I feel like we are now nicely settled back in to our home in Todos Santos after having spent 3 weeks in St Thomas, USVI. It took me a few days to find my footing, unpacking, cleaning, groceries, and getting back into school and extracurricular routines. Now I have had time to sit back and think about the whirlwind trip we just finished. It was chalked full of emotions.
We hadn’t been back to our beloved St Thomas since the hurricanes last season. This is the island we called home as we had our boat there for the final two years of that sailing chapter. We had left the island pre-storms, and crazy enough, Eben flew back in to it only a few days before Irma hit. He got to partake in the strength of that storm. He evacuated to PR right after Irma, only to evacuate again back to Canada pre-Maria.
Our island friends, those who left and trickled back in, and those who stayed through the entirety, gave us updates of how the islands were rebuilding. But it’s nothing like seeing it first hand.
What We Saw
I like to think of myself as a pretty positive person. Every 6 months or so I may hit a momentary low, but in general, I seek the silver linings in everything. I wasn’t going to St Thomas to dwell on the destruction. I wasn’t going there to complain about the spots that “used to be there” that no longer exist. Yes, there is sadness in the loss. Yes, I was at a loss for words seeing buildings that were gutted from the storms. But, instead, what I saw, what I felt, was happiness in my heart.
There is this vibe of “we survived”, “we’re rebuilding”, that can be felt. There is strength in the air.
Many buildings still sport the “blue tarp roofs”, and if you knew the island before you can definitely look around and notice the post-storm differences. But that is not slowing this island down. Everywhere we went there were people working at rebuilding. There were linemen working on power, roofers and construction teams working on rebuilding, there are dedicated areas of “hills” of scrap metal and debris that has been collected and is being dealt with. Roads are being repaired, and the even the “bridge to nowhere” is becoming the “bridge to somewhere”!
An Island That Lives Off Of Tourism
Tourism is a leading source of income in St Thomas, which is one of the reasons things “needed” to get back to a beautiful island norm. The cruise ships needed to come back, the tourists needed to come back, that money needed to come back.
And they are succeeding. Going there as a “tourist” this time around, I can say there were tons of things for us to do. The beaches are still beautiful, we visited several. The beach bars are still serving delicious, cold drinks, I tried the Bushwhackers around island (!) . Charter companies are still running boats, for term and day trips. There were plenty of attractions, like stores, museums, and the library, for us to visit and keep us busy for our full three weeks.
I can whole-heartedly tell everyone to go to St Thomas without post-storm fear, you will enjoy your time there.
How We Felt Going Back
Like I said, it was full of emotions going back to St Thomas. What is there not to love about a Caribbean island, with beautiful turquoise water, white sandy beaches, that is inhabited with a bunch of our great friends!?
On our first day back my girlfriend Leighann organized a beach party to welcome us. Everyone was there. We were all in bathing suits, warm sun on our skin, toes in the sand, drinks in hand, and kids splashing around in the water. My heart told me “I missed this”. It felt good to be back.
We had a great trip, full of late night chats with friends, non-stop playdates, meals out to restaurants I had craved while being away, beach days, and on-the-water adventures. The time flew by so fast that after 3 weeks the girls and I were heading back to Mexico and we hadn’t had a chance to hang out with everyone that we had wanted to visit with. Next time I guess!
The Return To Mexico
I was scared what returning to Mexico would look like. As our trip neared its end in St Thomas, the girls started telling me that they didn’t want to leave. They said they wanted to live in St Thomas (on a catamaran!). I also knew we were coming back to a Todos Santos that had a quarter of our friends left there. Many people leave TS for the summer/hurricane months. And after 3 weeks of homeschooling with me, they may not be thrilled to return to school.
But landing in Mexico felt good. We went from the airport to our car that was in storage, and then directly to Costco for groceries.
Paying the grocery bill in Mexico is so much easier to swallow than paying the grocery bill in St. Thomas (the cost of living here is way cheaper than in the islands. One of the reasons we moved here!)
Then we were driving home. The scenic drive along the coast, through the desert hills, there’s something stunning about this view too. Pulling in to our little town of Todos Santos felt comforting. And to make our arrival just “typical”, we arrived to a little snag…our gate had been locked from the inside by the owner so no one would get in, but he wasn’t around either. So I got to scale the cement wall to break into my own yard!
Stepping into our home, it felt like home.
What Now (to answer some of your questions)
– The girls and I are in Todos Santos.
– School is out for the summer in 3 weeks, who knows what we’ll do during summer break.
– Eben is in St Thomas for a couple more weeks.
– We still have not “broken ground” on the hotel but we have hope that things will progress in time.
– We just got bad news that some of the hard work that we put in on our Canadian property last summer has faltered. Three of the posts shifted when winter thawed. Will we return to Canada this summer to fix it? No idea.
– We will end up living in the islands again? I don’t know, but it sure was nice to be back
– Do we see ourselves going back to boating? Possibly one day, on a catamaran!
Nice blog. I too live in Mexico but have worked the last 8 years in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and now Ghana, Africa. I have a company looking at me to come work on some of the reconstruction in St. Thomas. So I’m definitly trying to learn all I can. Thanks again and keep on enjoying life.