed us with its 60 mph winds. Unfortunately, it looks like storm season is far from over and there is another system forming we speak. The Pacific Ocean has three category 4 hurricanes as of right now and everyone is very hopeful that Hawaii will be spared. As of today, most people have restored power and most water, cable, WiFi and cell services have been restored. The whole experience on St. Croix was a lot more organized that I thought it would be initially and for that I am thankful. I am also thankful for water and cell service more than ever before.

Living on a small island puts what I have only seen on the weather channel previously into perspective. When an impending storm is coming and you're watching its path and sitting in your living room (even though it seems that the weather forecasters aren't really aware that people live in the US

Virgin Islands as the islands are seldom mentioned during storm forecasts even if right in the middle of the path) while living on an island makes you feel very small. There is no place to go to get away from the storm and you just have to hope for the best and that it doesn't hit too hard. At a time with Facebook and instant video, seeing the tragic videos from Dominica right before our lights went black was not calming but was helpful for preparation with what little time we had left before it came here. I also have to say that storm doors are amazing but putting them up and taking them off leaves  a lot to be desired.

I am thankful that all the people on St. Croix came out of this storm healthy and well, and I am hopeful that this is the worst storm of the season and for a while to come. I am also thankful that the island still looks just like it did before the storm and much greener than it was a few weeks ago.  I may need a few weeks before I am ready to put those storm doors up again though.

Restaurant Review:

40 Strand Eatery...

This place is delicious and my friends and I still can't stop talking about it (there is definitely another trip to 40 Strand in our not-to-distant future). They are located in downtown Christiansted in the shopping courtyard behind Purple Papaya and there is inside and outside seating. The inside is extremely quaint and reminds me of a Mediterranean restaurant with a Spanish flare. Whether you love fish, meat or veggies, you will find something here. I had the fly fish with cabbage and risotto and I ate every little last piece. My friend had the pork chop with grits and she's still taking about it. We also tried the desserts and they were very good and many come with a chocolate spoon which was a great addition.

I really loved everything about this meal experience. The staff was quick and friendly and it was quiet inside which enabled me to have a nice conversation while enjoying
the food. I will definitely be going back soon!


Sunday, August 23, 2015

The hurricane that wasn't...hopefully!

This week's review below: House of Printing VI

You know that something is happening when everyone is very aware of the weather forecast a week ahead of time. Being from Chicago, we only got about a two hour warning on our tornadoes and major storms so having a week's worth of warning is actually pretty great. Early in the week, there were news stories going around about a possible hurricane that would come very close to the Virgin Islands. The last major hurricane struck St. Croix in 1989 (Hurricane Hugo Category 5) and devastated the island so people take it pretty seriously around here.

However, nobody panicked and most people, probably because it has happened frequently before, were just waiting for it to get closer to see what needed to be done. As it did get closer, it has dissipated into a tropical storm and they are saying we will receive the weakened tropical depression end of it tomorrow, bringing some much needed rain to this area.

I have to admit I did go out and I did buy cans of corn and peas and I do have enough crackers to bring my acid reflux back in full force. I almost got those huge cans of beans too but I was going to wait on those until I had a more certain forecast. So it looks like I won't have to use the storm doors after all this time but now I know what to expect the next time around. There are people around here who are convinced that the weather forecasts are made up by people who want people to run out to the stores to buy things but I think it's just the way living here is going to be. There will be storms that form in the Atlantic and most will dissipate by the time they get here, but there is also a chance one may not so we always need to stay vigilant. Overall, it was a pretty good week, full of lobster with new friends I met because of this blog and beautiful sunsets.

Activity Review: 

House of Printing VI...

This week's review isn't so much an activity but something we take for granted stateside. I could always send my pictures to Walgreens to be printed the same day. When I needed to print a picture fast while here, I found it difficult to figure out how to do that until I found House of Printing. They are located at 48 Castle Coakley, very close to Kmart in Christiansted, and they accept digital picture files for printing much like Walgreens did via email. They also have a picture printing kiosk inside the store if you want to crop the photos or make any enhancements. In addition, they will take orders and print your picture on almost anything like posters and mugs and t-shirts which makes for a great present or keepsake.

