Then I had to figure out a way to get it all on the ferry with me. Four grocery bags, one suitcase, one large beach bag - I don't think so. So I went to the Crafters Corner - a group of little beach huts that are really aimed at selling kitchy stuff to the cruise ship passengers. I found a huge beach bag (the biggest one they had) for $12, hoping all of the groceries fit, and they did! Only two or three of the huts were open for business - due to it being a holiday for the royal wedding - one of them belonging to an artist named Joseph Hodge. He was standing in the doorway as I walked near and so I said 'good morning' (it is considered VERY rude to start any conversation with anyone without greeting them first, so I always say good morning, afternoon or evening when I am close enough for conversation) and he returned the greeting. I was intrigued by what at first appeared to be some abstract sculptures hanging on the door and window shutters - very colorful and flat. I realized it was the dried oil paints peeled from his palate. I complimented him on the ingenuity of using the unused paint that way instead of just discarding it. He then welcomed me into his shop to look around. He is really a very good artist, depicting the islands as they were 30 or 40 years ago. I fell in love with one painting in particular, of the hill overlooking Cane Garden Bay with workers and donkeys. It was a huge canvas and when I asked how much, he said that it wasn't finished yet but it would be in a couple of days, and that it was $3,000.
He asked where I was from and I told him. He asked me to sit in one of two comfy chairs he had and tell him about Canada. So I did, and he sat in the other, and we ended up talking for an hour. He was a very interesting person and when I left I felt like I was walking on air because THIS is what this trip is all about for me. I want to meet as many local people as I naturally can and just talk with them, hear their stories, learn about the islands.
I went back to my hotel, Maria's by the Sea, a very nice place right on the water with a heated pool and restaurant. So handy to the town and ferry dock. It was perfect in every way for my one night on the island. I had checked out after having a breakfast of egg and toast overlooking the water, and asked them to keep my luggage for me while I went into town and shopped. I had also left my groceries in the luggage lockup while at the craft huts so now went back and gathered all my things together and headed over to the ferry for my ride to Anegada.
The view from my room at Maria's By the Sea
The view at breakfast.
A very well earned virgin Pina Colada after walking to and from the grocery store in heat I am not yet accustomed to.
There's a new waiting room at the ferry dock, all lovely and airconditioned with comfy seats and a fabulous view of the bay but no one was using it. The local people were all sitting outside on a little ledge in a narrow strip of shade, as they have done for years. Finally someone joined me inside and commented on how everyone was such creatures of habit here on the islands and how crazy they were to sit in the heat when there was this lovely room. We got to talking and he tells me his name is McKenzie, or Kenzie as he is known. It turns out that he owns Anegada Beach Cottages at Pomato Point. He was born and raised here but moved to San Bernardino, California after serving in the Navy for years and became a fire fighter there. He made frequent trips back to the island and had slowly, cottage by cottage, built the business. I found out later that he owns quite a lot of beach front property on Anegada that has been in his family for generations.
It was quite the rolly ride across to Anegada, about an hour long. The wind was up and there were no sail boats out at all, so that tells you how bad it was. But, thankfully, I am not prone to seasickness at all - in fact I quite love a rough sea - so I enjoyed it immensely and was excited to finally be starting my holiday.
When the island was finally in view - you don't spot it until a mile or so out as it's so flat - I was really struck by how different it looks than the other Virgin Islands. Very flat, not a lot of trees... the waters here are very dangerous for boaters as the island is almost entirely circled by the third largest barrier reef in the world. Consequently, it's a fabulous place to dive wrecks. There are ships that have been resting on the bottom of these waters since the 1700's.
My first view of Anegada through sea spray spattered windows.
There were a LOT of people on the dock waiting for the ferry to arrive so they could travel back to Tortola. At first this puzzled me as there are only 200 people on this island and it seemed that a good half of them were right there. Then I remembered, it's a holiday. Both of the people who I spoke to that had huts open at the craft corner had said they had planned to go to Anegada for the day but their plans had fallen through. So this was the holiday crowd heading home.
