35 and counting

Beaconites of course realise that the Queen’s birthday was celebrated on Friday in the territory. But that day also marked another birthday that is close to their hearts: The BVI Beacon turned 35. The newspaper’s first issue — a 12-page black-and-white edition — was published on June 7, 1984 after being composed on a single electric typewriter in the building that now houses The Dove restaurant, which served as the Beacon’s first office. Today, the newspaper is steadily building back to its pre-Hurricane Irma size, which routinely exceeded 60 pages, and it has a growing web presence with new features planned in the near future. Beaconites thank readers and advertisers for their support through the years. Here’s to 35 more.


Taking a hike

A Beaconite can’t believe no one else in the territory but her decided to spend their Monday holiday arising at 7 a.m. to huff and puff along the trails of Sage Mountain National Park, while a large, ominous-looking raincloud loomed overhead, but apparently they all had better things to do. It was her first visit to the park, and she was aware that many of the original signs, including maps, were Hurricane Irma victims, preserved only in online photos that she saved onto her phone before arriving at the park. It being a holiday, the restaurant and gift shop were closed, and a small, enthusiastic black dog was the sole member of the welcoming committee. After warily watching the sky, she decided to put on her rain jacket and hope for the best. Inside, though, the signs looked great and the trails were immaculate, and she wants to congratulate the National Parks Trust on their hard work. The real miracle was that she emerged from the trail a brisk hour and a half later without having a single drop rained on her. Everyone else missed out.



Sticking around

A Beaconite realised there was a four-day weekend just about the day before said four-day weekend and immediately felt bummed that she hadn’t made plans to get away. But she decided to make the most of the free days and take advantage of new experiences that she hasn’t had yet in the Virgin Islands. On Friday she went to the Queen’s birthday ceremony. Well, that one wasn’t a choice: She had to cover it. But on Saturday she made the long-deliberated decision to take her first scuba diving course, and she loved it. She was slightly nervous descending into a heavy mass of water with only a mouthpiece and tank to keep her alive while trying to breathe slowly and equalise frequently and not descend or ascend too quickly, but once she got the hang of it she felt completely at peace. So much so that she plans to continue and get her certification. Then on Sunday she went to Virgin Gorda and finally saw The Baths she’s heard so much about. She scraped her foot and took some awkward selfies, but all in all she felt it was a productive weekend.


Once a Yankee…

A Beaconite was on her way to the United States recently, travelling through St. Thomas as she sat as a passenger in a van coming from the ferry terminal. She listened to the driver speak with a tourist. Everyone was quiet: She didn’t mean to eavesdrop. But she noticed the way the man next to the driver spoke in short, one-word answers, similar to the way her little cousin would speak to her — as if he was unable to relate or too uncomfortable to open up. But he was an adult, answering like a child with no will or effort to converse thoroughly. The driver said Irma wasn’t too bad. Did St. Thomas not get hit as hard? He said he’d been through four hurricanes already and just hunkered down for the last one. This reporter realises that she’s been spoiled: She’s used to the kindness and openness she’s found in Tortola. She’s also accustomed to the harassment she faces on a daily basis. It’s interesting to jump straight into an entirely different environment. She wondered if she’d still speak phrases like “ya, man” or “I good” or “I safe” if she went back home. But immersion and assimilation comes naturally: She slipped right into being a Yankee.