Island Life, especially on a small island like St. John, has its up and downs and our guests always ask us what its like to live here. It’s a really hard question to answer after being here for so long because the things that may be weird to them are VERY normal to us. Power’s out? Yeah that happens. Grocery shop on a different island? Yup.
It’s these things that separate the long term residents from the people that end up leaving after one season. And no judgment here, I’ve left twice!
With that in mind, we bring you The Top Five Struggles of Island Life!
No Wedding Stamps Here
Importation of Goods
Channeling Austin Powers
Oh, Island Life. Where to even start with this one. Its going to be VERY hard to narrow this down to 5…
Produce– Strawberries, avocados, and tomatoes in particular. Lets start this with, everything we get in the grocery stores is shipped in and shelf life is a major struggle. It never fails, if I have a recipe that calls for avocado they are no where to be found. Literally our grocery stores very frequently can just be out of things. It’s very normal if you have a recipe in mind you have to visit three stores to find all the ingredients and even then you’re usually substituting at least one ingredient.
And strawberries, if I see them for under $6.00 a container, I’ll buy as many as possible and freeze some. Normally one container is around $9.99.
Tomatoes. HAVE YOU SEEN THE TOMATOES WE GET? mealy, yellowish, ugh. enough said.
Needing something particular or specific- Sometimes things just aren’t available. One year no one had candy canes. Another time I was looking for food coloring and no one had it. My fancy wedding stamps featured famous chefs and 70’s basketball players, and if you go stateside; you must ALWAYS import Taco Bell Hot Sauce! Most of the specific things we end up needing have to be ordered in. Printer ink= Amazon. Cholula Hot sauce= Amazon; and the list goes on and on. I recently found their subscribe and save option which gets delivered on time and for free shipping! Major Score!
Errands- If your list has 10 things on it, getting 5 done is considered a success. Sometimes things just aren’t available or open. Especially if said errands include going to the BMV (same as DMV) or the bank. The bank lines are usually really long, with not so happy tellers, and the BMV is slow moving and not always friendly. You want to get a VI license? Make sure you bring every single piece of documentation you have that proves you’re a resident. Shoot, bring your whole filing cabinet including your tax returns for the last 7 years and throw in your first born child just in case.
The Power- Power outages are so common, most locals just roll with it and “hope it comes back soon.” Most of us just hope it doesn’t happen in the middle of the night, we are all very dependent on fans at the foot of the bed. Our power comes from underwater cables that run from St Thomas, where our poorly managed water and power plant resides. Things like generators and battery backup are like gold here.
The Mail– “Ma’am we don’t ship to international desinations” “I understand that, which is why you should be able to ship to us, as a US Territory, we are not international.” This is the ever present argument anytime you try to get something shipped here. Walmart goes back and forth with shipping here so much no one can keep track, and every time I order something for amazon when I get to the address section I say a prayer, light a candle, and cross all my fingers and toes. A month ago, I had to fly to Puerto Rico to pick up a computer because Apple wouldn’t ship it to my address, but they had no problem shipping it to a hotel in Puerto Rico. Huh?!
However, when all else fails, we can just escape to the beach……