Off To The Island: Living On St John, USVI
The initial week was spent at Cinnamon Bay campgrounds. The first evening there after setting up and having dinner, I went for a swim taking in what can only be described as surreal. The only thoughts in mind as I rested floating on my back looking up at the slowly sun-setting pastel sky was, I am here - this is amazing! - surreal! I did it - fulfilled my vision thus far! My time was managed between the camp site and making routine daily trips into town at Cruz Bay. Early mornings were spent in meditation, communing with trees, birds and other little residents of the surroundings. This was followed by breakfast, some simple spackle bucket laundry cleaning and usually a saunter to the beach for a swim. The accommodations at Cinnamon Bay ranged from very nicely designed permanent structures with full sleeping and bath facilities to large walk-in family tents and simple camp sites. I had my tent setup in a sweet spot in a dense area of trees with a nearby path leading about thirty-five yards of a stroll to the white sand, crystal clear blue water at the west end of Cinnamon Bay.
By late morning with a packed lunch I would set out for hitching a ride into town. Thumb out on the winding hilly roads was not only legal but the main mode of getting from one place to another for those without a vehicle. It wouldn’t take long before a ride was offered by a familiar face who would become a regular acquaintance very quickly. Small island - same folks day in, day out. During routine trips to town in the early afternoons I would explore the immediate area of shops and services for essentials that I might be needing. Food, post office, phone, bank, etc.. After about the third day of becoming quite familiar with the way of life on St John and beginning to interact with various locals, it was getting to be late in the afternoon and I knew I was needing to head back to the campsite. Walking down the quiet main drag lined with palm trees and folks living a slow paced life, I heard some live music emanating from one of the well known restaurants in Mongoose Junction which was pretty much quaint shoppes for tourists. There was always a regular crowd of locals hanging out for the pre-dinner “happy hour”. I climbed the railroad tie steps from the street and kept myself inconspicuous on a balcony outside some french doors looking into from where the music was emanating. A guitar player with a very cool midi setup was playing and singing a great repertoire of tunes spanning James Taylor, The Eagles, The Beatles, Elton John, Carol King and older standard type tunes of Sinatra, Tony Bennet, Nat King Cole etc. This was right up my alley of appreciation.
Although off to the wings, he saw and felt my presence as any musician feels “the vibe” of another musician. I was really enjoying his set and was taken by his level of accomplishment as a player and singer. I guess I just wasn’t expecting this on a tiny little island. As he moved into his break, I once again acted upon what up to recent times was not really within my comfort level. However, approaching him in my new dreamworld of an environment was less intimidating here among the local folks that knew all the goings on. I immediately complimented him on his playing, singing, tunes and midi setup. He was appreciative, very approachable and very knowing that I was a working musician from the nature of the midi acknowledgment. He asked what was happening with me being on island and how long my stay is. I responded by saying, “I’m here man!” You are here to live? Yes, I said with a knowing yet seeking smile. Some conversation ensued. He treated me to a beer and asked if I would be into getting together to play sometime in the afternoon. That’s musician talk for, “I want to check you out”. Or - hold an audition to see if you can play and break the monotony of able musicians being far and few between. Without any intent of playing music and being involved in “a scene”, I immediately said, Yes! We arranged for him to pick me up in his little Suzuki jeep style island run about (which was the vehicle of choice in this environment) the next day and headed to one of the very, very impressive open air, torch lit restaurants at Caneel Bay Resort.