Out and about
A Beaconite had a jam-packed weekend as she set out to report on a swim meet fundraiser, literary festival, reggae night, bike programme, culture month and more. November holds no shortage of opportunities for residents to get outside, learn something new and have fun. While she was at the BVI Literary Festival, one consistent bit of feedback she heard from attendees was their surprise that it was only the third year of the event’s existence. The multitude of talented writers featured was a delight, and the reporter feels inspired to invest more time in her creative writing. A highlight was getting to enjoy a conversation with fellow book club members and author Eleanor Shearer about her novel at the festival’s wrap-up brunch. The Beaconite also picked up a copy of Charmaine Wilkerson’s Black Cake, which is just now coming out as a TV series. Ms. Wilkerson held a captivating reading from her book at Friday’s “Sunset Stories.” It’s always interesting to hear writers give voice to their works, perhaps emphasising different sections than the reader would when interpreting the words on the page. Such festivals also offer a wonderful opportunity to make new connections within the community. The reporter was pleasantly surprised to discover that Unite BVI Executive Director Sauda Smith attended the same university she did, and swapping stories about the school was a perfect end to the day. The reporter gives credit to all the organisers who helped pull together this year’s event and grow the network of literature in the region.
In trying to learn Tortola’s mountain roads, a Beaconite recently rented a motor scooter and proceeded to attempt a full loop around the island. Upon cruising through West End, the Sir Francis Drake Highway turned into a rocky route far more suited to a dirt bike than the street-tyred scooter he rode. But the low-slung Yamaha performed admirably as he picked his way through the cracked and crumbling gravel path, standing where the foot pegs might have been had he been blessed with a more apt two-wheeled machine. He prayed the rubber was thick enough on the high-efficiency tyres to stay inflated as his adventure grew more harrowing past Smugglers Cove. If someone wants a good challenge, take a scooter through roads that Yamaha’s engineers never intended. As night fell on the north side of the island, the Beaconite emerged from what felt like a practice run of the Paris-to-Dakar rally, nearly stopping to kiss even semi-smooth pavement. At this point in what was supposed to be an exercise in mental cartography, the reporter just wanted to get home before having to rely on his little headlights to get him safely up and over the mountain again. He failed, of course, and spent the black evening white-knuckling the handlebars around flying SUVs with blinding brights pointed directly into his pupils. The Beaconite couldn’t help but chuckle to himself at the situation he had managed to create for himself. He’d asked for an evening adventure and got one.
A Beaconite has gotten to know the Virgin Islands so intimately in the four years she’s spent working at the newspaper. She knows the changing currents of the ocean in Little Bay and when not to jump off the cliff. She learned how to listen and read the ocean. She knows that there are sometimes jellyfish at The Baths and which little cove is the best place to spend a day. She knows that a weekend brunch at Loose Mongoose is best followed by a spa day at Scrub Island. She knows that she needs exactly eight quarters for the parking fee at the airport, that she’d be one of the few cars there to pick up a friend, and that she could park nearby without worrying about her car. She’s gotten to know so many secluded and secret spots in the territory. She knows that night swims are best done on the south side of the island, maybe in Brandywine Bay. She knows that turtles lay their eggs on several beaches and that they hatch during golden hours. She knows to bring bug spray to Brewers Bay, especially for sunset and at night. There are so many small details that make the VI special to her.