When the hurricane twins blew through, they took our electricity with them. I’ve already talked about that and how wonderful having power back on at the house is. Another aspect of the storms was that street lights and traffic lights were destroyed and damaged, and the ones that were still standing had no power to them. Now, thanks to our hero linesmen, some (actually only a few) of the traffic lights have been restored.
Not many. The result is that since the first of September, St Croix (and the other islands I’m guessing), have lived under a system of traffic anarchy. As you are visualizing what I’m describing, keep in mind that on St. Croix, we drive on the left hand side of the road but our cars are normal American cars where the driver sits on the left. Add to that vision the reality that our roads are generally quite narrow and weren’t in great shape before the ladies came, and now they are, in some places, really challenging to drive over without falling into pot holes the size of a VW bug.
For several months, no intersection, no matter how busy, had any kind of regulation. (There was one exception – the most treacherous intersection was graced with a traffic policeman with a whistle beginning just after the storms, and while that made us all feel a bit safer, it increased the time it took to travel through there at least four-fold!) And I think the success of this free-for-all system speaks highly about the kindness and laid-back attitude that makes St Croix special. Because here’s how it works now under anarchy: The street that most consider the main road gets the right of way. That means that you can drive as fast as pot holes allow if you are going with the flow. Now don’t worry, though, if you are trying to enter that main street from a cross road, you aren’t going to sit there for long, because as cars are driving happily on the main road, if you drive up from a side road, very soon someone on the main road will stop. Of course, you will probably have to wait a few seconds while the other lane of traffic notices and stops too, but soon both directions will be waiting while the side traffic comes on or through. With a quick beep on the horn to thank them and a quick beep back in return, traffic clears and everyone goes on their way. Driving on the main road and needing to turn off? It works the same way, stop and turn on your blinker. Soon, someone will notice, stop, beep-beep at you and wait. You beep back and turn in front. It’s a beautiful thing to see drivers looking out for one another. Yes, there are jerks out there and it isn’t all rosy, but in general, traffic anarchy works. I wonder if it would on the mainland?
Last week, we witnessed another kind of traffic anarchy. Since our recovery from the ladies started, we’ve had a Carnival ship docked at Frederiksted Pier (just below our house). It is where most of the lineman and FEMA and other emergency support people from off-island are staying. Alongside the cruise ship-turned floating apartment complex, there is a tender ship also at the pier. Add to that several private sailboats and catamarans plus a few dive boats and some fishermen and the area around the pier is a busy place. Then, last week, we had two cruise ships full of tourist dock for the day. To make room, the Carnival floating apartment building left – it pulled up anchor and went on a small cruise. The tender moved aside and forward, and both cruise ships docked side my side at the pier. It was a beautiful day and I hope the visitors had a great day. About 5:30, I watched as the Carnival ship made its way back toward its home (I’m sure there were tired linemen waiting pier-side to get a shower and dinner after a long day.) The two cruise ships honked their big horns and started moving and the tender pulled out from the pier. All fishing boats, sailboats and the dive boats made a quick exit as these huge ships began maneuvering, and Karl and I sat on our front gallery and enjoyed the show. It didn’t take long for everyone to get sorted out, with the help of the pilot master being ferried between the big ships to help. One cruise ship went north, one went south, the Carnival apartments tied back up as did the tender, and a slew of tired linemen were soon happy in their rooms and the sun settled into the sea for the night.
Just another day in paradise!