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Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Governor's Offices

A couple days ago, I showed you where the governor of the Island lives... This is where he works.

Located almost exactly half way between Jackie's office and our home away from Kansas (our temp hotel) is the office of the Governor of the Island. I love the little guard shack out front. never have seen a guard there, but just in case the Queen comes, they are ready.

If you are paying attention, a few days ago I made a post about the "99 Steps". These steps go to the same road, are located a block from the 99 steps. So we have a choice of walking the scenic rough historical steps, or the more upkept stairs of the Governor. I have heard them called "Government Steps" and "The Governor's Steps"... not sure which is right, but I like the personal touch of calling them the Governor's steps.

Front door...
And inside the front lobby. Was not allowed past the stairs (a little surprised to get as far as I did).
As capitol offices go, a little sparse, but tasteful. And patriotic.

A bronze list of the former Governor's

Trappings of the office.... The Symbol

the Seal

And the state (national/ territorial... not sure the right term) flower and the state (national/ territorial) bird...

And for those of you paying attention, just above the office (up those white stairs) and a bit to the left is the statue of the Three Queens and Blackbeard's Tower.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I Walked by a Cemetery

This is the first and only cemetery I have seen on the island. Reminds me of New Orleans, with all above ground burial plots.

These are all family owned and maintained... Notice the pink site, and the two story site next to it...

The pink site has an stone with etched lettering...

If you double click the photo above, you will see the etchings have been down with a stick into wet concrete.

If you will allow me to get poetic for a moment, I was struck by all of the trees and shade. the sun is relentless here, no escaping. But in eternal rest, everyone gets a nice shady spot.

Friday, February 26, 2010

I Walk to the other side of the View to find the Governor's Mansion

You've seen this before, this is the view from my balcony... The big white building at the top is the Governor's Mansion.

And today it was my goal for a walk.

just as steep a climb as you can imagine. These staircases are actually on town maps There is no distinction between these pedestrian "streets" and streets that fit a car.

So, up up up

This is the view looking back towards my temp home away from Kansas. The tower with the flags is "Blackbeard's Tower" Great name, not the home of the pirate, but great name for a tourist spot. To the left of the tower, the three story white building (The narrower one, not the longer one below and to the right) is the back of the "Green Iguana"... My temp housing.

I saw this car... "Caution Student Driving". The max speed limit in the entire Island is 35 miles per hour. I have not seen a 4 lane road yet, and there is no such thing as straight and level. Can't imagine learning how to drive on these streets, but A1 is the place to learn (god help us).

And of course, I am only about half way up... Still more stairs...

Now this I found... Um... Let's say amusing with a wink...

The roads everywhere on the island are TERRIBLE. Pot holes, ruts, rough broken pavement on 100% of the roads. This is the road that leads to the Governor's Mansion. About the length of a football field, they are laying blacktop over possibly the best road I had seen since I got here. I am assuming (wink nod) that they are just going to repave the entire island infrastructure. They just decided to start at the top of a hill and work their way down and around. Just a coincidence that the road they chose to start on was the Gov's ;)

And here is one more view of the harbor. Actually it is a view that we can't see from our balcony. If you see the large coral colored building in the center of the far left side, that is blocking the building that Jackie works in. She is on the harbor, and has THREE windows facing the boats to distract her from her work.

Made it. Of course I did not expect to get inside, just wanted to make the effort. HOWEVER, the guard was very friendly, and let me know the procedure to arrange a tour. I started the process, so I hope soon I will be able to show pictures from the other side of the gate.

One more shot from this side of the fence.

I can not say for sure, but I was told that this is the gate to the ancestral home of Kelsey Grammer. The actor who played Frasier was born in St Thomas. So it is possible.

This weekend, we are moving to our beach house (well, for 2 nights anyway, before we return to our town home). FINALLY, Jackie gets the weekend off, we will be on a beach, swimming, snorkeling and living the good life!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Feral Roosters EVERYWHERE

"A feral organism is one that has escaped from domestication and returned, partly or wholly, to a wild state"
Hmmm... Not exactly fitting the definition, but this what they are called here. There are "FERAL ROOSTERS" and chickens everywhere. AT night, the temperature is a pleasant 75 degrees, just a tad humid, but nice sleeping weather. Our first night, we opened our window, cranked up the ceiling fan and went to sleep looking out over our balcony.

