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Tales from Tortola … getting there

Seemed like a long two days en route. But there were some lessons learned along the way (and a few things that struck my funny bone.)

Ferry that will take us to Tortola ... but we have to get to St. Thomas first.

1. Don’t stray further than two feet from your luggage.  Sister Carmen went to park her car at the airport in Halifax, Barrie went to find a trolley (dolly?) and I was in charge of the luggage in front of the lower entrance door. I stepped inside to keep warm when a security guard came in asking if that was my luggage. ” Yes,” says I. “You have to be with it or it will be confiscated,” says the guy. “I can almost touch it. It’s three feet in front of me.” “But you’re not with the luggage,” he says. Go figure.

2.  While boarding, someone was in the wrong seat. The folks who were assigned that seat were pretty adamant about sitting together; the lady who had her bum in the wrong spot couldn’t see the necessity or wisdom of moving. The flight left 20 minutes late. Gotta wonder.

3. Needed to overnight in Newark. Interesting, long, round-about way to get from airport to Day’s Inn Hotel (now called Day’s Hotel and soon-to-be called Holiday Inn) involving carting the luggage racks up and down elevators, a hike to the sky train, another elevator then a long wait for a shuttle. But the entire process was cheap. To get back the next morning we decided to forgo cheap for fast and took a cab. Five minutes later we were at Continental’s front door. Smart move with six  suitcases and two back packs. In case you are wondering, suitcases were mainly full of hardware for home repairs along with curtains, coffee and half of my office. One suitcase got pretty mushed up en route (torn side, zipper broken); a can of spaghetti Carmen brought for quick fix until we could buy groceries had a huge dent in it and the noodles were no longer in long lengths.

Signage at ferry terminal, St. Thomas

4. A quick note about our hotel in Newark. As we entered, there was a sign that read “Please excuse our appearance while we renovate.”  There was a trash can in the front lobby catching a drip from the ceiling. You get the picture.  Had a hard time to breathe in the hallways (stale smoke) and God only knows what was living in the carpets. Surprisingly the restaurant’s food was passable and the service even better. (Don’t judge a book  … yadda yadda.)

5. Eventually, we arrived in St. Thomas. We missed the 1:30 ferry to Tortola by about 20 minutes. Next one 4 p.m. No problem. There’s a restaurant above the ferry terminal. Cold drinks and conch chowder. Yum. Then we hiked into town for a look-see. Seems to be miles of alleys (narrow, old world and lovely) with a parallel road to the main drag that is a non-stop stretch of jewelry stores. Baubles of every sort and description; many of which you’d have to mortgage your house for. We settled for spicy Jamaican patties and lemonade.

Sunset at Kate's "Sunfish House"

6. Back at the terminal, sailing time’s delayed 45 minutes  …  a  reminder that we are now on “island time.” In the middle of the terminal Carmen spotted a sign on the left. Made me laugh out loud. (Check out middle photo). Almost wanted to bark to see what would happen. Once we boarded Bomba Charger, a.k.a Tortola Fast Ferry–think WWII relic– I fell sound asleep.

Eventually, we arrived. Happily scarfed down spaghetti while watching the sun disappear over Smuggler’s Cove.

More in a few days.


  1. Sharon Sharon
    December 16, 2010    

    Hahahahahaha…. I loved the ‘barking’ bit. Thanks for the laugh. Look forward to reading more.


    • December 16, 2010    

      Thanks for dropping in Sharon! And, yes, that sign is hilarious, no?!

    • December 16, 2010    

      Thanks for dropping in Sharon! And, yes, that sign is hilarious, eh?!

  2. John John
    December 16, 2010    

    Breath is bated waiting for next installment!

  3. December 16, 2010    

    OIE! can’t wait to learn how to cook rice & beans, jiffy (?), salt fish etc. Had some at a market today and it was sooo good. Will do a post on this when I know more. Pumpkin is big here. When you come to NS John we’ll have to have a Carribean feast.

  4. December 17, 2010    

    Holy crap, I can’t believe the Bomba Charger is still running! WWII relic is right. It was ancient when we boarded it (fearfully) 30 years ago. Again, holy crap!

    Sandra – I’m so geeked that you’re in Tortola! If you get by Brewer’s Bay campground or surrounding area, please please please take a pic and post it. That’s where we stayed, and hubby used to run up one side of the mountain, around the top and down the other. No, I didn’t run. I watched him go up, then hoofed over to the bottom of the other road and waited for him to come down. While waiting, I bought coconut bread from some lady using the coolest outdoor oven.

    Love love loved the Old World alleyways in St. Thomas.

    Awaiting more pics and posts here in snowy Michigan!


    • December 17, 2010    

      Will be going to Brewer’s Bay for sure when the kids get here as they are interested in seeing the place (about 10 days from now). So will send a photo for sure. Promise. Coconut bread sounds yummy, I hope the person making it is still around. I can’t imagine anyone RUNNING in this heat. Especially up these hills. Sheesh. It’s all I can do to walk up the hills.

      More later.

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