We’re here, we’re squared away as far as access goes…why
don’t we start enjoying St. Croix?
The Buccaneer is an historic, family run hotel sitting on
over 300 acres just east of the town of Christiansted. It’s a rambling affair
with a great house on the hilltop overlooking three beaches and a golf course.
All guests receive a complimentary, full breakfast buffet with an option of
omelets or eggs cooked to order.
Since we’re trying to do this on a budget, the plan is to
eat a big breakfast to last us most of the day so we can skip lunch and save a
little money on this expensive island.
Heaping piles of creamy scrambled eggs, grits, bacon, and
sausage sit on our plates followed by a bowl of fresh pineapple chunks,
oranges, grapes, and bananas. Steamy coffee wakes us up and a variety of juices
gives us a filling and healthy way to start the day. All this fresh and
delicious food is attended to some of the friendliest staff you’ll meet.
Looking to the west, we can see the harbor at Christiansted.
It’ll be quiet on this Sunday morning so we’ll go over and have a look around
after tipping our waiter.
It’s a two mile, fairly hair raising drive over to the town.
Driving in the Virgin Islands is unique. Yes, you’re still in the United States
but it’s a bit different here. For one thing, you drive on the left. I’ve done
this in Ireland and really had no problem adjusting but there’s another curve
these islands throw at you…you’re driving American style cars…which mean the
driver sits on the left and drives on the left, not right-hand drive like you’d
see in the UK or Ireland.
It is quite disconcerting and takes a bit of getting used
to. To start off, the narrow little driveway of the hotel is a roundabout with
a fountain in it. I’m watching on the right to make sure I have room when I
suddenly hear the awful sound of metal scraping concrete. I’ve just put a
large, crescent shaped dent in the driver’s door by rubbing up against the
We manage to extract ourselves, curse a bit, and hope that
American Express will really cover the damage. With that behind us, we continue on to
town without incident.
Downtown Christiansted is a warren of tiny little narrow
one-way streets. Parking is scarce but we do find two handicapped spots open
two short blocks from the waterfront. Luckily, we remembered to bring a parking
placard with us.
Walking down to the boardwalk is an adventure in
accessibility…roll down the sidewalk a bit, cross over mid block where there’s
a ramp to cross over, get halfway down the next block and finish by rolling in
the street until we hit water.
A dive shop offering snorkeling tours to Buck Island, just
offshore, is open. On the web, they say they accommodate disabled tourists so
we stop in and ask.
“Can he walk down stairs?” we’re asked.
“Well you need to be able to walk up stairs into the boat
and off of the boat when we get to the island for snorkeling.”
“But on the Internet it says you take disabled people out
for snorkeling…you even have a picture of a guy in a wheelchair on the boat.”
“We do, but they have to be able to walk up and down
“They don’t sound too disabled to me,” I finish up with and
We’ll see if we can do some shore diving at the hotel and
task the concierge into finding us a trip we can take. In the meantime, next
door is Rum Runners, a waterfront bar, with very large fish swimming in the
water under the dock.
“They’re tarpon,” someone says.
We strike a long conversation with a local lady just
enjoying the dock while surfing on her iPhone.
“They’re not good eating so we leave them alone. Sometimes
people will catch them, cut them up, and use for bait.”
We learn something new each day.
A short stroll to the other end of the boardwalk brings us
to Fort Christian National Historic Park. Since Tim has a Golden Access Pass,
we don’t have to pay the $3 admission into the fort. Doesn’t really matter
since only the area inside the gate is accessible. The volunteer on duty tells
us they can’t put a ramp inot the fort because of the historical nature.
I politely suggest that she should pass the word along that
non-permanent ramps and lifts have been used at national historic sites like
the White House and Fort Sumpter, maybe they could look into it?
While Tim takes a look at the binder full of pictures and
descriptions, Letty and I go into the fort to explore and take pictures.
Under a half-staff flag (we were there just days after the
Boston Marathon bombing) sits a row of cannon to ward off pirates and invading
navies…never used by the way. Down below is the powder magazine, next to the
officer’s day room and armory. Across the courtyard is the tiny, cramped,
dungeon where recalcitrant slaves were punished, along with some small
Outside the fort is the old custom house with another
building still holding the old scales where cargo was weighed to establish the
A couple of hundred yards offshore is a five acre island
called Protestant Cay. It looks lovely with many trees, flowers, and a wide
sandy beach. There’s also the Hotel on the Cay there, offering some unique and
low priced accommodations on their own little island paradise.
I don’t think it’s too accessible, though.
We finish off our first foray into town at the waterfront
Fort Christian Brewpub, the Virgin Islands' only microbrewery. We have some calamari and beer when one of
the very mean feral cats comes to beg. I say mean because I found out just how
feral it was when I reached down to pet him. I’m lucky I still have a hand…
The bartender goes over to the water and throws something
in. There is a big splashing commotion so we go over to take a look.
He’s throwing chicken bones into the water, which immediate
sends the tarpon into a feeding frenzy. It’s quite a sight to see.
Apparently, it’s a tradition here to order chicken wings at
the pub and then throw the leftover bones into the bay where the tarpon will
gladly swallow them whole.
With a little island brew, history, and cheap entertainment
under our belt, we head back to the hotel.
I meet tonight’s musicians unloading their van in front of
our room. Junie is his name, as he introduces himself to me along with his son
Rocky and associate Charles.
“I’ve never heard of anyone with the last name of Musick,”
he tells me with great amusement. “Come and see the show.”
We do. Junie and Rocky provide a great, steel-drum set of
music while we sip on cocktails on the terrace. Junie sees Tim and says “you
have a special son.”
“I have a special son too,” he tells me as he points to
Rocky, who is now across the room surfing the Internet on the hotel's lobby
computer. “He has ADHD and was put on all kinds of medicine including Ritalin.
I had enough, it was just poisoning his head and it’s easier to deal without
He tells me he’s been playing here at the Buccaneer since he
“The first night I was here there were battleships, aircraft
carriers, and destroyers offshore. The Kennedy brothers and Lyndon Johnson were
sitting where you were. It was during the Cuban missile crisis.”
He tells me of his family’s history on the island and the
ranch they own.
“I’m cash poor and land rich but I consider myself a very
wealthy man. My wealth is over there,” he says, as he points to Rocky. “That’s
all the riches I need.”
Junie and the Jungle, as they call themselves, go back
onstage for the second set as we finish off our drinks and head back to the
A suitable introduction to our home for the next five days.
Copyright 2013 – Darryl Musick