LC Day 111: Island Time
Once you get used to island time, it’s a mighty struggle adjusting back to reality. That’s the position I found myself in on April 21 after returning from a ten-day jaunt around the Virgin Islands.
A college classmate of mine–I hadn’t seen him since college days–had chartered a sailboat and invited his Facebook friends to join him. So I did. Our 36-foot vessel was named Elbereth, presumably after the Tolkien character from The Silmarillion. Elbereth had seen some miles in her years, but she turned out to be a very pleasant and comfortable host for ten days. Complete with kitchen, dining area, bathroom, and two bedrooms, Elbereth was quite literally a floating hotel room, sans room service.
Our route took us counter-clockwise around the British Virgin Islands, making stops each day at different island locations to moor or anchor for snorkeling, sightseeing, or calling it a night. Turquoise-blue beach water morphs lazily into deep blue under the beaming rays of the sun. Predominant easterly trade winds provide a near-constant breeze to keep sails full. Sheltered channel waters are relatively calm and sailing dangers are well marked on established maps. All combined produce an ideal place to sail with a low risk of trouble.
The pace here in the islands is calm and controlled, bordering intentionally on slow. Clocks are nowhere to be found, hence the coinage of the term island time. Our group embraced the concept wholeheartedly. I even managed to turn off my internet-connected phone from the time we initially linked up on Tortola to the time we parted ways at the final stop in Saint John. “Unplugged” is a rare state to find oneself in, and I can assure you it is fuel for the spirit. Rather than sit at the feet of a psychiatrist, one might try hiking in the woods, jogging along the waterfront, or jumping into a boat for a sail.
My local challenge on this trip was pretty simple, considering large chains are practically nowhere to be found (save for Saint Thomas). Dining and shopping establishments on the islands are locally owned by either long-time island families or owners living mainland in the States or Britain. From this perspective, it is a locavore traveler’s dream vacation. Well, that and there really are no other choices for purchasing goods.
Most everything was expensive by American “standards,” except for booze. Fresh meats and vegetables are not a luxury in the islands, and must be shipped in from elsewhere. Conch and lobster are local seafood favorites, and along with various rotis and burgers, find their way onto the typical island menu. Despite the prices, food was generally average, perhaps dependent on the assumed alcohol intake of patrons. The dining highlight of the trip was a lobster dinner at Myett’s Garden & Grille (Cane Garden Bay, Tortola)–the lobster was fresh and the conch chowder was supreme.
Drinks varied across the board, but were very enjoyable. Common island concoctions included the Painkiller (invented at the Soggy Dollar Bar on Jost Van Dyke) and the Bushwhacker (a favorite at Saba Rock off Virgin Gorda). For a beer guy like myself, adjusting to the umbrella drink was not as difficult as I’d imagined, helped immensely by the warm temperatures and under-abundance of craft beer. Micro brews were nonexistent here–with one exception being Foxy’s line of micro brews–so I settled into regular bottles of Red Stripe and Heineken.
As for the sights? My favorites included snorkeling over the wreck of the RMS Rhone off the coast of Salt Island, exploring the piles of huge boulders at The Baths on Virgin Gorda, watching lizards scurry around while hiking the nature trail on Sandy Cay, and swimming under the stars at Cinammon Bay on Saint John.
I’d like to write a comprehensive piece about the journey, but I realize this will take a lot of time and–as I look at the clock–I remember I have things to do.
- LC Day 93: Tread Lightly
- LC Day 82: Old Milwaukee
- LC Day 80: Local Challenge – Iowa Edition
- LC Day 71: #Beerclubfieldtrip
- LC Day 63: The Groupon Game
- LC Day 58: They Say It’s Your Birthday
- LC Day 54: Got Bar Dice?
- LC Day 53: Defining the Foodie
- Local Farmer Open House
- LC Day 52: I’m Just Here for the #Beerclub