Thursday, May 15, 2008

Thank you for the privilege

My time here is up.  

The moment has arrived when I am no longer on the island and this is the last entry of the blog.  With this entry I want to thank everyone at the BVI for letting me experience the privilege of spending time with you.

I have felt privileged to have known so many genuinely nice people.   I have made good friends on the island, people who have taken me into their own circle of friends expecting or wanting nothing back in return.  I have made more new friends in these last five months than I have in Gib in the last five years. 

I have also felt privileged to have experienced superb diving where turtles and fish let me share their space, to enjoying some great food and beaches, to have worked with committed professionals who are as passionate about their island as I am of Gibraltar.

My time here may have been shorter than originally intended but that has not detracted from the excellent experiences that I take back home with me.  I hope that in my own small way I have also contributed to the island and its people.  If my upfront and blunt style has offended anyone, I apologise.

There is no doubt in my mind that if the opportunity arises I will be back, there is no way I will be kept away!

Thank you, it's been memorable.


Just a few words of advice

Five months in the BVI entitles me, I think, to have some opinions. 

To those whom I have known and met, please do not take this as criticism, particularly BVI Islanders whom I know you love and treasure your islands so much.  I also make these comments as a colonial person myself so I know what irks me at home, particularly outsiders telling me how things can be done better.

A friend told me that when the things that made you smile when you first arrived on the Island no longer make you smile, then it is time to leave the island.  Here is a list of things which in my own opinion could make this great nation even better....


  • A sense of humour.  The island is too serious about itself.  Have fun, don't take things so personally.  Learn how to party.
  • A service mentality. Service is meant to be delivered with a smile.  I do not want to be made to feel as if I am disturbing someone by asking for a meal, buying goods, etc.  That's what shop assistants, waitresses are there for.  That's why you get paid, not to be nasty or indifferent to customers.  
  • Some tarmac.  There is no excuse for some of the roads in town.  Putting down the occasional patch of tarmac is no good, you are only adding a bump where previously there was a dip.  Tarmac the entire road. 
  • Some planning controls. You will soon realise that you have gone too far.  You are cutting up the countryside to build those mansions.  Too much, too soon.
  • Rid of derelict cars.  These things litter the whole island, they are just empty shells rusting away on the side of the roads everywhere. An eyesore and an environmental nightmare.
  • Departure Tax included in the ticket price.  It does the BVI no favours that after queuing for check-in at the airport you then have to stand in another line (before you stand in the security line) to pay your departure tax.  This makes us look 3rd world.  Get this included in the ticket price as is the case in the majority of the world!


  • Drinking and driving.  Come on.  I know this is one of the rum islands but there is no excuse that you can drive completely plastered out of your mind and have no fear of recrimination.  Stop it before people get killed.
  • Texting and driving.  As if using your cell phone when driving is not bad enough, stop trying to text at the same time as you drive.
  • Stopping.  Yes, you know, stopping your car to pick someone up with no warning or even an attempt to pull over to the side. Have some consideration, as a minimum use your indicators and pull over.
  • Being unfaithful. There are just too many stories of men and women being unfaithful to their partners.  It is just not right.  Find the right person and spend the rest of your life with that one person, is it that difficult?
  • Dumping of sewage.  There are too many yachts who dump their waste straight into the sea.  This is killing the reefs and polluting the beaches.  Enforce the correct disposal of waste.  Inspect chartered yachts, require marinas to have sewage collection points, process raw sewage!
  • Racism. There is no excuse for the way that down-islanders, non-belongers or other expats are treated with so much disrespect. We are here to fill a gap in skills, knowledge or even work that belongers do not want.  I am not saying that you need to embrace us but neither should people be treated as if they do not exist. I've heard too many shouts of "white trash" coming out of car windows in such a small amount of time that I've been here.  Also don't forget that the Dominican Republic is where many Tortolans went to find work when things were tough here, do not condemn DRs who now do the same on these islands.  If it wasn't for the Jamaicans on the island, it would be an island with no waiters who actually smile at you!  As for the "Europeans", 60% of the economy runs from financial services, mainly from firms and offices run by "European" offices, the others are manning the dive shops and sailing operations that makes tourism in the BVI so successful. 