When I needed my picture printed, the owner went out of her way and opened the doors for me after closing. I was able to print and deliver a present the next day. You can find House of Printing VI at This is why I really like St. Croix, because people here will go out of their way to make sure that they help you do what you need to do if it is in their power. The same is true for the very nice Sprint employee who made my phone work again but that is another blog post :) 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

The journey versus the destination

This week's review below: Cafe Fresco in Christiansted

Yesterday, I had planned to walk down from Point Udall on the east end of the island to Isaac Bay with some friends. This is a popular hiking trail and beach on St. Croix and we were all set to leave at noon. After a leisurely lunch in town, we made our way to the east end where we stopped to chat with Wanda, the bee lady. She was very sweet and told us a lot about bees and the history of honey wine. We also found some tree twigs with which we brushed our teeth which was new to this city girl but it works!

Wanda made sure to give us each some honey wine before we left. This was not a planned visit but she was so welcoming and happy to meet with us. We continued on our journey and took in the gorgeous view of Buck island. When we actually arrived at Point Udall, there were some people filing the site for a music video there and we made an impromptu appearance in that video as well. By the time it was actually time to begin the hike, it got pretty late in the day but we had such a fulfilling time up to that point, enjoying new experiences and each other's company.

Back stateside, most weekend adventures were meticulously planned and there was so much focus on achieving the goal of the plan, that the actual means of getting there was sometimes lost. At other times, bad weather would cancel the plan altogether and there was another day with no journey to be had. Here in St. Croix, most of the things that I have done have been a journey and an experience. I spend almost everyday seeing or doing something new. I spent most of my time in Chicago acquiring things that I needed to live there. I didn't go many days without visiting at least one store and buying something that was not food related. Here, I mostly buy only food items. I mentioned before that there aren't a lot of stores here but there aren't a lot of people shopping at the stores that we do have because they are focusing on their experiences more than anything else.

I think about all the things that have changed since I moved here. I can definitely feel less pollution as those gross eye corner dust particles do not make their appearance here. I also breathe fresh air 24/7 as my windows are never closed. I have to be honest and say that I have become somewhat of a water snob. Back in Chicago, we had a lake that I never swam in and I only saw ocean water once every few years when I went on a tropical vacation. Here, I pick my swimming water carefully, making sure it's very clear and the sand very smooth as I step into the water. These may not be the most important things in life and living in a city stateside definitely has a lot of positive aspects. But right now, this is important to me.

Restaurant Review: 

Cafe Fresco...

Cafe Fresco is what you would picture when you think of having a leisurely meal on an island. It's located in the Pentheny building in downtown Christiansted on King Street (across from First Bank), and the owners, Yonka and Damon are always friendly and willing to chat and make sure that you have the best experience. I am a salad person so I have had almost every salad they offered including The Funky Chicken which is curried chicken with dried fruit, and it was very good. They also have great fish dishes like Mahi Mahi and the pumpkin pancakes are also very good, and the prices are very reasonable.

I always invite friends to eat here because I always have a good experience.  Open mostly for breakfast and lunch (and for special events and catering), the full menu can be found at and they always have delicious daily specials and freshly made juices.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Bad days and beautiful sunsets

I've decided that I will be updating my blog every Sunday night so come back to read St. Croix Beach Bum on Sundays (maybe right after you read Post Secret)! And I will be doing one review of a restaurant or activity or beach on St. Croix towards the end of the blog post so look for that as well. This week it's Cruzan Cowgirls Horse Rescue!

A few days ago, one of my friends on island asked me if I ever have a bad day. Apparently the blog is extremely blissful and makes it seem that bad days do not occur on St. Croix. Well, as many of you can imagine, there are definitely bad days! But just like in real life, we are more prone to sharing the good moments than the bad. But yes, I have had less than great days and I have gotten through them by thinking positively and looking at my beautiful surroundings. I may have mentioned this before but the highs here are so high that the lows are accentuated. When something bad happens, or bad news comes in, it feels like soccer punch. When this happens, I think of where I am and how lucky I am and that tomorrow will be a better day and it usually is. So yes, to answer everyone who was wondering, bad things do happen on island but most people here are optimistic and we get through it. There
is a community of people who are ready to chat and talk and have life go on even better than before.

