What can I say about Blue Sky Concierge and Shanna Dickerson? She is our Mooncottages St John Villa Rentals Guest Concierge helping you have an ever a better time in St John.
Shanna is an athlete, world traveler and consummate professional when helping connect our villa guests to something they want to do while in the Caribbean. She is a driven business professional with a heart of gold and you will love working with her. She is upbeat, positive and truly a nice person.
Here’s Shanna’s story:
In 2010, at 30 years old, she was already having a midlife crisis and was considering a major pivot in her life and career. The recurring question she kept asking herself, “Is it more important to live where you want and find work, or stay where you are climbing a corporate ladder with the hopes of retiring to an amazing place when you’re 60?”
At nineteen years old she launched a career in the music industry after standing on the stage looking out at 30,000 people during a concert of Widespread Panic, access granted from her boyfriend at the time, whose dad was managing the band. Then and there, she decided that she wanted to be on the back end of the concert industry, bringing the biggest artists to people around the world. She then spent her twenties in Nashville promoting and working with such artists as The Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Kenny Chesney, Jay Z, The Police, Pearl Jam, Jimmy Buffett, Snoop Dogg, Stevie Wonder, Kayne West, Foo Fighters, Metallica and Tim McGraw. Her most fulfilling job during those years was as tour manager for Steve Winwood in 2004, spending months on the road with him and the band on a tour bus.
By 30, she had achieved her dreams in the music industry and decided it was time to go after another dream. Growing up in Charlotte, North Carolina, her parents often brought her and her brother to the Virgin Islands for vacations. This entrepreneur was craving an adventurous island life, and so, against the advice of her friends and co-workers, she sold all of her belongings, terminated the lease on her Nashville apartment, and used her remaining money to move with her yellow lab, Dakota, to St. John in the US Virgin Islands to start living a new dream.
St John vacation rentals owners’ and guests’ favorite gardener. Meet the irrepressible Josephine Roller and hear her vision about composting post storm organic materials instead of throwing them in the dump. We’ve had so much organic wood-based waste to dispose of after the Hurricane IRMA and she is very outspoken about what should be done. She has met with USVI Governor Mapp about this concept but has not received a green light.
Josephine’s vision is both philanthropic and environmentally correct. The Ball Field by the Moravian Church in Coral Bay has been the staging area for stuff that needed to be disposed. An ongoing movement, Josephine said she is willing to compost it all and give it out to neighbors.
I met Josephine 20 years ago when I was beginning to landscape at Mooncottage. She knows everything when it comes to plants. I call her “Doctor” … as she has a PHD in Agriculture and once ran the Dept of Agriculture facility here in Coral Bay. And, she’s enigmatic and energetic the proprietor of the only Organic Farm on St John. I asked her why vines started to grow right after the hurricanes. She said, “Nature doesn’t like to be naked, so they filled in temporarily.” (BIG laugh from her after). Classic Josephine.
Also seen on this video is her son Hugo Jr. He works on the farm. Their daughter Mimi was on the USVI Olympic sailing team. Both Hugo Jr. and Mimi are the most physically beautiful young athletes and nicest people you’ll ever want to meet.
Josephine’s Greens are famous here on St John and St Thomas and are carried by most all of the grocery stores, but you can always stop by their working farm to pick up eatables like amazingly spicy arugula, micro mix, spinach, tomatoes when in season, herbs, papaya, etc. … and beautiful plants and orchids for the garden.
We villa owners know Josephine very well, with her BIG laugh and BIG smile. She and husband Hugo have managed the Coral Bay Garden Center as long as I’ve been here and that was 1998. Her store in the valley in Coral Bay was pretty badly beat up in Hurricane Irma … but they are gradually rebuilding and are doing a great job. Stop in and see her.
When you come down for vacation at Mooncottages St John Cottage Rentals or anywhere else on the island, take a ride out to Mumbo Jumbo in Coral Bay. It’s in the same complex as Skinny’s restaurant where the famous burgers are are served. Vanessa runs Mumbo Jumbo in Coral Bay with great beach wear, spices, souvenirs, flip flops and the best of vibes on the planet.
