Congratulations to this year’s winners of St. Croix 2018 Festival Parade. “We Shall Rise” a song about the two Category 5 Hurricanes captured the People’s Choice Award. The St. Croix Festival Committee along with sponsor Banco Popular announced the winners of this year’s festival parade during an announcement event held at Banco Popular’s Golden Rock branch on Tuesday, January 9, 2018.

  • Under 50 troupe winner: Pearl B. Larsen
  • Majorettes winner: St. Croix Majorettes
  • Floupe (100-200) winner: Gentlemen of Jones
  • Troupe (201 and up) winner: Simply Sophisticated
  • Troupe (100-200) winner: Regal Dynasty
    First runner-up: D’People Band
  • Troupe (under 100) winner: TSK
    1st runner-up: Rigidims
    2nd runner-up: Department of Education
  • Float winner: VI Lottery
  • Individual winner: Bugs Bunny
  • Mocko Jumbies winner: Guardians of Culture
  • Steel Pan winner: University of the Virgin Islands
  • People’s Choice Award winner: We Shall Rise, featuring Blackest and the Fusion Band
  • Roadmarch winner: We Shall Rise, featuring Blackest and the Fusion Band

Read more at VI Consortium

Photo credit: Chalana Brown/Three Islands Media

Reflections on Buying A Home 5 Days Before Hurricane Maria
By Kathleen Brownsdon

Blue Sky’s Villa Rental Specialist

To say that I will always remember Hurricane Maria is quite an understatement.  Although I have lived in the Caribbean for ten years and 18 years in South Carolina I have never experienced a Category 5 hurricane.  Sure, I have ridden out a few hurricanes in my time, but they never were more than an amazing “storm party.”  Hurricane Maria was different.

After renting in the Caribbean for nearly 10 years, we decided to make St. Croix our official forever home! So, five days prior to Maria’s landfall on St. Croix, my husband and I closed on our very first island house.  As Maria approached, we searched for supplies to prepare our new home for the storm.  Unfortunately, all the shelves were empty. Our house would face the storm alone—without shutters or boards on the windows and without her new owners. We rode out the storm in our rental apartment.

The storm blew for hours.  The noise was incredible; the rain and wind relentless.  Once the worst of it was over, I went outside to assess the damage.  Trees and power lines were down, car windows smashed, parts of roofs, decks and windows were strewn across the landscape.  Naturally, I wondered how our new house weathered the storm.  With a mandatory curfew and impassable roads, I was unable to check on our home.

Finally, several days after the storm my husband Nat was able to see our house for himself.  Keeping me in suspense for a few minutes, Nat announced “the house is fine!” What a relief to know that construction on St. Croix is darned good and our home’s minimal damage is a testament to that.

When people find out Nat and I closed on our home just 5 days before the storm they all ask if we regret it.  We couldn’t be happier with our decision to buy in St. Croix. The beauty of the island, and the affordability of its real estate are what initially inspired us to buy.  The remarkable people on the island are what make us confident that we made the right move.

What a year it’s been! Despite two hurricanes in as many weeks, there is much to feel good about in the market.  Compared to the same period in 2016, the average sales price of homes rose a strong 12% fueled, in part, by a dearth of inventory in this segment of the market. At the close of the year, there were 15% fewer new listings than last year and despite the fact that 6% fewer homes sold in 2017, the low supply coupled with high demand, pushed prices and volume up.  Other segments of the market saw a mixed bag of results with land showing positive changes due to low inventory in the residential sector. Despite drops in the condo and commercial markets, when we isolate the 4th quarter of 2017, we are encouraged…

While many thought (and hoped) inventory would skyrocket after the hurricanes, that just didn’t happen.  While some areas of the South Shore and certainly Frederiksted suffered greatly, Hurricane Maria did not inflict a heavy toll on homes on the east end and North Shore where we tend to see more turnover in the residential market.  In fact, compared to the last quarter of 2016, there are 50% fewer listings on the market, driving the average sales price up a healthy 28%!  We think this bodes well for the start of what will surely be a prosperous 2018!

 

Friends,

Last month, the Virgin Islands experienced two powerful category-5 hurricanes in less than two weeks. Hurricane Irma severely damaged St. Thomas, St. John, Tortola, Virgin Gorda, and many islands in the northeast Caribbean. Twelve days later Hurricane Maria arrived and battered St. Croix, Puerto Rico, and Dominica. Many homes and businesses were destroyed, and some people lost everything. St. Croix, which served as the staging ground for relief efforts in St. Thomas and St. John was now in need. For the first time in modern history, the entire Virgin Islands was without electricity, and all radio stations were down. While these hurricanes have temporarily changed the beauty of our islands, they will make us stronger.

Virgin Islanders are resilient, and although the damage was severe, every day is better than the day before.

  • Three days after Maria hit, some portions of downtown Christiansted had electricity restored.
  • Both airports in the Virgin Islands and all seaports have resumed commercial service. Cruise ships will return November 10 and St. Croix will see a 125% increase in cruise ship calls this season.
  • Virgin Islands basketball great Tim Duncan has delivered three planeloads of food and supplies. Virgin Islanders and other Americans across the United States have sent almost a million pounds of supplies.
  • Every day more and more businesses are reopening. So far at least 50 businesses have reopened in downtown Christiansted.
  • Hundreds of relief workers from FEMA and power companies from the United States are in the Virgin Islands assisting with the recovery.