  • Immigration.  Tourists arriving at the airport need to get a good first impression.  Immigration controls make a lot of people feel unwanted as tourists.  That is no way to treat people if you want their money and you want them to come again.
  • Work Permits.  There are valid reasons why the island is so strong on immigration but there is no reason why it should take honest hard working people who want to contribute to the island's economy three months to get a work permit and then have to renew it every year. 
  • Bureaucracy.  There is just too much and too stringent.  No need to be do jobs worth about it.


  • Daylight Savings Time.  I know this is close to the equator but there is no reason why you can't have Daylight Saving Time so that instead of getting the sun hitting my bed at 5am and going dark at 7pm these events could happen at 6am and 8pm.  This seriously cramps my style.  I want to be able to enjoy the daylight in the Caribbean and not having the time changed for summer makes no sense and wastes more energy. What's more restaurants and bars would do a lot more business if you could stretch the daylight after working hours.  Think about it!
  • Take a driving test. There is just no way people can be that bad driving or disrespectful to other cars on the road.  Learn the basics and then drive in the knowledge that there are other people on the same road.  Don't drive around hairpin bends, on the other carriageway, at full speed, I could be around the corner.
  • Keep to small hotels.  Mass tourism is not for these islands. Keep the hoards away!
  • Continue to be polite.  It is the best thing this island has to offer.  You walk into a place or even cross someone on the street and you get offered a "good morning".  That is so nice, never loose this, please.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The unabridged version of the tourist guide

You know, like everything else what's on the tourist guide is not always the full story.  Here are the bits they leave out...

Beaches.  Most are great.  However there are many drownings in the BVI due to strong rip currents, high surf and other such dangers.  If you can't swim then stay out.  Then there are sandflys which will have a piece of your leg in no time and those things itch for days.  Then there are sea lice (jellyfish larvae) which will give you a nasty rash for weeks.  And loads of big fish (and Shark) and jellyfish swimming about.

Sun.  I don't think there is a UV index that can cope with the intensity of this sun when it comes out.  Oh, by the way it spends most of the time hidden behind a cloud, be grateful.

It goes dark quickly.  In winter it is 5:55pm and it it bright.  By 6.05 it is pitch black!  In summer same thing happens but at 7:00pm!  If you are planning to spend your evenings on the veranda enjoying dusk, plan again. 

Winds.  BVI is not famous for sailing for nothing... sailing requires one important ingredient, wind... there is plenty here!

Weather.  It rains! Even in dry season it rains... and it can go on.  Not just the 10 minute shower, no I mean really torrential rains.  And even in March it can get cold (as in a relative term not as in freezing cold).

Roads.  These are dangerous not only for the steep inclines, hairpin bends and cliff hangers but also because they are not adequately paved and people here drive too fast for them.  BTW, not many signs to tell you where to go, then again you cant get lost here. Do NOT hire a scooter unless you have a death wish.

Bugs.  Name them and you can find them. Roaches to scorpions.  Not to mention rats and mongoose and a spider that can give you a very nasty bite.

Chickens.  The bain of my life.  Found everywhere and the roosters wake you up every morning.  Otherwise known as the alarm clock of Tortola.

Cows.  Normally found in the middle of the road.  They wake you up in the morning when you are driving, turn a corner and there they stand.  Chances are that if you hit one, the cow will win!

Food.  Most eateries tend to serve BBQ Chicken (with or without jerk) - overcooked, RIBS - don't believe the hype they all taste the same, shrimp or Lobster.  Other than surroundings there is little to differentiate between one and another.

Diving.  Some of the best diving in the Caribbean is marred by very choppy seas and wind to get to most dive sites.  If you get sea sick easily, then give it a miss.

Service. What service?  At best it's rude, at worst, non-existent!

Drinking problem.  If you didn't have one when you got here, you will by the time you leave.   I arrived a tea-tottler and now can't get off the rum. 

