Category Archives: St. Croix

Hibiscusade with that Goat Water?

A tryst with John Deere is what I expected when asked to cover the St. Croix 37th Agricultural and Food Fair – AGRIFEST – (or AgFest if you’re cool.) Feeling conflicted between the promise of sandy beaches with little parasols in tropical cocktails and the thought of having to find tractors sexy and inspiring, I hesitated about, oh, 10 seconds then ordered a new skimpy bikini.

A week later, I fly to the Virgin Islands, armed with hours of scientific research on agricultural implements and their attachments. John Deere and I are going to have a total love fest.

The St. Croix AgFest is a huge deal in the U.S. Virgin Islands. As soon as I land, I am whisked away to the opening reception at the Governor’s Mansion.

Talking about governors, here he is: the seventh Governor of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Governor John deJongh. A muy sympatico laid back governor if you ask me.

After a few glasses of punch, I feel ready for the big day ahead of me.

The next morning, approaching the Fair venue, I realize that studying the engagement of the locking differential through the use of split breaks in a four-wheel drive tractor may have been a tad irrelevant, if not completely nerdy. The sun is shining on columns of colorfully clad families walking cheerfully towards the Fair grounds and this is starting to feel a lot like… a party! This will be work for the camera rather than the pen, the senses rather then the brain (pretty good news considering the gray cells seem to have migrated to another country.)

Inspired by the last Top Chef season, I decide to emulate Anthony Bourdain. Whatever sounds the weirdest, that’s what I’m eating. I end up with Goat Water (a creamy stew made of goat.) In all honesty, I think the goat water is an acquired taste, and not to sound unworldly but a Hamburger from McDonald’s begins to look real good after a few bites of the goat (plus you receive a complimentary toy with your Happy Meal and you get nada with the goat.)

All the women serving food wear traditional garb. I could use a headdress such as this one. I think it would make me look much taller.

Rastafarians everywhere! Some make this adorable little heart sign when you photograph them. I can only assume this is the Rasta way of saying “peace out mon.” Perhaps I’m completely mistaken and the sign means “you look like a weird little dudette” but hopefully not.

Some Rastas look very friendly,

some very wise.

Some appear just a tad less approachable (you’ll notice no trace of little “I heart you” sign going on there, just Rasta office weaponry.)

Some non-Rastafarians look downright as if they had emerged from the Dallas hood, bling and all… You just catch yourself scrutinizing the parking lot for the pimped car on hydraulics.

No worries. We are very well protected by the island popo who incidentally has a lot of problem not cracking up while posing for the photograph.

The St. Croix agents are a force to be reckoned with. They are fierce. They look mean. Do not mess with them.

At the Agfest, you can get a temporary tattoo which is cool for a woman but not so cool for a mon, I told Matthew, another travel writer, who seemed quite tempted by the experience.

Having heard about Matthew’s longing for a girly girl tattoo, a Moko Jumbie attempts to scare the evil spirits away from him.

The whole fair grounds is strewn with booths selling clothes, jewelry, artifacts, fabrics, music, and local products from the three islands.

Fresh local organic produce. As a rule, I never eat anything green unless it’s wasabi but sampling the products of the Virgin Island Sustainable Farm Institute, I was reminded of how fruits and vegetables are supposed to taste. Yummy for my tummy! I’d eat veggies if I lived on St. Croix. Until then, I’ll stick with sushi and Cocoa Puffs.

Music instruments and pots.

A photo booth!

At the end of the day, you could observe exhausted children sleeping in their mom’s arms… I, too, could have used a little nap by that time but then I would have missed…

Mister Suave. Perched on his bike, the dude was flirting with every women passing by. Sampling tomatoes? It’s all good but, eh, you have to keep your priorities straight, you know.

As I leave the Fair Grounds, the guy manning the entrance asks to have his portrait taken. He seems really cool. I have never ever seen such blown pupils in my life!

If you want a display of shiny modern agricultural machines, the Agricultural and Food Fair may not be for you. The AgFest is a cultural jewel and offers a perfect insight in the colorful Crucian lifestyle to tourists.

