Spring Break with a Vengeance
By Billy Phibbs
Spring Break with a Vengeance
How I wish to write about something other than the New “Covid” World we live in but unfortunately this invisible predator still lingers amidst our society much like a flatulent, still stinking.
Spring is a time of rebirth. A time to shed the old dead skin of winter and frolic about in the sun, the joy of new life and new beginnings in the air.
Instead we still skulk about, panting behind our sweaty masks, arguing over vaccines and the old days when we only had things like the flu or cholera to worry about.
For those in the states the burden of a snowy winter has made cabin fever all the more frigid and unbearable.
Now eager to flee to someplace warm, many locations are still toting a hefty amount of hurdles for travel or still not allowing travelers to visit at all.
But Hark! Rumor has it that with merely a test and a ticket you can travel to the Virgin Islands! Airfares are ridiculously low and deals are popping up on VRBO and AIrBNB daily!
This is true. Unfortunately many who have been visiting lately have forgotten that we are in fact a home to many, not just a tourism turnstile designed for partying and debauchery.
Even though our islands may seem to be comparable in size to some popular theme parks, that is not the atmosphere that we wish to promote.
Every March, St. John usually plays host to the world’s shortest St. Patrick’s day parade. This holiday event is unfortunately cancelled this year due to Covid but there is a reason why it was designed to be the smallest of celebrations. For an island that is 19 miles square, it is scaled to a size that is accommodating to the community.
Recently, our guests have taken on a new form of traits as well. A new breed of travelers more akin to the resorts of Cancun or Lake Havasu.
Here are some imaginary situations that might help one understand what I mean:
Earlier this month an inebriated party of 7 visiting from the Rutger University Alpha Chi Phi fraternity forgot what sidewalks were used for and caused a major traffic buildup in Cruz Bay. When questioned they drunkenly repeated “We can’t find Brother Todd?! Have you seen Todd?” They were cited for jaywalking and one member had urinated in his pants. Since this was technically conducted in public he was cited for public urination as well.
Just last week the Mitchell’s family reunion was mistaken for an impromptu rally near town square. This was met with harsh words after the unmasked ringleader of the group, a fourth generation Aunt Karen, told onlookers to “mind their own damn business” and began randomly filming innocent bystanders.
Starfish market employees have reported mask wearing has become less of an issue but some seem to be getting mask placement confused. A female patron appeared to have been wearing a series of linked together masks to cover her breasts and as a bikini bottom only. Commended for her valiant efforts to keep the community safe, she was still angry when asked to cover herself more appropriately when entering a public market.
As a tourist area we are quite used to an influx of guests at varying times throughout the year, but this February, the end of winter/spring fever spike has been unbelievably high, constant, and wild, so to speak.
Vacation is vacation and everyone is welcome to a good time but when your actions seem to create a stir amidst a usually mild mannered community, you may find St. John is not the place for certain antics.
The Virgin Islands are a great spring retreat when used properly. Miles of pristine beaches, hiking trails and adventures at sea along with great dining, bars and overall atmosphere are just some of the highlights that make the USVI an amazing place to visit year round.
Just imagine how the residents of Florida would feel if Sturgis Bike Week suddenly relocated to Disney World. Fairly certain Mickey and Minnie wouldn’t be whistling “zippity-do-dah” with the same passion as usual either.
This is not to say that all visitors have come with the intent of reckless abandon. Many are seasoned island veterans who have come to get the much needed reprieve from their stateside homes or first timers who have come for a taste of paradise and the freedoms that the island life has to offer.
Also a notable attribute of some visitors that is uncalled for is serial entitlement. A rather baneful traveler remarked “it is best not to bite the hand that feeds!” to a fellow service industry worker this past week.
This awful slogan is one only spoken by the foulest of guests, those that bleed privilege and feel as if they are doing us a favor of sorts with their company. Our economy was hurt by the pandemic yet our pride stands firm. Although many of us work in the service based industry, this prerogative leaves a lasting impact, one that leaves a nasty blemish for future guests to unknowingly have to erase.
If this is your outlook while visiting the Virgin Islands you might want to rethink your spring travel plans or travel altogether, for your own safety at the least. St. John is quite welcoming but does not consider anyone persons visit a charity or commodity.
So as you sit and stare out your frost covered windows and dream of turquoise water and swimming with turtles, take into account not only the ambiance you seek for your spring break vacation spectacular but the atmosphere.
If wet t-shirt contests, conga lines, all-inclusive resorts and body shots seems to be your fancy, you might want to keep searching.
If you want somewhere calm to unwind, relax, and regenerate your soul with some sun on a socially distanced beach sipping a can (no bottles on beaches) of Corona (beer not virus), then the Virgin Islands might just be what you need.
About the Author: Phibbs is a Rutgers Graduate originally hailing from NJ. He now lives in St. John with his island wife Cory Emerson and Renfield.his nefarious cat. An English Major during college and an avid dabbler in the black art of creative writing over the last 20 years, Billy and Cory also run a grocery provisioning service, Landlubber Logistics. Having spawned this service amidst the Covid 19 pandemic, it was designed to help community members and flourished into a luxury service for villas. Using social media as his platform, he seeks to educate himself as well as adventurers to all the magic St. John has to offer…and bring them groceries.