Radio.  There are probably more radio stations than churches to tune into.  The local ones have local music on most of the time (gospel songs on Sundays).  However, if you have children, best not to tune into them as the conversation by the local presenters can be crass or downright improper especially for early morning listening when children could be listening in.  Then there is are the US VI radio stations with their US bias of music, mostly rock.  However, if you ever get to listen to a newscast try to see if there are any punctuation stops.  As far as I can make out the newscaster stop every five words irrespective of whether there is full stop or comma (or lack of them). Sentences and even news stories just continue from one to another.... fascinating to listen to, frustrating to understand what the stories are about! 

Earthquakes.  If the earth moves it was not as a result of you skills in the bed.... major seismic activity in the region means you might get woken up by more than just a rumble... I have.

Power.  It goes out, frequently.  Maybe not if you are in hotel who might have a reserve generator but I have a few of them in the time I've been here.  Apparently different parts of the islands are more affected by the outages than others.

Water.  Don't drink the tap water! Is what most people on the island well tell you.  Most locals don't.  Why? Because most of the tap water is actually collected from the roofs of buildings and fed into cisterns.  Even if these are well maintained, they are a breeding ground for all types of viruses, diseases etc.  I only found about this a couple of weeks before leaving and I have been drinking it since I arrived... so make your own mind up.

Language.  "E wat de u dink u doee?"  If you think that is English for "Hey, what do you think you are doing?", the official language of the BVI, then you are local 'cause I can't understand a word of it when they go local on you.

Tourists.  If you are reading this you might be thinking of becoming one of these people who wonder around these streets having left behind any sense of style (no, flora print shirts is not the Caribbean style, only tourists wear these), who walk onto the road without thinking that there are actually cars on them, who suddenly stop on the pavement (sidewalk if American) so that people can crash into them!  Please don't, and if you do, please do us a couple of favours [1] cover-up don't walk in town in your swimming costumes, you are to old/wrinkly/white/past it! [2] go to Cane Garden Bay with all the other wannabe lobsters and leave the other beaches alone!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Speaking "Local"

I just love it when I walk into a local scene and people go about there business in their own dialect which is almost incomprehensible to an outsider. Fortunately there is a book where many of the local sayings and their meanings are explained. Please excuse me if I have broken any copyright laws by reproducing them here but I understand the book is out of print! Here are some of them, but I bet you anything you still need to understand what is said before you can begin to interpret them;

A person's place in society

When pawpaw tree fall down, nanny goat jump over (h)e
When a person falls from high circumstances to low, anyone can disregard him.

Donky got no business in horse race
A person ought to keep within his own class or group in society

Bo(ar) hog does put in gol(d) teet(h) to make you t(h)ink he's gentleman
One puts on certain veneer in order to appear refined or dignified

Lay down wid dog; yo(u) ge(t) up wid fleas
Mixing with people below one's level, tarnishes the reputation

Rockstone down river bottom don't know when de sun hot
The person living in opulence doesn't know anything about poverty


E(v)ery hallelujah got amen
The best of everything comes to and end


Soursop tree don(t) bear apple
What a person is what we expect of him because of his parentage

Wha(t) hu(r)t eye mek nose run water
What affects one member of the family adversely, hurts all the rest.

Advice Related Sayings

If yo(u) got cocoa in de sun yo(u) for to look out fo(r) rain.
Where there is a possibility of trouble one should be extremely anxious and alert.

When yo(u) brother bed bu(r)ning, put yours in soak.
When disaster has already struck someone, take extra precautions to avoid the same predicament.

Wha(t) sweeten goat mout(h) bitter he tail.
The beginning may be pleasant, but the final outcome rather unpleasant.

E(v)ery shut eye ain(t) sleep.
Be careful, since things are not always as they appear on the surface.

However foreday run monin(g) goin(g) catch (h)e
A person who commits an offence and is not detected is encouraged to continue doing wrong, but generally caught because he becomes overconfident of his safety.

Yo(u) could hide de fire bu(t) wha(t) yo(u) goin(g) do wid de smoke?
You cannot conceal or destroy all traces of evidence for what is done in darkness sooner or later comes to light

Water boiling fo(r) fish an(d) fish ain(t) know.
A person does not know that trouble is brewing for him.

