Linda Soares, a wonderful woman and part owner of Neptune's Treasure.
As I sit on the ferry waiting for it to be loaded and on it's way, Sue Wheatly - the owner of The Purple Turtle gift shop where I spent a considerable sum, gets on board. I had met her one afternoon at the bar at Cow Wreck. I call out to her and she comes over and sits with me and we have a lovely chat for the hour or so trip across the water. She was married to Lowell Wheatly, the founder of The Anegada Reef Hotel. He died, tragically, in a propane tank explosion, and his children took over the hotel, leaving Sue without a home. She has done very well for herself since, living on Tortola and owning the nicest gift shop on Anegada. She is originally from England and listening to her tell how she came to live on the islands is very interesting. I love people's stories!
I didn't realize that we were stopping at Virgin Gorda on the way, and as we pull into the harbour I can clearly see Fischer's Cove just down the beach. It brings back a flood of happy memories of the week, two years ago, that I spent there with my youngest daughter, Shonah.
Eventually we arrive on Tortola, and when I step off of the ferry on to the dock, I am wondering how I will know who, out of all the men milling about - most of them taxi drivers, is there to fetch me from the car rental place. All of a sudden a fellow steps out of a vehicle and says to me, "You are Sandra? You're renting a car from me?" I have no idea how he knew it was me and say so. "I have been doing this for years, it's my business. I always know." Wow. Impressive.
It takes about 20 minutes to drive to the west end where Jerry's Car Rental is located and, once I sign the paperwork, I get into my slightly battered Suzuki Sidekick - with the removable soft top!! - and make my way up over the island via Zion Hill (steep!!!) to Sebastian's on the Beach which is, very conveniently, right where the road ends at a 'T' intersection.
I get checked into my room which, although a little dated - especially the bathroom, is huge (free upgrade) and has a view of the water over the roof of the restaurant across the tiny road. I am really pleased with all that is provided in the room: a flashlight, an umbrella, a hairdryer, an iron and board. All items I could have used at Neptune's but they don't supply.
As I check the beds, I notice that the one on the right has bits of dirt and loose grime on the otherwise pristine white pillow slips. I pull back the curtain and the window ledge, right next to the pillow, is FILTHY. It's coated in dust, dirt, and grime. I spend the next 10 minutes cleaning it off with wet tissues. The other bed doesn't have that problem, although the window ledge isn't much better, but the billowing curtain in front of a closed window kind of makes sleeping there impossible. So I pull the bed on the right about 8 inches away from the window and swap pillows with the other bed.
I had wanted to sleep in this bed as it seemed the 'cleaner' corner of the room but that billowing curtain is in the way and I can't figure out where the air is coming from.
After unpacking, I go across the road and have dinner at the restaurant. Vegetable pasta and the portion is huge. I only eat half. The vegetables were nice and cooked just as I like them but the sauce was kind of bland - right out of a can I think with not much in the way of spices added, if any at all. I wouldn't really recommend.
The next morning I am up early, thanks to being back in the land of the natural alarm clock - roosters. Everywhere.
After breakfast in the restaurant, very yummy rum battered french toast, I hop in my little Sidekick and head off to Road Town. Sebastian's want all of the payment for the room up front and I need to go get more cash out of the bank. Also, while I am in town, I want to get another bead or two for my Pandora bracelet (which is BVI themed) that is actually from the BVI.
But before I head over Zion hill, I drive down the road to the west a bit and pull into Long Bay Resort. My daughter was married here in February of '09 and I want to see the place again. As I walk towards the spot where they exchanged their vows, I see that nothing has changed and I love that. When I get to the place where my daughter walked through the palm trees to stand by her fiance, I get quite emotional and teary. It was such a beautiful day, perfect in every way. And their marriage is so wonderful and strong, they are absolutely pie eyed about each other and that is a huge blessing for a mom who thinks the world of her daughter.
The wedding in February 2009.
The gazebo has been painted white since the wedding (the wedding planner tried to insist that my daughter get married here instead of the gorgeous beach they had traveled thousands of miles to be married on).
Where the 'isle' to the 'alter' was.
The very spot they said their vows.
I take a stroll down the beach a ways, remembering the day, and being very thankful for all of the blessings in my life.
Come to the beach with me!!
I drive into Tortola and I can't believe how awful the drivers are here. They speed around you on a blind curve, even though I am doing the speed limit. They ride my bumper, they take up more of their share of the road when coming towards me, forcing me onto the shoulder or to slow way down until they pass me with inches to spare. I think that having special blue license plates for rental cars is a big mistake because, I believe, the locals see that and then delight in terrorizing the poor drivers.
I decide to park in the big lot by the water and proceed on foot as it's easier to do that than try to figure out my way around the roads in town. Some are so narrow there's only room for one car and if one comes at you, someone has to back up and with my blue license plates, I am sure it would have to be me and the visibility out of the plastic windows of the soft top is almost nil thanks to the salt air.