I would only perhaps recommend a Pious Nun over the goat water.

A stroll in St. Croix

Two days into my trip in St. Croix, I lost my camera battery charger. Ensued self-loathing, anxiety, panic, and an overnight order which did not quite work as planned. Two days of incessant phone conversations with FedEx US and St. Croix customs, a trip to the local FedEx office (it does not have a working phone number) resulted in the most expensive ever non-overnight delivery of a charger (later refunded by FedEx after much irritated prodding on my part.)

Thursday morning, I was finally ready to roll.

Roger at Carringtons Inn

My first photograph of the day was of Roger, the wonderful owner of Carringtons Inn, eating oatmeal straight from the pot, in his office. The bed and breakfast has five beautiful rooms overlooking Christiansted, and feels just like home (in more beautiful.)

Christiansted in the morning

I arrived in Christiansted early in the morning.

Christiansted cart

A Danish possession for close to two centuries, St. Croix has managed to keep most of its original structures. The town is a marvel of pastel-hued buildings which incorporate shaded sidewalks (we need more Danish architects in Texas.)

Across the harbor

Across Christiansted’s harbor, a hotel on a tiny island. For $3.00, you can take the boat and enjoy their beach (and bar.)

Business man in St. Croix

With so much vacation spirit and cocktails on the beach, you almost forget that people actually work on the island. While tourists go casual, the Islanders dress up.

Chance encounters with kids on the street on their way to school…

Eden

Little Eden

Anthony in St. Croix

Anthony

A little further, I meet Majo. He is trying to make up for a major gaffe when he forgot to invite his sweetheart for dinner after catching a big fish.

Majo in St. Croix

Then George.

George in St. Croix

George was very good with his crutches, and I literally had to run and hide to get rid of him… much to the amusement of the islanders.

George from St. Croix

Woman in St. Croix

Woman waiting

Backyard in St. Croix

Yard in a more impoverished part of Christiansted

Old man in St. Croix

Man on his front porch

Old lady in St. Croix

Sweetest toothless old lady

St. Croix cat

The lady’s very thin cat

Coconut retriever

Typical Crucian mutt

Crucian cop

Well-armed Crucian cop at the Kentucky Fried Chicken

gas station

Curiously, St. Croix is also home to Hovensa, one of the largest crude-oil refineries in the world. You would think that would translate in better prices at the pump, but not so much.

I finished the day by swinging by The Divi Carina Bay Resort and photographing my friend Rose.

Rose in St. Croix

I slept 10 hours straight that night!

Moko Jumbies

In St. Croix, the Moko Jumbies scare the evil spirits away…

St. Croix Moko Jumbie

with their daring moves and…

Moko Jumbie from St. Croix

their Ray-Bans which are, after all, well-known to repel evildoers.

Then you catch up with the Moko Jumbies in the parking lot…

Moko Jumbies after the show

and you can’t help but wonder if entrusting the safety of your soul to a bunch of flip-flopped teenagers is all that wise.

Gimme a damn beach!

Transitioning from the sunny beaches of St. Croix to the snowy landscapes of Dallas, I drive to Starbucks this morning with the blues in my heart. If you are going to inflict snow upon me in March as well as unbearable sub-human temperatures (that would be less than 40 degrees anytime of the year), at least provide me with a damn yeti to photograph, something to make it all worthwhile.

The Crucians have it down pat:

Rose of St Croix

The sea…

Happiness in St Croix

happiness,

Pirate of St Croix

pirates,

Art in St. Croix

surprising garden art,

Coconut retriever

coconut retrievers (or Crucian mutts),

Rastafarian in St. Croix

Rastafarians,

Kid rastafarian

wee Rastafarians,

Rain forest of St Croix

a rain forest,

Moko Jumbi in St Croix

Moko Jumbies,

and last but not least:

Beer drinking pig in St. Croix

beer drinking pigs (non-alcoholic)

AND what am I left with? A skyline and a log in the fireplace? Forgive me while I go dispose of myself…