Saturday, May 5, 2012

St. Croix

As we work our way down island, we have to decide where we are going to stop this time, and where we plan to stop on the way back north.  Having seen St. Thomas and St. Johns before, we decided to go to St. Croix.

St. Croix is a little off of the beaten path.  Charter boat fleet in the USVI and BVIs are not allowed to go to St. Croix because it is too far away for easy service of the boats should the need arise.  Tourists usually arrive in St. Croix by air either at their main airport or via the seaplane service in Christiansted’s harbor.

There does not seem to be too many other cruisers here.

Our neighbor Bernard’s mermaid
The other boaters seem to be long term live aboards like Bernard our neighbor on a sport fish. 

Bernard decided that Pollie needed a coconut tree for her boat garden.  I owe him one for that!
Waiting for Pollie
We managed to find a small marina, albeit somewhat lacking in amenities, right on the board walk in downtown Christiansted with very reasonable slip fees.

I think the best way to judge an island is by its rum distillery.  So, our first stop was the Cruzan distillery.

Unlike the previous rum maker we visited in the Dominican Republic, Cruzan does the actually fermentation, distilling and aging at their St. Croix location.

But then the rum is shipped to the U.S. for bottling.

While we had a rental car, we drove (Keep Left!) to the western side of the island and visited St. Croix’s second largest city, Fredriksted.
Near the cruise ship dock Fredricksted is lovely, but it can get a little bleak a few blocks from the dock.

We did have a great lunch at Polly’s at the Pier.  Polly’s owner (behind the cash register) has Polly’s portrait proudly displayed above the bar.  Pollie’s grandparents had a dog named Polly Boo Boo that Pollie thought was named after her until she figured out that the dog was older than her; hmmm.
St. Croix VLBA
Because of the terrain, parts of St. Croix are rain forest, while other parts are rather arid and support cactus.
Christiansted has many fine buildings left over from their Dutch past.
Great Interior Courtyards
Covered sidewalks
Exploring the city was great fun.  The locals enjoyed joking about us entering our bikes in the upcoming St. Croix Triathlon.

Tours of islands in the Caribbean are not complete until you have seen their fort.  Christiansted had three forts capable of laying down crossfire on any ship trying to enter the cut in the reef.  Consequently, Christiansted was never taken by sea.
The fort had land defenses for the occasional slave uprising and also contained dungeons where uncooperative slaves were held.
Rachel Hamilton, Alexander Hamilton’s mother was held in one of the fort’s prison cells for awhile to see if she would come to her senses and not leave Alexander’s father.  It didn’t work.
St. Croix’s economy has suffered a triple hit.  As with most Caribbean islands, St Croix has suffered from the recession’s effect on tourism.  Citing huge losses, this refinery was recently shutdown.
And, this cruise ship docks sits empty as the cruise ship industry has suffered some setbacks.  The last cruise ship for the summer season left the day we arrived at St. Croix.
St. Croix High School Steel Drum Band
But the economy will not get a Cruzan down when it is time for Jump Up.  Jump Up is celebrated 4 times a year in Christiansted.  The streets are blocked off, food and drink vendors setup, and a big party begins.
Mocko Jumpies dance in the streets to ward off evil and collect cash gifts from the pretty ladies.  These young men dancing among the crowd on 6 to 7 foot stilts were amazing.
A good time was had by all.

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