Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Location, Location, Location

They say that in real estate the location is the first, second and third most important consideration.... so how do you think that my address will influence property values?
Everywhere else the area is referred to as "Little Dix" yet the road that leads up to my house if called "Little DICKS"... does someone have a sense of humour or what?

Maid Service

My landlady comes in to tell me if it is OK for the maid to goes round the house tomorrow?  I didn't even know that was included!  No tengo ni que limpiar.. .I was going to go out for a mop and everything tomorrow as I have been in the house for three weeks and not done anything... Now I don't have to!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Sail Boat


I am now a certified diver

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

Eathquake update...

It was an earthquake and it was 7km from where I live... look at the data...
I live in LONG LOOK Tortola ! 3.6 on the scale!

Saturday, January 26, 2008 at 04:38:07 UTC
Saturday, January 26, 2008 at 12:38:07 AM at epicenter

18.521°N, 64.567°W
67.9 km (42.2 miles)
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

Pirates, Norman Island

This is my third trip to Pirates but this time while I waited for some student divers to get on with their skills (as if I actually was much more advanced) I got the chance to pop in and order some food (BBQ chicken wings and chips) as the smell was tormenting me on the boat... whilst I was there took some pics...
Bartenders here don't miss a trick, here they are affixing temporary tattoos on the ladies! Clever man.......

Boats here and there

So that you can get an idea of what a holiday in the BVI can e like... some of the chartered yachts found dotted about here, there and everywhere.

Rainbow Breakfast Shack

Got up a bit late to make myself breakfast this morning on the way to to the dive so last week I spotted tons of locals at this shack so I decided to give it try this morning.
Asked what they had and the menu was limited to "Johnny Cakes" which is something approaching a doughnut which might or might not be made by her husband called Johnny.. or they may actually be called that and bush tea.... "sorry no bush tea, just run out".... so Johnny cake it is then.... $1 --- tell you what, it was great!
And don't think the colours represent gay pride or anything like that... not in the BVI... this is the Caribbean man, get with the programme!

'Dis is 'd life!

Yeah man, legs hanging out of the boat, chillin.  What a way to spend a lazy weekend in paradise :)

Did the earth just move?

Got woken up by a rumble and then a short jolt which shook the apartment... was this an earthquake?
Checked on the USGS Earthquake centre info ( and there was one in Puerto Rico at more or less the same time but was only 3.2 on the scale so I doubt that we could feel it here.... maybe it was just that I had two beers and I am not used to drinking?
Back to bed........ zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Non-belongers and Down-islanders

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

Full Moon at Bomba

It is full moon, and when there it is a full moon in the BVI there is only one place to be....the Bomba Shack in Apple Bay. This infamous place has a reputation all to itself. Mr Bomba himself is a larger than life character and his mushroom teas are famous.

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.

We are back on-line

True to their word, Cable & Wireless delivered an internet connection to my flat today.  I am ready to go!

On sweethearts and babyfathers

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 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

I am now road legal

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

This blog may go off-line..

OK, one of the issues that I have had since I started here has been internet connectivity.  Originally I went for a wireless broadband card for the laptop which works over the GSM network.  Advertised as broadband, it hardly meets dial-up speeds so I am going to hand it in before my trial period runs out.
In the meantime I have applied for a landline and ADSL connection to the flat, but I understand that these take time, as this is a new flat, to set up so in the interim period you might not see updates to the Blog other than text posts.  I'll see if there is a way of getting photos up as well.
Anyway, let's see what transpires this week.
Please be patient!

Buildings & Shutters

Sorry but I have an affection for this type of photography!

Dive Day 2

Another superb day diving. Two dives today as well some of my theory and skills practicing. Managed to see eagle ray, barracuda, bar jack, four eye butterfly, turtles, lobsters, parrot & angel fish (of various kinds) and hundreds of other species, too numerous to mention. Including a shoal of massive tarpoon Water visibility was 15-20m so you can imagine!

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

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Dive Photo

That's me on the bottom right of the picture. Instructor to the left!

Photo by Wayne Atkinson

Dive Day 1

Had my first day of my Open Water Certification lessons today.  Great day!
For my confined water dive I was taken out to Pirates Bay on Norman Island (one of the outer islands of the BVI) as the water was very choppy near to Tortola.  Whilst the certified divers got on with their first dive I got to spend time with my instructor going through the first of my four skills (face mask clearing, regulator clearing, regulator recovery and  alternate air source breathing) which I got through with flying colours! Followed by a quick swim underwater back to the dive boat.
Weigh anchor and off to the dive site.  Three protruding rocks off Norman Island called the Indians (as it is supposed to look like an red Indian head dress- I think you need to be on some of Bomba's Tea to see that one!)
Anyway, certified divers get to dive with their guide on the rocks whilst I get the instructor to myself.  A 15m dive for 45 mins which I think is great!  Get to see yellow snapper, little blue fish, stone grouper and great corral formations.  Can't wait for day two!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Dangerous curves

Love this sign, come across it every day on my way to work, makes you feel like an F1 driver! Such an understatement :)

Poor bakery

Next to work stands a bakery.

Business cannot be good as they only have a parking for what looks like the one and only customer of the shop :)



Pouring down with rain over breakfast this morning.  But by the time I walked out of the door to go to work this morning a massive rainbow had appeared in front of the flat….nice !

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Car Pooling - The BVI Way

One of the great things about being in a place like this is that people still care for one another. 
Every morning or afternoon when going to or coming back from work I try not to get annoyed at the car in front who suddenly decides to stop in the middle of the road, no warning, no indicator, nada.  The reason?  They have seen someone walking whom they know so they stop to give them a lift to their destination.
It's annoying because you are driving along, without a care in the world listening to the latest merengue mix on the local radio ("Sugarman tiene un baile" or "I want to see your bushy" are the two most popular now) when the car in front stops, you dive out to the middle of the road to avoid the car and then the passenger door flies open... you need to remember that you drive on the left in the BVI but all cars are built for right hand driving so the passenger door in the centre of the road not on the side of the road.... so the passengers walk onto the middle of the road to get into the car whilst you are still trying to avoid the car, let alone the open door, nor the passengers, nor the oncoming traffic in the opposite lane, nor the pot holes!  I tell you this, you need your wits about when driving.
On the other hand, it is great to see that people have a sense of community and are willing to give their friends a lift.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Food in the BVI

If you have been following the blog you will know by now that I find food in the BVI both of great quality but also extremely reasonable.  Take for example this 1.5lb lobster caught a couple of miles away from the restaurant and kept fresh (until it is cooked, obviously) which you get for a whopping £10 ($20)!  With food like this, why bother going to the supermarket?

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Health Warning

If you are of a nervous disposition, don't look at this picture!

Little Bay beach today.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Soper's Hole

Architect's ideal of a Caribbean location.  Probably over the top but would fit in with most people's concept of what a Caribbean marina would look like.  It like Disney has taken over the set.  Anyway at least, like in Gibraltar, they also have a Sheppard's Marina!

Smuggler's Cove

Difficult to find little beach but worth the effort.