We made it into the double digits!
It’s still surreal that we live here, but already we’ve come to recognize the good and the bad of living on an island, so I thought I’d share a little bit of both sides.
Bad: You can’t drink the water. Well, you can, but most people don’t. Virtually everyone on the island gets their water from a cistern, and the water is filtered but not purified. It’s not likely to make you sick, but several locals have told me that they use tap water for cooking, washing, and brushing their teeth, but for pure drinking they stick with bottled water. Now, I know plenty of people in the States who don’t drink their tap water (either they’re on a well and don’t trust it, or they’re on city water and don’t trust it). So to me, no big deal. But this is probably Bill’s biggest complaint so far.
Good: The views. Just driving around the island, from anywhere to anywhere, the views are amazing. Either you’re on a mountain overlooking beautiful bays, or you’re on the waterfront road, riding along just feet from crystal blue water. I will never tire of the views here.
Bad: Roommates. Before we moved, I read a lot of blogs from people who live in the USVI and the BVI, and without fail, they all mentioned living with “critters” and the good and bad of each type. Thankfully, our cohabitants are lizards, which are harmless and the most beneficial roommates to have , as they eat mosquitos and other insects. The only problem I foresee is that our cats will probably become lizard connoisseurs. So far, I’ve found two dead baby lizards, so the population in/around our place is probably on the decline already.
Good. The beaches. Whether you want calm, flat water or a great place to surf; a hopping, people-watching mecca or a nearly deserted beach lined with palm trees, they’re all here on Tortola. The beach closest to us, Josiah’s Bay, is of the surfing variety, with waves in the 5-foot range. (At least until summer, when the locals tell us that it “goes flat.”) Although I prefer calm water, the waves in this turquoise blue sea are almost transparent, and it’s gorgeous to look at. I foresee surfing lessons in my future!
Bad: Driving. The roads are worse than bad. (NC/SC friends – think of the worst SC roads you can imagine. That would be considered good here on Tortola.) The roads are only about 1.5 lanes wide, most of the curves are blind, and there are no street lights. Now, imagine those conditions on a 13 mile x 3 mile island that is essentially a mountain (the tallest peak on Tortola is the same height as Kings Pinnacle) where you’re perpetually climbing a 20 degree grade or descending a 20 degree grade.
Good: The people. Sure, there are people who are indifferent at best, rude at their worst. And some of the drivers are a-holes. But you’ll find that anywhere. The vast majority of people we’ve met here – both locals and expats – have been friendly and downright helpful. One charming thing about the BVI culture is that it’s considered rude not to address someone with “good morning,” “good afternoon,” etc. before you start a conversation, or just as a general acknowledgement, in place of “hello,” when you pass someone on the street. And when you do this, the person’s entire countenance changes. It’s amazing how far a little cultural sensitivity can get you when you’re in a foreign place.
Bonus: Did I mention the views? I did? Ok, how about the beaches? The snorkeling isn’t bad either.