Arriving tourists may slow things to a crawl here, but no one’s complaining
Author Andrew Jenner Illustration Peter Oumanski
ST. CROIX, U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS—Jerry was supposed to run an errand today at Sunny Isle, a shopping center in the middle of St. Croix. However, he overlooked one crucial fact: Royal Caribbean’s Brilliance of the Seas is docked at Frederiksted, meaning hundreds of flip-flop-shod Caribbean cruisers have eight hours to kill on the island.
On ship days, when every taxi in town is chasing tourist fares, locals know better than to try to get anywhere themselves. So, stranded, Jerry sits on a stoop, sipping a light beer and idly scratching at a lottery ticket. He’ll try for Sunny Isle again tomorrow. “I don’t give,” he says, dismissing the inconvenience in a musical Crucian accent as a tourist-packed taxi rolls by.
A block west, crowds are combing the waterfront trinket stands. The restaurants on Strand Street are jammed. Cheerful reggae blasts from a PA system set up in the old town square, while a moko jumbie stilt dancer totters down the esplanade. When there’s no cruise liner here, Frederiksted is comparatively deserted. The ships that arrive every few days may scupper the plans of locals like Jerry, but they also bring in money, and no one is arguing with that.
So yes, Jerry says, he’ll run his errands tomorrow, no problem—an attitude that would not surprise any of his neighbors. On St. Croix, life moves according to “island time.” When things don’t go as planned, you resort to Plan B: sit back and relax.
“Come back again,” Jerry says to a departing visitor, before taking another long, leisurely pull on his beer.