Home Columns Mikes’s Musings – Caribbean not all it’s made out to be

Mikes’s Musings – Caribbean not all it’s made out to be


It’s been about 20 years since I’ve taken a real vacation. The workaholic I am just couldn’t get away for more than a few days. That is until a couple weeks ago. My wife and I decided to venture down to the U.S. Virgin Islands and stay for a couple weeks in a condo on St. John.

One might be right in asking why in September, peak hurricane month. My answer would be because accommodations and rental cars are half price and c’mon what are the chances of a tropical storm hitting a tiny island in the Carribean.

It turns out I was right. Weather was not a problem. However, there were many reasons my wife and I were so happy to return to our home.

Living on a Carribean whether fulltime or for just a couple of weeks has its challenges. Despite the immense beauty of the beaches, the islands, themselves are vast wastelands filled with trash, junk cars, and used appliances. Trash is a major problem. There’s no place to put it, accept it Waste Management containers that are placed strategically throughout the island. But then the stench from the containers can be overwhelming if you live nearby. Junk cars and large appliances create another problem. Once they become inoperable they simply sit in someone yard or on the side of the road because there is no place to put them.

Essentials that we take for granted in the States, are in short supply and very costly in the Carribean. Mind you we stayed in a very modern condo, yet lost water three times during our stay. Signs are posted everywhere to please conserve the water, and rightfully so, because you never know when you will have to do without.

Ditto the electricity. The cost to hook-up to WAPA, the electrical authority is costly, but not as costly as the electricity that runs on average 3 to 4 times that in the States. And of course, like the water, it will go out often.

Food is also very very expensive. A dozen eggs will cost $3.50. A gallon of milk approaches $5. Most food items are at least double what it would be here in the States. And to go to a restaurant can be outrageous. We ordered pizza at two different restaurants, assuming it would be the cheapest item on the menu. At one establishment it cost $25 for a large pizza. At the second restaurant it was $22 for a small pizza. Forget about steak. If you can find it on the menu, it’s outrageously priced.

It’s bad enough you have to learn how to drive on the left side of the road, but when you are out of gas, and must fill-up at one of the two gas stations on the Island, you really get a sense of sticker shock. My first fill-up was at $3.94 a gallon. Fortunately a week later, the pump price had fallen to $3.40, still nearly twice what it is here.

Listen to me complain. Most couples would almost give their life to spend a couple of weeks on a Caribbean island. There are many extraordinary reasons. The beauty of the crystal clear azure water is in stark contrast to some of the murky lakes we have around here. And the marine life is awesome. There is nothing more beautiful than viewing a large sea turtle or man-a-ray as they go about their business.
And on the island there is an abundance of wildlife running wild along the roadways. We got a huge kick out of the iguanas. They are in abundance and some will feed right from your hand. Donkeys, yes jackasses, roam the streets searching for water and food. Goats are everywhere, roaming in large packs and deer can be seen often.

Despite the trash and lack of amenities, the Caribbean is a magical place. For me, however, I’d rather spend my next vacation in the good ole US of A where water, electricity and food won’t cost me an arm and a leg. But then again, when it’s time for another vacation twenty years down the road, who knows what the price of a gallon of milk will be.

Did I tell you how happy I am to be home?