Sunday, January 29, 2012

Gross story: They take a LOT of killing

The centipedes here on the island, I think I've mentioned before, are the most horrible pests I've ever seen. They're big around as your finger, five or six inches long, with stingers at both ends and they look like some creature from hell in a cheesy SyFy horror movie. (I know, cheesy SyFy movie is redundant.)

And they take SO MUCH killing. You don't smack a centipede with a shoe and call it good. Oh no.

You smack it four or five times in the front end, then another two or three in the back, then again in the front. All along one end or the other keeps writhing and aiming its stingers at you.

We tried spraying one with poison. It charged us, so to speak, and kept coming as we backed up spraying furiously. Took about eight feet before the son of a bitch was dead.

So this is what this story is about. Two nights ago I went out to lock the gate before going to bed. As I came back in, I closed the front door and turned to lock it, and peripherally noticed something moving at my feet. Somehow, as I opened and closed the door, a centipede had tried to come inside and I had closed the door on it.

And it was writhing and struggling and trying to pull itself in. So I grabbed a shoe and smacked it in the head three time. It finally quieted down. I decided to wait until morning to deal with it. But Tori had heard the slam-slam-slam, so she knew it was a centipede. Nothing else requires that much killing.

The next morning I grabbed the broom, opened the door and had to stifle a scream. Because the back end of the son of a bitch was still wriggling. In fact, once I cleared it from the door, it started coming forward again. This was 11 hours later! The front half was ruined, it was bent in half at the middle, and it was still trying to get into the house! I took a picture, then dispatched him for good and all.

In the picture below, the top portion is the half that I smacked repeatedly with a shoe. It's relatively flat. The bottom half kept pushing the front end forward, waving those stingers and behaving horribly.

Life in the tropics – It's not all rum and mangoes and beautiful beaches. Sometimes it's monsters from hell. But I can imagine a REALLY cheesy SyFy movie featuring these things.

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Pair of Big Ones

I don't recall what these are, breadfruit I think but I'm not sure. But they're big. These are growing at the St. George Village Botanical Garden on St. Croix. And they're big ones.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

A little flora

An orchid at the St. George Village Botanical Gardens.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Economic Tsunami

The island got some bad news this morning. The territory's single biggest private employer, the Hovensa refinery, is shutting down. This is huge. Not just the 2,000 jobs, although that's a giant hole in the economy. Electricity, which is already more expensive than anywhere in the states, is generated by fuel purchased from the refinery at a discount. Rates will soar. Businesses that were just hanging on with the high utility costs will get flung over the edge. Gas prices, which were a little lower than stateside, will jump.

And that's just the start. Everything will get more expensive, from a little more to a lot. This is really big, bad news for St. Croix.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Big ship; Small world

I don't think I posted this one before. If I did, oh well. I also don't recall how it got so purple. Should be bluer. Still, cool shot. A cruise ship at Frederiksted's pier. I've never seen them come in, because they do it at about six in the morning. Forget that. But I've watched them pull out in the evening, and it still amazes me every time I see one of them move. They're so damn big. How can they move? How can they stay afloat?

The revisions of the book are finished (this time around, it's never ending) and I have to get back into a schedule. Spent the last three days practically chained to the desk, so I feel like I'm coming up for air.

And in the "small world" category, got a comment on the blog post a couple of weeks ago from someone who, inspired by our move to the Caribbean, pulled up stakes in the big city and moved to the rural central California coast. Which is the same place I started my journey more than 30 years ago. So you just never know.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Quick Note

No blogging this week or probably next. Have a deadline for the revision of my YA novel, Chrissie Warren: Pirate Hunter hard upon me. Have to focus like a – well, like a really focused thing or person, how's that?

We'll be back soon, if that actually matters.


Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Big Parade!

And finally, the main parade.

They don't call it the Grand Parade, or anything cool like that. It's the Adults Parade, to distinguish it from the Children's Parade. But it's pretty grand.

It's a real cultural gathering, with princesses, moko jumbies, steel pan, masqueraders and parade troupes. The troupes are what you think of when you think of a Caribbean carnival. The picture above is a girl from a Dominican Republic dance group.

It's supposed to start at 10 in the morning. It never does, at least not in our experience. We can hear it forming up from about two blocks away from our house, and we can tell shortly after noon when they get moving, Then we just hop in the car and skirt the main road, arriving in Frederiksted a few minutes later, well ahead of the marchers.

And it takes a long, long time. The first entry steps off at about noon. The last one staggers past the reviewing stand as the sun sets around 6:30 p.m. It's a long damn day. Fun, but long. The photo below is an 8-year-old girl who was jumping up and down with excitement because her sister's majorette troupe was about to pass by.

As it happens, I did not cover the parade this. I did go down and shoot video, which we posted here. The coverage by another Source reporter is here.

So festival is almost over. There's power boat races today and closing ceremonies tonight in the festival village. It's fun, but it's time for it to be over, I think. Time to get back to work.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

I Love a Parade

Is there anything cuter than a bunch of pint-sized baton twirlers clomping down the street? The children's parade of the Christmas Festival took the streets yesterday and even with the rain it was a good time. Bands (including the unbeatable Rising Stars steel pan band.) were highlights this year.

There was also some rain, and though they didn't use this shot, I thought it was a good one.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

'It's a sanctioned incident'

It starts at 5 in the morning. It's crazy loud. It's like nothing I've seen anywhere else.

It's J'Ouvert (pronounced zhou-vay, apparently French in origin.) Or as we like to call it, the St. Croix Annual Public Humping Festival.

This year the police reported no incidents, unless you consider the whole thing an incident. "It's a sanctioned incident," Tori said.

Six flatbed trucks hauled bands on a route about two, two and a half miles. Thousands of people flock around dancing. Well, that's a very mild word, dancing. There's gyrating, there's writhing, there's humping, a lot of humping, most of it, oddly, between girls. Some guys humping girls, but a lot of girls on girls.

I covered it again this year for the Sour

ce – my story is here and you can find the video here and here. I warn you I didn't shoot most of the most outrageous behavior. I wouldn't be able to use it in my story or video so what was the point? You'll have to use your imagination.

And yes, there were kids there. Kids in strollers. Six years. Nine. Many being supervised by parents who were behaving a lot like everyone else. Lot of high schoolers. And on up into at least one woman in her 70s. I saw a bank manager, and a professor, and the kid who bagged my groceries just a few days ago.

St. Croix is a very churched community, by which I mean there are a LOT of churches, with five or six always in some stage of construction as well, and a lot of people go to church. And then there's J'Ouvert. And the difference is so striking, and the so sincere. And I wonder sometimes which is the real St. Croix. Or is it both?

This picture shows the dense throng of revelers. Moments later, just a little farther down on King Street the road kind of funneled between two buildings and it was wild. The temperature actually went up noticeably from all the bodies packed so close together. All I could do was huddle over the camera bag to prevent the equipment from getting wet or covered with powder. It got a little intense.

Anyway, tomorrow is the Kids Parade, and Saturday is the Adult Parade, which i the real highlight of festival. I'll have videos of both up.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Nice Work if You Can Get It

This is Tori looking out her second floor classroom window at the Good Hope School. Yeah, I don't know how she gets any work done either. (I May have run this picture before. If so, sorry.)

Actually she doesn't get any work done this week. They're off until Jan. 9, next Monday.

Here's the school. Through those arches is – well, look what Tori sees from her window and you'll get it.