Once again this week, I have also been reminded about making new friends and how easy it is here. Some people I met at the farm last weekend invited me to watch the sunset with them at Coconuts Beach Bar. This beach and bar is on the west end of the island, and while most islanders are weary of going so far when they live on the East end or mid-island, I went a few times this week and the sunsets were beautiful. The beaches on the west end have to be some of the prettiest beaches that I have ever seen and they are definitely worth the drive. I also had a wonderful dinner at Zion Modern Kitchen and I was able to visit Cruzan Cowgirls Horse Rescue. The horses were very sweet and the whole horse farm is a wonderful place for horses who definitely deserve a second chance. I will be taking a sunset horseback ride soon and I can't wait!

This week reminded me that St. Croix is great because the people here are so open and welcoming. The animals here are also very welcoming and sweet and remind me why I love it here.

Activity Review:

Cruzan Cowgirls Horse Rescue...

Cruzan Cowgirls is run by Jennifer and her family. This is a wonderful place for both kids and adults. All the horses are rescues and the farm also has rescued dogs, sheep and chickens. For little kids, there is a chance to pet animals and get on a horse or do a ride. For adults, there are sunset rides through the beautiful sea.

The proceeds go back to the farm in order to help rescue and feed the animals. Cruzan Cowgirls even donates feed to other owners in order to help them and their horses get through the current drought on St. Croix. So if you love horses or horseback riding or have guests coming to town or just want to help out, contact Cruzan Cowgirls on either Facebook or at

Monday, August 3, 2015

What a difference a week makes!

Last Saturday, I posted a new blog post and called it a day. That night, an online Virgin Islands newspaper did an interview with me and posted a story about my move in the VI online paper the next day. The reaction to the story has been tremendous and I have met so many people on the island responding to the blog and to the news story. It's funny how a story that would probably go completely unnoticed in the states gets so much attention here. Autograph jokes aside, it has been a pretty cool week. Actually, ever since I got here something really good has happened every single week and it made me realize that the highs in St. Croix are very high, but that also increases my expectations. This may also be caused by the vitamin D from the sun as we have almost no dreary days. So now, when something not so great happens, it becomes a very big low even if it isn't something very significant. It's all relative here. On another great note, I did find another place to get donuts here, Thomas Bakery (the other is Seaside)!

I am still going to new restaurants and seeing new things. This week, Rotary had a miniature golf outing at Divi Resort and then we all went to East End Pizza for some actually very good thin crust pizza. Then Yesterday, I went to Blue Water Terrace on the East End of the island with some friends that I was very lucky to make here who also came here from Chicago. It was a very nice way to spend brunch and the food and view was way above average. Every day that I am able to see Buck island while having a meal is a lucky day. Then today I was able to spend the day with one of my new friends from Ridge to Reef which is an organic farm on the West End of the island in Frederiksted. We went to the Renaissance Carambola Beach resort and it was such a nice way to spend the day. The water felt great and the sun was overcast so it was extremely comfortable. Even after two months, I hadn't been to this particular beach before today. We did take the "scenic" route on the back to the farm and that will be the first and last time I take the "scenic" route. It should probably be renamed the point of not return but we made it and we did see some amazing views (do not take the scenic route unless you have a giant four wheel drive vehicle, not a two door car :))!

Then, I went to the slow down dinner at Ridge to Reef and it was amazing. Most of the food was local from the farm or from other local organic farms. The food tasted delicious and I had the opportunity to meet a lot of new friends. The night ended with the Kiki and the Flaming Gypsies in front of a giant bonfire. I don't think I could have asked for a better way to end the week.

The cool thing about doing most everything outside here is that the weekends seem extremely long. By Sunday, I can hardly remember what happened on Friday and there is a very healthy feeling after breathing in fresh air and climbing sand/stairs and eating great healthy (most of the time) food.