The band’s back together at the Beach Bar


Steve Simon on clarinet

For one night only, the boys'll be back at the Beach Bar at Wharfside.

Steve Simon and the Jazz islanders, an all-volunteer, all amateur bunch of talented locals, will be playing a "reunion concert" Sunday from 4 to 7:30 p.m.  

This is the group's first performance in about four years, since its founder, Steve Simon, moved off island. Since then, he's dedicated himself to promoting  all-star blues concerts to entertain and benefit  members of the U.S. military.  

Simon's put together shows both in the US and in the Middle East.  One show, called Bluzapalooza, is set for October in Bethesda, Md. at Walter Reed.

Simon told Lynda Lohr of the St. John Source he expects some former regulars to join him this weekend as well as folks who just drop in. "It's always been sort of a jam session," he said.

See St. John by land and sea

StjohntourVirgin islands Ecotours is offering half a dozen different ways to see St. John, on land and sea.

Most tours start at Honeymoon Beach, near Caneel Bay.  One begins with kayaking up the north shore and then putting in at Turtle Point for a one-hour hike.  That’s followed by snorkeling.

Another, longer, tour focuses on snorkeling off Henley Cay, a 20-minute paddle from Honeymoon.

“You will paddle over colorful coral reefs and hike through the pristine Virgin Islands National Park,” the company’s Web site promises. “You may see a variety of birds such as brown pelicans, blue herons, night herons, egrets, yellow warblers and hummingbirds.  While snorkeling you may see spotted eagle rays, turtles, pufferfish, octopus, lobster, stingrays, and parrot fish."

Tours are conducted by professional nature guides, familiar with wildlife and tropical ecosystems, ranging in price from $54 to $147.

St. John App: Bigger, better and still free

AppMy Virgin Islands
app has been updated.

The most important improvement, according to its author, Bdkane, is better stability.

“While not 'earth shattering', it does put things all in one convenient location for you, which is particularly handy when on the go traveling,” he said.

The app is available for iPhone/iPad, Android and Blackberry.  The Apple version has more features than the others, including a video gallery, movie listings (!), and sharing of favorite places on Facebook.  All the apps have maps, event listings, taxi rates, phone numbers, and so on.

There are more than a dozen competitors. Its claim to fame is that it’s the ”Official Virgin Islands” app, with the backing of the VI Tourism department.

The App has a lot of fans.  There are about 230 reviews in the App store, and it has a rating if four out of five stars.

Casting call for funny people

If you’re the life of the party, or a Happy Hour, you should be interested in this.  Actors with a flair for comedy or improv are being sought to audition next month for cast positions in a new professional local acting troupe.

Ken Haldin and Anne Ostrenko, experienced in funny business, and part-time St. Johnnians, are hoping to launch an improv group, Jaywalk with Jumbies. It would number from six to 12 people.  Cast members will be paid.

Haldin says they’re looking for an emcee with a commanding voice, a captain’s authority and an irreverent personality.  A second role calls for “a fun-loving, physical comic performer.”  Think Abbot and Costello, Rowan and Martin.

“We’ve always been drawn to the creative community,” Haldin said. “We’re both veteran writers. Anne has produced videos for 25 years and directed a lot of professional talent. It’s time. We’re just doing what comes naturally to us.”

The Inquiring Iguana says this couple has identified an entertainment niche not filled on the island, stand up comedy.  Which would be a nice addition to the many music offerings already available for weddings, parties and benefits.

The Iguana remembers attending a stand up event at the Westin, many years ago.  Besides the jokes, the highlight was seeing a guy from a past life who, it was obvious, had fled New Orleans and was hiding from the Feds.  But that’s another story.

Auditions for Jaywalk with the Jumbies will be held at the St. John School of the Arts in Cruz Bay Thursday, April 4 from 9 a.m. to Noon and Saturday, April 6 from 3:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.

Break a leg.

The Sun Times may have a buyer

SuntimesThe Inquiring Iguana
 was mousing around Facebook last night and stumbled across the Sun Times’ page.  And, there it was — like a flare, an indication that Ella Anderson’s arts and lifestyle publication may continue. 

Despite her statement that this last issue was The Goodbye issue", the Facebook page still encouraged advertisers to pick up the phone.  “Want to support the arts in the VI?,” the page asked. “Advertise with us.”

Ella is still in there pitching – and not just for ads.

The I.I has now heard Ella’s got some buying interest from two possible purchasers. 

She’s probably not going to walk away with FU money, but the lovely, gentle, always positive, Sun Times may live on. 


TripAdvisor’s top rated Coral Bay restaurants

Photos of Ekaete Pink Corner, Coral Bay

This photo of Ekaete Pink Corner is courtesy of TripAdvisor

Coral Bay is at the other end of the island, but it's not nowhere. And it has some good restaurants, if you believe folks who post their reviews to Yelp and TripAdvisor.

