writer traveler photographer

Tales from Tortola … worth a smile

There are some things in Tortola that make me smile every time I drive by. For starters, you have to understand that there are very few sidewalks here. In fact, I can only think of two places where they exist: Road Town and in a small portion of the East End. Understandable, as Road Town is the capital and the centre of commerce on the island while the East End is the second largest community.

So it begs the question: whey on earth would there be a sidewalk on a stretch of road going to the West End, in the middle of nowhere (no village, no stores, no school, no church, no nuttin.’ ) The only claim to fame that particular hunk of road can boast about is that it’s about the only straight stretch on the island. Both road and sidewalk are peculiar. To top it off, there’s a tree growing out of the middle of this sidewalk. The cement was clearly poured around this tree, with the intention of preserving it. Now that really strikes my funny bone.

That brings me to something else that makes me smile—the absence of billboards on the island and the absence of fast food and big box stores. Mind you, there is one “drive-thru” in Tortola. At Ms. Brewley’s you can roll up and get fried chicken, fried fish and pates. And they have specials for school kids which includes a large juice.

The entrance is very clearly market DRIVE THRU (IN) and the exit is clearly marked DRIVE THRU (OUT) so dummies like me don’t get confused as there are entrances/exits to both ends from two side streets and it can be somewhat confusing. But not as confusing as the sign on the front of the building that says this is a bakery.

I had driven by many times with the intention of going in but traffic seemed a bit challenging to pull off, or I was in a hurry or forgot. Recently, however, the stars were lined up; I remembered, had lots of time and didn’t have cars zooming around me on both sides.  So, thinking this was a bakery, in I go ready to buy a couple of loaves of bread but ended up with beef pates.  Scrambled my brain—but tasty just the same.

Finally in my smiles catalog are a couple of signs. The first one is outside the school on the other side of Carrot Bay. Primary cool, indeed. Love it. And the second one is a find my sister Carmen made when we had lunch at deLoose Mongoose in Trellis Bay. A sign inside the bar explains how the government wants to keep public places clean and how dogs are not allowed in eating establishments. Two feet from the sign, asleep on a bench in front of the bar, is a dog. Smile factor: 10 out of 10. Alas I can’t find the photo. Will keep trying.

What’s making you smile these days?


  1. March 10, 2011    

    What’s making me smile? Your blog post! Thanks!

  2. John John
    March 11, 2011    

    About that sidewalk: Often governments in developing countries get rumours or intentions from developers about plans for certain areas and so those governments try to be pro-active and provide infrastructure which might encourage those developers to go ahead with their schemes. However, sometimes they really had no serious intention of doing what the government thought might happen and so the infrastructure is there for no reason. It does look like a nice, safe place to go for a walk and that tree is magnificent.

  3. March 13, 2011    

    Hmm. Interesting point John! I may snoop around a bit and see if I can discover what the motive was but that could be mighty illusive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Welcome! This is where I occasionally pluck and post a recent story or give a behind-the-scenes commentary (when fit to publish). You'll also find notices about upcoming workshops, such as memoir or travel writing. For the month of July, join me for the July Project. Enjoy your visit and come back often. Better yet, subscribe!

EDITORS, please click on My Work and Photo Gallery in the menu bar to get the big picture of what I do.


Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.