Sunday, December 27, 2015

Goodbye 2015!

As part of the last post of 2015, I wanted to let you know how thankful I am that people actually read this blog. Originally, this was meant to be a way to keep in touch with my family and friends back home while I set out on my island adventure. I wasn't sure if I would even continue writing this or if I would be back in the states by now, but thankfully, I am still in St. Croix and I have received so many very gracious email and comments from all of you, that I will definitely keep writing until I have nothing to write about, which I think is very unlikely.

2015 started out on a very stressful note. I was extremely tired and stressed and I just wanted a change. I thought about moving to an island because it's what everyone always says but never really does and I couldn't find a reason not to, and every reason to try. I planned this move starting in January of this year, I visited in March and I moved in June. It's December and I'm still here and I can honestly say that I made the right decision for me. On paper, my life in Chicago was perfect. In reality, my stress level averaged a 12 on a 10-point scale. Now, my stress level is probably a 0 or a 1 or 2 daily and maybe a 3 or 4 when I'm at work. I used to check my email and phone at least every 5 to 10 minutes during dinners with friends and family. Now, I sometimes don't turn on or forget my phone or sometimes my phone doesn't even work in certain places and here and I don't really stress out about that. I used to shop just to shop back in the states; here we buy things we need to live and that's been a great change. It's not that we don't just buy things sometimes as well here because I did just that about two hours ago because it was "super cute," but for the most part, our houses are not trinket central and shop therapy doesn't play a huge role here.

For the first time in my life, back in September, I was really happy just being me by myself. I didn't necessarily need anyone in my life to make me happy, I figured out how to change my environment and surroundings to create the happiness I was meant to have. And then about a week after that happened, I did meet someone who made my life really special. The most important part of this whole experience is that it's amazing to meet someone who is on the same wavelength as you and who makes everyday even easier than it was before, but who isn't the foundation of your happiness. I learned that it's important to be content with your life before someone comes into it because a relationship is not an anchor for happiness, it should be more like a sail that can be raised as needed when flowing through life. It almost feels like I was meant to come here and figure out things about myself that I couldn't figure out back in Chicago (Like that I get super seasick while sailing in the open sea during a rainstorm. Sorry fishies and thank you to my boyfriend for holding my hair back; You must really like me because that wasn't one of my best moments.) 

When I first came here, I made a huge deal about the temperature difference between St. Croix and Chicago, and while it's nice to be able to wear flip-flops everyday and have extremely warm temperatures year-round, the temperature and location isn't really important. Many people are extremely happy all around the world and not everyone lives on a tropical island. What I really like about St. Croix is the attitude people have towards life. I love the small community and the value people put on each other. I just had one of the warmest and most genuine holiday celebrations. It started really early on Christmas morning with the most beautiful sunrises made even more special by someone I really love, and the weekend continued with people who genuinely cared about each other and wanted to see each other happy. We did give presents but that wasn't the focus, although the aloe socks I'm wearing right now feel amazing, especially since we almost never wear socks here! And to my boyfriend's mom who gave them to me, thank you! And thank you to my wonderful parents who sent me my favorite banana chocolates, iced coffee, dried fruit and a mini new year's tree (it took two trips to the post office and some pleading and puppy eyes but it was well worth it).

2015 came with some of the best and some of the worst moments of my life. I am so thankful for both because I was able to figure out what really makes me happy and I was able to meet people who have the same outlook on life as I do now. I really miss my family and my friends who are still in Chicago and elsewhere, and if I could have one wish, I'd bring them all here to be with me. But right now, this is the place where I should be and while it may or may not be forever, it has been the best decision I ever made.

Restaurant Review:

Villa Morales

Ask any local where they go for great local food and Villa Morales will be in their top three choices. Located right off of Queen Mary Highway in Frederiksted on the west end of St. Croix, this one-of-a-kind local favorite is only open on Thursday thru Saturday and this very quaint restaurant serves an extremely flavorful menu. The dishes are all local including beef stew, conch and favorite fish dishes such as fried snapper. The appetizers include fresh mussels which come right out of the shell with a burst of flavor and prepare you for an amazing dinner to follow.  The conch is a local favorite and is made in a butter batter that provides for a lot of flavor as it this your mouth.  For dessert, the flan is also a local favorite and makes for a perfect ending to a magical island dinner. I would recommend eating here at least once during your trip or come here often if you live here!


Sunday, December 13, 2015

The best of St. Croix...

This week, I have my really good friends visiting from Chicago and my boyfriend's very sweet mom is in town for the month, and we've been having a blast. When I have visitors, it gives me the opportunity to do the things I forgot that I really enjoyed when I first arrived on this beautiful and magical island.

 So here is a list of the best of St. Croix...
  • Romantic nightly walks on the beach in warm ocean water  
  • Beautiful sunsets in Frederiksted, even on a cloudy night
  • Breathtaking ocean views on East End drives
  • Dark Chocolate chex and cheddar cheese pretzels 
  • Awww inspiring fire dancers on the beach or anywhere 
  • Meeting people I know and want to see everywhere you go
  • Hanukkah parties at beautiful homes with very kind people
  • Gifts that come in the form of experiences rather than things
  • Being cheerfully greeted by everyone everywhere, even if I don't know them
  • 20 Watt indoor mosquito zappers that leave no survivors
  • Holiday lights and decorations that resemble a Hollywood movie set 
  • A really cute boyfriend who makes me feel really good every single day 
  • Amazing friends that come to visit from over 2000 miles away
  • Great friends who live right here and make me feel like I'm home   

I get to experience all of these things almost every day and it feels like a dream. I really hope I never have to wake up.

Activity Review:

Frederiksted Sunsets

Watching a sunset is a really fun free activity to do while you're in St. Croix. The best sunsets are on the west side of the island because that's where the sun sets while the best sunrises are on the east side. The best place to watch the actual sunset is by the pier in Frederiksted. There are many different beachside areas and island bars that make watching the sunset a great way to spend a night with family and friends.

Add some rum punch or frozen drinks to the mix and it's a perfect St. Croix night. Even when the clouds obstruct your view, the colors of the sky during a St. Croix sunset are breathtaking and worth the trip. But come early, the sun sets early in St. Croix, between 5:30 pm and 7:00 pm, depending on the time of year.  And make sure to bring your camera because your pics will make everyone want to come visit you!