Off To The Island: Living On St John, USVI
I arrived on St John as the sun was setting. What a gorgeous otherworldly sight! I walked around Cruz Bay just a bit, short distances at a time given that my backpack was about twenty pounds overweight. I had packed two dense books that I figured would be a good way to start off with my new life. Continuing on with reading in context from where I had left off, the two favorites were a Treatise by Alan Watts and Dark Matter and Hyperspace by Michio Kaku. Alan Watts had been a tremendous influence on me from the very first pages of one of his most popular writings, The Book: On The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are. This one was my very first stage of significant awakening to the illusions and distortions of what we believe to be reality. Not only were these books dense in content, but they were weighing down my backpack in a pretty severe way. My shoulders were aching so public benches were a welcomed sight.
My first destination was Maho Bay. Maho was about a fifteen to twenty minute ride by taxi up and down hills and around switchbacks. The taxis were mainly retrofitted pickup trucks with two parallel benches facing each other on either side. It was just about dark at this point and it turns out that the taxi driver “saw me coming”. The administration office where you check-in, was already closed and he knew it. Now being new on the island, I had to get street smart and wise quick. I ended up with a pricey round trip without a place to stay. I let him know a little bit of my dismay but was very careful not to overstep my bounds. Starting off on the wrong foot would not be the way to go with the native locals of a Caribbean Island. I knew this for sure and after all, compassion, kindness, wisdom and understanding were some of the fundamental ideals that I was practicing to live by. Now back in Cruz Bay from my futile excursion, between dropping my backpack off my shoulders to rest, I would saunter around short distances seeking a place to stay. Given that it was July 5th, not much was going on. Tourist season ended a while ago and things were very quiet.
At this point it was getting to be around midnight and I spotted two gentlemen walking the main road in the center of town. Just to get an idea of how chilled out and remote type of existence St John was at the time, there was only one stop sign on the entire island. No traffic lights and an entire population of less than 3,500 residents on an eight mile stretch of island. I had absolutely nothing to loose by walking right up to these guys, stating that I just got “on island”(as they say), my backpack is killing me and asking if they knew of a place that I could stay. They had been out for the night losing their cares and worries and it was obvious. One of them looked me up and down, paused and said, “you look okay! I’ll put you on my boat”. What?!!? I said to myself! Where is your boat? I asked in disbelief. He pointed to Cruz Bay Harbor and said, “out there on a mooring”. Ok, I thought! The adventure has now officially begun. They helped me with my belongings, boarded his dinghy, and we were motoring under a canopy of stars out to his boat!