Ship wha(t) don(t) rule by de rudder de rock goin(g) pick it up.
When yo(u) ketch (catch) yo(u) col(d) yo(u) goin(g) bear yo(u) cough.
Wha(t) pork don(t) season does swell.
People who refuse to take advice must be prepared to suffer.

Trouble tree don(t) bear no blossom.
Trouble doesn't send out warning signals.

De older de ram, de stiffer de horn.
Experience comes with age.

De ol(d) steer ge(t) suspicious when dem feed (h) too high.
When those in authority begin to act unusually pleasant they are planning to get rid of you.

Gaulin(g) say trus(t) no cloud
Every man is an enemy

Long grass carry news
Trust no one

One mangy goat spoil de whole flock.
One defective sample will spoil the whole lot.

Shut yo(u) door an(d) lick yo(u) chil(d).
Deal with you personal affairs privately.

Shit don(t) care who he daub.
Bad company doesn't care who comes under its influence.

E(v)ery stinkin cheese got (h)e own bread
No matter how bad the person or thing, there is someone who will want him for it.

Dead man can(t) carry dead up de hill.
The helpless cannot give help just as the blind can't lead the blind.

Take half-a-bit to buy trouble and it take doubloon to clear it.
It is easy to get into trouble but difficult to get out.

Had-a-know is always behin(d) de back door.
If the person would have known the outcome of his actions he would have acted differently.

Train(t) got no tree in de sea.
There is nothing to hold on to therefore one ought to be fully equipped in case of danger.

When man dead, grass grow before (t)he door
When the owner is not there to oversee things they are not done properly.

Two conger can(t) live in de same hole
Two people of equally difficult temperament hardly get along well.

Tis who in de house know way (where) de leak is.
Whoever has the problem knows the real difficulty.

Tis goat good heart dem tail behin(d) dem back.
Because of a person's kindness and willingness to help, he will always be poor.

Dog don(t) bite at de front gate.
Some people do things in an underhand manner.

Cattle Min(d)er know cattle temper.
The person who deals with the situations constantly ought to understand it best.

Don(t) say more wid yo(u) mout(h) than yo(u) back can stan(d).
Don't accept more responsibility than you are able to carry.

Who got de watch got to keep de look out.
The person in charge must always be on the look out.

Run from Jumbie yo(u) meet up coffin.
Take care yo(u) miss de basin an(d) hit de poe (pot chambre).
Same as jumping from the fire and into the frying pan.

Man work, dog reap.
A few persons work but everyone receives the benefit.

Don(t) look fo(r) black sheep in a dark night.
Don't put off an issue until it is too late.

Who put the fowl to min(d) corn?
It is pointless putting a theif to guard possessions.

Tain(t) have fo(r) grave digger - carpenter worse
This means having no value at all. For while the grave is necessary for the burial, the coffin is not.

Yo(u) pissin(g) on hot rock and smellin(g) it.
You are being insolent.

Wedding cake ain(t) potato
Suggests the difference between the rare (cake) and the common-place (potato).

Yo(u) make broke stick to cut yo(u) own backside
You prepared your own downfall

Si(t) down never say get up.
If you relax when you ought to be working you'll never feel like working again.

Lie down ain(t) no rest, bu(t) si(t) down less.
An exaggerated plea for complete relaxation.

Studiation beat education, but starvation beat (th)em all.
Studiation is knowledge gained by "Studying yo(u) head". It's a rare brand of smartness, not acquired from formal studying.

Better belly bus' dan good food go to was(t)e.
Eat all you can.

Da (i)s only de cotta; de bun behin(d)
That's merely the light beginning- the real trouble is behind

Dog wha(t) bring bone in yo(u) yard goin(g) car(ry) out bone.
If someone brings news to you that same person will carry out news.


In front dog tis "Mr Dog." behin(d) dog tis "Dog".
In a person's presence politeness is evident-in his absence one says anything.

When saucepan open, every man peep.
When a secret gets out everybody is interested in gossiping about it.

Ground lizard know wha(t) he do, god almighty mek he can(t) look up.
Sometimes a person knows who has weighty conscience can't face the person whom he has wronged.

Fish trap don(t) make noise, but it do good work.
A person's effectiveness is not measured by the amount of noise he makes.

