Thursday, December 29, 2011

Problems in Paradise

It has come to our attention that some people – you know who you are – get sulky, even snarky, when we post photos of beautiful warm beaches. Especially when the places they live are covered with snow and ice and they spend the winter wiping their runny noses and trying to figure out exactly how many sweaters they can put on at one time.

But to show my heart is in the right place (my chest) I hereby present a list of 12 things that are NOT great about living on St. Croix. To make up for all the perfect weather.

A Dozen Things That Are NOT Great About Living on St. Croix

1 - Hurricanes and hurricane season. Even when there is no hurricane heading for you, it's not fun. It's a low-grade worry for six months of the year, occasionally punctuated by the imminent arrival of a major storm. When a hurricane does come, the power always goes out and stays out for a while.

2 - Grocery prices. Milk is over $7 a gallon, a loaf of bread will run about $4. Virtually everything costs more, except for cigarettes and rum, which are dirt cheap, but since we quit smoking earlier this year only one of those has meaning to us any more.

3 - The price of electricity. The electric bill is always shocking, usually close to $400 a month for us, and it's not like we have air conditioning. And the service from WAPA is crappy. The power goes out for no apparent reason, usually during football games. But when the power bill comes, it's a "sit down and have a drink moment." Fortunately, rum is cheap.

4 - If you love football and follow a west coast team (Seahawks!) you almost never get to see your team play on TV. The networks always assume you want to watch some team you don't care about (the Giants, Jets or Falcons) or some team all right-thinking Americans hate (the Cowboys, Pittsburgh, Philly) when what you really want is the Seattle-San Francisco game.

5 - Availability of fresh water. When the tour guides say, "don't drink the water," they mean it. We get our house water on a cistern that collects rain water from the roof. Certainly it is "green," but we have seen some foot-long centipedes crawling into the dank, watery abyss that is our cistern. We purchase all our drinking water at the supermarket. See note about "Everything is expensive."

6 - Cistern showers. When the power goes out for any length of time, the slab of concrete over the cistern is moved. We tie a bucket to a rope, drop it down into the dark and haul up the water. Our first year we lost power for nearly a week after hurricane Omar. We learned very quickly how to shower with one bucket of water, and to flush the toilet only when absolutely necessary, once a day if possible.

7 - Headlights. Most Crucian drivers keep their high beams on at all times, in fact, they seem unaware they have two settings. Blindness, and hilarity ensues!

8 - Dead Iguanas. Seeing one of these ancient dinosaurs flattened on the pavement just seems so wrong. They are the worst roadkill ever. "Roadkill Iguana" would be a great name for a rock band, but it's lousy to see on the road.

9 - Litter. Speaking of lousy to see on the road, St. Croix is a beautiful place, as long as you don't look down. A lot of people litter here. Just throw trash out the car window with no shame. They also just throw their puppies away. There is a severe, (and sad) problem of overpopulation of dogs and cats.

10 - Customer service is a joke here. There's practically nowhere to shop for the day-to-day stuff except one of the island's two Kmarts. Mix St. Croix's poor idea of customer service with the really bad attitude of all Kmart employees and you can just ruin a whole afternoon.

11 - Shipping. Amazon won't ship electronics to the island. Other places charge an arm and a leg because they say it is "not in the United States." Well, it is! St Croix is a US territory and postage is the same here as anywhere else. And the postal service is unreliable in general. Several times packages sent from the states just never arrived to us, lost in Puerto Rico where mail goes to die.

12 - People stateside, especially in northern, snowy states, get all grouchy when you post photos of beautiful sunsets and warm, sunny beaches while they're shivering in their igloos. Sometimes they even leave snarky comments on the blog. Imagine that!

There. Everybody happy now? Good. Then you won't mind if I post this picture. Just another day in paradise.

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