The small plane had a bumpy landing, and 5 minutes later we were at the airport in St. Croix with our backpacks, ready to explore another Caribbean island. On this island we were staying with a 66 year-old man named Cy. That was all we knew about him, because he had never couchsurfed before and had no references.
We called him from the airport and he instructed us to go to his favorite beach, which proved to be the only gay-friendly beach on the island (not a coincidence). We took a taxi from the airport to the beach on the other side of the island and waited there for a few hours, for Cy to finish work and come and pick us up.. It was a nice beach with crystal-clear water, truly a paradise. We saw sea turtles, spotted eagleray (....), dolphins and a myriad of fish on the reef which was right off the beach.
We started talking with a man who was working at the hotel, and happened to mention that we were staying with Cy. He just started laughing and continued to laugh for several minutes - not a good initial response!
Suddenly an elderly man in a speedo showed up - and voila- there Cy was, the craziest couchsurfer we stayed with!
He was hysterically funny. He told us that he is a retired teacher who has worked for 40 years in St.Croix, but he was born and raised in New York, which was clear from his accent.
He had an amazing stylish house right next to the capital Christiansted. The house was built around a sugar mill from the 1600s, very special. It was a huge garden with 2 swimming pools, lots of fruit trees and a tamarind-tree. Cy is very fond of cooking, and has supposedly got a doctorate in baking. He insisted that we should help him in the kitchen when he baked bread and garlic baguettes. We also learned the fine art of making tamarind-juice. The first morning he dished up homemade Belgian waffles, sparkling apple juice, home-made tamarindjuice and fresh butter. It was pretty luxurious. He was infinitely happy to have someone who could help him with the daily chores. Sometimes he called me when I was on the other side of the house just so I could come and open the fridge door for him. He was also very easily stressed. Sometimes when we were at the beach with him and he had just had a swim in the crystal-clear warm water, sitting in his deckchair, he would shout "God, I `m soo stressed out" with a worried look on his face.
He is actually retired, but when we stayed with him, he had an unpaid temporary position at a local school.
Cy is obsessed with origami, there is origami all over his house, and in the classroom where he worked. We were with him at the school to see what a school is like in St.Croix, and it was a pretty funny experience. He only had 3 students, but they were apparently problem students who were in a special class.
He spoke to them as if they were complete retards, and every time one of themopened their mouth - he ran over to the board to give them a point. «Positive reinforcement» – If the kids got enough points, he bought them a Subway sandwich. Me and Torunn were asked to make boxes. So there we were 10 000 miles from home on a small island in the Caribbean, making origami boxes along with a bunch of rootless Caribbean teenagers. Brilliant!
It turned out that we were natural talents at making boxes. We made a box with a Norwegian flag on as a gift for Cy.
The rest of the day was spent walking around Christiansted. Christiansted is named after a Danish king named Christian, and on the other side of the island is the town of Fredericksted that was named after another Danish king named (drumrolls)….Fredrik.
St.Croix belongs to the Usa, but their culture is more Danish than american. Even the street names are in Danish, and they sell Danish pastries. America bought the Virgin islands off Denmark in 1930, While the Danes have had the islands for hundreds of years. There is apparently 7 different countries who have owned the Virgin Islands over the past 500 years, so there has been very much back and forth.
Christiansted is a very nice little town, very relaxed, relaxed Caribbean atmosphere all over the place, nobody is stressing out (except Cy ..).
Forts in Christiansted and Fredriksted are very different from forts that we saw on the other Caribbean Islands. It may have something to do with the fact that the Danes actually dragged the stones to build them all the way from denmark, and also the fact that these were the only islands that were not Danish and Spanish, British or Dutch.
Just outside the town is a tiny little palm-island where there is a nice beach and a hotel. There is a small boat that transports people from christiansted to the island for rip-off prices..
We had a small rucksack, so I took the bag on the boat, while Torunn swam across. Torunn was already on the beach when I got to the island. It was a very good place to spend a day relaxing, there were lots of stingrays and fish right off the island.
Otherwise, there were many lazy days on the dock in Christiansted, where there was a micro brewery that produced St.Croix real ales. We often went to Fredriksted as Cy could not go a single day without having to go to his favorite beach on the other side of the island. Every time we had to stop to go to the store, it took an eternity. This was because we could not walk past a single person without Cy beginning to talk to them. It seems that most people on this island have been Cy`s pupil at some point, and those who have not know him anyway.
