Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Sunday, January 27, 2008
On our way out to the dive site.
Fellow students also on their last stages of their certifcation.
Going through their skills underwater.Got my PADI Open Water certification today! Thanks Blue Water Divers for a great experience.
After a not very successful first dive today after having problems with equalising my ears and then my mask was letting in water so spent most of the dive attempting to correct these and fighting a strong current. Second dive was great. Moved to Peter Island and the dive site was spectacular, changed mask and had agreat dive, swam through a natural tunnel and at the end of the dive got passed by a 4ft Reef shark! Brilliant way to end the certification.
Now I am hooked on diving.
Saturday, January 26, 2008
I live in LONG LOOK Tortola ! 3.6 on the scale!
67.9 km (42.2 miles)
VIRGIN ISLANDS REGION
7 km (4 miles) N (2°) from East End-Long Look, Tortola, British Virgin Islands
9 km (6 miles) NNE (33°) from ROAD TOWN, British Virgin Islands
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
I have been struck by the use of these two terms on the island. They are self explanatory as they describe a type of people that can be found on the BVI.
BVI-Islanders, those native to the Islands are known as belongers. In order to protect the prices of real-estate, curb overdevelopment and reduce unemployment, belongers have statutory rights that other people do not. For example, if a person wants to sell a house, they need to advertise it in the local press stating their price. A belonger will have right of first refusal to that property at the stated price before a non-belonger can make an offer. This is a perfectly valid way to avoid precious land resources from falling to foreign investors and thereby also ensuring that those properties that are put up for sale do not escalate beyond the reach of locals.
Similar arrangements exist for trade licenses, work permits etc.
It is not that the law gives these rights to locals that I find upsetting, it is the mere use of the word that I find strange. Can you image using such a term in the UK when referring to a Polish immigrant? Whoever used it would be shot on the spot (just reading today that the children’s story of the Three Little Pigs cannot be used anymore because it would cause offence to Muslims, so they decided to change "the three little pigs" to "three little cowboys" and now the construction trade is complaining that it discriminates against them!).
The term non-belonger should not be confused with “locals” as used by the expat community who use the latter term to describe themselves (much like I am an expat in this community). “local” in this sense refers to expats who live and work here. Unlike “locals” used by belongers who refer to belongers… confused? So am I!
The second term is “Down-islander” which relates to non-belongers from Caribbean countries further south from the BVI but also encompasses those people from islands north of the BVI (more confusion here). These are people who are economic migrants performing jobs in the BVI which other nationalities don’t. For example construction workers from the Dominican Republic, maids from the Philippines (I now it is not in the Caribbean), waiters from Jamaica, etc.
What gets me about this term is the “Down” prefix which although it is meant to be southern it is used in the context of “less than” and that makes me fell uncomfortable.
Am I being too paranoid about political correctness in this day and age?
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
The full moon party at Bomba was a bit of a disappointment. Maybe because I have to go to work so could not sty till midnight when the fun happens or maybe it is because the season has still not picked up. Which ever way it was a bunch of tourists having a drink. The local players trying to pick up anything with a skirt and nothing else much.
I am going to try the Trellis Bay full moon party next month as that is supposed to be better.
Here are some photos of the Bomba shack... what looks disappointing is that there does not appear to be many recent pairs of ladies undergarments.... most seem to have been there for some time..... maybe it is because it has been too cold in the Caribbean of late?
Anyway met a couple that I had been diving with on Saturday so spent some time chillin' as they say.
It is probably unfair of me to pass comment on matters of life in the BVI which I only see as an outsider and on which, I am probably not qualified to speak on. But I have never been known to keep my mouth shut, so here it goes.
There are two terms which are used frequently in the BVI, almost with careless abandon which as an outsider are strange, to say the least.
The first of these is the term “Sweetheart”. It is used to describe the girlfriend or mistress of a man. Men here are known to have more than one sweetheart in addition to their wife/long term partner. It is almost a consensual relationship with the sweethearts and the wives knowing, in many cases, of each other’s presence.
There almost appears to be a status issue with the number of sweethearts a man has. The more, the better. If you know what I mean? A theory that was put to me the other day by an outsider who has been here some time is that this dates back to slavery. Where the black man was not allowed to own anything or have any posessions. So the only thing that could belong to him were women and more women he had, the higher his standing. This may sound plausible but I find this improbable in this day and age.
Men will spend time with their sweethearts in the open, take them on holidays etc. Wives will demand their share of the man’s time and earnings to support the children etc.
What I cannot fathom is why the women put up with this? Let’s face it, the women here tend to be better educated, in employment and have a good head on their shoulders. Why do they put up with these arrangements which I can only see as degrading and devalues them as humans?
If someone has an answer, then please let me know or post a comment?
(If you don’t believe me on this one check out the Dear Bella column on http://www.bvinews.com/ which almost on a daily basis has some story or another on the subject)
BTW, Sweethearts can and do have more than one man….
The second term is ‘babyfather’ this is different, as you can imagine to husband…. And is sometimes the term used to describe the output of a sweetheart relationship. In some cases the sweethearts tire of their man being with other women and choose to get pregnant as a way of exercising some control over him. This seldom is the case as the baby’s father has most likely already fathered other children already…. And so the cycle goes on.
I’ve only been here a few weeks so I am hoping that by the end of my time here I will understand what is behind this whole concept.
When I have time I’ll try to put something together about two other shocking terms “Non-belongers” and “Down-islanders” two terms which in any other part of the world would be so Politically Incorrect that you could be put in jail for.
Monday, January 21, 2008
A peculiarity that I have discovered, since I arrived, is that if you are going to be driving in the BVI for more than a month you need a temporary driving licence. Well, that's been sorted. Popped into a car rental place, handed over my $10 and I now have a piece of paper which allows me to drive legally in the BVI for the length of my stay.
Interestingly, when I was being told how to get to the car rental place that issues them (I was told to avoid actually using the Traffic Department) the instructions went… "you know where the whore house is? Carry on until you reach the Courts and then take a right…" The assumption was that having just arrived in the BVI I would automatically know where the whore house was. What a sheltered life I lead.
Footnote… the whore house is (allegedly).. past the big roundabout, turn right at B Mobile shop, just before you get to the fire station… in case you were interested - You need to know where the big roundabout is :)
Sunday, January 20, 2008
So I am now half way down my PADI certificate, with luck I'll get certified next week!
Pictures above are taken from the dive boat. This time dived in Soldier's Bay and Angel Fish Reef