The current curfew begins at 8 pm every evening and temporarily limits dining, entertaining, and travel options. For an up-to-date list of changes, visit the Department of Tourism Special Update website, http://usviupdate.com.

In the days ahead we will rebuild, and life will begin to feel normal again. The Virgin Islands Water and Power Authority aim to have at least 90% of service restored before Christmas and the governor has assembled a task force to begin the process of rebuilding an even more resilient Virgin Islands.

Stay tuned for more updates on the recovery of the Virgin Islands. Be sure to visit our Facebook page and Like us for helpful rebuilding tips, FEMA announcements, and updates on business reopenings. We look forward to an even more beautiful Virgin Islands, and we look forward to hearing from you. Thank you for your continued support. #VirginIslandsStrong

– Caryn and Stephanie

The residential, condo, and land markets continue to do well. The average sales price of homes has increased by 13%. There is still tremendous value in St. Croix’s real estate market.

The condo market has vitality and units continue to move from active to under contract status at a rapid pace.  The average sales price, while down, continues to inch up as transactions close.

Land sales are continuing its strong performance. Even though the average sales price is down slightly, more units are under contract than during the same time period last year.

The commercial market has seen a decrease in activity but the average sales price remains steady. We expect the statistics to improve and reveal a much healthier commercial sector as confidence in St. Croix’s future continues to blossom.

Elkhorn and Staghorn corals, on the critically endangered species list, are one classification away from being extinct in the wild. “The Caribbean without coral reefs is not some place I would like to imagine…The reefs really define our lives as islanders [our culture, the fish we eat, the snorkeling, our wildlife]…it’s not going to happen in my lifetime because I will continue to work…” said VI Native Kemit-Amon Lewis, Coral Conservation Manager for the Nature Conservancy Caribbean Program.

The coral restoration process used by Amon Lewis and SECORE Int’l grows larvae in nurseries, settles the baby coral on cement tetrapods to develop over a year or so, and out plants the new colonies to help reseed the ocean. New spawning methods have multiplied spawns from a few hundred to 25,000 corals. These new colonies can be found at Green Cay, The Buccaneer, Cane Bay, and several beaches throughout the east end of the island. To reverse the adverse effects of sea bleaching, scientists and citizens depend on out planting, identifying environmental threats and helping to remove them, sustainable fishing initiatives and sourcing sustainable seafoods, and avoiding the little things that impact our ocean and climate change – such as plastic waste.

Lewis urges the community to get involved in efforts to reverse sea bleaching. Visit Reefconnect.org to volunteer and snorkel in coral restoration out planting programs. If you snorkel and see bleaching, it’s as easy as dropping a pin on a map through the BleachwatchVI app at http://www.reefconnect.org/bleachwatch/. Through eco-friendly, sustainable choices, we as Virgin Islanders can work alongside these progressive scientists to save our reefs.

What better way to complement island life than to enjoy fresh locally grown produce, meats, and seafood? Just as Christiansted is experiencing a renaissance, agriculture in St. Croix has seen tremendous growth over the last few years.  More farmers are practicing sustainable agriculture and reducing our dependence on imported foods into the territory.  Many grocery stores now sell local produce and meats.

The Nature Conservancy created the Reef Responsible program to celebrate restaurants that support local fishers and make conscious decisions about the seafood that they purchase, prepare, and serve. This October students in the Virgin Islands enjoyed more local produce as part of National Farm to School month.  Organizations such as the Ridge To Reef Organic and Permaculture Farm host internship programs geared towards the delicate craft of sustainable farming.

Our local farmers understand that the key to sustainable agriculture is finding the right balance between food production and preservation of ecosystems. Sustainable farming will benefit the islands for generations to come. Here are just a few sustainable farms, located on St. Croix:

Saturday morning is the most popular day and time to shop the farms and markets. Go early and come with a basket full of  healthy deliciousness.

Photo Courtesy: Cruzan Organix Farm

St. Croix: It’s one of the most beautiful places in the Caribbean. And its location means that for U.S. citizens it’s a very convenient place to buy a vacation home or move. St. Croix has many special attributes. Americans find comfort in the fact that it is a US territory and so much is familiar and easy to navigate because of that. It is also very beautiful, with crystal clear blue waters, a wide variety of flora and fauna and elevations. We have excellent restaurants and supermarkets. It’s a very warm and welcoming community and people find that it’s easy to get settled there.

Read more: http://www.caribjournal.com/2016/12/19/buy-home-st-croix/

Coquito Recipe

Eggnog is a staple during the holiday season. In the Virgin Islands, Coquito is our flavor of the season! Also known as Puerto Rican eggnog, Coquito is a thick decadent drink that can be kicked up a notch with the addition of rum. We love Coquito so much that we even have a festival in its honor. If you love coconut and eggnog, then Coquito is a must have! Try out this Coquito recipe and let us know how you like it!

Ingredients
2-cans coconut cream
1-can sweetened condensed milk
1-can evaporated milk
1-teaspoon vanilla extract
1 -2 cup Cruzan Rum or Captain Morgan Rum ( adjust per taste )
1-tablespoon ground cinnamon
1-tablespoon ground nutmeg

Directions
Blend all of your ingredients on high for about 5 minutes in your blender. Chill and serve.

Visit Us On FacebookVisit Us On TwitterVisit Us On InstagramVisit Us On PinterestVisit Us On Youtube