Another woman and I shared a taxi from the dock. She wanted to stop at a store to get a few things so as she ran inside, the driver and I chatted. He has lived on the island here his whole life; drives taxi and keeps the roads clear of debris for the government. He had no idea where Vancouver was - that always surprises me for some reason. Once the other woman was back in the car, we headed to my hotel - Neptune's Treasure, a very short ride. $3 cab fare short.
They were expecting me, a lovely woman checked me in (this place is entirely family owned and operated - several homes on the property houses them all - brothers, sisters, spouses and kids of the original Bahamian couple -originally from Portugal, who started the place) showed me the honor bar system, and took me to my room. She gathered up all of my luggage and brushed me off when I tried to insist on carrying some of it myself. My room is sparse but clean and seens to have all I need - it's the typical Caribbean setup unless you're in one of the few uber-luxury resorts paying $900 a night. It suits me fine as long as there aren't any creepy crawlies - and I don't see any. I notice that there is no blow dryer attached to the wall as in most hotels and ask if they have a courtesy one to loan. They don't. I guess it will be flat and stringy hair for my time on this island then.
I am settling in when I hear "SANDRA" called loudly from somewhere outside. I figure one of the children here must have my name as no one knows me yet and I am pretty sure if they did, they wouldn't summon a guest in that manner. So I just keep unpacking. Then I hear it again..."SANDRA!!" I look out of my window and there is Nancy and Walker Mangum!!! They are a couple who started reading my blog way back when I went to Florida to go sailing. He also has a website to do with all things BVI as well as another one with lots of their photos from the islands. We have become friends over the internet through those sites and on FaceBook and I actually planned this trip around the dates that they were going to be at their cottage, Hidden Treasure, at Cow Wreck Beach.
I flung open the door, "NANCY! WALKER!!" it was so great to finally see them in the flesh. We hugged like old friends. "Wow, I can't believe the restaurant here is closed" Nancy said. The woman that checked me in had told me they had no reservations for dinner tonight so they were closing but she would make me a salad if I liked. I had said I would manage - I am not quite up to eating salad just yet. I told Nancy this and she said, "Well then, I guess you're coming home and having dinner with us." and we piled into their little Toyota pickup truck and bounced along the sand road to their cottage.
I have seen this place on the internet, seen photos of the progression of building it, watched their live webcam of the beach from their deck - and imagined what it would be like to be there. As I step out of the pickup truck and walk to the front of the cottage, it feels surreal to me. To finally be where one has imagined... wow. Walker follows me and points out the camera on the deck rail that takes a photo every 30 seconds and tells me to go stand in front of it so that I will be on the webcam. So I do and he follows me and puts his arm around me and we wait 30 seconds. Then Nancy joins us and we wait another 30 seconds. I am now part of the Anegada Bar webcam!! Walker makes a movie of the shots every day, and puts it up on his YouTube page. So if you look at April 29 at the 5:04 mark you should see me there!
We had a wonderful meal together. Laughed, shared stories, and I was told I 'lived there' so make myself at home. Walker and Nancy are fabulous hosts and they have insisted that I spend each day this coming week with them. The only downer for me was that they are leaving a week earlier than they had originally told me when I asked for their dates for April. So I will only have the one week with them and then will have to fend for myself. But I don't want to think about that yet.
Walker sitting across from me at Hidden Treasure.
After a good nights sleep back in my room at Neptune's, with only one scary moment in the night where I felt something on my neck, a bite, as I slept and picked it off, tossed it to the other side of the bed and then woke with a start as I realized what had just transpired. I flicked on the light at the side of the bed, and searched for whatever it was. There was a black thing on the coverlet but in the dim light I could not make it out. So I went to the bathroom, got some toilet paper, picked it up and left it by the sink so I could see what it was in the morning. I slept a bit fitfully after that - waking every time I felt a twitch or a tickle on my skin. In the morning I took a look at the thing but still couldn't make it out (my eyesight is really failing) and so rolled it under my finger and, you know, I think it might have just been a bit of lint. But then why did it feel like I was bitten?
I hate it that I am so afraid of bugs.
Today I am going with Nancy and Walker to Windlass Bight (a beach) to watch him learn how to kite board. Should be fun!
The view from the restaurant at Neptune's Treasure
I am staying in the building on the left, bottom floor.