3 AM, well before any hint of dawn, the roosters did what they do naturally. Now we sleep with the air on and the doors closed.

On an island filled with skinny, hungry people, with food prices through the roof, how on earth do these beasts escape the "mother of invention" of hunger?

But, they are here, and here is a little story...

As you can see above, many of these big noisy pigeons (rats with wings) wander the town. They are in the streets, live in alleys and some enjoy the generosity of tourists (and new locals). Jackie and I have lunch every day in Roosevelt Park, named for FDR.

Follow the progression....

Note: Not a crowing rat in sight...

Mom comes to check it out. Jackie drops a small bit of crumbs from her sandwich...

Mom grabs the crumbs, and scurries into the bushes right behind us and grabs her brood of baby crowing rats...

And she herds the brood to the soft touch...

We see these same St Thomas pigeons every day. Every day they do the same dance... We have named them the "Morning Joe Team", Joe, Willie, Mika and usual guest, Mike Barnicle.

BTW, soon a post on the other animal tourist attraction on the island... Iguanas are also abundant, but don't wake up at 3 AM. You have to look closely to see them, and I don't see them every day, but they are here. This guy was in the same FDR park one afternoon. If I see him in the park again, so he becomes a semi regular, he will be named Pat Buchanan.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

99 Steps... Um... Well, 103 steps actually

Don't bother to count em, thousands before you have, and the published total is 103 steps. No one knows why the incorrect name, but it does have a more romantic sound to it. So, the 99 Steps it is. Located between Blackbeard's Tower (it's coming on this blog soon) and the Governor's Offices, it is a very steep climb to the top.

Much of the city's historical landmarks are at the top of the stairs, so it is entertaining to watch the cruise ship tourists struggle to climb.

Blackbeard's castle (like the number, badly named, but I digress and I am ahead of myself), the Rum Factory, Britannia House, the Three Queens Statue, at the base of the stairs is an Amber Museum and a walking tour of the grounds starts up the stairs.

So, the tourists make the climb. It is the shortest way to get to Jackie's office from our temporary housing. So, I walk them 3 times a day.

First thing you will notice, the stairs are very uneven, and the bricks are different colors. Before the infrastructure of the city was improved with roads (which is another story), this staircase was the fastest way to many of the busiest homes on the island. So, it was used as a mule pull. the broken bricks, wear and ruts were caused by the carts going up daily.

You will also notice the different colors of the bricks. There was not a brick manufacturing business on the island when the steps were built. The bricks were used as ballast on the ships coming to the New World (ships would arrive empty and return with the fruits of the local labor (Molasses to Rum to Slaves)). These bricks were then off loaded and replaced with kegs of rum. The different colors came from the holds of different ships.

But for those out of shape tourists, take a moment and enjoy the flours that line the walk. There are over a dozen varieties of local beauties...

And the view of the harbor from the top makes it all worth the trip...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


I walk Jackie to her workplace every morning. It is about a 10 minute walk, all downhill. the Island is essentially a large hill. Everything is either downhill or uphill. Except around the coastline, there is nothing level.

Each morning, we walk by this statue.

The bronze sculpture of the historic Three Queens
has been placed in Blackbeard's Castle gardens.
"Set in bronze, Queen Mary, Queen Agnes and Queen Josiah - who on Oct. 1, 1878, led laborers in setting fire to half of Frederiksted on St. Croix in a successful demand for better wages and working conditions. " The sculpture, made by famed Richard Hallier, shows the women standing with arms raised, holding a machete, jug of oil and flambeaux as water from a fountain made out of the island's blue bit stone cascades over their backs."
This sculpture commissioned by the St. Thomas Historical Trust in partnership with Circa 1675 and Virgin Islands Inns."
Quote courtesy of the Blackbeard's Castle website -

The local government is in the process of declaring October 1st as a national holiday to commemorate the day. Similar to the States remembering the Boston tea Party as a day of rebelion for personal autonomy.

the garden's are marked with the name of the flowers and foliage.

When we come back at night, we get the view of the statue, gardens and in the background, the pirate tower used by Blackbeard's men to see who is coming in the harbor.