I’ve personally known Vanessa and Larry Clarke for over 15 years. They have two amazing kids and work darn every day. Larry you can’t miss with a shock of blond hair–in fact, they ALL have blonde hair. Larry also has a trucking business in Coral Bay as is a fireman that lives often right at the bottom of the hill where our villas are and where the firehouse currently. Good guy to know for a lot of important reasons if you own or manage a rental villa 🙂
Open almost anytime you should be awake, Mumbo Jumbo has something fun and reasonable to please the kids or family in between going to the beaches on our lovely St John. We’ll write up something about Skinny’s another time, the venerable hamburger joint often with music on random evenings. Always fun to mix the two events–eating and shopping!
Stop in & tell ‘em we sent ‘cya.
When it comes to woodwork for St John Villa Rentals – Stephan Scholz is in a class by himself. Look how he man-handles these massive timbers into place by himself with only block and tackle out of the 16th century. Rock on Stephan!
Master woodworker from Germany, resident of St John and my friend for 20 years. Stephan is responsible for nearly all of the spectacular woodwork you will enjoy at both Mooncottage & Teahouse Treehouse. Including our cozy custom beds and the unique outdoor (under roof) kitchen at the Teahouse Treehouse. All built from Teak.
Stephan says, “If I don’t build it to last 100 years, it isn’t worth the wood.” We agree. Stephan and Elliot, (our iconic Coral Bay St John sailor) and owner of Silver Cloud brought our hardwood for Mooncottage up from South America in the late 1990’s.
One day, Stephan and I shared a few Becks, argued incessantly (as usual) and waxed poetic about the next cool thing to build. So, in 2007 I discussed a vision for the Teahouse Treehouse. Japanese-inspired small cottage combining Stephan’s engineering skills to withstand the the rigors of our Caribbean weather without hardly a nail or screw – “post and beam” constructed entirely. It’s amazing for all of you architectural lovers … or lovers in general.
Teahouse Treehouse … link to photos. The sliding Shoji screens adapt to any weather condition quickly. But, more importantly, half of the house opens to the splendor of Caribbean Sea for your enjoyment. (Very Japanese I have to say)
Educated as an engineer in Germany, Stephan Scholz apprenticed with one of the finest cabinet makers in Germany and learned his trade very well. St. John resident for many years he has a long waiting list of customers who want anything from cabinetry to custom woodwork to furniture to homes. But, he is really an artist and an individual. I simply love this guy!
On your next stay at Mooncottages St John Villa Rentals, stop literally down the hill to pick up what you need at the Calabash Boom Market. The suave and kind Ali runs this very well stocked and clean family business with his wife Maria. Often they have local fish right out of the ocean from our local fisherman. But always a little of everything is available. Fresh sausage, steaks and chicken for the grill. Did I mention how well this Deli in Coral Bay was maintained and stocked? They are just the nicest people … and SO close to Mooncottages, just right down the hill.
This store is right on the way into Coral Bay and is a life-saver for locals as well as St John Vacation Rentals guests. Mustafa is the eloquent and articulate owner of Coral Bay’s venerable and extensively stocked grocery store since 2001 – Love City Market. When storms hit in September, he donated perishable goods to the community. When his generator power was finally back, they were providing sustainable goods to the community at all hours.
Now, that the clouds have cleared and our St John Villa Rentals are up and running and better than ever, guest and locals alike love … Love City Market. Open “early to very late” – 6:30AM – 9:30PM.
Mustafa is a very nice man but a very serious businessman and cares about his establishment. His son also works at the store “dawn to very late” with other employees tirelessly. Tremendous people. When you come to Coral Bay on your St John villa vacation, please stop at Love City Market and say Hi … and buy stuff. He’s been local resident on St John with family and friends since 1992 and is here to stay. When all else fails, these guys are usually open and always friendly with fresh produce, an extensive wine and liquor collection and anything else you might want.
