Sunday, November 26, 2006

So Close and Yet so Far...

This afternoon I'm heading to the airport to pick up Bob who is returning from the Bahamas, where he spent the past few days helping our friend Rich turn 40. The birthday bash at the Atlantis Resort was concocted by Jacky, Rich's wife, who managed to keep the surprise attendance of various friends and family members a secret.

With Bob and me living right here in the Caribbean, it made perfect sense for at least one of us to attend. A hop, skip and jump, right? Not quite. Traveling out of St. Croix is quite the challenge, even to other islands in the Caribbean. American Airlines has a near-monopoly on air travel here. There is a daily late afternoon flight direct to Miami, and another weekly flight direct to Charlotte by another airline. Otherwise, we are forced to make a pit stop in Puerto Rico before we can go anywhere else in the world.

For this trip, Bob had to fly to San Juan, then Miami, then backtrack to the Bahamas. And it's just as complicated to travel even within the Virgin Islands. On a clear day we can see Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands right from our house. But last January when we planned a trip there, we had to take two taxis, one seaplane and two ferries to get there.

Everyone agrees that the inability to travel direct to St. Croix is one of the major reasons why we don't enjoy the type of tourism seen in other islands. Some people want to change it because it could help the overall St. Croix economy. But I've spoken to some whom, although they'd like to see more direct flights here, don't really want to lose the uncongested, small town feel of the island.

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