Thursday, June 23, 2011

A New Normal

I have to be honest that the last few postings I’ve written haven’t come to me as easily as prior postings.  I wouldn’t say I’m running out of ‘material’ to write about, but after 6 weeks on the island my daily life isn’t striking me to be as unusually funny as it once did.  In fact, strange though it is, St. Thomas also has some wonderful characteristics that have recently captured my attention.
What’s most striking to me is how friendly people are down here.  If you sit at a bar for long enough the people next to you are likely to introduce themselves.  We’ve made several friends this way including a nice couple from the states who invited us to go hiking and swimming with them on St. John the following weekend.  During our hike they taught us that you can actually eat cactus seed, referred to as cactus ‘fruit’.  It tastes like a sweet tomato, but is a pinkish-purple color.
Last Sunday while I was sitting on the beach, one of our new found bar buddies walked up to us with his wife and asked us to come over for dinner that night for some fried food and cocktails.  We enjoyed a great evening meeting new people at their home and learning more from them about living on the island. 
One night at dinner we struck up a conversation with a nice couple at the table next to us.  When they learned that we were new to the island they reassured us that the island craziness can, ‘work for you and work against you’.  For example, the first year this woman had been on the island she received over 400 parking tickets because she worked downtown and parking is terrible in that area.  However, when she went to pay her tickets, only 2 showed up on her record in the system. 
One of my co-workers took it upon herself to buy me four ‘Fix-a-Flat’ tire repair kits because, as she informed me, they are going to be needed when a hurricane hits and things blow around so much that you’re likely to get a nail and/or screw in your tire.  She bought us four because one year she got two flat tires on the same car at the same time, and she knows we have two cars. 
So, it’s been easy and fun to find new friends, and it’s very comforting to know that the people down here will take the time to help you out and look out for you a bit.  With this in mind, it’s definitely more of a small community feel down here, which has been a refreshing change.
Of course the island offers the obvious amazing traits too like good weather, beautiful beaches and exceptional views.  However, after living here for only a little while you tend to enjoy these qualities in a different way.  For example, the closest beach to us is a great place to sunbathe and hang out on a Saturday afternoon, but I look forward to going down to the beach after work for a long swim more than anything.  In fact, last night during my swim I found a sea turtle and a sting ray, which I never would have seen on a busy Saturday or Sunday.  In addition, the normal everyday views from the roads are beautiful.  However, nothing compares to the rewarding scenery you find at the top of a hill after a long, rigorous hike up a trail that that you never would have found unless a local friend showed you the way (see picture of Ramshead at the bottom of this blog site).  And, the weather…it’s nearly perfect.  The warm air coupled with a nice breeze coming off the ocean is impossible to compete with and makes being outside the only option when you have some free time.  In fact, now that I realize how wonderful the weather can be, I don't think I'll ever want to live in a place that isn't warm year round again.              
Don’t get me wrong, I still find plenty of things to be out of the ordinary.  Today I drove past an old fire hydrant that looked as though it had tipped over, yet no water was coming out of it.  Last week when I asked someone how their new grandchild was, she answered by saying that she was good but definitely not sleeping through the night because she’s being ‘titty fed’.  So, this strange new world remains a puzzling place, but I’ve learned to embrace it more over the past couple of weeks, and I’ve found that it’s surprising how quickly things can transition from being completely foreign, to being a new sort of normal. 


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