It’s always gorgeous here in St. John USVI. Taken on April 27th 2018. BUT click the photo. The Coral Bay live music scene in the US Virgin Islands is also so gorgeous and vibrant it will take your breath away. St John villa rentals, St. John restaurants, amazing beaches, great people, gorgeous weather, hiking, art and lots of fun. Come back to enjoy St. John everybody. Yes, we had a hurricane last year, it was big news then …. hash tag# we’re over it now and better than ever! So, come and re-experience our island and enjoy music in Coral Bay that will blow your mind.
Yes, I know. My iPhone YouTube video is not the best I’ve ever shot, but I was enjoying myself too. 🙂 Yet the vocals, the band and the vibe was simply mesmerizing. How much MORE fun could a human have? Last night, at Indigo restaurant in Coral Bay, St. John USVI – Kerrin Buckley, Lauren Jones Magne and the famous Johnny B. and friends just tore the place to shreds.
Come vacation NOW in St John USVI. Lower seasonal rates. (sure) But, it’s never a bad season to bring friends, lovers or family.
St John in the year 1914–can you imagine? That’s when Guy Benjamin was born, out on the East End of St John. History is everywhere here. There are some wonderful photos from old-time St John, but this was what things looked like over on ST Thomas to give you an idea c. 1918.
Who was Guy Benjamin? Well, when you travel out to Coral Bay ST John you’ll notice a colorful litte school there–and it’s called the Guy Benjamin School. Guy taught there–and surely had a lot to do with it getting there in the first place as he was a lifelong educator. Sadly, this school breathtakingly set to close, however.
Guy was the first St. Johnian to finish high school. He went on to graduate from New York University, and to become both Superintendent of Schools on St. John and St. Thomas and an author (Me and My Beloved Virgin) … the cover is on the cover of this post. This book is filled with stories that he remembered from those early days and maybe a few more from his vivid imagination. Guy passed in 2012, but I had the pleasure of meeting him on a few occasions–and a copy of his book is available for you to read at Mooncottage.
If you love ST John, you need to know about Guy Benjamin. One way would be to read his book, “Me and My Beloved Virgin.” He had a little broken down house just past Skinny’s where a goat would usually be sitting on the roof of his car. (Not exactly sure that it was HIS car, but it was at his house). On the street in front of his house, up until only about 3-4 years ago was a small wooden stand by the side of the road with a stack of his books for sale. All you had to do was leave your money there and take a copy. I can’t imagine anyone ever stealing one or the money–it would be a crime in Coral Bay punishable by death or worse. He was that beloved.
When I met Guy, it was probably in the year 2000–he was in his late 80’s at the time. I was busy learning about this and that when I first came to ST John myself and read his book and wanted to meet him. So I went by his house and shouted to him my arrival the true way you need to announce yourself anywhere in the Virgin Islands, “Inside, Inside!” He came to the door having just woken up from a nap and invited me in. There inside his house, there was virtually nowhere to sit … except on top of stacks of papers and books–some piled high to the ceiling. To say that Guy was not the greatest housekeeper would be an understatement, but he was a character. I think everything he ever read was still in that little wooden house.
Well, in any case, I explained to him how much I liked his book and he said immediately, “Well, in that case, let me read you a story or two to you so you can get the real feel for it.” So, he proceeded to read his book to me aloud. Most of all it in fact. With that amazing West Indian lilt. I was there mesmerized for hours. It was one of the most delightful afternoons I have ever spent on ST John. So, when he finally felt that maybe he had shared enough with me, he said with eyes gleaming, “Oh my God, you are in luck! I have a copy of the 2nd volume of My Beloved Virgin which isn’t published yet, and now I am going to read you some of those storied right now!” And, I sat there another hour or two to hear more tales of early ST John and its people.
I guess the moral of the story is this. When vacationing on ST John, remember that history is everywhere. And, sometimes it might be sitting right next to you enjoying a cool Red Stripe. Next time, I’ll tell you about a man who came to vacation on ST John who had more to think about than anyone in the world at that time–J. Robert Oppenheimer while a director at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton. But, that’s another story. Guy Benjamin was a gentle and peaceful gift from another era. See if you can find his book and you’ll understand what I mean.