Sunday, November 29, 2015

Thanksgiving in the VI

I made it to Thanksgiving! This actually marks my six months of living in the Virgin Islands and was the amount of time I gave myself to figure out if I wanted to stay here or go back home. My apartment lease expires in a few days and this is also the amount of time that most people take to figure out that island life is not for them. If you've been following my blog, you know that island life right now is definitely for me so I am not going back just yet.

It has been really strange to be in 80-90 F degree weather during the winter holidays but I love it! I've been wearing shorts and skirts and flip flops everyday and I can't imagine being in a winter jacket and boots right now. I also just had my first major holiday in the VI. I realized that while St. Croix is a small island that gears itself towards a close knit community, when it comes to family, most people don't have their actual family relatives here and you can't travel home all the time even though you may want to (or maybe not, if home has snow and subzero temperatures). Family on the islands is the family you create here and that makes for a new and fun time on St. Croix just like a lot of other experiences here.

I spent Thanksgiving weekend with my friends and with my boyfriend and his dog and I'm not going to lie, it was pretty laid back and perfect. It did make me realize that it rains a lot here during the fall but I'll take the rain over cold and snow and sleet any day. I also realized that I can't eat any more rice. I went to Ireland a few years ago and after about 10 days of eating potato morning, day and night, I couldn't look at another hash or mashed anything for about 6 months. St. Croix loves their rice. Rice is a staple and a ration and is in absolutely every dish you have here. While I love most things on St. Croix but right now, rice is not one of those things. Other than the rice though, everything is pretty good so far.

So this year I am very thankful that my little island experiment/gamble/crazy idea hasn't made me commit to a psychiatric facility in a lovely suburb of Chicago just yet. I met a lot of cool people here and I've had so many great new experiences. I even met a somewhat larger dog that I really like. I've always been a really small toy dog kind of girl but my boyfriend has a dog and we've bonded and she's just a big baby with puppy dog eyes that makes you want to hug her, and I forget sometimes that she's actually almost my size. And even though she may chase chickens and try to eat them, at the end of the day, if someone ever tried to hurt her, I would protect her and I know she would protect me as well, and that pretty much sums up how most people in the VI feel about their island and each other.

This Thanksgiving has given me really high hopes for the rest of the year and for this whole experience. I hope that everyone who reads this blog is having a great holiday and I wish only the best for all of you and your families and friends.

Restaurant Review:

Acai Bowls

This week, I don't have a restaurant review but this is definitely a place you should visit so you can try an acai bowl. One of my new island friends introduced me to this place when I first arrived on island back in June and I just revisited and it was even better than the first time! The actual location is in the back of a video store next to Plaza East on St. Croix. In the back, they do spinning classes and what better way to cool down after a spin class, than an Acai Bowl?

Acai berry is a reddish purple fruit and here, they top it off with yogurt and chocolate and all kinds of fresh fruit to deliver an amazing flavor and yummy desert, even if you didn't just exercise. Price ranges from $6 to $9 and you can customize your bowl just how you like. It's one of my favorite island desserts.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

New Beginnings...

It's hard to believe but I've live in St. Croix for over five months. When I was getting ready to move here, I had a countdown calendar that was named "New Beginnings." I was so hopeful that my new beginning would work out but I was very much aware that realistically, I was taking a huge chance and the success rate was probably smaller than I would have liked to believe.

When I decided to move to St. Croix, I tried to plan as much as I could before I came here but there were things that I couldn't really plan. I really took a chance and I just hoped it would work out better than what I had back in Chicago. On my first visit to St. Croix, I met another woman who was also moving here and that was her first week here. Her planning wasn't as extensive but she was just as determined to have her new beginning. As I sit here writing this, she is packing to move back to her previous home. As sad as that is, it reminds me that just because many people come here for their new beginning doesn't mean that it has to be the ultimate end for everyone. For some, this may be a stepping stone for the better in the future or it may just be the wrong destination and their own yearning for a better life is now turning them towards the path of success.

I do hope that my new beginning that commenced back in June can be long-term. I truly love being here everyday and my life is so different than what it was a year ago and in a really good way. I can't predict what will happen a year from now just as I couldn't have predicted I'd be here right now just last year. What I do know is that just like I listened to the pull in my heart to come, I'll listen to it if it tells me to do something else as well. I used to think that my life was pretty set as far location, career, personal relationships, etc., but I was able to give that all up and start a different life here that makes me much happier. I can honestly say that my journey was definitely worth it no matter what happens five months from now because being here has really taught me to look at life short-term rather than waiting for something to happen in the long-term.

