We just returned from a mostly lovely week-long holiday in St. John. Though we loved the beauty of the beaches, we were very shocked & a bit saddened with the unfriendly locals. We were always dressed modestly & were extremely respectful following their customs. When traveling, we always read up on the culture where we are traveling to. We are very cognizant not to be "ugly Americans". We always aim to be quiet & respectful, in general. We have great manners when out & about wherever we are. we greater every local with the customary "Good morning, good afternoon, or good evening." I always had a kind smile.
I have to say, the only place where someone seemed genuinely kind & had a smile was at the gas station when I went to pre-pay. Everyone else was dour - from the supermarket clerks, to cashiers, to people we passed in the car working on the side of the road - the cold, hard stares from these men were the worst. We often felt like we were receiving scowls & generally everyone was happy to take our money but there was zero customer service & no smiles or genuine warmness. Even the ex-pat local service people were generally bordering on rude at restaurants, etc.
My son eagerly told our hairdresser that we just got back from vacation yesterday. When he told him where we went, the first thing my hairdresser said was, "That is a super unfriendly place. The locals want your money & that's it. Was it the same for you guys?" So that's his first impression of the island, too.
While we will definitely return for the beauty the island has to offer, I honestly can say we will bring most of our own supplies & food with us next time. We will probably eat most meals at the villa or picnic at the beach & will probably try to avoid the locals as much as possible.
I am truly not trying to be offensive with this post. I just want a better understanding of what we experienced. Is there something we missed? Did we do something wrong? I just genuinely get the sense it is an unhappy place to be & I don't know if that is because it's such a small, expensive place to live with a good amount of poverty that relies solely on tourism dollars.