Light at the end of a dark tunnel

Someone said recently that if Virgin Islands residents think the roads are bad, imagine how they must appear to tourists who visit the islands. For one Beaconite, a trip to Anegada isn’t just a nice escape to smoother topography, but to smoother roads as well. Obviously, without a mountain’s worth of runoff after every rain, Anegada’s roads are not exposed to the erosion that plagues Tortola’s asphalt-splattered horse paths. Is it normal for such a large percentage of property listings to proclaim the need for four-wheel drive? Is it normal for occupants of safari tour busses making their way up Joes Hill to scream as if riding a roller coaster? Is it normal for drivers to routinely honk their horns to alleviate the risk of a head-on collision around a corner? Navigating Tortola’s crumbling road system at night just increases the danger by an order of magnitude. And on a motorbike, forget about it. Though government has postponed opening the tender submissions for a 38-mile road rejuvenation project until next Tuesday, a Beaconite who commutes via two wheels is hopeful that streetlights at regular intervals will be added to the works. When your eyes are adjusted to the wimpy headlight of a motorbike or scooter, the headlights of occasional oncoming traffic are blinding, obscuring the pothole-filled road ahead. “Get a car,” some might say, but the reporter reminds readers that reliable four-wheeled vehicles cost a premium which many residents cannot afford with the average income. Because he doesn’t expect the streets of Tortola to shine smooth under the stars anytime soon, the Beaconite will be adding a second light to his motorbike.


Happy customer

A Beaconite was apprehensive to return a coffee mug he had impulsively bought the night before from a grocery store. There shouldn’t be anything necessarily difficult about the returns process with a receipt in hand and an unused coffee mug in the other, but there was no guarantee his request would be honoured. He had a good reason for returning it: The mug was clearly made to live in an automotive cup holder — there was no screw-on lid, meaning that he couldn’t transport it via backpack. In fact, the lid fell off while he was leaving the store as he attempted to stow the mug in his backpack. Walking into the grocery store the next day, the reporter had a sheepish look on his face as he presented the cup and receipt to a supervisor. After looking him up and down, the reluctant employee relented and allowed him to swap the insulated mug for one that was more secure. Interestingly, there was no insulated option without a small, plastic device between the travel cup lid and the bottle itself. To pour the contents of literally every other insulated container on the shelf, one must push a button at the centre of the plastic device, which then clicks in place a centimetre lower in the intermediary lid, exposing a few vents through which a temperature-regulated liquid might pour. Besides the sanitary implications of the little device, it struck the Beaconite as odd that this new-fangled plastic system had been so widely adopted by the Mr. Coffee company. There was not a single one of the company’s insulated products without it (that will actually stay closed in a backpack). It wasn’t the first time the Beaconite was surprised by the types of products imported to the territory. The island consumer experience is not necessarily bad — in fact, it is usually quite good — but it is often simply different. One thing that smooths over the vast majority of experiences, however, is hospitality. He appreciates the grocery store staff and hopes that they will continue to support the community with hospitable customer service.