This year, my sisters, Stephanie, Vanessa and I, traveled under a cloak of secrecy to surprise our mom for a visit home. She was clueless to our plans and we three were pretty giddy about the elaborate trickery we were pulling off.
Mehson, it was an epic coup! However, the caveat is that now we may never be able to pull off such a plan again since mom is now wise to our shenanigans.
For me, this visit was more exciting and enlightening because as much as I thought I knew about the island, there was still more that I didn’t know.
During the week, Van and I went to the La Reine Fish Market on the hunt for some snapper fish. La Reine Fish market is a pretty special place and we found out that if you are not there before 10 am, you have missed out on buying some of the best fish!
We arrived after 11am and lucked into a merchant who sold us a 13lb snapper fish. Excited, Van and I took that bad boy home but found out later that our snapper was leaning on the side of “slightly old” which means that the next time we go fish shopping our sister Steph will be with us because she is the fish expert in the family.
Using a term we serendipitously hijacked from a cousin of ours, the situation was quite frankly, “No Bueno!”
While waiting for our snapper to be sliced and diced, our merchant told us about the proposal to renovate and rebuild the market place and some of the political aspects surrounding the project. According to him, the legislator approved funding, (upwards of $800,000+ since 2010), to structurally improve the whole area.
Unfortunately, it seems that politics has stymied the project for several years now and final approval to move forward has been entwined in the proverbial red tape and the delay has compounded a vexing problem and turned it into a dubious one.
As we traveled around town, the most egregious sight for me was is in the condition of the local roads. I was disappointed to see that the roads had not improved since my last visit and in fact seemed even worse. Yet, on the comely hills and scenic routes, the roads are paved with neoteric asphalt.
I confess that I’m not up on all the intricate details of the local politics, but even as a young girl I knew that the culture had always been entrenched in money corruption and bad policies that did a lot of harm in the territory.
During our visit, we saw a lot of what makes St. Croix beautiful and also some that were simply disappointing. Downtown Christiansted had a little activity during the day and barely any after six pm.
As a teen, I worked as a sales girl in one of the boutiques on Company Street. Back then the town was always thriving with activity and I was excited that I worked in the heart of it.
Today the tourist district on St. Croix can barely be called as such. Granted, the month of April may not be the height of the tourist season, but I still had to ask myself, “Lawd harry deh judge, wey everybody deh?
Frederiksted was no different. When the ships are not anchored in the harbor, and no J’ouvert celebration happening, the town is asleep.
Tourists visit the Caribbean to experience the pristine aesthetics of a place not completely tainted by the outside world. But the islands must also offer them some familiar things as well.
The world is changing, and there is an awakening to understanding that our duty as citizens extends beyond the ballot box if we are to affect the progress we want.
The laggard position of clinging to the promises of our elected officials is showing signs of decay. Crucians cannot remain stagnant in the notion that the tourism industry will be its sole savior and must reimagine their future. The four star hotel, sports center and the ferry service are great and I would add my .25 cents of things I would like to see happen in territory.
1. More outdoor and rooftop restaurants located in other places around town.
2. Expanding food farming combined with solar energy.
3. Legalizing marijuana farming.
4. Collaborating with more U.S. and International companies that have funding programs designed to help entrepreneurs and small businesses grow their organizations.
5. More marketing to the film and music industries. Making a documentary about the Virgin Islands worthy enough for the History channel or PBS.
6. Enticing Tim Duncan to bring his annual “Charity Golf Tournament” to St. Croix.
5. St. Croix could be a leader in a Caribbean coalition to meet the threat of climate reality.
I have no delusions that answers are easy, simple or free, or that anything I’ve mentioned isn’t already being done. It’s true that money is the common denominator to progress. However, I believe that a citizen’s movement can also affect progress. Crucians have been known to galvanize in standing up for progress. We don’t need a fire burning rebellion, but a social conscious one in understanding that we are the government, and that we must become better partners for effective rule, including from those of us who live abroad.
My lasting memory was on the day we visited a friend’s home in Clairmont Mill Estates. The view was breathtakingly glorious and it left us momentary dumbfounded. We looked out at the vast ocean in front of us and saw the islands of St. Thomas, St. John and Puerto Rico sitting miles away in the cloudy distance.
We’ll never forget it, and we’ll be back soon because we love our home, St. Croix.