Two in one
Over the weekend, a Beaconite had the opportunity to travel to St. Thomas to cover Virgin Islands Friendship Day, a celebration of VI culture attended by representatives from this territory and the United States VI. There was a joyous mood in Crown Bay Marina, where the Beaconite arrived to a luncheon populated by smiling attendees dining on regional specialties like johnny cakes and banana fritters. After the buffet, the crowd walked over to a stage to be treated to a variety of performances, from storytelling to a raucous j’ouvert-inspired routine. Leaders from both territories reflected this joyous mood in their speeches, though they also meditated more seriously on the importance of thinking about the greater VI as a place bound by culture rather than divided by borders. Considering how frequently borders create a wedge between cultures, which often prompts resentment on both sides, it was inspiring to see the two territories so committed to maintaining friendly relations and long-held traditions. Seizing on the company-expensed ferry ride, the Beaconite decided to spend the night in St. Thomas, which turned out to be a serendipitous little excursion. At sunset, he sat on a beach watching planes take off from the neighbouring airport, attended a showcase of underground rappers later that night, and the next day mingled among the tourists at Sapphire Beach before catching the ferry home.
The new traffic lights have arrived, and the consensus seems to be that there’s some work to be done before they actually improve traffic. While a Beaconite doesn’t necessarily agree with that, she does have a few suggestions. For one, when driving east from Road Town, there is a small warning light on the left of the James Walter Francis Highway just before the turnoff to the Tortola Sports Club, whose purpose at first was puzzling. Although the light is sometimes red, drivers aren’t supposed to stop there: Instead, the light is there to warn them of the traffic lights ahead around a curve. However, she believes the warning light would be more effective if it were blinking or clearly marked as a warning. She worries that drivers unfamiliar with the situation will stop at the light and get rear-ended. Additionally, increased signage in the same area may actually go further in preventing traffic snarls than the lights. For instance, tourists leaving Rite Way via the highway might not know that they are turning onto a one-way road, as there is no signage to indicate as much. If they pull out going the wrong way, a head-on collision could result. Thus, every intersection along the highway should have a clearly visible sign saying “one way;” “no right/left turn,” or both. And the small strip of road in front of Rite Way, connecting the eastbound to the westbound direction, says “no entry,” which could be misconstrued as applying to everyone and not just those exiting at that junction. There are probably other areas throughout the territory where signage could be improved. It would be a cheap, low-tech solution to a pressing problem. That said, Beaconites were happy to hear Transportation, Works and Utilities Minister Kye Rymer announce in the House of Assembly last week that a comprehensive traffic study is in the works. As this newspaper’s editorial argued last Thursday, such a study is badly needed — and it surely will catch the problems listed here. Beaconites hope the final report will be made public, and that all residents will get a chance to weigh in on the way forward.
Out and about
Over the holiday weekend, a Beaconite was fortunate in seizing the opportunities to snorkel The Indians and The Caves, and to visit Anegada. First, the boat trip on Saturday to Norman Island was with a group of friends who showed her many new things: blowfish, sea stars, tarpon, and some other marine life that she doesn’t yet know the names of. She also tried her hand at waterskiing, which is much more difficult than it looks. The reporter couldn’t hold her position and ate water — a lot of it. Her friends told her, “Save some water for tomorrow: We’re going to need to drink it!” It was a fun-filled day.