Friday, February 20, 2009

St. Thomas: My New & Beautiful Tropical Home

So, I relocated to the small Caribbean island of St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. A U.S. territory since 1917 when the island was purchased from the Danish for 25 million.

And, there I was ... a stranger in a strange land. But, as I said before, although there was some cultural difference, I felt right at home.

Immigrants from the U.S. mainland are called state-siders ... and not always with the most positive reference.

My biggest difficulties were adjusting to the heat, and understanding the speech of the islanders, which was English spoken quite rapidly, often with heavy accents. I found the lilting accents beautiful; almost musical. In time, I not only easily understood the speech, but when I returned to the states for visits was told I had acquired something of an accent myself ... although I never heard it.

My living situation was quite exceptional as I lived on a hill above town and had a wrap-around balcony that afforded me an enviable view of the cruise ships in St. Thomas Harbor. The harbor was in the town of Charlotte Amalie, the Capital of the Virgin Islands.

St. Thomas Harbor in Charlotte Amalie as seen from my balcony

St. Thomas harbor at sunset from my balcony

During high season, which ran between December and May, the island could accommodate as many as 16 ships spread out between Havensight Harbor, St. Thomas Harbor (hailed as one of the deepest harbors in the world), and Sub-Base (an area that had been a naval base for many years).

I did not need to become accustomed to my surroundings, which were amazingly colorful and beautiful. My yard contained plentiful fruit trees, like Genip, Tamarind, and Mangos; lush flowers like the Bouganvillea, Oleander and Flamboyant; and exotic animals like the Iguanas that boldly crossed the yard as if they, not me were the rightful tenants of the house.

Iguana on an early morning yard crossing

Iguana on tree limb in yard

As a visitor from Cleveland, Ohio once so appropriately put it:"It's as if everything where I came from is in black and white, while everything here is in technicolor."

I couldn't have said it better myself.

The adventures ... and misadventures of a city slicker turned mellow islander.