I hadn’t really plan to go to St. Croix for my 60th birthday, but as fate would have it, I found myself on a flight headed there. My good buddy Edward Jones aka EC insisted that I go. EC who was in town to do my photo shoot had lived in the Virgin Islands for a number of years and has many friends there and assured me that if I were to go there, his friends would take good care of me. He then introduced me to his friend Robin via text.
I arrived in St. Croix and there was Robin excited about making my 60th all it could be. At first I was a bit disappointed because when I arrived it was overcast and raining and this had been going on all week with the prediction that it would continue. Robin reminded me that they capture rain for water. If a home runs out of rain water, then they’re forced to purchase water for bathing, flushing, cooking, for living and it’s not cheap. I was reminded of my first brush with this way of life from my days spent in Bermuda many moons ago. This reminder put the Weather Sister in check. Connecting with nature and her gifts, yes indeed, let’s Give Thanks for rain.
First stop on our trek, a baobab tree. I was so amazed to see this ancient, West African specimen standing majestically on the island of St. Croix. Baobabs are one of the oldest forms of plant life on the planet. This one is a mere 250 years old. I hadn’t been near a baobab since being in Senegal some 30 years ago. So it was quite a treat to connect with this grand being again.
It wasn’t too long in Robin’s presence before I learned of her incredible project. Robin is in the throws of building a gorgeous house up on a hill. Let me say, they are hills and then there’s this hill over looking what I can only describe as God’s land. The view is just breathtaking! I was so inspired to see this insightful, brave woman take on being project manager for the house that she is having built; and she assured me that it’s quite a feat, time consuming, at times tedious and exhausting, but at the same time very rewarding. Robin had the foresight and insight to purchase this land 28 years ago for a fraction of what it’s worth today. To say I was inspired would be an understatement. I was deeply reminded of the long standing vision I have long had for my own life, to be surrounded by nature. Robin’s husband and three children support and inspire her quest to build this family compound on the land of her ancestors.
When it was time to eat, Robin and I got together to have a little nosh with another of Edward’s friends, a fiber and jewelry artist named, Kim Lyons. Then one of my neighbors, the famed Malene Barnett mentions to me on Instagram that she was just talking to Kim Lyons who told her she had met me that evening. This world is so small. Serendipity and more connections.
In the late 80s I became the client of manicurist Olivine Calvin, better known as Ollie. Ollie was a very talented nail artist who hailed from St. Croix and carried that cool, Caribbean vibe wherever she went. Loving, nurturing with an easy laugh, Ollie was loved by many. Never one to rush, if she was running behind and you were in a rush, Ollie would not change her pace. And when it was your turn, she gave you that same time and special attention she gave the person before you. Ollie later became a Loctician at Khamit Kinks, and her Loc clients fell in love with her. It’s nearly five years now since Ollie made her transition. But since I was going to her homeland, I had to meet up with her vivacious sister Millie. Millie is like the mayor of St. Croix, she knows everybody and everybody knows her. Exuberant, positive, always smiling and full of laughter, she is still celebrating her own birthday which was on March 5th, a Pisces. Millie turned 70 and is still as fabulous as ever, as she sashays in her high heels and her great smile. And I forgot to mention, the week prior had been Robin’s birthday. We were all in celebration mode.
Wouldn’t you know it, thought my first two days on St. Croix were overcast, on my birthday the sun shown brilliantly! I felt it was a sign of a bright future. I had decided though, come rain or come shine, on my birthday was going to the beach and getting in the ocean. At that point I was down with the clouds and rain, so the sun was like icing on the cake. Leave it to Robin to not take me to just any beach, we traveled to the gorgeous Sandy Point National Wildlife Reserve. That day Sandy Point was closing at 4:00 in the afternoon and would be closed for the next six months, for the turtle nesting season. This signaled sacred ground to me and I felt so blessed to be at this place on this special day. I recalled my visit to Tulum, Mexico, when one night on the beach we watched as a great turtle’s eggs hatched and the little hatchlings made their way to the ocean. Talking about the wonders of the world!!! Turtles also signify long life as they are able to live well past 100 years old barring predators and polluted environments.
The sweetest and wildest connection of them all was when Robin kept talking about her 28 years in Oakland and Richmond California. So I just blurted out, you wouldn’t happen to know my sister-in-law Fanta Lawrence? After I mentioned Fanta, all Robin kept saying, was “get the hell outta here.” LOL! Not only did she know Fanta, but Robin has another friend Amena. For years, these two friends of Robin’s, Fanta and Amena had been talking about their incredible granddaughter and Robin just realized a few months ago, that they had been talking about the same child, my great niece, Amenta. So it was such a delight for me to go visit my great niece whose been spending time in St. Croix with her dad and paternal grandmother.
In addition, I now have not one, not two, but three dear sister friends who have purchased property in St. Croix. Retired educators, they are having fun with life. One after the other they have put down stakes in the Virgin Islands and now I know why. I want to drink that Kool-aid too! I had planned to spend my whole time in St. Croix sequestered, at my sister’s beach side condo, contemplating this next leg of my journey. But the Universe had other plans. Robin gathered me from the airport and we had one amazing moment after another and it was until my last evening there that I spent time on the other end of the island at my sister’s condo. This property is beautifully landscaped with a pool, just before reaching the ocean’s water which is quite wild, with big crashing waves. Like Robin’s property, my friend’s properties double as vacation rentals.
Sometimes you can’t plan for the good that the Universe has in store for you, you just have to allow yourself to be guided. I was certainly in one of my favorite element for my 60th birthday, surrounded by nature and loving people. I was treated by a most gracious and generous host, the incredible Robin Barlow-Jones. And the connections were made of the stuff you can’t even make up, just simply magical. Yes indeed! Let me give Thanks for my years on this planet and for incredible connections.
Having a friend like EC is like the gift that keeps on giving. Thank you EC for being such a dear friend and for making my 60th a memory of a lifetime. From now on I’ll just refer to you as “The Connector”.
If you’re longing to connect with the sea, try our Sea Scape!