Thursday, September 3, 2009

A love letter to another island

Dear Jost Van Dyke,

You know I love where I live. But when I sail into Great Harbour, I feel like I've just sort of shifted my butt to an extension of home, with everything that means. I was reminded this morning that I needed to do the mental shift from Good morning to Buenas dias - it always takes a few days to do that. But hey, what's the big deal about a different language? Well, yeah, there's all of that practical stuff of life, but I don't speak patois either and it works out most of the time. Sometimes words don't matter (she writes, contrary to anyone who knows the truth and wonders if I ever empty my word basket).

So this is how I spent my time with you, JVD. Thanks for everything and everyone that made my mouth grin, my mind settle and my body rest, full of great food, and fine drink, sated with exercise and sea baths. Lucky, lucky me.

First excellent omen...a dolphin showed up just as we came into the bay
(look carefully - click to enlarge - you'll spot it in the lower right hand corner)

Beachfront property

Jost boys of summer - I think the oldest was 7

Ocean Fox on a New England looking day

Susan and I met up at pre-dawn thirty to hike over the island, which now is quite easily walkable. Well, easily for foot placement. Less easy if you are not part goat. It took us a couple of very enjoyable hours and I didn't die.

View from where you start breathing again, at dawn

Rains have greened up the island - it felt like a park

Glory glory

Susan's preying/praying mantis on a plant we couldn't identify...again

No such thing as a bad view

Looking down onto Great Harbour and out to Tortola and other islands

This is Susan, the director of the JVD Preservation Society
She was able to tell me some great history and
was patient with my frequent requests to stop so I could breathe

It was a Heidi / Sound of Music sort of moment.
Luckily, I was sober and didn't sing (out loud) to celebrate the moment

An almost buttercup looking flower with spiky holly like leaves

We can't sustain life at mountain top level indefinitely. Eventually, one must eat and attend to other, at times, more mundane aspects of life. The thing is, there wasn't much that felt mundane in whatever I did, so sea level or high above, I was still in Magic Week Time.

I got to watch some fantastic videos - Fox's MBE moment, Fox & Tess going through the Panama Canal on some friends boat, trips through New Zealand and Australia and Belgium. Fox does Travel Channel worthy trip video, the sort where you feel like you *almost* were there rather than a yawn. People would wander over and away, but we stayed at it over a couple of days until my butt was sore (a long time), right up until the Wooden Boat Regatta. Here, Tessa had come by and Tristan was being quite adept wearing her hat and managing to still stay upright.

Pete found this in Tortola. I'd eat it even if it wasn't an emergency -
very well spiced, and once all the fat was drained off, a good taco filler!

Sign for a food stand on least I think I was still on Jost

The back porch sink has been taken over by honeybees...Paul's favorite place to play
(they invaded the bathroom a couple of time, but we insisted they must leave. And they did)

The makeshift galley. I felt like Wendy in Peter Pan, with no Capt. Hook nearby

Rather ark looking isn't it?

Chuck, one of the talented woodworkers helping with Endeavour,
the JVDPS Tortola Sloop project

Pete and Chuck hard at work in very tight quarters -
hmm, I think they've done this a few times

Fox with the soaked and now bark stripped piece of lingnum vitae that will become the tiller

Manuel & Adam's big catch!

Buying and selling fish

Cleaning fish, keeping it simple
Chuck, as good at cooking as woodworking, dressing the very fresh grilled yellowtail

Pretty and delectable!

One needn't be building a boat to have a cutting board like this, but it helps

Chuck and Paul inspecting the Ron Zacapa rum Paul brought over
(the same night he brought over the lamb chops - no photo, I was apparently all lambed up)

Paul & Susan looking pretty damn adorable

Displaying the now empty bottle so I could remember the name

A(nother) delicious meal at Kelly's great local spot on Frenchman's Cay with rooms, a market and restaurant, tucked away on a canal
Stewed mutton, macaroni pie, perfect cole slaw and veg and plantains done my favorite way
Around here, mutton can mean sheep or goat!

Paul: "Lagerhead's doing what he was born to do" I think Paul is doing the same...
he made the cart, which will be a rum and beer cart pulling up to a ferry dock near...well, him

Lagerhead's first official *Paul & Susan drive around Great Harbour* finale
We spent way too much time watching Lagerhead. What can I say? He's an irresistable ass. Or, we are simply very easily entertained. Or both. By the end of the week, I could name three people whom he had completely trained to do his bidding. Yes, I could name them. But I won't.

Lagerhead in bliss mode...scratching his ass on the stage.
I'm not saying I thought it was almost pornographic, but somebody might say that

Lagerhead looking unusually graceful

Tessa sharing her dapper hat with Lagerhead

Something else in the yard other than Lagerhead (shhh)

One day I walked over the hill to White Bay, just to see if I could still walk after the island trek. It's not a bad walk at all really, and well worth hitting the top for the downhill views. Plus, Ivan was at his bar & campground and I'd not run into him *as usual* since Christine's was closed. Tumble my world, will you? Then I'll climb! Ivan's worth it.

On the way...

Another rest stop view

Erosion can be beatiful...for awhile

Oh! I made it! Too bad the wires aren't underground...

What I jumped into once down the hill on White Bay
A little tidy up project Ivan was working on. I thought I was the nail holder, but he says I was the wood holder (it turned out he was right - I ended up holding the tiller-to-be for Fox while he stripped bark - but I'm not putting it on my resume, unless I can use Ivan as a reference)

One of Ivan's many shell mosaics...they are everywhere, and you can make one too!

More beautiful water (looking down at Great Harbour on the return hike)

When it was time to leave you for home, I was ready. With an unknown in Erika hovering around, I wanted to see the cat, the yard, the friends. Sleep in my own bed, use my real toothbrush. Keep an eye out for landcrabs in the bathroom instead of bees. That sort of thing that reminds me again how fortunate I am to love where I live. And glad I can come to you. I'll be back, when.




  1. Thank you, thank you, thank you for all the wonderful pictures, MJ. And welcome home.

  2. Beautiful. Simply beautiful.

  3. goodness....a few of those shots made me sooooo homesick for the Caribbean...

    i'm so glad you had such a marvelous, special time....

  4. It was the rum! I have to say, not being a rum drinker, it was like Ron Barrilito (another rum I'll sip on) times 10. The link is by a guy I'd not want to necessarily sit next to, but for rum folk, it was a hell of a lot more informative than me writing, it was yummy!

  5. Your visit to JVD was so rich and full of texture. I loved my 1 day visit from a water taxi trip from Tortola, but it only scratched the surface. We got rummy at the Soggy Dollar. I intended to have 'just one' painkiller so I could say I did. One became eight and I barely remember Sidney's. Thanks for sharing the fun. When you get a moment, did you sail from Culebra? What a cool story that'd make.

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  8. Well, it helps to have been going there for years and having good friends there...same as any place on visits! I went to St. Louis and did the arch and some restaurant and felt like I'd covered, knowing you, it would be a bit of a different story, eh? I didn't even know what fly over country was, remember??