Celebrating the undiscovered charms of Caribbean travel & culture.

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

A Note of Thanks to My Friends in St. Croix

A Note of Thanks to My Friends in St. Croix
Me at Sandy Point, August 2011/Kelly Bennett

My birthday has always been a big deal… but not because I made it so.

No, I’m not some diva with explicit demands for how my special day needs to be celebrated. I’ve just always been blessed with a really great core of friends that always seem ready to celebrate anything – anytime, anywhere and always to the max. This, of course, was particularly true during my late-teens and early-20’s, when the mid-summer timing of my b’day meant that a lot of my old high school friends were, like me, back on St. Croix from college.

All summer long, we’d work odd jobs, hang out and party together, but somehow the fun of those summers always seemed to climax during that first week in August. Those birthday parties would literally last a full week, with a collection of private homes, bars and beaches across the island hosting our particular brand of controlled debauchery each day.

The lengthy fete wasn’t so much about me as it was about all of us coming to grips with the fact that summer was about to end. Soon enough we’d be back up north, hitting the books in advance of the cold winter months dreaming of reuniting again for another round of beach limes at Sandy Point, Painkillers at the Sundowner, and God knows what else…

These days, as you might imagine, things are decidedly different. My core group of friends is now scattered across the globe, making homes in such disparate locales as Texas, Arizona, North Carolina, California, Hawaii and even Australia! The last of the big birthday jams was in 1992. I was just 21.

Fast forward to a week ago today. My 40th birthday. The first time I’d been back home to celebrate my “big day” in nearly 20 years. My wife and kids were there. A warm, bright sun hung high in the sky. A few scattered clouds brought some brief, welcome showers. It was perfect!

Well, almost.

Right after lunch, while bobbing in the waves at Carambola, I really missed my core group of friends. One of them had, in fact, just called me, as she always does every August 5th to wish me well and reminisce over those old week-long fetes. It’s hard to feel down when you’re celebrating a big birthday in St. Croix, but for a little while there, I just couldn’t help it.

Then, we made the short drive over to Eat @ Cane Bay, where for me, it was impossible to feel anything but elation!

Eat @ Cane Bay/SBPR

You may remember that the popular north shore eatery agreed to host the St. Croix Meet-up + 40th Birthday Bash last Friday. It was a nice gesture that I truly appreciated, but I really had no idea just how special the folks at Eat were intent on making me feel.

As advertised, the rum punch was wikkid. The signature drinks (especially the Sex in the Champagne Room) were even better. The food topped them both, though, with an incredible tuna ceviche ranking among my favorite presents.

The event doubled as a book-signing for the St. Croix Food & Wine Experience Cookbook, of which I am honored to have contributed. I can’t even tell you how many copies I signed that night. (Click here to buy a copy and I’ll be sure to sign yours too!) Outside of my wedding night, I seriously don’t think I’ve ever felt more like a rock star!

It truly was a special evening that I’ll not-soon forget. Thanks to all the friends, fans and passersby who joined us at Eat @ Cane Bay a week ago to make my 40th birthday so very special. I had a blast meeting you all, and am humbled that you so appreciate what Patrick and I are doing here with Uncommon Caribbean.

Special big thanks also go out to my long-time friend, Jane Watkins, who introduced me to Eat @ Cane Bay and invited me to contribute to her wonderful cookbook, thereby making me a celebrity (at least for one night).

Last, but not least, SUPER-SPECIAL BIG THANKS go out to Katherine Pugliese and EVERYONE else at Eat @ Cane Bay for all that you did to make last Friday so fantastic.

The week-long fetes of my youth may be a thing of the past, but I’m thinking this could be the start of a new annual birthday tradition at Eat @ Cane Bay for years to come! Who’s up for some more fun for birthday #41..?!

Last updated by on .