Huh? AKA St Bart’s. Another one of those little-known Caribbean islands that seems so far away. I guess it actually is far, relative to where you are reading this. But this one has a different vibe – more European for sure. It looks and feels like a Mediterranean spot in southern France. But in contrast, it feels a bit less friendly. Not that we haven’t been treated well. Upon check-in, the well-dressed customs official was extremely courteous and friendly; and the aproned woman at the bakery was very kind to help me translate some of the french pastry names.
A majority of boaters for the most part are as friendly as ever. And the island infrastructure is completely tuned toward accomodating to the complete spectrum of boaters – from the cash-strapped barely-floating, to the 100 meter superyacht, to the bloated passenger cruiseship. Customs is about fifty feet from one of several dinghy docks, (complete with their tangles of rubber boats), making that task of clearing-in as convenient as possible. We liveaboards (AKA cruisers) follow a particular dinghy ettiquete anyway, allowing for the apparent jumbles and apparent chaos. But these dinghy docks are the highest quality, with dinghy-friendly tie-offs, and lower levels being helpful to get in and out more easily.
It’s more that most folks on the street don’t seem to fit in with the culture of the previous islands we’ve visited. They’re not on island time here.
An average person walking around town doesn’t seem to be as happy (nor satisfied) as residents of say, St Kitts. In St Kitts, more people you meet have a relaxed island attitude: What!? You’re in a hurry for that lunch check? – it just won’t come any faster! You must plan to wait for everything, or just accept it, and change your thinking. Coming from a job of endless multitasking earlier this year I still find myself having relapses of needing to be productive all the time. So believe me, I noticed this right away! However, most of these islands are have a relaxing effect. It’s easier for me to acclimate than I thought. Just hang out in Antigua or St Kitts for a couple weeks and you’ll see! Instead of waiting, we now just sit and enjoy the ample time we refer to as Island Time. We plan things to take a while. Why not?
So back to St Bart’s. Maybe it’s a larger percentage of upscale visiting folks that swing the personality scale? To begin with, it’s obvious that some (ok more than some it seems) tourists aren’t the friendliest folks. It defies my sense that having the opportunity to visit such a wonderful place, no matter how much money your dad has, would be pleasing such to enlighten one’s mood, awaken a pleasant disposition and lower one’s tension level. Oh well. Some folks who arrive via $500,000 (per week) chartered superyacht expect to be treated like royalty (and by everyone). (But we’re not all on the payroll). It’s obvious that some of these impatient folks prefer not mix with us riffraff, nor have a coffee with local folks. Nor do they want to wait for anything. Sad but true so far in our experience. They’re not on Island Time!
We often pass the Island Time hours reading while sitting in our shaded cockpit. On the water, no amount of friendly waves, from our modest 35-foot sloop over to their 30-foot captained tender, can stir a friendly wave in return. They’re too much in a hurry to run over the bobbing sea turtles and get from their superyacht to the Chanel store! We know we aren’t invisible because the regular folks anchored around all pause and wave to passers-by.
So it is, here in St Bart’s. But so what? Some folks, in paradise or not, will never appreciate the simple things. We are happy here, and remain as friendly and courteous to all, despite a few oblivious uppity folks. We hope our good vibes rub off. And who cares how long it takes to get the check? We have no place we’d rather be. Well, ok, I don’t want to miss the sunset this evening! Hurry up and dig those cold Caribs out of the fridge!