Sunday, September 20, 2015

The mosquito struggle is real

Most warm places have mosquitoes. The US Virgin Islands and St. Croix are no exception. When I was back in Chicago, I had a very intense allergic reaction to mosquitoes. My skin would swell up and if more than two bit me at one time, I wouldn't be feeling my best. Either the mosquitoes here are different than the ones back home or I have built up a tolerance after being bit so many times. Here, we have mosquitos and no-see-ums. The latter are small flies that bite and you can feel the bite as it's happening. The after effects of no-see-ums are very similar to mosquitoes.

My first month here I was bitten a lot every time I went outside. I stopped putting on bug spray early on as I realized I couldn't wear bug spray all the time and I'd forget to put it on pretty regularly. Now, after about three and a half months, I still get bitten, but I rarely feel the bite and the itch goes away after a half hour at most. I also don't swell up like I used to. I have a bump but that's about it. I've heard this happens to many people here but some others haven't been so lucky. Mosquitoes seem to love me, but at least for the near future, I don't have to worry about being distracted by their bites. But if you're coming to visit or are new here, wear strong bug spray!!!

It has been a few months since I arrived and the ocean is still breathtaking to me when I look at it. The water is clear when I swim in and it's extremely refreshing on a very hot day (as the last couple of weeks have been). I'm not sure if I will ever get tired of the scenery or water here but I do know that isn't the case for some people that come here to live. Some people simply prefer to live stateside and that's okay. When I was in my 20s, I hated vacationing on islands and I wouldn't have ever imagined moving to one. So in a way I do understand why this life isn't for some people who prefer to have more to do and more to see. This just isn't enough and that's a personal preference. Right now though, it's exactly perfect for me.

Activity Review:

Chenay Bay Paddle Boarding...

It seems like almost everyone has tried paddle boarding on St. Croix. I had my first paddle boarding experience this past weekend and it was a lot of fun. It's a bit challenging to stand on the board (and I have not mastered this yet) but one of my friends came out for the first time and ended up standing up in no time. The water at Chenay is beautiful and calm, and it's a great way to learn to paddle board.

Most of the younger kids that rented boards were up and out on their way in no time. It took the adults a little longer but most were on their way as well.  The rates are really reasonable as well at $25 to rent a paddle board and $45 for a lesson with a paddle board included. There are also monthly rates for avid paddle boarders.  

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Back in St. Croix!

I'm back! And it feels like I never really left but I'm so glad to be back. People say that one way to figure out if you actually belong here is to go back where you are from and see if you want to come back here. I really wanted to come back. I had a really nice time with my family and friends in Chicago and if there was a way to transport everyone to St. Croix, I would do it, but as far as an environment, I appreciate it even more now.

I missed the sun. It was warm in Chicago but there was barely any sun. There is a lot of sun here. I think sun makes people happier or maybe more balanced. Whatever it is, even when I forget to take my vitamins, I feel good here. I also realized more than ever before, the value here is on people and friendships and experiences. A lot of the value in Chicago stems from how many things you have. I saw people at Costco (so many people) and they all needed something. They had full carts of stuff that they needed to make themselves balanced. I understand that sometimes we all need something and we shop on St. Croix as well, but the value here isn't on those things that we buy.

Most weekends, when I went into a store in Chicago, there were tons of people buying stuff. Most weekends here, people are at the beach. I don't know if it's due to the weather or the availability of an enormous amount of items, but the culture here isn't to accumulate stuff. This may be the reason why we don't have a lot of stores here because people just wouldn't shop there very much. I like buying only what I need and not needing to buy things that don't really add anything of value to my life here. But thinking back, when I purchased stuff in Chicago, those things did add value to my life because I looked at my value system differently. Plus, when the temperature only allows you to spend time inside for half the year, you definitely do need things to add value to your life during that time.

Restaurant Review: 

Blue Water Terrace Restaurant...

I love Blue Water Terrace! Whether it's for dinner or breakfast, the food here is very good. I personally really like going here for brunch because the food is very much like your favorite pancake house and the prices are pretty low for St. Croix. The view is Buck island so it's hard to find something else that comes even close.

For dinner, they have lobster made three different ways for about $26 and they have an all you can eat lobster and prime rib Monday! The food always tastes great, the ambiance is amazing and the company is always great at Blue Water Terrace. You can visit them online at

Monday, September 7, 2015

Back in Chicago!

Today is Labor Day and I just realized that I didn't do a new blog post yesterday. I am back in Chicago for a few days for my dad's birthday and I completely forgot about the blog as I am now on Chicago time. I have to be honest, things are very different here! I loved seeing my family and friends and I loved catching up with everyone. Chicago is exactly how I left it although a little warmer than the 47 degrees Fahrenheit that ushered me out of Chicago three months ago. And for the first time in a very long time while here, I was actually able to relax. I had no emails to answer or pressing work issues to think about. I had the opportunity to just be here and that has been amazing and something that I don't think would have been possible if I didn't move to St. Croix.

Things are nice here and it has been enlightening not to have broken a sweat even once over the last five days (I don't think I go more than two days without doing so back in St. Croix). My face is also very dry here so I can't wait to get back to my permanent spa-like face feeling in the humidity of the Caribbean. I did try greeting someone at the grocery store the other day and I think that person just though I was confused. I guess that was a stretch but the food on this trip was great and everyone was very welcoming. I am missing the beaches like crazy and I am also missing my new friends. I am so used to the people on St. Croix that it's strange not to hear a "Good morning" or "Good afternoon" for so long.

I think it's good to take trips back from St. Croix because it puts into perspective the reality of island living. No matter what anyone says, it's very different. I didn't really go to any stores while I was here over the last few days because I am so used to only shopping for what I need now and I don't need anything right now. The reality is that St. Croix is a tiny anonymous island in the Caribbean, but on the island everyone knows everyone and you have a bigger sense of community. Chicago is a huge city with many people and everyone knows where it is, but people keep to themselves and it's much easier to be anonymous in the big city.  These two worlds can never be merged but I do wish there was a door that I could just walk through and be in my newfound community one moment and with my family and old friends the next.

Activity Review: 

Cruzan Rum Distillery...

Located a little bit off Centerline road in Fredriksted, Cruzan Rum has a great tour for a rainy (or even sunny) day. I met a really good now friend on my rum tour (she was my amazing tour guide) so I hope everyone is so lucky. The tour takes you on an actual walk through the distillery showing you the rum actually being made. I had never seen any type of alcohol being made so this was pretty cool and I imagine kids would like it too as the mixing bins are huge and the molasses truck is pretty cool.

The tour guides are very knowledgeable and I learned a lot about rum that I didn't even know to ask before. Apparently, you can use rum in more than just Pina Coladas! At the end of the tour, you can taste a few of the rums and have a few mixed drinks. I am not a huge alcohol drinker but it was fun to see how different each rum tasted and how they taste in different mixed drinks. For the entry price of $7, you can't really go wrong here and out of town family and friends will probably really like it as well. For address and other info, visit