On Tortola we practised ‘limin’. Our travels do not usually include ‘limin’. It felt strange.
TORTOLA, BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS, CARIBBEAN
November 4, 5 & 6
Tortola, 19km long and 5 km wide, is the largest and most populated of the British Virgin Islands. The name Tortola means ‘turtle dove’ or ‘love birds’ in Spanish.
We caught a taxi at the West End ferry wharf and wound along the coast to the capital of Road Town. A cruise ship was in harbour; not a super-sized cruise ship but one which still dwarfed anything else at anchor. After Road Town we climbed to the top of the island’s mountainous spine and made our way to Josiah’s Bay.
We were staying at The Tamarind Club. Our initial response was one of disappointment. The front entrance had no appeal what-so-ever, attitudes were laid back (which is not bad) to the point of not really caring (it makes a difference). The girl who checked us in at the bar told us where our room was and pointed, “up the stairs, first sliding door.” They had upgraded us from a Garden Room to a Veranda Room. The first things we noticed before even entering the room were the tattered lining on the curtains and the locking mechanism cover was off the entry sliding glass door. Inside the large room were two queen-size beds … one with a headboard, the other without; some cane furniture which wasn’t too bad, a tacky desk whose top was cluttered with brochures, a jar of instant coffee, a candle, matches and a smelly water kettle. Tiles in the bathroom were missing. A dingy (originally white) brown and grey stained bath mat covered part of the floor. We tried to close the dirty slat windows (without success) so we would not be wasting electricity when we put on the air-conditioner. The window in the bathroom had a screen with wooden slats slanted in such a way that it allowed passers-by to see in … if the bathroom light was on. At the price charged we were not impressed. [One couple, we met at breakfast our first morning, were likewise disappointed with their lower room, which was dark and claustrophobic and they decided to change hotels]. We were okay with staying on … for there were positives … if you don’t consider value for dollar spent, it was certainly better than many places we have stayed.
Some of the family staff were much better at dispensing hospitality than others. The youngest male bartender was the most consistent in his friendly outgoing and helpful manner. When owner Cindy was around (she is also a assistant principal/teacher at a local school) the place became much more animated, positive and being around the bar and lounge area was a great place to spend time, meeting other guests or playing board games. Value for dollar spent can certainly be found at the bar; sizeable, well mixed drinks were $5 US each.
The bar brings in others who are not staying at the hotel. Food prices are standard and meals made fresh. The ‘included breakfast’ was meagre, a bit of fruit, bread and a toaster, coffee or tea. Juice had to be paid for at the bar; same with water (other than the two small bottles in the room’s fridge upon arrival); so unless you are a caffeine drinker, be prepared to pay. There are larger breakfasts available, menu and prices are on a board near the toaster.
The nearest beach, Josiah’s Bay, is about a 1 km pleasant walk down a country road. We stopped to look at flowers, bugs and the beginnings of a new coconut tree sprouting from its nut. On the beach we watched a lone surfer grabbing what waves he could, a lifeguard pacing up and down waiting for the busy season and a pelican circling over head, finding his target and then, swiftly folding his wings, he plunged into the surf and repeated the process until he had his fill of fish.
“‘limin'” is a Caribbean slang word which has two meanings: one is to hang out and party with friends; the other is just to lay around … do nothing important … take in some sun … relax . On Tortola we practised ‘limin’. Our travels do not usually include ‘limin’. It felt strange. We will need to practice more.
We talked about walking up to the nearest village. “Nothing there,” the bartender said, “except three buildings,” so instead we did some swimming which included a drink at the swim-up bar; read and updated the journal on our balcony overlooking the pool.
When the rain started we were glad we were not out walking. It came down hard. A couple took refuge under an umbrella by the pool.
‘limin’ can be an art form … we definitely need more practice.
Leaving Tortola we taxied to the airport on Beef Island and flew out on a Windward Express, nine passenger Britten-Norman BN-2. Next stop Anguilla, via St. Martin.