What a View!

Every day here seems to be an adventure, not really knowing what to expect and how to go about business.  It is so different from any other experience we have had recently.  To say that this culture is a bit laid back is a total understatement.

The car rental agency, DD’s, also known as Deadman’s (no joke, the owner’s name is Deadman) was supposed to pick us up at 8:30 a.m. in Trellis Bay.  Of course (now when I say of course, I mean that we have gotten used to the fact that people here in BVI tend to take things pretty loose and easy with time) when we landed there, no one was waiting, and I had left my cell phone in the room.  Not sure how that happened, but it’s all part of the adventure.  We did meet a nice Brit hanging around there by the name of Richard Boudier who was looking for a ride to Roadtown.  He had a yacht in the bay which he needed to sail to St. Martin (about 80 miles) by himself to meet some other people who were going to sail it back to Venezuela.  Sounds a bit dicey to me, and he seemed pretty nice.  He was actually from the area in England where we rented a vacation house about seven or eight years ago — North Devon.  Finally our driver showed up with the car, and we made a short stop at the airport where he picked up another car and we went back to the office to arrange the details.  We were handed a map, made arrangements for returning the car, and we were off.

Tortola is 8 miles long and extremely mountainous.  I don’t know the population, but there seems to be houses stuck on every hill at precarious angles.  I think a 4-wheel drive is the best vehicle to have on these roads.  We started out in Road Town, where we had breakfast at Village Cay Marina (which we knew because we were there when we sailed on White Squall II) and said goodbye and good sailing to Richard.  We then went to the shops on Main Street which really ought not to allow cars, it’s only about 10 feet wide, and there are tourists and locals walking along.

We found a couple of goodies, but after we started driving out of town we saw an area that we missed, but I’ll bet it was just tourist souveniers for the cruise ship passengers.  There were 2 ships in port.  We also noticed that there were open air busses, that looked a little like Disney’s Safari Ride busses, absolutely packed with tourists on their way to Cane Garden Bay, reputedly the beach in Tortola.  But I must say, if it’s beaches you want, I wouldn’t come to Tortola.  I read that in the websites where I did my research, so I pretty much knew what to expect.  As modest as it is, Marina Cay has possibly the nicest beach in Tortola.  Now if you want surf, then the one we saw at Josaih’s Bay was great.

We drove the whole island around in a circle.  As soon as you start going up into the mountians on the west end, it’s a fantasic view at every curve.  I kept asking Tony to stop so I could take pictures, I hope some of them turn out nice. 

We made our way up to the highest point in Tortola, which also included something like a 1-mile hike up a very steep hill over tree roots, rocks, you-name-it, and all done in beach flip-flops.  We were laughing the whole way.  But when we got to the top, the view was well worth it.  I will have to come back to this blog later and tell you the name of the National Park but for now it escapes me.

I had spotted what seemed like a great spot for lunch, so we made our way back there but turns out it’s only a dinner spot, so we went back down the hill to Sugar Mill for lunch…getting there right before it stopped serving.  They have a pretty little beach and a very pretty hotel which serves great food, we opted for the beach-side restaurant, which is sandwiches and burgers, but very good food.  Tony and I both had a Caribbean Roti, which is  basically a chicken curry wrap.

From there we visited two beaches, Cane Garden Bay and Josiah’s Bay.  These are two polar opposites where Cane Garden Bay is calm and serene, with a wide swath of white coral sand, and very gentle waves…Josiah’s Bay is rocking with waves and filled with surfers.  I get the feeling that Cane Garden Bay is pretty much set up for the tourists but that Josiah’s Bay is where the locals prefer.

Our day came to an end and we made our way back to the car rental agency without much trouble…well…when we tried to fill the car with gas we had to look high and low for the gas cap release button…that was a bit of fun.  Gas here costs $3.26.  Ouch.

In the evening we went for a meal at “The Last Resort” which is a restaurant located on an islet in Trellis Bay.  Our Marina Cay ferry dropped us off there and we enjoyed a great meal.  The donkey is gone, but evidence of the donkey persists in the restaurant logo.  There were cats roaming around, circling like sharks, and sitting down and looking up dolefully for a hand out.  Also a lab mix dog….I heard that the dog will sing happy birthday, but we didn’t stay for the floor show.  When the guy started singing Simon and Garfunkel songs it was time to go.   Which brings me to Ivan the boatman.

We were given a ride home to Marina Cay by The Last Resort ferry, driven by Ivan the boatman.  That’s our name for him, he had an accent that sounded Russian to me.  He had a fast skiff, like a Boston Whaler, only a bit bigger and with a bimini.   Ivan put the pedal to the medal and we literally flew over the waves, laughing with every bounce.  Amy and I were seated on a cushion, but Tony was not.  With every bounce, he bounced and you can imagine from there…poor guy had a sore tush when we got back.  Ivan told us that if he didn’t go fast, we would have gotten wet.  So, it’s either wet, or bounce…take your pick.  Anyway we made it back ok, and lived to tell the tale.

Tortola is filled with great views, friendly people, and loads of fun stories.  Stay tuned for our visit to Virgin Gorda next, this was even more fun…dealing with Taxi drivers, ferry boat drivers, tourists, and more.  One thing for sure, never a dull moment.

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