I first stop by the craft hut of the artist I met the day I arrived in the islands. He recognizes me right away and says I look very different; rested and happy. And thinner and tanned. All good things. We arrange for me to come back after I am done in town and he will go with me to Josiah's bay to see a little cottage that is for sale there. Not that I can afford to buy it but my son has posed the idea of us going together in a condo or cottage here and this one is going for a very reasonable price.
I head to the jewelry store, Little Switzerland, to buy a couple of Pandora beads. They are not only cheaper here than at home, there's no tax. I select one from my wish list, Happy Fish, and impulsively decide to buy the turtle as well. The staff are super friendly and helpful and the store was deliciously cool inside.
Turtle and Happy Fish with Rooster - no need to explain why HE'S on the bracelet!
I then head into the backstreet where there are lots of colorfully painted little shops and find
Serendipity Bookstore. I have befriended, on FaceBook, one of the girls who works there and am anxious to meet her. Happily, she is working today and she seems as excited to meet me as I am to meet her. She is so friendly and lovely, it's a real treat to spend a bit of time with her before I have to keep going and let her get back to work.
So nice to meet Ser of Serendipity Books.
I head down the lane aways and come across Sunny Caribbee, a fabulous little place that creates their own spice blends that are packaged in the cutest tins. I buy several gifts for some very special ladies in my life.
A bit further down the lane I find Roti Palace, purported to be the best place in the Caribbean for Roti.
Roti Palace, upstairs above the jewelry shop.
Miss Jean awaits some customers.
I order the boneless chicken roti and it comes with a sweet chutney and a spicy green mango blend that she tells me to mix together on my plate to make a delicious dip. I do and it is! But, unfortunately for me, all of the meat in the roti is dark and I don't like dark meat. And when I come across several pieces of gristle and some veins, I can't eat any more.
I head back to my car, deposit my purchases, and then over to Joseph's store. He is read to go and so we get in the car and start off over the island to Josiah's Bay.
The road is terrifying. Narrow, windy, up hills that look more like walls, down hills so steep I can't see the pavement in front of me - it's like driving off a cliff. At one point he has me pull over at a little bar on the peak of a hill, so he can go buy a drink for himself. He says it's too far a drive not to have something to drink. I have a bottle of water so I am fine. He waves to some guys sitting under the shade of a little lean-to under some palms, and they eye me with what looks like suspicion and talk among themselves. I am sure they're talking about this white woman with Joseph and when they all laugh are laughing at me (as they are all looking right at me through the windshield) but I couldn't care less. He comes back out with a very strong rum drink and we get back on our way.
I have no idea where exactly the cottage is, I just know it's in Josiah's Bay about a 5 minute walk from the beach. I know what it looks like and feel confident that we will see it without having to search for it. Joseph doesn't seem so sure but, sure enough, we come across it just after the road flattens out near the beach. I spot the for sale sign outside the fence at the same time I see the cottage colours through the shrubbery.
Lime Leaf Cottage, Josiah's Bay.
We get out and go through the gate to have a look at the property. It needs a bit of landscaping. The cabin is shut up tight with louvered shades so there's no way to see inside, but I have seen the pictures online. It's tiny inside, but adequate. And, if I were to buy it, I would completely repaint everything inside as the colours are awful.
We drive on down to the beach and park behind a building that turns out to be a fairly large bar and restaurant that is owned by another branch of the Wheatly family. It's a common name down here.
The beach is spectacular; a lovely little cove with fairly substantial waves. Apparently it is a surfing destination in February or whenever the waves are much much bigger than today. That would make Ashleigh and Rob very happy as they love to surf. I can imagine them coming down to stay in the cottage and having a fabulous time here. And I would love it because it's a pristine white beach with nice shallow areas for swimming and floating around in.
Josiah's Bay, with the yellow flag warning of strong undertows today.
As we drive back to Road Town, we talk about whether or not I want to go to Trellis Bay tonight for the Full Moon Party there. It is something I have really wanted to attend and was excited when I realized I would be on Tortola for it. But now the rain is coming and it's a really long drive from the west end where I am staying. It's over roads I am unfamiliar with and would have to traverse in the dark coming back. Joseph offers to come with me and drive us there. But I would still have to drive back as he would be too inebriated to drive and I am also not sure I want to drive with him like that as I don't know him very well and I don't know how he behaves when drunk. That, coupled with the rain that eventually hits and hits hard, I decide not to go. After I drop him off back at his shop, I decide I will go to the party at the Bomba Shack which is just down the road a bit from Sebastian's, because Mike and Rebecca will be there with their friends, even though I know it won't exactly be my scene - too much weed and magic mushroom tea for my tastes. But when I get out of the car to dash into Sebastian's, I get soaked to the skin. After a nice hot shower to clean up, I don't feel one bit like going out so I don't. I guess I might never see a full moon party on Tortola, at this rate.
I head over to the restaurant and order their individual size pizza with mushrooms and pineapple. When it comes, it reminds me of the pizzas I had in pubs in London. The crust is like thin cardboard and, again, the tomato sauce on the pizza has no flavour. I wouldn't recommend it. I think I am going to have to find a different place for dinner.