Saturday, March 23, 2018 British Virgin Islands
I am ready to move on. After 3 months I’ve seen enough of the destruction to this area from Hurricanes Irma and Maria and I find a sadness, sometimes verging on depression, lingers over me. First and foremost, I’m sad for the all the residents who live here and have had to endure such loss. I’m sad because, having never been here, I did not get to experience the full beauty of this area before Mother Nature delivered her catastrophic blow. I still see glimpses of the beauty that existed before and, of course, the beauty of the water, the terrain and sunsets that even Irma couldn’t alter, but the realization of how long it will take for this area to recover is overwhelming to my psyche. This in turn, makes me feel guilty, in that typical mid western Lutheran kind of way, because I am so fortunate. I can sail away at any time to better places while the residents who have stayed, either by choice or circumstance, must deal with the aftermath for some time to come. The clean-up alone boggles the mind. The restoration of the services that we take for granted – internet and phone access, electricity, garbage collection, etc. is underway but it will be a long process to get back to normal. People adapt…we’ve adapted …but the lack of these services can be frustrating, to say the least. The extent of our dependence on fast, convenient access to the internet, for information and communication, becomes much more pronounced when it’s not readily available. There is a third world feel to the whole experience.
The level of destruction in the British Virgin Islands (BVI), in my opinion and based on my limited observations, seems to be greater than in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Whether this was due to more storm damage in the BVI and/or a slower response to generating recovery, I can’t address. The BVI has traditionally had more charter fleets which translates into a higher number of boat casualties. Its not just the number of destroyed boats. It’s also the level of damage to buildings in the larger cities, like Road Town or Spanish Town, as well as on the smaller islands like Peter, Norman or Cooper. These have beautiful bays with white sand beaches but many of the ‘watering holes’ that were popular before the hurricanes, such as the Willie T barge on Norman Island or Foxy’s Taboo by the Bubbly Pool on Jost Van Dyke, have been destroyed or severally damaged. Where palm trees once provided shade along the beaches, now there are none.
As I write this, I don’t want to leave you with the impression that this is a region to avoid, because it is not. As I’ve mentioned there is much to see and enjoy and the residents are so grateful for the visitors that have arrived to support their economy. Their welcoming embrace and positive outlook for the future is inspiring. We are always met with smiles and friendliness (except at the Custom’s offices where it must be a requirement of their positions to present an unfriendly and intimidating presence). We have experienced much enjoyment in our time here and I will write about that in the next blog. For now, I will let the pictures tell the story of some of the damage Hurricanes Irma and Maria inflicted on the BVI.
West End/ Soper’s Hole, Tortola, BVI
Road Town and Village Cay Marina, Tortola, BVI
Village Cay Marina
Spanish Town, Tortola Island, BVI
Jost Van Dyke Island, Diamond Cay, BVI
Whats left of Foxy’s Taboo near the Bubbly Pool; a huge pile of trash; destroyed coral washed up on the beach; and a ‘coral tree’ to honor the lost coral (or at least that’s my interpretation)
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