Today, in light of recent events, I decided to do a little piece on my old home of St Thomas. As you may have heard, the islands have been devastated by Hurricane Irma, which has become the strongest storm ever recorded in the Atlantic Ocean. In the history of all these crazy big storms, this is the strongest with winds sustained around 185 mph and gusts over 200. The devastation is still coming in, but at this time there are entire towns, islands, and in some cases countries that have been completely demolished by this incredible storm. I lived here for a total of three years on two separate stints, and absolutely loved my time down there. I still have a ton of friends on the island, and some that have since left, and the news that is coming in from all that I've heard is as horrible as you may think. I have been reading lists to look for names of people I used to know, and watching videos of places I used to work or hang out at being swept away. The Virgin Islands is full of very proud people and they will get through this and rebuild, but at this very moment, all contact is lost, and we don't know the state of many of our friends. We setup groups on social media, chats on apps, and even setup a walkie talkie group on an app called "Zello" aptly named "VI Family." That's how we all operated down there, as a family, no matter where you were from, or what your views were, we were all one big (albeit dysfunctional) family, and the outpouring of support during this treacherous time has been nothing short of amazing. This might be my favorite place, it is impossible to explain unless you actually lived, worked, and experienced the highs and lows as a local there. Today, I remember my friends, my family, and the beautiful and incomparable Island I called home.
Fun Fact: Christopher Columbus sighted the island in 1493 on his second trip to the "New World." There is an uninhabited island called Great St. James which is right off the coast, and we used to have our sunset sails there when I worked on the boats. This inlet is called "Christmas Cove" because apparently this is where Columbus spent Christmas (an anchor was found in the cove and dated to the time period). Nowadays there is a food truck style pizza boat that bakes fresh pizza for boaters here called Pizza PI VI, it's as amazing as it sounds.
Helpful Hint: Don't come here during Hurricane season, great little hint. Outside of that, there are so many incredible things to do on this beautiful island. Red Hook on the East End is where I spent most of my time, and lived, and it's a vibrant town full of bars and shops right along the water. It's also where the ferry dock to St John (not to be confused with St. John's, there is no S!!!!), where you can take a quick hop over for happy hour or amazing beaches. The Ritz-Carlton and Secret Harbor resorts are on this end, as well as Sapphire Marina and Village where I used to live. You don't need a passport to come here if you are a US citizen, and you will find a mix of open-air rum bars, air-conditioned sports bars, and local shops with hand made goods. If you are privy, try and do what we call the "Redhook 500" which consists of hitting every single bar in Red Hook in one night. Don't forget to check out Duffy's Love Shack, the only parking lot bar in the islands, and definitely an experience, especially on Wednesdays for "Ladies night."