Coming on strong this month is Ekaete Pink Corner, located in the middle of Coral Bay, where the main road intersects with the road you take to Salt Pond. Or, as highway planners might say, where Routes 10 and 107 meet.

The Pink Corner is not upscale.  It's one of the closest things the island has to home-made, West Indian food.  It garnered six reviews on TripAdvisor this month, alone; five of them five stars, and one four stars.

One satisfied customer was Snerge, from Mississippi. "Craving REAL home style West Indian food in St. John, USVI? Never had West Indian food? Look no further. This is your chance to eat authentic food on your vacation. Esther will amuse and feed you."

Telwyn, from Florida, said even usually-unadventurous kids enjoyed the food. "We had curry goat, chicken roti, and ribs. All were great including the vegetable sides. We also loved the different fruit smoothies."

TripAdvisor's top rated Coral Bay restaurants

Eco-resort in Coral Bay gets approval

While Maho Bay Camps' Stanley Selengut is getting ready to close his eco-resort, Coral Bay’s Hugo Roller is on his way to creating a new one. 

The Department of Planning and Natural Resources has given Roller the green light to pursue a green resort venture. Approval by the Legislature is still necessary.

“Resort” may be too strong a word.  Roller currently farms vegetables, herbs, fruits, and landscaping plants on about three acres in Coral Bay.  He owns another 11 acres which he would like to have as a campground.

In June of last year, the St. John Source  said Roller wanted “to build a multi-use commercial area with business and residential units.”  Plans showed 13 two-story tree house structures with bathrooms. Neighbors worried it was too much.

In the recent hearing before DPNR, neighbors again objected to the project’s scope. Roller agreed to restrict his project to five campsites per acre.  He also agreed to prohibit outdoor amplifiers.

Be careful driving on the island

If you’re going to really see St. John, you’ve gotta rent a car.  That brings with it a few cautions: (1) Driving on the left is easy until you find yourself in a situation where you need to think fast, and that may mean you swerve into the wrong lane. (2) Insurance.  Sure, you've got it, but what about the other guy? Odds are one out of three, he doesn't.

The St. John Source quotes the president of Guardian Insurance saying he wouldn’t be surprised if 30% of VI drivers are uninsured. 

Not “underinsured.” “UN” insured.

“Underinsured” is also a problem.  Minimum limits for coverage were set in 1975.  They provide for $10,000 in property damage and $20,000 in medical expenses. Back then, a loaf of bread cost 50 cents. By 2008 it was $2.79. Thats almost a 500% increase. Imagine how far that $20,000 in medical costs will go.

Sequester worries new VI Park superintendent

Brion FitzGerald first cane to St. John to celebrate his wedding anniversary, Now, he's on the
island permanently.


image from stjohnsource.com

Image from St. John Source

His first goal as the new Superintendent of the Virgin Islands National Park is to do more with less, thanks to the federal government’s budget cuts.The VI Park is expecting a reduction of almost $500,000, according to the St. John Source.  


FitzGerald is uncertain how visible the reduction in services and repairs and materials will be.  The most obvious may be closing the Visitors Center one or two days a week, he told the Source.  But he has said no one should underestimate the threat the cuts are to the Park.  Years of flat budgeting and no increases have led to staff and skills shrinkage.

A number of staff positions have gone unfilled for several months, which may help cushion the impact of the budget cuts.  Fitzgerald told the Source it’s unlikely any of the Park’s 50-plus employees will be laid off.

Chez Shell villa on HGTV

HGTV’s House Hunters International focused on the latest owners of Chez Shell villa.

Denise and John Obbagy, formerly of Illinois, packed up and moved to St. John after purchasing a three bedroom home on Great Cruz Bay. HGTV featured their project this week in an episode called Managing Paradise.

The hook is that the Obbagys had visited the island, liked it and decided that managing a villa, that also had an apartment for them in which to live, would be a way to make the move. John sees this as a great opportunity to leave his construction business behind and live a simple life with Denise managing a move in ready investment property.  Even being willing to spend more than $1 million, it was tough to find a property that suited them.

Of course, they were surprised as they shopped.  One villa, priced at $1.3 million, had a kitchen that Denise said would haven to be gutted.  Such a project would be challenging, even for John, an experienced home contractor, because, as he said, “Things don’t move as quickly here … and materials cost a lot more.”

Buying Chez Shell required some work, too, including adding a pool and patio. The work paid off. John said the number of villa rental weeks has increased almost 50 percent.

The HGTV Web site, as of Thursday morning, doesn’t show any more airings of the show scheduled this week.