We are in America again…sort of. Being in a place better connected to the US than others has allowed us to appreciate what we have missed these last six months. You can learn a lot about America by not being in it.
Such as things like this: AMERICANS ARE THE BEST SHELF-STOCKERS IN THE WORLD. (Well, the Caribbean, anyway.) The Caribbean grocery stores we have previously encountered would have only one brand of the desired item (if they had it at all,) and you could not count on them having the same item at the same place on the shelf next week. The logistics and cost of importation to the middle of nowhere is overwhelming! Also, presentation and cleanliness were generally not prioritized, with a few notable exceptions (like Carulla in Colombia…aaah!) Apparently, when your country reaches a certain economic status, energy can be spent on seemingly trivial things, like organizing products by shape and color, and overstocking just for presentation’s sake. While surprisingly soothing, Americanized shelf-stocking is clearly wasteful. But boy, it is pretty to see thousands of different kinds of pens all in a row! Aaaah! Pens are so easy to stow! Uh-oh. We have too many pens now.
And this: AMERICANS MAKE GOOD DAMN BARBEQUE! Mel just indulged in chicken wings and cornbread at The Smokin’ Rooster. Sorry, Jamaica, but your jerk doesn’t come close! Not enough sugar! AMERICANS DON’T MIND LICKING THEIR OWN FINGERS!
And this: AMERICANS LOVE SIGNAGE! The more words, the better! A good sign makes all of those stupid, specific rules okay. After being in countries where they actually let you walk to the edge of a precipice without even a fence or a traffic cone in your way, the signage here is a bit…overwhelming.
And this: AMERICA IS SPLIT INTO MULTIPLE GEOGRAPHICAL CHUNKS OF DISTINCT CULTURE, WHICH IS AWESOME. St. Thomas has a vibe all of its own. I mean, look at the cars here! No one gives a crap about them! We rented a car for a couple of days and, alarmed when we saw body damage before taking the keys, took a lot of pictures so that we wouldn’t be falsely accused later (which has happened plenty in the States.) The nice Budget guy walked around the car with us and eventually said, “Look, I’ll just put “all scraped up” on this form and we won’t worry about it.” It turns out that we ended up with one of the nicest cars on the island, according to a guy hanging out in the parking lot at Budget Marine, anyway. Mel has entertained herself with all sorts of theories as to the popularity of the banged-up car, such as: why waste money on appearances when some idiot driving on the right is just around the corner anyway? Maybe the only auto body guy on the island is overpriced, St. Thomas gets a deal on wrecked cars, the hills are too steep, the parking lots are too small, driving on the left when the driver sits on the left is difficult, or showing off an unscratched car comes across as culturally…pubey? Or maybe, just maybe, she has found the one island where everyone’s daughter REALLY DOES need an eye operation.
Of course, our dinghy and our boat are no longer scratch-free, so I guess the Burnetts have finally gone native!
Here are some pics that don’t fit with the theme of the post, but who cares! YeeHaw! On Monday we took the dinghy to Buck Island during cruise ship lunch hour (11-1) and had a blast snorkeling a wreck and a crystal-clear bay filled with turtles. We concluded our awesome day by watching an outdoor movie on Honeymoon Beach on Water Island. And, OF COURSE, Mel would not have taken her kids had she known it was the new, R-rated Vacation movie rather than the classic she grew up with. So if you were sitting behind us last night, we were not strangling our children in the sand; we were just trying to protect them from “adult themes.” SO AMERICAN!