We started getting pretty good at making butter and tamarindjuice, and at night he baked a pizza for dinner for us.
When the weekend arrived Cy wanted to spend lots of time with us. It might have been the reason why I woke up early in the morning and saw that Cy was in our bedroom. I woke up to find him stroking me gently on the arm as he whispered that we had to wake up. I got a little shock, but accepted it as a cultural difference (between gay culture and heterosexual culture).
The breakfast was great, as usual. We had planned to stay with another couchsurfer that I had contacted before I actually contacted Cy. We figured it was best to stay with her for a few days as we had planned 3 days of partying, .Cy went to bed at eight o'clock every night, and had not given us a key to his house.
Celena was my age and a little more in tune with us (possibly because she was not twice as old as us, nor crazy).
She lived with 2 other young ladies who all worked as masseuses at a luxury hotel. They were very hospitable giving us both room, food and rum(...).
On the evening of the first day we got to be part of something we've never experienced before - Thanksgiving Celebration. It is something that Americans celebrate on November 22nd because the turkeys are extra juicy that day. We went with Celena and friends to a wonderful villa with an elderly American couple who would be responsible for food. They dished up a fabulous turkey-meal and the best margaritas I've ever tasted. It was the perfect evening and a great place- The villa was close to the sea and had a view of a small island lying just off the main island.
We were lucky enough to attend "jump up" which is a popular local festival that happens about 4 times a year in St.Croix. ". Celena and friends were obviously going there, and all wore dresses with special colors typical St.Croix. Even Torunn borrowed a dress, So then I was suddenly the only one without St.Croix colors.
The solution came as the most gays shirt I've ever worn in my life. It had the right colors, but also had a deep neckline and looked like it would fit on a teenage girl.
I figured that no one knows me on St.Croix (except the people I'm going out with), so it could probably be a little funny wearing that shirt. My main concern was that the locals dont like gays and tend to beat them up, something that was not good since I looked very gay.
The Jump-up festival was fun, very fun to take in some local culture when we are on the island. There were lots of people, street food, steeldrum bands(Caribbean drums) and Mocko jumbees.
Mocko Jumbees are typical of St.Croix, and very special to see. There are some people on high stilts and special costumes with masks over their faces. They were very good at dancing even with stilts on. I would have stumbled after a minute.
At the waterfront we found a reggae concert and a bunch of cute girls who played with fire. First time I've seen girls who do a fireshow , there should have been more of them around.
The next day was our birthday . Torunn was 33 and I left the twenties and went into the thirties, finally an adult..
We started the day with 2 birthday dives on the reef at Salt River Bay - where Columbus first landed when he came to the Caribbean in 1492.
The reef was nice and colorful with lots of beautiful fish, and we managed to get very close to a sea turtle before he rushed on. They are incredibly elegant when they swim. They just float away without any worries (except for the local fishermen who are trying to kill them - shame on them!) .
After the dive we spent the rest of the day at the beach with Cy. It was a very relaxing place to celebrate our birthday. The waiter there sang the birthday song as an opera for us, and we got free ice cream.
We were there until sunset, then we went to Celena's house where they had prepared a small birthday party for us, another example of a good couchsurfer that spoils us!
It was actually quite sad to leave the island because we had so many new friends there!
The next island we were going to was Nevis. We had found a local "airline" that would take us there. They had direct flights to Nevis and were slightly cheaper than LIAT (which is the official Caribbean airline ). It was very difficult to get hold of someone from the company "Coastal air". There was no website, no e-mail and no information anywhere. All we had was a phone number where they never picked up the phone. After 5 days of trying to get hold of captain Mike, he called finally back (after I had left 50 messages). They are obviously not interested in getting passengers.
The plane was older than me and Torunn, and looked like it came straight out of the 70s. The captain Mike was at least 70 years old, and waddled away while we followed him into the plane. The inside of the plane was if possible even more retro than the outside. None of the belts seemed to work, which was just as well as some of the guys in the plane had lots of boxes and luggage on top of their laps.
This time I got to be co-pilot, which was actually very funny. I just hoped that Mike would not get a coronary or something in which case it would not have been as funny being co-pilot.