Friday, March 15, 2013

The best place for now...

"Sunday Funday" at Cane Bay

Another week is passing here on the island, and I hate to admit I don't have many photos to share. The soap opera that is my search for Jeep parts continues, but, as my mom says, one ends up having to laugh at how crazy it is. So far, I've had parts shipped in from Utah, Florida, New York, and Canada (that's right, Canada).

The inconveniences that come with island living can be exasperating at times. Having to wait a week to get almost anything to arrive from the mainland can be annoying, but I really do think that St. Croix is "the best place for now" for me. When I look at the alternatives of what I would be doing back in the Lower 48, life isn't so bad. The weather here is (generally) good, the people are friendly, and the stress level, aside from the annoyance of getting things shipped in, is much lower.

I have had a strange sense come over me while being here. There's a certain qualified feeling of living in exile down here. I truly feel disconnected from the mainland, and all the lives and happenings from back there. Sometimes that feels bad, but it can feel pretty good, too. Yes, it's hard to get things here, but you don't need as much here. Things are expensive, but there's less stuff to buy. Grocery shopping can be dodgy, but finding local sources of produce can alleviate many of the difficulties that supermarket shopping presents. Every day you get to see the ocean (every morning for me), and the beach is always 10 minutes away.

Living here allows me to think less about chasing an objective, and more about living. While my goals at this point are focused on a career back in the mainland, I think this place is the best for now, hiccups, complications and all.

Next week, I look forward to sharing more with you, as tomorrow St. Croix will be having our annual St. Patrick's Day Festival, which I understand to be a pretty significant event. Happy Weekend!



Sunday, March 10, 2013

The New Condo

One of the big things i've had to do while I have been here is to look for a condo. Looking for a condo on St. Croix is a bit harder than back on the mainland, mostly because of how the island infrastructure works. First and foremost, the cost of electricity is much more expensive. At least compared to North Carolina, the rate for electricity is 5 times higher than what it would be back home. I am not exaggerating. Because of that, finding a place that's as energy efficient as possible is a must. Secondly, the water supply presents its own unique challenges.

Fortunately for me, I ended up taking a condo in a place that was on the city water lines. That, however, is a pretty rare situation. Most houses on the island get their water through a cistern, which, for those who don't know, essentially stores rainwater. When the cistern runs dry, you have to call the utility company for them to re-fill your cistern at a rate of 5 cents a gallon. Most houses with cisterns have pretty thorough filtration and purification systems for the water; however, not all do. One place I looked at didn't have potable water, for example. Needless to say that was a dealbreaker. I also really wanted an in-unit washer and dryer, which, yet again, was harder to find that one might imagine.

In the end, I went with a condo in the same complex I had been staying in at my arrival. The view is arguably not as good, but I still get to see the ocean, and the overall state of the unit is a bit better (the sliding door works, for example). Good home furnishings are hard to find down here, but the furnishings in my apartment look pretty good compared to what I saw elsewhere. Additionally, living in the complex provided some major benefits. The cable and water are automatically included in the rent (as noted supra, water can be a big issue here), and the fact the facility is gated gives me peace of mind. I have been harangued so much by our security guards about my parking permit that I think the overall safety level is pretty solid. Probably the best part, though, is that I was able to rent a unit for about what I paid for my apartment in Columbia, SC. So all in all i'm pretty content. So, without further ado, here's a few photos of my new place:

About the best photo I could get of the living room.

The kitchen in all its glory...

I'm sure y'all care about all my closet space lol.

Still figuring out the bedroom...

The dining area

Here's the view. The cherry picker is there because they are painting the building!



Island Shopping

It's not all play on St. Croix, but it is every weekend...
Well, readers, things are (sort of) coming together. I now have several items in my checklist checked off. First I bought my jeep, which now has been christened "Big Red" since that pretty accurately describes it. Big Red is still a work in progress, though. I am waiting for a safari top to come from Miami for him, which brings me to my one major "pet peeve" about island life: Availability of goods.

Yes, you can get anything to the island, but very little on the island. eBay has become my best friend because it's so hard to find a lot of random things down here. Even if you do find them, you'll pay a hefty premium for them. I have heard that you can find pretty much anything over on Puerto Rico, but since it's logistically kind of nuts to hop on a plane to San Juan every weekend, online shopping has to do.

To give you an idea of the crazy mess i've had to order on eBay, I thought i'd go through my purchase history. In the past week, i've ordered a NC flag car decal, a locking gas cap, locking lug nuts, a coolant bottle cap, iPhone earbuds, an iPhone charger, a coaxial cable for the TV, seatbelt covers, a leather repair kit, my Jeep safari top, and a iPhone FM transmitter. Before that I also had a wireless router and wiper blades shipped in, though both of those were mostly b/c it was cheaper to have them shipped down than to buy in the store. Now, granted, some of this stuff I would have to order on eBay if I was back on the mainland, but it's still a pain. On top of ordering, the USPS is about the only cost effective way to get things shipped down here, so you have to expect at least a week's wait for anything to come.

Slowly but surely, though, I am getting my stuff. The internet down here is slower, and patience is the name of the game, but waking up next to the ocean every day is a pretty decent offset for all the little inconveniences that life in St. Croix presents.