Tain(t) de cow dat bawl de mos(t) does wan(t) to mos(t) water.
The person who begs the most does not necessarily have the greatest need.

Finger don(t) point in, dem does point out.
A persons does not accuse himself.

Hog know way to root
Any person knows how to meddle or stir up trouble where there will be least resistance.

Monkey never climb sand box tree
Sensible people keep out of danger

If win(d) don(t) blow yo(u) won(t) see fowl under clo(th)es
You wont know the real circumstances until something happens to upset the normal course of events
When things are bad you are quiet, but when things improve you make plenty of noise.

Give h(im) basket to carry water and sea-feather to dip it up
Ask a person to do the impossible

I don(t) wan(t) turkey when he wing broke
I don't want anything defective no matter how valuable it is.

You can make two mountains meet way (where) two toe never touch
You are capable of carrying tales between two persons who were never likely to quarrel without your aid.

Yo(u) living cheap and smelling sweet
You are a parasite

Yo(u) got goat mout(h)
Used to describe a person who has prophetic powers.

A bull does use he horns not he head
Some people use physical power instead of brain power

You an(d) work had court and work min
You are very lazy

Drunk man talk wha(t) de t(h)ink when he sober.
The idea is that alcohol loosens the man's tongue, he says what he really thinks.

When killy killy tu(r)n (h) e back to de sun wha(t) a go de
When someone has had enough he runs from it

When deat(h) in de horse eye he don(t) care way (where) he t(h)row he massa
During a time of crisis a person thinks of his own welfare

Ol(d) stick afire don(t) stay long to catch
Used specifically when one-time lovers are quickly reunited

One fowl lay de egg; nudder fowl goin(g) raise de chicken
Said in case of questionable paternity


E(v)ery dog got he day and e(v)ery bitch her Sunday afternoon
Each person experience good or bad fortune at some time

Yo(u) cleaning ground fo(r) monkey to run on
You are making circumstances easier for others

Yo(u) wne to school to sleep on de bench
You are completely illiterate

When Mary doing well, Martha ketching hell
While some are enjoying life others are experiencing difficulties

Wher(e) a horse tie he got to feed
A person must be sustained from his work or place of abode

It have something in de mortar beside pestle
Something is going on which one does not want to admit

Borrow petti coat ain(t) got no string
Implies that borrowing is a poor method of obtaining anything

Water can(t) stan(d) up on cliff
Water is no use to a hungry man as it does not sustain

What go over horse back come back under de belly
One cannot escape the consequences of one's action

Tain(t) de word does hurt, bu(t) de answer
The meaning is obvious

Han(d)some girl go(t) dirty tricks
Appearances are deceptive

Wha(t) yo(u) expect from a bag of coal bu(t) dus(t)
The poor behaviour exhibited is not surprising

Bad bread good in scarce time
When there is a dire necessity even that which was despised becomes valuable

Dem two is chamber-pot and backside
They are very close friends

Boil yam will grow now
Very common expression used when there is a lot of rain and certainly suggests that anything planted now will grow

Wha(t) de good o(f) ship on dry lan(d)
What point is there having the most valuable thing if it is in a place where it cannot be used.

Monday, May 12, 2008


I found this dead lobster on the Rhone a fellow diver thought it was sushi... no man, that's for Thursdays at the BVI Yacht Club!

Trunk Fish

At last I got a trunk fish willing to pose for a photograph. I've tried many a time but never managed to get a good one.  This one was being helpful!

RMS Rhone

This is my last dive in the BVI before I leave so I decided to go out with RMS Rhone which must be one of the best BVI Dive sites. This set is exclusively a record set of the wreck, nothing pretty and nothing colourful just wreck.

The bow of the Rhone (left)

Swimming through the hull

The condensor

Crow's Nest lieing on its side

Diver swimming through some deck supprts

Part of the stern of the ship

Swimming through the propellor sections

Prop and rudder


The lucky porthole. You should rub this three times clockwise for good luck. One of the following is said to come true [1] You will become rich in the BVI [2] You will love like an Italian or [3] You will dive the Rhone again. The story behind the Itlain is too long for this blog, do your own research!

Gearbox and prop shaft