It's also a lot about timing. Sometimes we feel that we need a change and we do it and it's the wrong time for us. Sometimes we're meant to overcome the obstacles in our lives and stay the course. But other times, we're actually meant to change course and live the lives we were meant to have. There isn't a right or a wrong and it's hard to figure out the timing of it all, but there are times where it just works and we know it's the right to do. This feels like the exact path that I should be on right now and I can't imagine any other life for me right now. But it's not for everyone because it just may not be the right time for them and that's okay, because their correct path may be waiting for them to arrive and start on its course somewhere else right now.

Activity Review:

Buck Island 

Most people don't leave St. Croix without visiting Buck Island. It's an island off an island and you have to take a special tour or know someone with a boat to get there, but it's definitely worth it. It's a National Park and it's completely uninhabited, making it even more pristine and beautiful. And there's turtle nesting on the beach which is conveniently named "Turtle Beach." Turtle Beach is on the west side of the island and it has white sand and perfectly calm shallow waters.

It looks better than most of the beaches in the movies that you have seen and the pictures you take will not be to fully embody its beauty so all your friends and relatives will have to come visit as well! The other side of the island is home to an underwater snorkel trail complete with an underwater fish world that you get to visit for a short time. It's magical, that's all there is to say, the rest you'll have to see for yourself.

There are many companies that offer tours to Buck Island from the island of St. Croix as it is only a few miles away and only about a mile from the East End of the island. Big Beards Snorkel Tours ( is the only one I have been on as a tour and I've done it twice. I've always had a good time and the second time you go, it's half price! Half day tours are $75 and full day tours are $105 which include a barbecue lunch. They also do private charters and there are child rates
. I've only done the half day tour but if you have a full day, go for it!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Making Wishes on a Magical Island

We've all wished upon a star or a candle or 20 sometime in our lives. Some wishes are small like getting something you really want on your birthday and others are bigger such as wishing health to family members and wishing to be happy. I've made many wishes. I have thrown coins which have probably amounted to a small fortune into every pond, puddle, or pretty fountain I could find, in every country I have ever visited. I have also wished on every candle and shooting star and anything else that I deemed wish-worthy. No matter how grandiose my object upon which I was wishing, in my 32 years, most of my wishes have never come true.

When I came to St. Croix, I made many wishes. I quit my job and moved 2000 miles away from all my family and friends, and I definitely needed some of those wishes to come true so that this island could become my home. Suddenly, even though my wishing batting average has been very low thus far, most of the wishes I have made here have come true. I wish differenly here. Candles have been replaced with beautiful water, orange moons and fish that magically light up in the ocean. What I wish for is also very different here. I no longer wish for things that may or may not happen ten years down the road, I wish for things that are here and now. I wish for good friends, sunny days and beautiful sunsets. I also wish for good health and happiness for others and even though those are harder wishes, I have a lot of faith that those will come true as well.

I really do think that this is a magical island where fairy dust that lights up the water makes wishes come true, even though it's probably more than just wishes that makes this possible. The people of this island create a really positive energy that makes the world here, even for a moment in a day's time, better for others. You can feel it every time someone genuinely greets you on the street or when someone helps you at the grocery store.  And this energy makes me want to exude the same type of energy onto others. So maybe it's not all magic but just a different way of thinking about the circumstances of your present life, although right now,  there is a little magic here in mine.

Restaurant Review:

Seini's Golden Rail Restaurant at Mill Harbour Condominiums...

You won't find Seini's Golden Rail by just driving around St. Croix, but if you know where it is, you won't be disappointed. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner, and there is a beautiful ocean and pool as the backdrop to your meal. The salads, sandwiches and pasta are really fresh and taste great, and breakfast is made exactly to order. There is also a full bar if you want to just do drinks.

Located at La Grande Princesse area in St. Croix, you have to actually go to the Mill Harbour Condominiums gate and dial the restaurant in order to gain entry ( The garden full of iguanas and flowers, and bridge that leads to the restaurant adds to the dining experience as it reminds me of a secret garden that's definitely worth the trip to find it.