Of course it probably goes without saying that moving to an island is not all about salty and sandy happiness, sunset walks on the beach, and happy hour festivities. Those are a big part of island living on St. John but we have been working hard behind-the-scenes to get everything set up properly so that we can enjoy ourselves in paradise. First things first, have you ever heard of WAPA? It the notoriously expensive utilities company in the Virgin Islands, where the price per unit is about eight times higher than in the states. I guess that’s beside the point. You have to set up a WAPA account, so we did that first.
Then we started the process of trying to find insurance- some sort of renter’s insurance that would cover a couple of pieces of jewelry. We had been in communications with a few providers when we were still living in the states, and we weren’t getting much accomplished. However, once we were physically here, we immediately discovered the Theodore Tunick office. We have found them to be professional, polite, and knowledgable. Things have taken a few days longer than expected, but hey, it is what it is! Our new policy should be set up my tomorrow. Maybe not… I’m not holding my breath… but maybe so. I’m choosing to be positive about it.
Next we bought our car on St Thomas. We went over in our loaner vehicle on the car barge. It’s $50 round trip. You can either sit in your car and leave the windows up and the AC on, or you can sit in your car, roll down the windows, save your gas, and hope for a breeze. We got a pleasant enough breeze to do the latter, so that was nice. We drove straight to the Toyota dealership, which is part of the Caribbean Auto Group. My friend Sherry put us directly in touch with the owner, Bill, who put me in touch with the head of the Toyota department. I was originally in the market for a RAV-4. I’ve actually always wanted a small SUV because 1) you sit up higher and can see more, and 2) it has the perfect amount of space.
We actually ended up with a Nissan Rogue. The story isn’t very interesting so I’ll skip over that, but I think the fact that we purchased a Rogue is quite ironic, to say the least. Bob was wonderful from the moment we met over email until the deal was closed. I highly recommend this dealership. If you move here, you won’t have much of a choice, but I’m just saying…
Victor at the dealership was also amazing. He took us to Guardian Insurance across the highway to get signed up. These are certainly not fun and “islandy” things to do, but they are necessary parts of life. The ladies at Guardian were nice and quick. Our policy was set up in under thirty minutes! I guess if you keep throwing money at things, you can get a lot marked off your to-do list.
The ride on the car ferry coming back…. how do I put this? Packed in like sardines is the most fitting description that comes to mind. I’ve never seen cars so close together in my life. It’s scarier than rush hour in a cab in NYC, and you’re vehicle isn’t even moving on this boat! I had a near panic attack so I had to watch the shenanigans from the upper deck, which was actually quite relaxing. I won’t make the mistake of waiting until the cars have closed in around us next time before I hop out and take my spot upstairs.
We don’t have a printer at our house. We need jobs. We fortunately do have pretty good resumes. So, we headed to Connections in town to use their printers. I printed off several copies of my resume and started pounding the pavement, so to speak, to see what I could find. I think going into town and chatting with people while accomplishing simple tasks is nice. You never know who you’ll meet. Back in Charlotte when I had to do computer work at home, I was always bored.
Ultimately, everything everyone said about things taking longer and being more of a process is sort of true but honestly, it hasn’t been all that bad. In fact it’s sort of amazing that people operate on island time and everything gets done in the end. Why were we always in such a hurry in Charlotte? We’ve continued to be politely persistent yet respectful of the fact that we live on a tiny island in the Caribbean. It’s been nice not having jobs the first couple of weeks on St. John since there is a lot to do to get settled. We’ve adopted a half vacation, half real-world type of mentality. It hasn’t been half bad.
Ashley Cates, St. John USVI blogger.