“Irie”, welcome the British Virgin Islands

Now it may seem that I am getting off the track of my original post of living in France. But I feel you must understand how I got there. Once I had decided to leave Orange County, my first stop was the Caribbean.

    Beef Island Airport

Beef Island Airport

As soon as I arrived for my connecting flight in Puerto Rico, I realized that the white topsiders and the Land’s end bag stuck out like a sore thumb. My look was a bit too preppy for the Islands and I was instantly branded as a tourist.

I had a while to wait for my next flight so I decided to make a call and check in with my friends and family back home. I found a pay phone and dialed the international operator and explained in perfect Spanish that I wanted to make a call and gave him the account number to charge it. He told me to speak English because I was confusing him. Since that didn’t go so well, I decided to write a few sentences in my journal that a friend had given to me at my going away party. I promised to write every day so when I got back we could look back at my adventures together. I still have the journal. I wrote in it for a total of 9 days. The first 8 days I was there, and the last entry six months later.

When I finally arrived in Tortola, Peter and his ex-girlfriend were waiting for me. They waved to me from the gate and instantly handed me a rum punch in a plastic cup. “Welcome to the BVI”. Peter’s ex had a car and agreed to pick me up from the airport. Most people do not have cars since there is such a large population of people who live on boats so it’s nice to know someone who is willing to give you a ride or loan you their car. Peter had arranged to rent a car for a few days so he could show me the island. It was the day before Christmas Eve and we had 3 days before our first charter. When we arrived at the car rental agency, everyone was drinking in the back. They were having a Christmas party. Our car was a small, yellow, open- air contraption called a mini moke, kind of like a Volkswagen Thing, but smaller. They handed us two rum punches in go cups as we drove away!

North Shore of Tortola

North Shore of Tortola

The roads were narrow and steep and it probably would have been frightening except for the fact that I was on my third rum punch. I was told that there is a dispute as to where exactly Jimmy Buffett found his “Cheeseburger in Paradise”, Road Town or Cane Garden Bay. But it is universally agreed that it was on the island of Tortola. Cane Garden Bay is home to Stanley’s, famous tire swing hanging from the a palm tree and the bright pink Rhymer’s Beach Hotel. We kept driving and ended up at Carrot Bay where we ate dinner on the beach. The place was called Jule’s Place, just a shack and a barbecue. Jules was from St. Kitts and made the most amazing “patties” I have ever tasted. A pattie is kind of cross between an empanadas and a Cornish pasty. It is bigger than an empanadas, can be made with meat or fish, and is usually eaten with some sort of hot sauce. My favorite, the specialty of the house, were the conch patties.

We decided to head back to the boat, as I was a bit jet lagged. Peter gave me the master cabin and took a guest cabin for himself. We had the boat to ourselves for two more days. Tomorrow was Christmas Eve and Peter had organized with friends to sail to the other end of Tortola to a place called Marina Cay. We were going to have a pig roast and of course, more rum punch.


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