You always hear people joke about being on “island time,” usually those on vacation or who perpetually run late. But island time is a real thing on St. Croix.
Laid Back Driving
The first place you’ll notice our slower pace of life is on the roads. Most only allow you to go so fast because of the topography of the island winding up and around hills. But beyond that, people will often stop to give you their right-of-way just to be kind. Sometimes a stand-off seems to take place, with someone waving another driver in front of them and the opposing driver waiving back to see who can be nicer.
Car horns are not used as they most commonly are stateside, to express your distaste for someone else’s driving, but as a means of saying hello or thank you. If someone stops to let you turn, you give a quick friendly beep. If you pass someone you know driving or walking, you’re expected to honk and wave as well. It’s common to see people pulled off onto the shoulder just to visit with a friend.
One thing visitors and newcomers are shocked to see is the common practice of drinking while driving. You often see drivers with a bottle or clear cocktail cup in-hand. At gas stations and grocery stores, bottle openers hang by the doorway or at the register, to open a cold one on your way out.
Give a Warm Crucian Greeting
As a newcomer to island, you’ll quickly learn you’re expected to properly greet everyone with which you cross paths by saying “good morning / afternoon / night” (the later starts after 5 p.m.). In an effort to teach this to visitors, tourism once created posters to hang in public places with the headline “Give a Warm Crucian Greeting.”
If you walk into a post office, physician’s waiting room or other public place, a “good morning” (or other time appropriate greeting) is expected to the group. Every individual will repeat that back to you as a chorus. Even passing a stranger in the grocery store, it’s common to greet that person. Definitely different than the stateside norm of practically running past people on your cell phone or with headphones on.